["On the Road: What Route 100 Says About Vermont: A Journey in Five Parts," August 24] was outstanding — one of the best articles Seven Days has ever done. I loved it! I'm sure everyone who read it will want to get in their car and drive to more than one place! I know I have never seen all of Route 100! I think the five writers should get an award!
Up on the Farm
[Re "Organic Farming Advocates Welcome Proposed Federal Standards," August 9, online]: Vermonters hold their farms and themselves to extremely high standards, so why should commercial farms be allowed to get away with whatever they want? Anne Wallace Allen's article on strengthening the federal guidelines for organic farming was an outstanding piece on small dairy farms. Organic dairy farms provide us with products without harmful antibiotics, parasiticides and pesticides that many of us, rightfully, try to avoid.
Small, family-owned farms are the heart of this country. Why should they suffer the most? Small organic farms produce the highest-quality food in the most humane ways. Commercial farms' No. 1 priority will always be making money, never their customers. Even when commercial farms are "organic," they still don't follow as many healthy practices as small farms do. Commercial farms should have to follow the same regulations that small farms have in place — not only for ethical reasons, but for health ones, too.
I am proud of the federal government's choice to create a fair market and stop taking the side of large farms. Vermont's dairy farmers deserve better than the treatment they receive for providing the community with fresh, clean and healthy milk. Maybe next time you get ice cream, don't reach for Hershey's but try a local brand instead. Nothing is better than a pint from a few miles down the road.
Tech Is Not Neutral
In response to Paula Routly's "From the Publisher" column ["Tech Beat," October 19], and to the tech edition overall, I wanted to say I like the articles but want to clarify something. I have learned from listening to the New York Times podcast "Hard Fork" that the "internet is just a tool, it's how you use it" maxim is becoming outdated and isn't entirely accurate.
Here's an abbreviated quote from one of the hosts: "...the hammer analogy. I know you know what I'm talking about, where they say, like, 'Well, hammer is just a tool.' Like, you can use it to build a house, or you can use it to kill someone. And then, they'll use that logic to say that 'it's neutral' and that we should basically stop trying to control how these things are built and designed, because people are inevitably going to use them for good purposes and bad purposes.
And, to me, every time I hear the hammer analogy or this broader point about tech being neutral, it's always a mark of someone who just hasn't thought deeply about what they're doing. Obviously, a hammer and how we use hammers has a lot to do with how they're designed. It's a pretty bad tool for killing someone."
Predatory user interfaces influence how a piece of tech can be used. There's a lot of responsibility on the creators to be mindful of the design. As an observer and consumer, I think about this more and more every day.
Another Important Election
Earlier this year, Seven Days did an article on small and local banks that spoke to the issues involved in merging the Vermont State Employees Credit Union and New England Federal Credit Union ["In Era of Mergers, Vermont's Smallest Banks Stay Attuned to Customers' Needs," March 30]. I believe the merger is exciting and decided that there was no better time than now to switch my banking to local banking and joined VSECU in the spring to be able to vote.
There is a critical need for affordable housing options in Vermont, and NEFCU has been a constant leader in Vermont with its initiatives to support affordable housing development and first-time home buyers struggling with affordability. With this merger, NEFCU members will now be able to take advantage of VSECU's green lending programs, fuel-buying programs and home fuel loans. I've seen how the ability to access and use these programs impacts the day-to-day lives of Vermonters. When I heard that VSECU and NEFCU were looking to combine their resources and blend their programs, it made sense to me. This merger means that more Vermonters will have access to these valuable programs.
On a personal note, I have had the opportunity to know both Rob Miller and John Dwyer, leaders of both credit unions. They are both genuinely good people, leaders with a vision, and have proven that they are focused on helping Vermont and Vermonters.
Count me as a "yes" vote. I encourage my member friends and neighbors to do the same.
Members will vote on the credit union merger on November 8.
Make It, Vermont
Thank you, Anne Wallace Allen and Seven Days, for your cover story on the trade shortages that confront Vermont's construction industry ["Building a Workforce," October 12]. One dimension of this story that could use more sussing out is the relationship among construction, the health of our economy and the state's marketing strategy.
In Vermont, construction contributes about 3.5 percent of our gross output, compared with 4 percent nationally. That's a little less than half of the contribution that the IT or tech sector contributes in Vermont.
Yet construction may be the third most recognizable feature of the Green Mountain State's landscape, after our forests and fields. You wouldn't know about the sheer talent and ingenuity behind it from the state's promotional materials, with incentives to attract remote workers and a host of programs that celebrate tech. The technical arts are left out of that celebration.
It isn't a surprise to read about the stigma surrounding the programs at amazing places like the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury.
I am someone who has supported the creation of startup makerspaces — places where art and craft, emerging technology, and the trades intersect in exciting ways. It remains incredibly difficult to shift the gaze of funders to the work we do every day to enliven young imaginations through the rewards of independent, hands-on learning. Perhaps with a crisis looming, state agencies and private donors will take more risks with community-based learning models that complement the efforts of our outstanding career and technical centers.
Let's pitch Vermont, a great state to make!
Kudos on your article about Brenda Siegel ["Underdog's Appeal: Activist Democrat Brenda Siegel Brings the Experience of Poverty to Her Campaign for Governor," September 14]. It does an excellent job of capturing the empathy that is authentically present in Brenda's work and in her candidacy.
It was Brenda, after all, who spent 27 days and nights on the Statehouse steps last October, having vowed not to leave until the emergency housing program for those experiencing homelessness was fully reinstated. Housing all Vermonters, healing the overdose crisis, commitment to bold climate action, building a bottom-up economy: These are Brenda's priorities, backed by specific plans outlined on her website and articulated in detail during the gubernatorial debates.
Brenda is a powerful thinker, a passionate voice. She is not pie in the sky. She is thoroughly grounded and not a bit afraid of delivering no-nonsense challenges to the current administration's approach to issues and sharp critiques of its record. She is equally clear in demonstrating what she offers instead.
Brenda has earned the endorsement of former governor Howard Dean, as well as the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Peter Welch and the Democratic leadership of both the Vermont House and Senate. I am voting for Brenda Siegel. I hope that other Seven Days readers will also.
Townsend represents South Burlington in the Vermont House.
More Dems, Please
["Right Flank," October 12], describing the campaign of Gerald Malloy for U.S. Senate, reminds me that if all Democrats vote, and vote for the Democrat or Progressive candidate, then the state, and the country, should survive the Republican assault on the U.S. democracy, individual rights and common decency. By the way, Vermont does not need a Republican governor, and the national governor tally sheet needs more Democrats.
'I Vote no'
[Re "Lasting Changes: Revisions to Vermont's Constitution — Dealing With Slavery and Abortion — Are on the Ballot This Fall," 2022 Election Guide, September 28; Feedback: "Choice Words," October 12]: What if your 11-year-old daughter became pregnant? Could she have an abortion without your knowledge? According to this proposal, she would have full rights to have an abortion without the parents' knowledge. That's a big decision for a little girl to make on her own. What if she took the RU-486 pill and started hemorrhaging at home? As her parent, you might not even know.
Or could this proposal give pedophiles legal access to our children if a "relationship" began? And, after such interaction, prohibit us, their parents, from protecting them?
At what age does this Reproductive Liberty Amendment begin?
Is a 5-year-old little knobby-kneed child, who is not yet able to read, able to determine that they want to begin to take hormonal therapies that will affect them dramatically? Isn't that personal reproductive autonomy? Are these therapies effective? Are people happier and better adjusted? Or are the suicide rates higher for this group?
Are schools required to inform parents of observations in the school regarding their child's gender identity? My understanding is, if this resolution passed, the schools would not be telling the parents, because it is once again personal reproductive autonomy. Meaning that if a young child preferred different pronouns at school, the schools would not be advising the parents.
From my perspective, no one loves a child like their parents or guardians. Why would we ever remove the parents from any and all decisions when a child is underage?
I vote no!
Don't Believe the Propaganda
[Re "Lasting Changes: Revisions to Vermont's Constitution — Dealing With Slavery and Abortion — Are on the Ballot This Fall," 2022 Election Guide, September 28; Feedback: "Choice Words," October 12]: I'm writing to reassure those who may have believed the dreadful propaganda warning that the adoption of Proposal 5, the Reproductive Liberty Amendment, would legalize abortion up to the moment of birth. No such thing is possible. Infanticide is a crime; that cannot change. Nor would the amendment make it possible for a man to force a woman to carry and give birth to his child as his own reproductive right — quite the contrary. It would codify the right of everyone to make their own choices as to what goes on in their own bodies without political interference. Please vote yes on Prop 5.
A good example of our polarized nation — and here in Vermont, unfortunately.
Vermont to Make History
[Re "Lasting Changes: Revisions to Vermont's Constitution — Dealing With Slavery and Abortion — Are on the Ballot This Fall," 2022 Election Guide, September 28; Feedback: "Choice Words," October 12]: It is high time that we enshrine reproductive choice into our constitution. I am by no means surprised that, at a time when other states are looking to end choice and privacy, Vermonters are stepping up to set an example to the nation on how to really care for one another!
It is somewhat surprising, though, to see such a vitriolic campaign against Article 22, when the language and intent of the initiative have overwhelming support from Vermonters. The many attacks by the opposition tend toward fear tactics and away from facts, and Vermonters are seeing right through that.
It is up to a pregnant person and, if they so choose and if applicable, their doctor, to make the decision that makes the most sense for them. When serious medical complications arise during pregnancy, doctors need to be able to use the full range of treatment options, including abortion if that's the best course.
This amendment would ensure that patients and their doctors, not politicians, would make health care decisions. I am proud of Vermonters, the work that has been done, and the votes that people have made and plan to make on November 8. We are going to make history, and we are going to take a step forward in making this nation an even better place. Please join me in voting yes on Proposal 5.
Prop 5 Too Vague
Neither the proponents nor the opponents of Article 22 quoted in ["Lasting Changes: Revisions to Vermont's Constitution — Dealing With Slavery and Abortion — Are on the Ballot This Fall," 2022 Election Guide, September 28] seem to be aware that it has problems that go beyond abortion rights. As noted by the opponents, the law uses the phrase "reproductive liberty" instead of "abortion." But the law would also give the government the power to infringe that liberty if there was a "compelling State interest." This "gotcha" would give the state the ability to implement control over "reproductive liberty" that goes far beyond abortion.
For example, the state could decide in the future that, due to a climate or population crisis, couples would no longer be allowed to have more than one child. Or the state could implement a social credit score that could be used to determine whether couples would be allowed to have children at all.
These scenarios may seem far-fetched, but similar systems have been implemented in China. We should also remember that, in the early 20th century, eugenicists recommended similar restrictions.
In short, Article 22 is so vague that it enables the exact opposite of the "reproductive liberty" that it supposedly safeguards, and it should be rejected on this basis.
Vote Yes on Prop 5
[Re "Lasting Changes: Revisions to Vermont's Constitution — Dealing With Slavery and Abortion — Are on the Ballot This Fall," 2022 Election Guide, September 28; Feedback: "Choice Words," October 12]: The League of Women Voters of Vermont, partner of the Vermont for Reproductive Liberty Ballot Committee, strongly supports the passage of Article 22 (Proposal 5), guaranteeing reproductive autonomy to Vermonters.
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is having devastating impacts on people who may become pregnant. This precedent poses a threat to the future protection of civil liberties of all Americans. In its 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that an individual's right to make their own reproductive choices without government interference was protected under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. With Roe overturned, states are already stripping more than 36 million women of reproductive age of the right to make decisions about their own bodies, leaving millions entirely without access to safe and legal abortion.
Fundamentally, health care should not be a controversial topic. As a basic premise, health care is the organized delivery of medical care to individuals or a community.
In 2019, Vermont passed comprehensive abortion rights legislation, protecting abortion as a fundamental right and ensuring choices for Vermonters.
However, in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision, the question becomes whether a future Vermont court might overturn our existing laws, eliminating our right to decide. Proposal 5, as a constitutional amendment, would uphold the right to abortion and contraception.
By voting yes on Prop 5, we, the people, can prevent politicians and others from dictating the most personal of our decisions and can strengthen our abilities to maintain our privacy and reproductive rights.
Medical Care Is Personal
[Re "Lasting Changes: Revisions to Vermont's Constitution — Dealing With Slavery and Abortion — Are on the Ballot This Fall," 2022 Election Guide, September 28; Feedback: "Choice Words," October 12]: Do you know anyone who has had a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy? How about premature labor, premature rupture of membranes, a stillborn, infertility? Is it your view that, in these cases or any other complications of pregnancy, this person's medical options should be decided by their state legislature or a federal court?
Or think of it this way: If you or a loved one were faced with a need for medical care, should you or they have to wait until their condition became life-threatening before their doctors could perform a safe and effective medical intervention to avert such a disaster?
Make no mistake about it: This is what is at stake with the Vermont Reproductive Liberty Amendment, known as Article 22 or Proposal 5. Decisions about your life and health belong to you, not to the courts or state legislatures.
New Blood in D.C.
[Re "Right Flank," October 12]: Americans believe that our government in Washington, D.C., is a big mess. Our long-term representatives have all contributed to that mess in some fashion. We must change that. Most states, including Vermont, believe that the mess was not created by their reps but by the reps from all the other states. As stated above, that is not correct; ours have helped. Vermont should set the direction for the country by changing our reps and sending all new people to Washington, starting with the election this fall, especially those who believe in term limits.
In Defense of Abortion
I am compelled to respond to the anti-choice letters to the editor [Feedback: "Choice Words," October 12] that have appeared in Seven Days:
1) "Abortion will be allowed up to the moment of birth." This statement is fiction. There is no doctor in Vermont who would perform elective abortion at some made-up and unknowable moment directly before birth. You might as well say this law also allows for Martian abduction. It tells me two things about the "anti" movement: They don't believe women have the intelligence to understand their own bodies or make decisions about their own futures; and the antis ignore the science of how pregnancy works, how it can go south, and what it does to a person's physical and mental well-being and financial future.
2) "Concern for women and children." Banning abortion does not stop abortion; it just kills more women. Real compassion is supporting family planning, education, safe and legal abortion, and families living in poverty. We all want there to be hardly any need for abortion.
3) "Abortion is already legal in Vermont." Only as a law and not as a constitutional right. If Proposal 22 did not pass, the anti-choice movement would continue the momentum seen around the rest of the country to take that law away.
Vote yes on Article 22/Proposal 5.
[Re 2022 Election Guide, September 28]: Whichever political party is in power at any given time, I hope we can all agree that we want those in power to protect and support our country and our families. Both parties have done things to enhance those things. Both parties are guilty of mistakes and corruption that endanger them. There's plenty of blame and praise to spread around.
But what about us? Democracy is a government of the people, by the people. We are the ultimate authority. The buck stops with us. What are our responsibilities?
Vote! Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy, but rules change, and there is a lot of inaccurate information about how to vote. Reliably check your registration here: voterparticipation.org/my-voter-info.
Research before you vote! I support leaders who want to make things better for my family. So, who voted for the Inflation Reduction Act? See "Legislative history" in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation_Reduction_Act_of_2022. In both the House and the Senate, every Democrat voted for it, and every Republican voted against it.
Vote for priorities that help our families! This November 8, we want to vote for leaders who will address big problems. So, why so much focus on attacking LGBTQ people, banning books and restricting health care?
I'm voting blue. How about you?