'I Know What It Feels Like'
Props to Seven Days for the "Hooked" series. Some people don't know much about opioid addiction. Some of us know way too much; I know way more than anyone should.
I know all about the Vermont corrections enterprise. How doctors from the University of Vermont Medical Center way overprescribed dangerous drugs to me. I know what it feels like to be homeless. I know what it's like to have my family turn their backs on me. I know what it's like to be broke and hungry. I know how handcuffs feel on my skin. I know what it's like to wake up in the hospital after being brought back to life from an overdose. I know what it's like to crash a number of vehicles. I know what it's like to see shame and pity in the eyes of my two sons. I wish I didn't know any of these things.
I paid a very heavy price dealing with five shattered vertebrae from crashing a car. The good things I got from it: a new love of life, the gift of gratitude, learning responsibility and how to be honest. I now know what it's like to be forgiven. To be loved for the person I am, not what I do. I know how it feels to be proud. What it's like to help others. How good life can be.
If you know someone or are someone with this problem, please get help.
Editor's note: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association staffs a free, confidential, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-662-HELP.
Who's the Victim?
[Re "Hooked: 'Broken Parents = Broken Kids,'" November 6]: I know that it is heartbreaking for a parent to have lost custody of a child, but I can't buy the suggestion of this article that somehow there is enough money or time or services that could have safely kept these kids in their homes.
As an EMT, I see children at the scenes of overdoses who have witnessed, sometimes more than once, what they thought was the death of a parent. Do we owe that person, no matter what caused them to become diseased with the disorder, so many chances? Should children be taken away and given back dozens of times only to see their parents fail and feel responsible for that failure over and over and over again?
I certainly do not know the answer, but the tone of this article bothers me immensely. Children should not be a part of the addiction journey, whether the addiction is drugs, alcohol or violence. Just go into any Vermont elementary school and see the emotional distress that today's children are under. I agree that there could be a third way with lots of connection, but, again, making these parents seem like a greater victim than the child is just plain wrong.
Margaret Heussy Laggis
First Step: Take the Bus
[Re Off Message: "Vermont Youths Join Massive Global Climate Protests," September 20]: Young people are right to be concerned about waste, pollution, poverty and the idea of unlimited growth in a finite world. But there was a remark that this situation was "forced on them."
Modern people young and old think they need to have the latest in toys, clothing, entertainment and especially the newest technology: phones, computers, etc. Students could set a great example if they began riding the school buses, and we'd end up with nearly empty parking lots at school.
Put forth a real effort and show that you are serious about making a difference.
Congratulations to the Burlington High School girls' soccer team for bringing attention to the important issue of equal pay, regardless of gender [Off Message: "BHS Girls Soccer Team Scores Media Spotlight With #EqualPay Jerseys," October 21]. However, I can't help but notice the irony in having the Nike logo emblazoned on the new shirts. Besides the issues of corporatism associated with turning ourselves into miniature billboards, has anyone taken a minute to consider fair pay for the workers stuck manufacturing these jerseys in the sweatshops of countries like China, Indonesia and Vietnam?
80 Percent 'Unaffordable'
[Re Off Message: "CityPlace Burlington Developers Unveil Scaled-Down Proposal," October 29]: The Seven Days article reporting the latest development scheme for the downtown crater states that of the 280 to 300 units of housing being planned, only 20 percent would be "affordable." Doesn't this mean that 80 percent of the housing being built would be unaffordable?
The nuts and bolts of this policy mean that studio apartments would probably rent for at least $1,000 per month or more, which is out of the price range of many, if not most, working Vermonters today. After listening to so-called "progressives" pay lip service to the need for more affordable housing, why haven't they spoken up about this aspect of the city's plans — that is, to build more luxury housing in the heart of downtown and turn Burlington into a city for the elite?
In my opinion, this is not the way to build a truly "sustainable" city. Seven Days would do a service to the public if it paid attention to this flawed and unsustainable approach to housing development along with the comic aspects of this downtown development travesty, as it did in a previous article ["Pit Happens," September 18].
So great to read the exposé on Steve Conant's contributions to and stewardship of our South End Arts and Business District along Pine Street ["Lighting the Way," October 30]. These accolades are well deserved.
To clarify a few facts about the history of some key stakeholders: The nonprofit ReSOURCE did not start in 1996 — ReSOURCE was a rebrand of Recycle North. Founder Ron Krupp established Recycle North in the 1980s in partnership with the Chittenden Solid Waste District and Community Economic Development Office, which provided seed funding. It was Krupp's brainchild to divert materials from the waste stream, train people without job skills in appliance repair and provide affordable used household items. Thomas Longstreth was the second director of Recycle North and rebranded the organization after merging with YouthBuild, a job-training organization for youth.
The 1980s were a fertile time in Burlington, when city government played an activist role in rebuilding the economy and the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors. Recognizing all of the people and organizations that seeded the success we reap today honors their legacy and demonstrates the critical role that public-private partnerships play in community and economic development.