Thanks to Chelsea Edgar for her excellent piece on Huntington Open Women's Land ["HOWLing at the Moon," November 20]. With her trademark insight, humor and deep research, she gave a substantive and respectful overview of how things are evolving for HOWL in particular, and women's spaces in general, as ideas about gender and identity change. I feel like the heart of the story was a quote from current caretaker Meg Mass, who says, "It's not about undoing [the founding generation's] work but building upon it."
Maybe Edgar should do a whole book about this generational phenomenon. She could title it, Who Moved My Chaga Mushroom?
[Re "HOWLing at the Moon," November 20]: I really feel for the "Sisters of Sappho" here in Vermont and nationwide who, after all the hard work and gains that started in the 1960s to finally carve out a place that writer Chelsea Edgar calls "penis-free," see it all evaporate in a cloud of political correctness by "women" with penises who decided they were not men. I feel especially bad for the young women whose mothers and grandmothers fought to get Title IX recognition, funding and equity for bio-women in school programs and sports. To see all that dissipate on account of bio-men who just waltz in and take record after record, canceling out all the hard work and pain just because they can.
I'm with the older lesbians. Screw the PC culture. Why allow this insanity for 0.001 percent of the population and ignore the 55 percent? I think this is a line most Americans will not allow to be crossed, no matter the "howls" from the trans community.
In Defense of de Champlain
[Re "Big Colonizer on Campus," November 6]: I would strongly urge the reading of David Hackett Fischer's book Champlain's Dream, an incredibly well-researched historical account of the man and settling of New France.
Coming out of the religious wars in France and appalled at what he observed of how the Spanish treated natives in the territories they conquered, Samuel de Champlain had a radically different vision. It included respect for native culture and cultural exchange — having young Frenchmen go and live in native villages, and natives, in return, living in France. Much there to be admired, given the times and circumstance.
I enjoyed Courtney Lamdin's fine article about Amtrak and the need to service the train overnight ["Runaway Train?" November 13]. This idea of an additional rail siding along the bike path between College and King streets is sure to boil over. Why not install that extra rail siding at the McNeil Generating Station?
Biking Is Better
[Re "Montréal by Vélo," October 30]: Though nights are getting longer and colder, commuting by bike is still a great option if you are prepared. Burlington, Essex Junction, Williston and the Vermont Agency of Transportation, among others, have made tremendous progress in adding and maintaining bicycle infrastructure in the region during the last few years.
Let's show our appreciation by leaving the car at home and making use of their hard work. The vast majority of commuters in the region are traveling alone in a car while buses travel the same routes, and bikes are just more fun. Put them together, and now you can really get somewhere. If you can ski, skate, snowmobile or walk in the winter, you can probably get somewhere on a bike, too. Bundle up, put on some lights and give it a try. While you might disappear in a Winooski roundabout pothole, you're more than likely to find a great way to get outside, reduce road construction and put some action into your global concerns.
Thanks to Chelsea Edgar for her Quick Lit review of Hexagrams, by Anna Blackmer ["Heads or Tails," October 30]. She does a service to readers in highlighting a beautiful book that uses the I Ching as a takeoff point for charting the poet's personal journey in poems that feel both strange and familiar. They manage to be both crystalline and shadowy, and they invite readers to connect with their own journeys, as good art always does.
Unfortunately, Edgar's review sometimes misses the book's power, as when it speaks of Blackmer's language having a "sibylline randomness," or in this sentence: "Like the head-exploding insights into the human condition you might scribble on a napkin while stoned at 3 a.m., Blackmer's verse makes the most sense from just outside your skull."
I don't know what "from just outside your skull" means, but I do know that there is nothing random about the language in these poems that were composed over 30 years (as the author tell us at the end). And these poems are nothing like what one might scribble while stoned at 3 a.m. They are as carefully constructed as a fine, handcrafted cabinet and as free as a cardinal leaping from a branch. Like the I Ching itself, these poems push us, as they must have pushed the poet, to confront inner realities built out of experience and observation of the world.
Kudos to the poet and to Burlington's Fomite Press for bringing out this fine book.
Downtown in Trouble
I would take issue with some of the comments in [Off Message: "Burlington Shop Owner Named Church Street Marketplace Head," November 12]. The downtown is not doing well, and between the construction and the lack of parking due to the destruction of the downtown mall, my business, Randolin Music, had its worst summer — and is headed for its worst year — since opening in 2011.
I talk with other storeowners, and everyone is saying the same thing. It's difficult to understand how you can say business is booming when it's not. The lack of parking alone has brought our business to the point of considering a move. It's incredible the number of times customers complain about it or call asking how long we're open because they're looking for and can't find parking. What we need from Mayor Miro Weinberger and the Burlington City Council are some real answers about what they plan on doing with the hole that was the Burlington mall and the almost 600 parking spaces they took out with it. Not to mention removing an indoor space that provided tourist and downtown customers with public restrooms and a place to get out of the weather in winter.
If this is meant to be pro-business and business-friendly, it's surely a joke.