Letters to the Editor (3/16/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (3/16/22)


Published March 16, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated April 5, 2022 at 5:01 p.m.

Mom Approves

Thank you for publishing the article "Irons in the Fire" [March 2], which accurately described the passion and hard work that have gone into creating my son's business, Alder Hardt Ironworks. I want to clarify a quote in the article that stated, "Most of the stuff I make, you could go on Amazon and get for, like, a 10th of the price, but it's not going to be nearly as cool."

First, if you go on Amazon and search for "hand-forged blacksmith ironwork," you will see that if you compare apples to apples, Alder's work is priced comparably to what is on Amazon. What Alder was referring to is, if you compare apples to oranges, you could go on Amazon and buy a 10-pack of cheap-looking little factory-made hooks for $10.

The second point I want to make is that a handcrafted item is not only "cooler" than a factory-made item — it is also the quality, the beauty and the attention to detail that stand out. Just as eating a doughnut made from locally sourced, quality ingredients from Nate Doyon and Nina Livellara's Local Donut is a completely different experience than eating a week-old Freihofer's doughnut full of synthetic ingredients, a product purchased from Alder is functional artwork that will last for generations due to the high-quality craftsmanship.

Many thanks again for highlighting the work of a young blacksmith who is carrying on a tradition that has been critical to human culture for thousands of years.

Katrina Hardt


Virtual Town Meeting

*My town voted down

the proposal to let

the general store sell

legal pot.

I've never been a big fan

of cannabis.

Having once flown

too high.

Having found myself climbing

the walls

of a strange apartment.

Making love

with a stranger.

Although I love the scent

and music of Marley 

and the Grateful Dead.

Who filled a field of us,

years ago, in an airport

parking lot. Or was that

Vermont's homegrown

Phish? Two memories

I love to confuse.

For the sake of telling

my children. 

I still remember idling

after a concert,

bumper-to-bumper. Until 

almost dawn, and the lights

glowed on in a nearby barn.

The cows lowing to go out. 

Start their long day of grazing. 

Filling their bags.

Until it was time to follow

the path back to their stanchions.

Unload themselves, listening, 

I want to call it, to the radio

a milking hand propped

on a beer can. A beer brewed

in one of our local breweries.

My town approved. 

To build next to 

the Little League field.

Where, between innings, 

a beer could be grabbed.

If you were someone who didn't care

what a child, a player might think.

Because there wasn't a rule

or law against it.

Against listening to Kenny Chesney,

one of my favorite island

rum-drinkers, singing

our National Anthem.*

Gary Margolis


Hybrid Democracy

[Re "Democracy How?" February 23]: Let's not make Town Meeting Day go the way of the buffalo just yet! Keep it! Embrace it!

That said, it is almost comical how our state representatives appear on Town Meeting Day to declare: "All is well in Montpelier" but then exit within seconds! We get nearly the same thing from our town selectboard members.

Want a true town meeting? Require our House and Senate and state and town selectboards to allot a specific time frame for listening to point-blank questions that demand answers and not just a brief, sugarcoated "All is well; let's move on" — as is what usually occurs!

I've been to too many Town Meeting Day gatherings where I've seen a small number of individuals, albeit within their rights, either carefully time an issue being addressed or stay longer and shout the loudest to band together and approve matters by "changing the language" — on everything from town land acquisition and preservation issues to approving a town-wide "moral declaration" on a social or political issue that can be either completely sane or completely off the rails! And usually not representing the majority...

Keep Town Meeting Day! However, on social or political declarations and matters involving serious expense, require residents to vote by Australian ballot! 

Robert Devost


A Different View of Burlington

[Re "Burlington Council President Tracy Won't Run Again in March," January 6, online]: After reading the outgoing comments of the Burlington City Council president, it would seem that the only problems in Burlington were related to racial problems in our city. Granted, there have been some, but it seems that is the only focus of the Progressive Party.

I would think that the lack of development in our city core would be a major concern, as well as the much maligned police department and acting chief. Our city has major concerns due to the understaffed police force. Do we have to have fatalities to garner the attention of the Progressive wing of the city council? Of course, fixing these problems would not get national attention.

I would think that the vast majority of our city wants to have a healthy, vibrant downtown that is safe for their kids, as well as themselves. We need to place a priority on finally developing the wasteland downtown, build a healthy mix of commercial and residential buildings, restore staffing at the police department, and recognize the excellent leadership we have.

Jerry Spring


Listen Up

[Re WTF: "Why Do Local Radio Stations Play the Same Songs Over and Over?" February 2]: A story about local radio and no mention of the University of Vermont's WRUV? What makes this omission even more egregious is that WRUV has station policies that address the very topic of the article: lack of variety and new music in local radio. For example, when I was music director there, we had a long-standing policy that discouraged playing songs ever in the Billboard Hot 100 and artists who are in current rotation locally.

I have heard some derisively refer to the music on WRUV as unpopular, but it's actually better described as pre-popular. WRUV often played music from bands years earlier than the commercial stations.

Rich Ketcham


More Conservative Voices, Please

"A Perfect Match" [From the Publisher, February 9] should please Vermonters. When Seven Days increases funding, it helps growth, provides more content and increases revenue. All applaud those outcomes. Will the newly hired individuals become a fortuitous opportunity for Seven Days to diversify its newsroom, editorial staffing and the variety of articles?

In November 2020, Paula Routly described the challenges New England media outlets were experiencing to recruit conservative editorial voices ["Talking Cure," November 11, 2020]. Is it reasonable to ask if Seven Days has managed any substantive changes answering that challenge?

Seven Days was subjected to negative feedback after sending a reporter unfamiliar with gun culture to write an article about a local gun range. Conservatives hope that the addition of staff with different backgrounds might prevent future embarrassing issues. Was that a forgotten teachable moment?

Most hope that Vermont newspapers can increase readership and attract new customers. Conservatives are particularly at ease with organizations in which they periodically see and hear opinions similar to those they hold. Is Seven Days willing to address any deeper foundational issue of its employment practices and composition of the news/editorial staff and their work product? Will Vermonters embrace the Seven Days changes or view them as a convenient way to accrue benefits underwritten by all while allowing tax benefits for the more affluent?

Please consider hiring veterans and conservatives and letting them provide interesting articles serving all Vermonters. Try to grow your customer base; you may discover these new customers becoming interested, dedicated and financial supporters.

Matt Krauss


Activist to the End

Burlington activist Peggy Luhrs died last month of pancreatic cancer. Numerous readers responded to last week's cover story-length piece about her complicated legacy, which included both her contributions to the local women’s movement and lesbian community and her outspoken opposition to elements of what she called “the transgender agenda.”

Know Your Subject

I am disheartened, disappointed and angry at the article about Peggy Luhrs featured in the March 9 issue of Seven Days ["Turf Wars"]. It is far more of an opinion piece than a journalist's reflection on the lifework of this extraordinary activist, thinker and organizer. I wish the writer had shared the sources of her bias; she clearly chose not to include any of my experiences or thoughts about the world-changing, positive impact Peggy had on the lives and institutions in this city that she loved. In fact, many commented to me that the focus of the article was narrowed to very recent events and was a mean portrayal of a complicated, dedicated, remarkable life.

Peggy was also a loving woman and a renowned theorist, teacher, speaker and writer. She was a carpenter, artist, and founder and executive director of the Burlington Women's Council in the Bernie Sanders and Peter Clavelle administrations. She helped found many of the organizations we have come to rely on in this city to address the needs of women in Chittenden County.

I expected the writer to research these things rather than reduce Peggy's life's work to recent controversy. I am upset that I spent much valuable time looking for photos and talking with the writer for nearly an hour. I am upset with Seven Days' founders for not taking more of a personal interest in the coverage of this feminist peer.

While I applaud younger journalists for taking an interest in people who were "before their time," it is critical, given the power of the press, that their work be reviewed for clarity, balance and truth. I do not know this writer, and, clearly, she did not know, or seek to know, her subject.

Lynn Vera

South Burlington

'Peggy Was My Hero'

["Turf Wars," March 9] about Peggy Luhrs should have been titled, "Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead." While the actual title promises a complex portrayal of an extraordinary life, it actually offers a simplistic demonization at the time of Peggy's death. 

Chelsea Edgar paints a picture of Peggy as a hateful, angry, hysterical, out-of-control woman. Women who have stood up for women, who have been comfortable with their anger, have been pilloried throughout patriarchal history. Peggy always took the brunt of this labeling from women (horizontal hostility, anyone?) and for women.

Peggy was my hero. She never stopped fighting for women; her passion and, yes, anger at injustice came from her deep love of women, all women. While many of us age out of activism, Peggy bravely remained on the front lines throughout her life. 

It is a sad day when a depiction at the time of death stoops as low as this article. Shame on you, Seven Days; sensationalism doesn't become you.

Joy Livingston


More Trans Voices

The way Chelsea Edgar and Seven Days approached trans issues in the article on Peggy Luhrs' legacy demonstrates how far the media has to go in covering trans issues. I respect that Edgar is critical of Luhrs' views, but the piece ultimately gives more space to Luhrs supporters than trans people, giving a posthumous platform to Luhrs' views on her terms. 

Cis journalists often make the mistake of quoting trans-antagonistic activists at length while being unable to provide proper context due to lack of knowledge or giving trans organizers a fair chance at rebuttal. This article, like many others, gives the bulk of the "pro-trans" argument to cis allies rather than trans people. 

There are other confusing decisions in this article, such as giving Bradford Broyles an opportunity to call trans women "biological males," despite his tangential relevance to the article. 

The article also suggests that the attacks on trans women by some radical feminists are a recent phenomenon. In reality, trans women were involved in radical feminism from the beginning, and activists in Luhrs' milieu fought hard to kick us out of the movement. 

I hope that Seven Days authors who write about trans issues will take more time to speak with trans people (and not just nonprofit directors!) in the future and build their understanding of trans history and politics. Right now, our lives are under attack around the country. Good intentions are the first step, but we need well-informed allies now more than ever. 

Sasha Smith


Lesbian Lover

Chelsea Edgar rarely gets her facts right, and in ["Turf Wars," March 9] she does an injustice to Peggy Luhrs in more ways than one. The word TERF is usually understood to be an anti-feminist, sexist and misogynist slur. It is not just a slur but also hate speech.

Peggy knew what she was up against in her attempts to speak about transgender activists and their accompanying violence toward feminists who want to hold up women's sex-based rights. I so appreciate Robin Lloyd's comments in support of Peggy's attempts to discuss "today's feminist movement and the possible erasure of females within the movement." At 84, Lloyd is the only one quoted in this article who knows what she is talking about.

You might ask, "Why couldn't Peggy let sleeping dogs lie?" Because she loved women and especially loved being a lesbian. I loved Peggy and mourn her passing. She was a brilliant feminist theorist.

Jean Cass

South Burlington

Uncommon 'Womon'

As a retired reporter, I have always been wary of any claim of objective journalism. So I was unsurprised that Chelsea Edgar's dislike of Peggy Luhrs was evident in her piece [Turf Wars," March 9]. However, I was stunned to read a line that disparaged me. I'm referring to Chelsea's joke that Commonwomon was "deliberately misspelled so as to rid the suffix of any lingering testosterone." I found this comment dismissive and misinformed.  

Commonwomon was founded in 1978 by a group of feminists. The decision to misspell woman was not because we believed the word "man" to be imbued with testosterone. We considered the etymology of "woman" from the Old English "wifman," or wife of a man. We weren't appendages to men, so we misspelled "woman." 

Edgar's joke about "rid[ding] the suffix of any lingering testosterone" also makes me wonder about her understanding of grammar. In the word "woman," "man" isn't the suffix added to the word "wo"; "wo" is the prefix added to the word "man."  

In 1978, there was only one print media outlet, the Burlington Free Press. It was a corporate-owned, conservative newspaper whose newsroom was entirely male, except for a few "lifestyles" reporters. Commonwomon and the Vanguard Press both emerged in 1978 to offer an alternative. Both publications helped break the stranglehold the Free Press had over the information and opinions Burlingtonians could hear.

Chelsea, this joke was a cheap shot, which dismissed the work of dozens of women in Burlington, upon whose shoulders you are now standing.

Jo Schneiderman