Grateful for Two Stories
If you think about it, the way people get out of the hardest jams in life is by people committing to take care of other people — whether the focus is someone close to you or your community or the world at large. For thousands of years, some extraordinarily wise people have been saying that sacrifice is the core to a lasting sense of personal joy.
Today we're lucky to have wise folks like the Dalai Lama and Brother David Steindl-Rast talking about the power of gratitude. So here's a huge thanks to Jernigan, Chelsea, the people in the stories they told and Seven Days for reminding us so vividly of what matters. Keep it coming.
[Re Off Message: "As Biden Wins South Carolina, Sanders Eyes Super Tuesday," February 29]: Bernie Sanders proposes that the United States should become more like Europe with a broader social safety net, higher taxes and a smaller military. But the American system has fostered a spirit of innovation and world leadership that Europe can't match.
Europe hasn't put a man on the moon or landed a rover on Mars. Europe didn't invent the microprocessor, the personal computer, the internet or the global positioning system. Europe didn't spawn Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, SpaceX, Google or Amazon. Europe did start two world wars, but it was unable to bring either to a satisfactory conclusion without help from the United States. Even today, much of the world relies on the United States for its defense.
While it may be tempting to imagine what might be gained by becoming more like Europe, it's frightening to consider what could be lost.
In his profile of Chief Don Stevens ["Elder Statesman," February 26], Ken Picard inexplicably stooped to snidely describe my act of civil disobedience against the white supremacist "Everyone Loves a Parade!" mural as a "do-gooder" exercise. He went on to mistakenly quote the Off the Wall Coalition action out of a much larger political context.
We certainly stated that the offensive memorial in our town square "obliterates First Nation peoples' lives and history" because it erases more than 12,000 years of Abenaki existence in favor of the white European settler Samuel de Champlain. That observation is not an attempt, as Picard incorrectly concludes, "to represent the interests of Vermont's indigenous people," but simply to state an undeniable fact. We also pointed out that 93 of the 94 "notables" portrayed in the mural were white, and most were male.
White people should never have the right to define and speak on behalf of communities of color. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority from those communities demand that conscientious white people call out and condemn politicians and institutions on their expressed and covert racism that visibly and shamelessly bolsters the virulent and growing nationalism under the Trump regime.
That's why the Off the Wall Coalition calls on all Burlington residents to demand that their city council representative vote in March to immediately and unconditionally remove the mural and send Mayor Miro Weinberger the message of our desire for the inclusivity of all our communities.
Petrarca is spokesperson for the Off the Wall Coalition.
Thanks for the History Lesson
Late to the dance, but I literally was just at the "Pate Hotel" 30 minutes ago dropping off lesson plans for one of my students. Walked back home and saw the house mentioned on the awesome Burlington Area History Facebook group. That led me to this Seven Days article ["Hidden Hospitality," February 22, 2017], which blew my mind! Great research. Great community.
[Re Off Message: "Burlington Announces Scaled-Down District Energy Plan," February 17]: The City of Burlington's plan for a "district heat system" seems to be a smart way to use the waste heat produced by the McNeil Generating Station, but it is missing the point.
Burning anything produces carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is warming our planet. The McNeil plant itself is contributing to our problem, from the chain saws, tree harvesters, skidders, trucks hauling the trees, chippers and trains moving the chips to the burning of the chips — all of which produce carbon dioxide ["Carbon Quandary," October 9, 2019].
Dartmouth College recently abandoned its proposed wood chip plant after a storm of protests and is now looking at a geothermal solution to its heating problem. The city and University of Vermont would do the planet a favor if they spent that $16 million on making their buildings net-zero energy users and considered using the lake water and heat pumps to solve their heating problems in an environmentally friendly manner.
Plenty of Parking in SoBu
South Burlington has almost 7,000 private and public parking lots that sit empty more than half the time, according to city planners. Yet one candidate for city council wants more parking ["Suburban Spat," February 19]!
Thanks to Seven Days for highlighting a race where one candidate clearly wants to go back in time and one candidate wants to build a city that is not totally dependent on cars — a city that encourages walking and biking and turning unused parking spaces into green space. Cheers to Meaghan Emery for taking on the fossil fuel industry.
Watts is cofounder of Sustainable Transportation Vermont.