VCV Is Not VNRC
In an article by Paul Heintz about the Shumlin administration's weak commitment to cleaning up Lake Champlain, he states that Vermont Conservation Voters is an "affiliate" of the Vermont Natural Resources Council [Fair Game: "Troubled Waters," April 9]. While VCV works closely with VNRC and concurs with many of its positions on environmental matters, the organization is independent and has a separate board of directors.
Biddle is the chair of Vermont Conservation Voters.
I was happy to see your article bringing lake fish to the attention of locavores ["Why a State Obsessed With 'Local' Doesn't Eat Vermont Fish," April 23]. However, I believe the case for eating local fish was understated. The article failed to mention the fish that was featured in both photos: white perch. It's an invasive species, and it is more closely related to bass than to the beloved yellow perch. In some parts of the lake, it's practically the only fish you can catch. Some old-timers curse it every time it's mentioned. However, it has meaty fillets and is very tasty. Commercial fishermen were catching 100 to 200 pounds in a late-season day this winter.
The price per pound steadily decreased as the market was flooded from Canada and the Great Lakes. There are a lot of these fish, and they are a problem. Developing a local market for them would help to control their numbers. It would also create a "value-added" industry around fishing, where the added value from processing the fish would stay in Vermont instead of going to a Canadian processor for pennies. Global fisheries are in trouble. There are too many people eating fish from the ocean. Farmed fish are of dubious quality and can be ecologically harmful. Contamination by mercury is a concern in all fish everywhere, not just in Vermont. Small fish such as perch are safer than most of the fish you buy at the supermarket.
To Know the Nelsons
Letter writer Steve Merrill's lack of compassion for Don and Shirley Nelson is indicative of a frightening societal trend in which our moral compasses seem to point nowhere [Last 7: "Blown Away," April 16; Feedback: "No Sympathy for Nelsons," April 30]. The Nelsons, whose moral compass is intact, refused to sell their land to the Vermont Land Trust once they discovered that Green Mountain Power was orchestrating the sale behind the scenes. To Merrill, it is just about the money. But to the Nelsons, it was not only about a refusal to roll over to corporate bullying; it was about a deep love of and connection to the land that has been home to Don his whole life. When you walk their fields and forests with them, a wealth of stories emerges: stories about Don's childhood, about raising their four children, about their bond with the wildlife that shares the land with them. But now, like the wildlife, they have to leave because they are sick from the turbines. The courage and tenacity demonstrated by the Nelsons — and by Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, who worked tirelessly on their behalf — comes from the heart. But I guess you need to have one to recognize that.
As an acquaintance of your music writer and with honestly no disrespect meant, I double-dog dare Dan Bolles to write an entire Soundbites without once talking about himself. I've been a longtime reader of Bolles' column, and while I have plenty of respect for him as a writer, when I read the music section of Seven Days, it is because I want to know about our beautiful town's music scene, not the person who is supposedly writing about it. I have lost count of how many Soundbites have begun with the letter "I." Consider this my friendly challenge.
Underwear It's At
Thanks to Xian Chiang-Waren and Ethan de Seife for their article ["Mission: Economical," April 9] — a review of area thrift stores. We all enjoyed reading their review of Retroworks, which is a charity resale store in Middlebury that generates revenues for its parent organization, HOPE, to use for poverty-relief efforts. Chiang-Waren observed that shoppers "might want to skip the used underwear rack." Yes, for those who can afford to purchase their underwear new, by all means do so. We carry clean, used, low-cost underwear in order to have it available for the low-income people who can't afford to purchase it in department stores.
While our customer base is large and varied, including many people from upper-income brackets, there is also a significant number of those from the lower part of the scale. For them, clean, used and affordable is just the ticket. We also provide a large amount of free clothing (underwear is always in high demand!) and household items to those who have no money. Thanks to all the people who come and pay cash for our merchandise, we generated over $80,000 in revenue last year and used this to pay for housing, heat, food, medical items and more.
And to de Seife, we're so glad you liked our media section. You'll be interested to know that we actually have tons of rare and valuable vinyl that we've been holding aside in order to determine how to maximize its potential revenue. We're going to be moving it out soon. Stay tuned!
Montross is the executive director of HOPE.
Board Needs Better Training
Excellent reporting on ["Failing Math: Getting to the Bottom (Line) of Burlington's School Budget Crisis," May 7]. This board needs to reckon with its own inexperience and undertake an extensive program of professional development to understand its proper role.
Werbel is a former member of the Burlington School Board.