A strong start to the comic replacing "Ope" in the Fun Stuff section! Ope always made me laugh, but Julianna Brazill came in swinging with a simple but chuckle-inducing comic [May 11]. Cutting it out and adding it to my collection of Seven Days comics, for sure! Farewell, "Ope," and welcome, Julianna!
Editor's note: We found not one but two local cartoonists to replace Phil Gerigscott's now-retired "Ope": Julianna Brazill will alternate weekly with Kristen Shull.
Having read "Berth to Death" [April 27] and Art Cohn's follow-up letter [Feedback: "Save Our Ship," May 11] supporting the use of wind-powered craft to transport goods today, I was encouraged to see a recent editorial from a Massachusetts news site on that very topic. It notes that several companies are considering the revival of this shipping method, including ocean travel, and the valid reasons behind the idea. Whatever happens to the Lois McClure, the boat has proven to be a bellwether for things to come.
Small Is Enough
Regarding "Cottages Industry" [April 27], why we aren't building some version of tiny houses or studios near our towns? We've considered doing so here in Colchester, but zoning doesn't permit it. Vermont employers are desperate — as in, begging and groveling! — for employees. Lack of housing is utterly stifling small business growth.
Maybe a tiny house is too small, but too many larger houses are going up. We suspect lots of people would be very happy with 800 to 1,000 square feet to call their own. Nearly all of the new homes on the market are in excess of 2,000 square feet.
My partner and I live in 1,800 square feet, 600 of which are an oversize garage. We could certainly live in a smaller space. I guess lots of people would happily move into a tight space they could call their own.
We need to build basic compact housing — or Vermont is going to be completely shut down to all small business growth.
Any builders out there want to consider a village of small homes?
[Re "Bill Truex, 'Citizen Architect' Who Designed Burlington's Church Street, Dies," April 12, online]: Last December, Bill Truex and I finally got together for a visit. We had 46 years of journeys to catch up on. Bill and his partner, Gene Alexander, hired me straight out of architecture school in 1972, just before the recession hit and architectural jobs for interns dried up. I left for Alaska in 1975, retiring to Vermont in 2011.
Contrary to commonly held notions that egos drive architects, most are dedicated to the hope of leaving this world a better place than when they arrived through developing and applying skills, knowledge and experience. Bill was the epitome of this: As we walked to lunch on Church Street, I recognized his own planning efforts and asked him if Burlington's results reflected his expectations. His response was typical for Bill. He deflected any focus on his own efforts but rather cited the community's success in achieving a more livable environment through its collective efforts. That was the Bill Truex that I had respected and honored all these years: humble and genuine, with a focus on public good rather than on himself. We just touched the surface on sharing our journeys last December and had planned on resuming this spring.
Charles Darwin cited humans' ability to pass on their stories and knowledge as a major element in their ability to adapt and evolve. Through focusing his life on such efforts, Bill has left this world a better place. Thank you, Bill.
Fern Feather, stabbed to death days before a 30th birthday ["'A Star-Being': Friends Mourn Fern Feather, a Transgender Woman Killed in Morristown," April 15, online].
Chunks of concrete hurled through the door of the Pride Center of Vermont in Burlington ["It's a Really Tough Time': Vandal Throws Rock Through Front Door of Pride Center," April 26, online].
Let us take care not to take these events out of context. Throughout the U.S., states are waging and winning battles against their marginalized citizens. The victor in these battles is clear, for they have taken off their Klan robes and now sit proudly under the gilded domes of government. They want what they have always wanted: homogeneity through the exclusion and subjugation of all who differ. They are getting it.
We need look back no further than the 1860s for proof that majority rule can and has crumpled under the weight of good versus evil. And when the gentler tools of diplomacy fail, our democratic society has one ugly fail-safe that has proven effective at resetting the conscience of the masses and restoring civility.
In the first American Civil War, the oppressed did not free themselves. Scores of white male volunteers poured in from every free state — volunteers who realized that the moral high ground was not an impenetrable fortress and that defending it meant defending those outside, as well as within, its protective walls.
Hundreds gathered in Morristown to mourn the murder of Fern Feather. More than 600,000 Vermonters were notably and achingly absent.
In 1859, Henry David Thoreau delivered "A Plea for Captain John Brown" to an audience in Concord, Mass. Today, I've too many martyrs to name but plead just the same.
Who Pays for Medicaid?
[Re "As Costs Rise, Vermont's Largest Hospitals Demand More Money," March 23, online]: In response to recent coverage about who pays for health care, I wanted to add another perspective I gained after working in the field of human resources.
Prior to doing payroll and health care benefits administration, I had naïvely thought people on Medicaid were those who were unemployed or couldn't work for some reason. I would love to see statistics on how many people working 30-plus hours a week are on Medicaid because they are paid such low wages that they qualify. It's a great thing for the employees, and I'm grateful they have the option, but obviously someone is paying for it.
While the federal government may be subsidizing commercially run insurances that provide Medicare, we are all subsidizing American companies that don't pay their employees enough to afford the health care plans they offer. Many of these employees are also eligible for rent subsidies, and a few I know left one job after eight hours to go work a second job so they could make ends meet.
Our system has become ridiculously expensive because no one — except the middle class — is paying their fair share, and we have a layer of insurance companies in between whose sole motivation is profit. I think one thing we can all agree on is that insurance companies don't give a damn about our good health.
I wholeheartedly agree with G. Richard Dundas [Feedback: "Health Care Is Broken," April 20] that the only way out of this mess is a universal single-payer system.
Mary Kim Lavery
'Insulate, Insulate, Insulate'
[Re "Charging Forward," February 9]: Decoupling from fossil fuels is to be applauded. But a point is missed: Decoupling from heating needs is the target. Insulate, insulate, insulate and insulate more. The house may cost more, but return on investment can also be proven. We can sell homes when showing yearly heating costs are low. Naysayers have pea-size arguments to make. They may then go away so we all may work toward decreasing fuel consumption and selling homes with lower monthly costs.
Trouble With Transplant
In ["A Proposed Private Runway for Beta Founder Kyle Clark Creates Turbulence in Lincoln," April 20], you wrote: "Martine Rothblatt, the CEO of the biotech firm that produced the first genetically modified pig heart to be successfully transplanted into a human recipient."
This is not correct! The man who received the pig heart died two months later. If you are going to state the facts, you must do it correctly.
Questionable Word Choice
[Re "Leaked SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Is Likely to Buoy Prop 5 Support in Vermont," May 3, online]: I am distressed that our legislators chose to pass a law in 2019 that contains the words "every individual who becomes pregnant."
I know they were thinking to the future of our brave new world when allegedly any person will be able to choose their gender, but for now what's wrong with using the word "women"? Writing laws for some future miracle scenario is a strange use of taxpayers' money. Stop listening to the tripe being fed to us by the pharmaceutical companies who are trying to change our language in order to rake in our money. "Woman" is a perfectly good word.
As for states that pass laws criminalizing abortion, both parties involved should go to jail — men as well as women. Do the crime, do the time.
In his recent letter [Feedback: "Way to Make a Difference," May 4], Douglas Hoffman expressed an objection to meaningful climate regulations in Vermont based on the type of limited and constrained thinking typical of climate deniers and Republicans.
Never mind that while it may be true that Vermont's contribution to global CO2 emissions is minimal, choosing to do nothing is the moral equivalent of not voting. But who knows? Maybe Mr. Hoffman doesn't vote.
Instead, in referencing his state senator's remark regarding Vermont's role in providing climate leadership, he misses the point entirely. To interpret the senator's remark as a need to "feel good" about oneself is a spectacular failure of understanding and imagination.
It's not about "feeling good." It's about moving away from 19th-century technologies while adopting 21st-century ones. It's about recognizing that, among other things, if no effort is made to transition away from the world's necessarily finite supply of fossil fuels, it is only then that we will have to "endure the hardships" that Mr. Hoffman seems keen to avoid. Most importantly, it's about Vermont having the opportunity to demonstrate to the country and the rest of the world that a clean-energy economy can be vibrant and produce good-paying jobs.
So cheer up, Mr. Hoffman; it's very simple. Why not help out the next generation?