'I Expected Better'
I was very disappointed in your cover story, "Kicked to the Curb," about the situation of homeless individuals and families throughout the pandemic.
Reporter Chelsea Edgar happens to encounter a disgruntled Committee on Temporary Shelter employee and overhears an unpleasant exchange between a Champlain Housing Trust employee and one of the individuals at their Harbor Place residence. That's it? No mention of the fact that COTS staff have been working diligently at 14 different motels since the pandemic began, getting people their stimulus checks, medications, phones, and at the same time moving 59 households out of motels into permanent housing? Or that CHT pulled off practically a miracle by converting several motels into permanent housing during the pandemic, and while private developers reap the financial rewards of a booming housing market, CHT soldiers on, continuing to create affordable housing for low-income individuals and families?
I expected better, much better, from Seven Days on this story.
Redmond is the executive director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services.
As someone who has previously lived unhoused for several years of my life, including 12 lengthy, grueling years during the last go-around, I want to express my deepest appreciation and heartfelt gratitude for Chelsea Edgar's compelling and extremely moving (read: heart-wrenching) article published last week, entitled "Kicked to the Curb."
Finally, here is a journalist who carefully listens to people living unhoused, takes them and their stories seriously, telling it like it is.
In my opinion, this article and its author are certainly worthy of being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Morgan W. Brown
You Forgot Some Folks
Love "Vermont Pandemic All-Stars," June 9. Don't forget the folks who made it possible to bring and stock the food and then checked us out. And many were near the last to be able to be vaccinated.
Memorial v. Veterans
I very much enjoyed reading the individual stories of the featured veterans ["Alive to Tell the Tale," May 25]. Important and timely. Indeed, my father served in Europe during WWII.
Just a reminder, however, about the meaning and purpose of Memorial Day: Each November, on Veterans Day, we honor those who served in the United States Armed Services. On Memorial Day, we honor those who died while serving. That difference is important, as over time the distinction between the two holidays has blurred, to the detriment, in my view, of Veterans Day. I would like to see renewed importance placed on Veterans Day, thereby perhaps leading to a clearer focus on the true meaning of Memorial Day.
'A Big Thank You' to Seven Days
I owe Seven Days a big thank you. A year ago I did something I thought I'd never, ever do: post a personal ad.
After moving to Vermont a year earlier, I'd just begun to plug in to society when the COVID door slammed in my face, leaving me totally alone and isolated. Three months in, with the loneliness meter off the charts and the physical isolation unbearable, the "Acerbic, Artsy Altruist" created her Seven Days personal ad. I was thrilled with the response and made a date with the "Active Optimist" — a perfect antidote to my COVID cloistering.
We met at the boat landing on a very hot day. I arrived in a wide-brimmed sun hat, big sunglasses, and a bright white KN95 face mask. The Optimist, identified by his Red Sox cap, wore sunglasses and a blue surgical mask. (Thanks to Seven Days, we'd already seen headshots of each other.)
Socially distanced at six feet, we made our introductions and amazingly, carried on a most enjoyable conversation — agreeing to meet soon for a hike. We hiked Red Rocks and have never looked back. I'd found the perfect partner to survive the pandemic with and a whole lot more.
During this past year we kept each other healthy, celebrated the defeat of Donald Trump, sobbed when they stormed the U.S. Capitol and grieved for George Floyd. But now we're vaccinated, we've tossed our masks and the sun is shining. Sure glad I met the Optimist. Thanks again!
Powell Perfect for U.S. Senate
[Re Fair Game, June 16]: If U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy retires next year, it would be amazing for Vermont to send an experienced, accomplished Vermont woman to the U.S. Senate.
Congratulations to Molly Gray as lieutenant governor. Gray has strong Vermont family political credentials, and to date has represented Vermont well and run a successful campaign.
However, Mary Powell would be the best choice for the U.S. Senate. Powell is a highly qualified woman with deep experience as head of Green Mountain Power for 12 years and now an active citizen volunteering her expertise on boards. Powell was an innovative manager, energetic team builder and collaborative leader at GMP — winning national recognition for her work.
At this critical time Powell is well positioned with her dedication and deep practical experience working for solutions to reduce climate warming.
Regarding politics and campaigning, it's true Powell hasn't run a campaign for political office.
Being a U.S. senator requires strong political skills. As CEO of Vermont's largest electric utility, Powell successfully navigated many political challenges. Working with federal and state regulators, other utilities, and corporate partners required strong political skills to work together to achieve the best results for GMP Vermont customers!
I hope Mary Powell will be encouraged to run and she will accept!
Mark Johnson's recent remarks on Molly Gray put her in a no-win situation [Fair Game, June 16]. She works hard and she's too ambitious. She defends her background as legitimate preparation for public service and her background is then compared with other politicians going back 50 years. Vermont needs to stop looking for young leaders with 20 years' experience. They don't exist. We need to stop complaining about career politicians while expecting decades of political experience of all candidates for higher office. We need more young people in leadership. We need to consider what individuals are capable of doing in the future, and we need to stop idolizing 70- or 80-year-old white men as our only leadership prototype.
I look forward to leadership from Molly Gray and other young leaders. Her background exemplifies the skills, ability and curiosity I want in leaders as they come on stage. I hope we can let her work hard and welcome her ambition and the ambition of other young people however it may reveal itself.
I loved the conversation review in the June 9 issue ["Talk It Out: MOWED MUSIC"]! I literally blew some food out my nose at dinner while reading Dan Bolles' suggestion that Glenn Wyent should do house parties. Hahahahahahaaa! Hilarious!
Thanks for making me laugh today. I needed it!
Weekday mornings about this time
the sky shakes, rattling windows,
grinding conversations into silence,
outblasting radios, scaring dogs.
I am glad that the roaring overhead
aims its threat elsewhere than me,
also sad and angry I am beneath
the notice of those directing it.
Their disruptive machines, they claim,
protect me, but they do not care
that I do not want their protection.
What are they protecting me against?
The still of white clouds in a blue sky,
a tranquil morning cup of tea,
numberless birds flocking on radar,
ghosts wielding obsolete weapons.
What do they offer besides noise but
death to other flyers and piles of
death to drop on someone somewhere?
I do not want such "protection."
To house the warplanes here, they razed
our neighbors' homes so no one should
live within the most damaging din.
"We destroyed the village to save it."
They believe they've leashed Zeus and Thor.
Should we be grateful for the jobs and
money our communities
accrue from serving their thunder?
I am not grateful for these scraps
fallen off destruction's table.
Why prefer not to employ people
to better other people's lives?
In 1935, Dupont came out with the saying "Better Living Through Chemistry." It promoted business as a force for moral good and progress. Over the past 80 years, big businesses, as well as the military industrial complex, have proven that they are not a force for moral good. Take the case of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, aka PFAS.
PFAS are everywhere now. PFAS are now found in breast milk and rain. The dangers of PFAS have been known since the 1950s but covered up through a number of clever and amoral marketing strategies.
While Vermont has passed one of the most restrictive PFAS laws in the country, it is only a first step. What still needs to be done? Quite a lot.
The military, airports and chemical companies need to use fluorine-free fire fighting foams now.
We need to hold the military, chemical companies and other businesses accountable for PFAS cleanup.
We need to mandate testing of fish, wildlife, rivers, streams and people for PFAS.
We need to ban the entire class of man-made PFAS chemicals, not just the five PFAS chemicals currently regulated in Vermont law.
We need to impose a moratorium on the use of biosolids on agricultural lands and update the sludge rule, requiring PFAS testing.
Vermont legislators must pass more legislation. Vermont citizens need to educate themselves and stop supporting companies and businesses that are selling them environmental toxins. Better living through chemistry has resulted in a public health crisis through environmental poisoning.
[Re Off Message: "With Song, Food and Fellowship, Burlington Celebrates Juneteenth," June 19]: It seems that Black slaves in Texas during the Civil War knew about their emancipation, but their slave holders ignored it, often with vicious denial, until a military officer proclaimed that slavery was forbidden. This is a most important distinction because it reflects on the presumption that the holiday is about the white man who told slaves they were freed; a folklore story something like Santa coming down the chimney with gifts.
In truth, the original Juneteenth event was a proclamation by a Union general to a state that chose to ignore the newly consolidated United States. The proclamation went on to say that slaves were to be paid for their labor and suggested that they remain with their former masters. We can imagine how that might work!
Juneteenth is a day of jubilation not because of Union Maj. General Gordon Granger's arrival, but because it was a step forward for Black people, whose liberation still remains in jeopardy. It behooves us white people to be aware of how often we "white-wash" the narrative of Black history, or repress it. On Juneteenth and every day, our proper role is to advocate for civil rights, voter rights, health care and restitution — including promises made for land to farm. These are issues in need of our support and respect right now, every day. The liberation of any people means the freedom of all people.
Last week's "Kicked to the Curb" cover story reported that an hour after a staff writer interviewed Committee on Temporary Shelter executive director Rita Markley about a COTS worker's criticism of the agency, the worker was informed that she was being let go. Post-publication, Markley said that she had not been involved in firing the worker and that the decision had been made in May — prior to the interview.