HOE, SWEET HOE
As a small farmer, I was glad to see Amy Picchi’s story highlighting the South Village model [“Plated Community,” May 13], which integrates a working farm into a residential development project. The integration of agricultural and residential offers a promising solution to land access, access to healthy food and a need for greater relationships to the farm. As Ms. Picchi states the South Village project is “unlike any modern development in Vermont,” I invite her to visit Champlain Valley Cohousing, also right here in Chittenden County, and now four years along. While much smaller, ultimately allowing 26 homes on 10 acres, CVC also boasts LEED-certified homes, affordable housing options, a community garden, and 115 acres of wetlands, forests and pasture.
CVC, unlike South Village, is developed and managed by its residents, not a private developer, and not for profit. Additionally, my wife and I own and operate Bloomfield Farm, now in our fourth season, offering CSA shares to CVC residents and the larger community. Bloomfield Farm offers pick-your-own flowers and herbs, meat, eggs and eventually fruit from a small orchard. We operate our farm as a distinct business on land owned by the residents of CVC. We think it’s a very positive and relevant approach to farming and development, including urban infill, for Vermont’s future, and ask Ms. Picchi to come by sometime soon for a visit to see what a working farm and modern development look like in the present.
B’BORO VS. BOISE
Brattleboro is a marvelous town that really cares about maintaining what it has to offer — without being more than it is, an admirable quality in any town [“The Other B-Town,” May 27]. I recently visited B’boro for the first time and was instantly struck by how comfortable the citizens are with their living in the town. My city — Boise, Idaho — has seen massive growth, and it has been a constant struggle to maintain a sense of community. I don’t think B’boro has had that same challenge to that same degree, but to understand, believe in and fight doggedly for what makes your town wonderful is to have accomplished much.
Local Motion’s Trail Finder [“Trail Mix-Up,” May 27] is great for learning where the opportunities to walk, trail run and ride are in Chittenden County, but many of these areas have maps prepared by the local trail managers. Trail mappers work very hard so that the maps work well for ground navigation, and they have important local information. The Trail Finder maps (used on a phone?? Yikes!!) should not be used for navigating. They may be dated, are incomplete and do not show the many side trails that are confusing. So, before going to a new place, get the local maps and have fun.
EXIT ANDY SINGER
I’ve had enough! Andy Singer’s comic, “No Exit,” is awful. It irritates me every time I see it. It’s just not funny — look back through the old strips, I challenge you to find a laugh. The nonsensical cartoon in the May 20 issue about the endocrine system was the last straw. There are countless aspiring, funny cartoonists out there — it’s time to give one of them a shot.
FLANAGAN RIGHT ON CHLORAMINE
Is Sen. Flanagan losing his mind [“Continuing Ed,” May 20]? Not in my opinion. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee, on which Senator Flanagan sits, has been having chloramine hearings for three years, and I have been to all but one of them. For three years the Vermont health department, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Champlain Water District have all testified over and over that chloramine is perfectly safe … In truth, it’s a very nasty chemical cocktail made of ammonia and chlorine that the Champlain Water District decided to put into my water three years ago, causing me and 314 other people to be sick — so far. I have always been extremely grateful that Sen. Flanagan never bought any of the pro-chloramine arguments. He is a rare one who listens to and hears the citizens.
Sen. Flanagan, if memory serves, has spoken two times in the three years of chloramine hearings. Both times his words were smart and wise. The first time was during the first chloramine hearing, when Dr. Austin Sumner, a toxicologist employed by the Vermont health department, sat down in the testifier’s chair, folded his arms and waited to be questioned … Sen. Flanagan asked him a question that I will never forget. He said something like, “I know you have to come in here and say certain things — things that may come from your mind.” And then he went on to ask, “But Dr. Sumner, I want to know what is in your heart. Will you tell me what is in your heart?” As I recall, Dr. Sumner didn’t have an answer beyond sputtering.
The other time I recall Sen. Flanagan saying anything was in this year’s session. At this point there was a bill to put a moratorium on chloramine … The main thrust of the discussion consisted of legislators saying how troubling it is that there are no health studies showing that chronic exposure to chloramine levels typically used in drinking water can indeed cause the serious respiratory, digestive and skin reactions citizens are experiencing. How could they possibly impose a moratorium without the studies? Sen. Flanagan had no hesitation when he voted for a moratorium on chloramine. To me he seems to have the common sense to understand that just because there are no studies on the health effects people are suffering doesn’t add up to a hill of beans, and if people are suffering since they were exposed and they get better when they stop exposure, it’s a no-brainer. Get it out of the water.
Sen. Flanagan did the right thing by the citizens that day. He voted to bring citizens relief from three years of the ravages of chloramine. He has more common sense in his little finger than most people, in my opinion. He will get my vote next time around, if he runs again for the Vermont Senate.
Powell is a founder of People Concerned about Chloramine.
DANN’S ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Just wanting to give you an indication of your international circulation and say that “Quad Be Praised” [May 27] was delightful in flavorful tone and spirit and very meaningful, especially in light of the historical context past, present and future. I find it inspiring in the sense of powerful personal impact portrayed in peregrination, which is truly a very significant act of human will and sacred in the sense of placing one foot before the other on Mother Earth. I was left with a feeling that I very much needed to create an en-route encounter as through your words, I now sense I am part of the spiritual community supporting this event. The feeling that Vermont is a friendly and accommodating place, very in touch with its history, certainly seems evident.
Your story about the Vermont Arts Council and criticism of its funding priorities [“Wise Council?” May 20] strikes me as a small group of previously privileged people not wanting to share.
Before the VAC board expanded its focus a clique of artists were funded. It was hard to get into that elite group, but once in, you were golden. What you read in that article were members of the clique wanting a return to the old days.
The big projects of “Palettes” and “Art Fits” are attempts to involve communities in art and vice versa. School arts programs are being cut as frills and government funding for the arts is declining.
Perhaps the board should consider only having big projects every three to five years. Big projects tend to run out steam and wear out their welcome after a while. But VAC could make community involvement a criterion of future funding of individual artists thus funding “serious” artists and building community connections with art at the same time. Just a suggestion.
CORRECTION: In our story last week about Kate Pond and Kat Clear’s move [“Wanted: One Really Big Studio Space for Metal Sculptors”], we got the size wrong on Clear’s new installation for FAHC: She says it will be 40 feet tall, not 20 feet. Sorry!