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Vermont Tent Goes to Washington


Published November 13, 2008 at 5:14 p.m.

Last weekend, while visiting Washington D.C., I saw hundreds of painted tents staked out on the National Mall. Turns out they were "Tents of Hope" sent from all over the U.S. Some of the tents would be shipped to Darfur in partnership with the D.C.-based Darfur Peace and Development.

Today, I learned that the only Vermont Tent of Hope was painted at four sites in Middlebury. The painting project was coordinated by Ellen McKay, program coordinator at the Middlebury College Chaplain's Office, and carried out in partnership with the Middlebury Area Clergy Association.

Last week, McKay shipped the tent on a Greyhound for $90, and her nephew picked it up from a D.C. bus station. After heading to Washington, McKay and her 10-year-old son set up the tent last Friday night on the Mall.

When they finished, she tells me, there were about 25 other tents. When they returned in the morning, there were more than 400. "It was pretty wild," McKay recalled. "And that, combined with the general feeling of happiness and celebration that was going in Washington, was very exciting."

"It was sort of like the Champlain Valley Fair," she added, "but everyone had taken a happy drug."