Stephanie Greene

Commentator

Stephanie Greene is a free-lance writer now living with her husband and sons on the family farm in Windham County.

People might be surprised at how many Vermont households are busy making Chinese dumplings to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, which begins Monday the 8th. But when you consider the number and scope of Asian exchange programs the Freemen Foundation has funded, it makes a little more sense.

With the Internet, there are no longer any stupid questions. Inquiries can be worded awkwardly or misspelled, and you will still get answers. No more shame or fear of looking ignorant. But the catch is: those answers will vary wildly in quality. Truth used to be gated territory, jealously curated by a seemingly mysterious elite. But the crowd-sourced Internet has shown us how relative that perspective can be.

I was recently at a party where I talked to a single mother about creating supportive community. As a volunteer fire fighter, she gets called out at all hours. She asked a couple of neighbors if they’d watch her son when she had to fight a fire.

Greene: Laid Up

Dec 7, 2015

After taking a header down the stairs a couple of weeks ago, I found myself limping around on crutches, with a sore shoulder and bruised ribs. I realized I had (literally) stumbled into an ideal disability laboratory. This is what it’s like to be immobile, and in pain, I thought. Welcome to old age.

syntika / iStock

For parents, the question of nature vs. nurture is never just academic. It’s a huge responsibility to raise a happy, healthy child and we want to get it right. As young parents of boys in the early ‘90’s, I felt like my husband and I were daily carving out new policy, setting up the laws of a small but terribly energetic country where anything could happen.

Christine Glade / iStock.com

My husband recently made a nine mile trek up Glastonbury Mountain, a 3,700-foot incline, and came back a convert — feeling tauter, fitter and enormously energized. A few good stretches headed off any cramps, and he guiltlessly consumed a generous slice of apple cake after dinner. When he invited me to walk an hour a day with him, I readily agreed.

It’s a given of Anthropology 101 that the moment a visitor enters a community, it’s changed, because its residents adapt - however slightly - to the newcomer. That’s especially true for a touristed state like VT.

When people find out I’m from Vermont, often the first thing they ask is if I think Bernie can win. I say he’s changing our national conversation, moving it from red herrings and celebrity obsession to issues that affect us all. They invariably agree, but persist on whether or not he can win - as if they had no say in the matter, or were talking about Japan or Chile.

For years I blew my top - along with the rotator cuff in my shoulder – trying to get our pull-start lawnmower going. I cursed the inventors of contraptions that require the upper body strength of gorillas. Eventually, with a single infuriating pull, one of the men in my family would start the mower for me. How ironic! We women seem to mow the lawn at least as often as men.

Greene: DIY VT

Sep 1, 2015

The closer to a city’s many opportunities you get, the easier it is to let other people maintain you.

As I drive along the beautiful West River on Rte 30 in Dummerston, I pass hundreds of parked cars, both local and out-of-state. Swimmers amble down to the river carrying picnic baskets, inner-tubes and towels, enjoying a bucolic upcountry experience. The one thing I don’t see along the river are sanitary facilities of any sort, and that’s worrisome.

I came upon the term “hand-selling” on Elinor Lipman’s Facebook page, where she was extolling the virtues of booksellers who recommend books to customers.

It was a great day when I scored a library card at the wonderful Provincetown Library on Cape Cod. For no charge it’s now possible to get a library card at the P-town Public without being a Mass resident, or even a U.S. citizen.

I have a good stainless steel soup pot that lost a handle. Without it, the pot was ungainly, and the boiling liquid dribbled out the holes left by the missing handle, puddling in the burner well of my stove.

According to the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, or VSJF - small food producers are the fastest growing manufacturing sector in Vermont. Go to any farmers’ market and this is deliciously borne out. What’s more, our local cheeses compete - and even win - at international competitions.

A few months ago, I was watching a British detective show, Midsomer Murders. The detective inspector was entering an eerily darkened warehouse alone. My first reaction was, “Dude where is your gun??” It wasn’t, “For Pete’s sake, turn on the lights!” Or “Don’t go in there alone! Get some back-up!”

We Vermonters give generously of our time. According to Volunteering in America, our small state ranks 12th in per capita volunteerism nationally, with 33.7% of us volunteering in our communities. Utah leads the charge with 44.6%.

Courtesy

At first glance, it makes fiscal - and even educational - sense to close Vermont’s smallest schools.

The Governor’s Institutes of Vermont (GIV for short ) is a high school enrichment program that hosts residential workshops on VT college campuses in a variety of disciplines. Students can choose to attend institutes in the Arts, Engineering, Information Technology, Environmental Science and Technology, Mathematics, Asian Cultures, Current Issues and Youth Activism, and Entrepreneurship.

Greene: Toys

Dec 22, 2014

Last year I signed up to be a secret Santa for a needy child – but when presented with his wish list, I didn’t recognize any of the toys. They were all electronic and many were way beyond my budget. Feeling like a hopeless Luddite, I apologized to the organizer, who reassigned the boy. It was an uncomfortable experience.

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