Stephanie Greene

Commentator

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

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. So I had my doubts about refreshing my rusty and uneven Spanish - which I needed for a recent solo trip to Mexico. But there are a host of new language acquisition strategies that replace rote memorization with comprehension.

Courtesy Bill Soucy

Decluttering has become dogma. It isn’t if you should declutter, but when and how. And I’m a fan of getting rid of stuff I don’t use. I no longer need a fondue pot or my Brownie uniform. And neither do my sons.

Colleges are taking considerable heat these days. Some say they’re obsolete, since a degree won’t guarantee a high paying job at graduation. Others think they harbor spoiled, violent students who victimize speakers with whom they disagree.

Since we’re so dependent on cars up here, it seems counter-intuitive that there suddenly wouldn’t be enough workers to service them. But one of my local garages has been chronically short handed for months, while another has just hired and they’re training the new help from the ground up.

When people tell me they’d love to live in Vermont, I jokingly ask if they enjoy roof raking, then add that they might need to bring their own jobs with them.

We Americans have always headed into our workshops, spare rooms and garages, and made stuff. From smart eighteenth century New England farm boys who brought their inventions south to Worcester, MA, where there was power to rent, to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak tinkering on the first personal computer prototypes, this is what we do. But as school districts tighten their belts by cutting all but academic basics, we sacrifice practice in fabrication, the training ground for innovation.

Vermonters sometimes take for granted our state’s cachet as a hub of enlightened rural living.

Greene: Call Me

Mar 6, 2017

I’ve been calling my representatives in DC - and other people’s too. I’ve urged, begged, scolded and thanked. I actually prefer writing, but I’ve been assured by ex-senate-staffers that calls work because they must be tallied. They say emails and petitions can be ignored, while snail mail is slow because it must be tested for toxins and explosives.

Most of us know that plastic debris is an environmental problem we need to solve. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to make. The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents the plastics industry, estimates that only 15% of those bags get recycled properly. And the California Coastal Commission calculates that roughly 80 percent of all marine debris is plastic, which never biodegrades.

Writer Zadie Smith has said she sometimes wishes she could go to jail, so she could finally read as much as she wants.

My husband and I just completed a loop out to Wisconsin and back. Driving our Prius among 18-wheelers doing 80 felt like being a ballerina dropped into the middle of an ice hockey playoff.

As in the last two presidential elections, there’s a big push to register new voters. After all, Millennials – defined as being between 19 and 35 years old - now outnumber Boomers by a good half million. It’s a group both parties are eager to reach.

Greene: Harassment

Sep 23, 2016

I felt sorry for the Muslim women ordered by French police to remove their outlawed “burkinis” or leave the seaside in Nice. Those women just wanted to enjoy the beach.

For Lisa Sullivan, owner of Bartleby’s Books in Wilmington, there was no choice about whether to rebuild after TS Irene. She and her husband own the building, so they were going to stay.

We’ve all dealt with what I call Danglers.

After 14 months, villagers in his Tanzanian town of 7500 now call Newfane’s Dan Saynor Babu, which means grandfather. The locals revere elders, and at 62, Saynor is currently the only Peace Corps volunteer in his area over 30.

While researching her family’s involvement in Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, a friend went to a family party where she talked to a 95 year old cousin, who, as a young woman, had been enrolled in Eastman’s year-long program as a composition student.

When the news broke in 2009 that the First Lady was putting in an organic garden at the White House, all my gardening friends sent her Gilfeather Turnip seeds. Picturing a forest of turnip plants on the White House lawn, we all rushed out to buy packets.

Greene: Asylum

May 4, 2016

I was stunned to learn that currently, children are representing themselves in front of immigration judges.

This includes children as young as five.

On July 21, 1969, the day after the first moon landing, The New York Times published a poem called Voyage To The Moon by Archibald MacLeish on its front page. Today, that seems almost as miraculous as the landing itself. But back then, poetry was still part of the everyday fabric.

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