Weiss: Community And Contradiction

Dec 21, 2018

Fletcher – the town where I live - doesn’t have a post office. So even though I pay taxes and vote here, and my kids went to school here, my mail comes from Jeffersonville in the Town of Cambridge.

Jeffersonville is also where I do most of my shopping, where I go to the library, and where, for the past five years or so, I’ve been intimately involved in a community center project.

Another town where I spend a lot of time is Johnson, where I work at Northern Vermont University.

So I’ve often wondered which one is my primary town. But lately, I’ve realized that it’s not a contradiction to consider myself a member of more than one geographical community. All are filled with wonderful people, and each has its own distinctive character.

I’m especially attuned to environmental consciousness, and west of Fletcher you’ll find four locally-owned wind turbines on top of Georgia Mountain. Due south lies Cambridge’s community solar array, at the site where I bring my recycling. Some might consider such installations unsightly, but I don’t – even though I do recognize the contradictions inherent in many sustainable energy solutions.

Just to our southeast is Smugglers’ Notch Ski Resort, and while downhill skiing is not the greenest of pursuits, I consider myself both an environmentalist and a downhill skier.

Walt Whitman once wrote: Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself; I am large, I contain multitudes.

And his verse reminds us we are never just one thing.

Johnson recently hosted a student symposium on sustainability, in which one display illustrated how Smuggs works hard to lessen its effects on the environment.

Just as Whitman made peace with the fact that life is rife with contradiction, I gain peace from knowing that people in so many Vermont communities are implementing forward-thinking eco-solutions.

An uninterrupted view of the Green Mountains from a chairlift on a clear winter’s day is a truly transcendental experience. Yes, it does take some energy to get us up there. However, my guess is that Whitman himself, quintessential nature-loving bard that he was, might not have cared.

Not even a whit, as it were.