More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers. The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.
Last week, the Air Force announced that Burlington would be the host Air National Guard base for the controversial F-35 jet aircraft .What struck me was the pep rally atmosphere and the overwhelming support of Vermont’s top elected officials.
The economic benefits of getting the F-35s are pretty clear. Basing the new jets here essentially ensures 1,100 Air Guard jobs for another 50 years. There is also the ancillary support for Burlington International Airport. And the military presence helps keep Vermont's economy diversified, which is its ace in the hole.
Well, I may not have been a fly on the wall, but I was a figurative bee at the table, representing the Vermont Beekeepers Association. It was a round-table at Vermont Technical College to discuss their new Institute for Applied Agriculture and Food Systems - built upon a $3.4 million federal grant from the U.S. Labor Department to improve job opportunities in rural areas.
Nelson Mandela had been released from prison only recently, and here he was, standing under a white tent on the banks of the Charles River in Boston, greeting guests who had been invited for a celebratory lunch by Senator Ted Kennedy.
The holidays have a way of adding layer upon layer of stress to our already busy schedules. We want our celebrations to be ever more meaningful. This may mean following the rules of simplicity or achieving spiritual insight. And i t’s important to show keen awareness of the ever-changing interests of beloved family members. Who is off salt, off sugar, a localvore, a vegetarian? Who likes meat and potatoes? And then there’s the spending. It’s no wonder that the holidays are stressful.
When we turn on the faucet in Vermont, we expect clean water. But for a third of the world, safe drinking water can’t be taken for granted. Native Vermonter, Carolyn Meub is Executive Director of Pure Water for the World, a non profit run out of Rutland that’s been tackling this issue in Central America and Haiti.
Two decades ago I was at a museum store in Manhattan. I bought a book and told the clerk that I didn’t need a bag. She instructed me to not be silly as she wrapped the tome in not one but two plastic bags. I was so stunned, I blurted, “Do you know where your trash goes?” She waved a dismissive hand and answered, ‘Oh, somewhere in New Jersey.”
Traditional expectations of government are rooted in the Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Progressives believed in the power of rational inquiry to identify solutions to problems in modern American society and in the power of government to solve those problems.
Though we may put candles in our windows, adorn shrubs and Christmas trees with stands of lights, with the sun not rising until 7:15 and slipping behind the western hill shortly after 4pm, this remains a very dark time of year. We go to pretty extensive measures to mitigate the darkness and brighten our world.
In the Christian tradition this is Advent, a supposedly quiet time for contemplation and reflection. And with Hanukkah coming so early this year, Jews are in the midst of observing the Festival of Lights.
Recently I participated on two funding panels: the National Endowment for the Arts for theater projects and a California foundation for commissioning new music. Artistic excellence was a key criterion on both panels.
Defining quality used to be easy, although taste was always a mitigating factor. Now in our multicultural society, it is more complex. No longer can we calibrate merit solely through a Eurocentric framework.
This fall, I helped organize a contest called StoryhackVT. Participants had 24 hours to create a story using at least three different media – which could be text, photos, audio, games, animation – anything as long as there were three and they told one story. This simple set up produced a variety of creative responses. Added together, these responses all reflect a new way of thinking about websites.