Commentary Series

Mon-Thurs 8:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Sundays at 10:55 a.m.

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.

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The tiny town of Poultney is putting on an ambitious annual Earth Day fair on April twelfth, featuring more than sixty exhibitors, a parade, free wood-fired pizza, musicians, entertainers, and a student science exhibit. The fair is sponsored by dozens of farm and environmental organizations, business groups, and schools, making it an event that involves the entire community and attracts people of every age and walk of life.

Jeffersonville, Vermont, is a village most often associated with Smuggler’s Notch and skiing, but for Women’s History Month this year townspeople were invited to a screening of the American Masters Documentary on writer and activist Maya Angelou, And Still I Rise.

My partner James was diagnosed with Parkinson’s on his sixtieth birthday. And because we knew so little about this disease, this felt like the end of the world for us.

For most of my adult life, I lived as an immigrant – as an American transplant in the United Kingdom. Culturally, I’m British, despite having been born in Jersey, New Jersey, and never legally having secured British citizenship.

Mares: The Palmer Raids

Apr 3, 2017

During World War One, a crisis in civil liberties began brewing as Germanophobia combined with anti-union sentiment and resistance to immigration from southern and Eastern Europe to ignite widespread fear of political radicals and anarchists.

Growing up in the transition from Vermont’s “Republican century” to the Democratic “sixties,” the political labels we used seemed meaningless in the many discussions I had with people of differing political ideals. I usually found commonsense and decency in their differing perspectives.

When I was young, I attended one of those boarding schools that held daily chapel. I can’t say that exercise brought me any closer to God, but it did instill in me a lifelong love of singing hymns.

One of the best jobs I ever had was at the Children’s Television Workshop, the folks who make Sesame Street. It was the early nineteen-nineties and I was an unpaid intern in New Shows Production Research.

Two weeks after announcing significant cuts in funding for climate programs across the federal government, the Trump Administration released an executive order to roll back Obama Era climate policies.

President Trump has moved a portrait of President Andrew Jackson into the Oval Office, prompting a comparison from which some intriguing similarities emerge.

Vermont lawmakers are currently chewing over “an act relating to providing meals to health care providers at conferences.”

We were commune dwellers, anti-war and civil rights activists, radical students, academics, and local food co-op organizers, both Vermont-born and not. It was a turbulent era, in which we rejected the status quo of our childhoods, and searched for - or created – new definitions of community.

According to poll data published recently by The New York Times, Vermonters worry and talk about climate change more than the rest of the country. The Times even published a series of maps showing how people in different regions view climate change.

Moulton: Counterculture Women In Vermont

Mar 28, 2017

I moved to Vermont in 1973 with the father of my 1 year old son, We were young hippies in search of a place where political activism was coalescing – a place close to the border just in case – and a place with a natural water source where we could grow food and create renewable energy.

We chose the name Total Loss Farm on a whim. We’d never heard of a commune. But when we arrived, fresh from riots in Washington, DC, we could see a future in the open fields, woods, rickety house, barn, and outbuildings. At 23, I wanted to dig in and create our sudden Eden.

I recently attended my friend Hemant’s naturalization ceremony in a courthouse in Burlington. He and his wife became American citizens that day.

In the 60s and 70s, many young women came to Vermont in search of an alternative way of life. They came here partly as a way to rebel against the Vietnam War, nuclear armament and a materialistic, consumer-driven society. They joined communes and formed what became known as the counterculture.

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan and Governor Phil Scott both supported immigration bill S.79 now passed by the legislature. Some say it was largely an anti-Trump symbolic gesture, while others say it sets the stage for a sanctuary state without explicitly stating that goal.

Chuck Berry’s passing reminds me of a summer night in 1987 when the rock n’ roll legend played a concert I produced in Lyndonville.

Sharp-eyed observers might have noticed that the golden dome of Vermont’s State House has begun to look a bit shabby. Its lustrous gold leaf finish now looks slightly worn and patchy. And there are flaws and cracks in the white-painted cylindrical “drum” that supports the gold cap.

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