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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One of the best parts of serving in public office is getting to hear from Vermonters from every part of the state, and all walks of life.  Not only was it interesting to hear about their aspirations and struggles, but it was important for me, as a leader, to see how their lives could be impacted by decisions we were making in Montpelier.   Sometimes, after one of these conversations, I would see an issue in an entirely new way, and it would lead me to change my mind about a policy I was considering.

Moats: Changing Times

Apr 11, 2018

Times change - but how they change is a mysterious process.

Suzanne Spencer Rendahl / VPR

At a time when the U.S. is tending to look inward with proposed walls and tariffs, kids across the country have instead been looking beyond our borders.

Associated Press File

For years, artist Georgia O’Keeffe has been a hero of mine. Fiercely independent and courageous, a setter of trends in art and lifestyle, O’Keeffe was a genuine maker.

Baxternator / iStock

A young Vermont woman recently was pulled over for driving too close to the yellow line. Another driver was stopped for following a car too closely; a third was for driving 26 in a 25 mile per hour speed zone. Their real crime - driving while black.

Baona / iStock

I remember a conversation I had, one August afternoon forty years ago, with my part-time neighbor, the late Richard Barnet, who worked in JFK’s State Department and co-founded Washington’s Institute for Policy Studies.

Associated Press

President Calvin Coolidge, a Plymouth, Vermont native who adored his white collie Rob Roy, once stated in his plain spoken way that “Any man who does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House” – a sentiment with which I firmly agree.

Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

In 1999, almost 20 years ago, at Columbine high school in Colorado, two students from the school walked through the doors and began the murder of 12 of their classmates, injuring 21 others.

Sheldon Elementary School

Last year, Ed Kolnaski asked his seventh-grade humanities students to come up with projects that would help their community.


Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Slayton: The New Ceres

Apr 3, 2018
Bob Kinzel

She may be the best-known, most widely recognized sculpture in the State of Vermont, and she stood at her post, high atop Vermont’s most important building, for some 80 years. But this week she was taken down, and she’s going to be replaced.

Henningsen: Embargo

Apr 2, 2018

President Trump’s recent effort to protect American industry by imposing prohibitive tariffs on Chinese imports isn’t the first time an American president has attempted to translate economic ideology into public policy. And I hope current efforts don’t turn out as poorly as they did then.

While most of the civilized world has abandoned execution for moral as well as practical reasons, President Trump is now proposing an expanded application of the death penalty - traditionally applied only in first degree murder cases - for all “major” drug dealers.

A recent family gathering drove home the point that families — for all that holds them together — consist of a whole array of seemingly mismatched parts, all matching up to form something larger.

Adrian: Easter Egg Hunt

Mar 29, 2018

I’ve been thinking a lot about Easter eggs, and while my family never actually celebrated the holiday in the religious sense, I certainly took part in many a hunt.

Mares: March For Life

Mar 28, 2018

As both a former high school history teacher and a gun owner, I’d been trying to decide how the Parkland school tragedy last month might be transformed into a "teachable moment."

Shelburne Museum

The album quilt craze is thought to have emerged in the mid-Atlantic in the early 1840s, making its way to northern New England within a decade. Marked with the names of family and friends, these were keepsakes meant for hope chests that commemorated major life events and reminded their owners of heritage and history.

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association

Kwai Nedobak! Nd'elewizi Vera Longtoe Sheehan du Elnu Wôbanaki – that translates into English as: Hello my friends! My name is Vera Longtoe Sheehan, and I’m a citizen of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe.

My daughter’s in seventh grade - the age of pre-algebra, dances, and crushes. Once it was also the age of many newlyweds and it startles me to realize that in New Hampshire, legally speaking, it still can be.

Sue Pitiger / Norwich Historical Society

On the first anniversary of the Women’s March, Norwich residents woke to find a giant pink pussy hat atop the welcome sign at the entrance to town.