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.
Ron Chernow’s biography on Ulysses S. Grant is long – and for good reason. The big moments in Grant’s life span nearly 20 years, from the start of the Civil War in 1861 to the end of his presidency in 1879.
As I walked out onto the boardwalk that crosses Eshqua Bog in Hartland, the trees opened out above me, a broad sky appeared, and the idea of trolls peeping up from under the resounding boards began to seem distinctly possible.
After the violence along the border with Gaza, where an estimated 120 Palestinians protesting the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem were killed and more than 3,800 wounded by Israeli army fire, the UN issued a strong rebuke to Israel.
It’s music festival season in Vermont. For those of you who recently caught any of the nine days of opera in Middlebury or the ten days of jazz in Burlington, you’re among the lucky crowd who got to partake in the unofficial start of it all.
Steve Schmida met his wife Nazgul Abdrazakova in Kyrgyzstan where they worked for foreign assistance programs. Nazgul had never heard of Vermont when Steve suggested they move here, but its values have worked for them. Together, they run a company that helps bring the financial power of the private sector into partnership with government agencies and NGOs to alleviate poverty and increase security in more than 60 countries. Matchmaking common goals is key to their success.
One of the great privileges I had this year was meeting outgoing Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans. He recently received the Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for being the first Southern mayor to reckon with the Confederate legacy of his city and take down monuments of those who were allegiant to the Confederacy. In reflecting on actions he’s now had to defend many times over, he says, “There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.”
It’s the start of another year’s hurricane season, and the effects of Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico still loom large – as hundreds of empty pairs of shoes in front of the capitol in San Juan stand as a mute display of mourning and protest.
A couple of my students just completed a documentary about a police corruption case in western Massachusetts. But in the movie, people who spoke on camera were either unwilling – or maybe too afraid – to condemn a police chief jailed for embezzlement.