The Local POV: Vermont

I’ve been following @mkramer ever since she visited America’s Test Kitchen at the end of her stint as  Fresh Air’s social media strategist. I admire her energy, drive, and curiosity. Her blog posts are useful and inspiring—and she’s got a great sense of humor. She recently announced a project where she is going to “be a local” in 52 places over the course of the year.  As she writes, “I’m going to read/watch the news, listen to the radio, follow people on social media, and talk to people from Vermont all week long.” That’s right, this first week is Vermont. She says, “I think we’ll learn and share a lot together.” I agree.

And even better, she’s invited her followers to participate by sending 7 questions to someone they know from each place. These crowdsourced answers will become part of her project. How cool is that? (You can participate, too, by signing up through her newsletter.)

VERMONT January 14, 2015

1. Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Cheryl Redmond, and I’m a freelance editor and writer. I live in southern Vermont in a town of about 2,000 people, near Brattleboro.

2. How do you get your local news?

Mostly by talking to people—at the country store, church, library, or town office. Brattleboro has two newspapers and they both have a website, so I read them online or pick up a paper at the co-op. And our middle-school kids publish a paper that includes news specific to our town.

3. A significant percentage of people in Vermont don’t have high speed internet. If you don’t have high speed internet or know someone who doesn’t, how do you/they get their news?

You don’t need a high-speed connection to get news from the Internet. We have DSL and I subscribe to the New York Times online. I also regularly visit websites of other major news outlets.

4. What story are you following locally that more people should know about?

Act 46 is a bill to consolidate school districts in Vermont. Ostensibly, consolidation would mean saving money and improving education, and the bill is being promoted by giving tax breaks to towns that vote in favor of it. But there are many potential downsides, the ultimate one being that small towns could lose their schools altogether. For many, many small rural towns, the school is their hub, their community center (we hold our annual Town Meeting in our school gymnasium). So consolidation is a step away from the kind of independent, self-governing way of life that Vermont is known for, and I wish more people were aware of this.

5. What’s the worst thing about the news?

I guess the worst thing about a lot of news sources is the lack of in-depth information–they’re designed for browsing and skimming, so you learn the least little bit about a wide variety of things. And so many of them borrow from others, so it can be hard to find original content that’s responsibly reported.

6. What’s the best thing about living in Vermont?

Vermont is full of people who mind their own business but are always willing to help. It’s like a throwback to an earlier time, but with less sexism and racism. People don’t lock their doors, farm stands run on the honor system, nude swimming is tolerated, and idealism is encouraged.

7. Do you have any favorite local foods or dishes?

Every March, all over Vermont, churches and volunteer fire departments and Granges hold sugar-on-snow suppers. The menu is always the same and always ends with pitchers of hot, cooked-down maple syrup. You get your own bowl of snow, pour the syrup over it, and then you twirl the hardened syrup onto your fork and eat it like taffy. Chase it with a dill pickle and a homemade doughnut and repeat. Even better? At our Grange, after the last seating while everyone is cleaning up, a guy named Walter takes the leftover cooked syrup and makes maple-pecan fudge and shares it with all the workers. It’s delicious, and I don’t think you can get that anywhere else.

Thanks, Cheryl! Stay tuned, I’ll link to what Mel discovers through her crowdsourcing.



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