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Letters to the Editor 

October 15, 2008

TIMING’S OFF

While it sounds like a great performance [“State of the Arts,” September 17], Darrow couldn’t have opposed Hitler because of the invasion of Belgium; it happened more than two years after Darrow’s death.

Rob Dacey

SPRINGFIELD

Editor’s Note: The story’s Nazi reference was incorrect. Darrow opposed Germany’s invasion of Belgium in World War I, not II.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

While I haven’t seen the Fleming Museum installation on Vermont’s design/build heritage [“Angles in Paradise,” October 1], I live amongst it here on Prickly Mountain, and I teach sustainable design and building at the Yestermorrow School.

People who see the early Prickly Mountain “art pieces” often find them interesting but wouldn’t want to live in them. In spite of John Connell’s claim that those early experiments were based on “the highest ideals of Western art,” few would consider them classics that transcend the limitations of a particular time and place. In fact, many would consider them “kitsch.” And Connell’s critique of today’s natural builders, who often sculpt homes of earth and straw, ignores that their designs are truly based on timeless patterns, forms and techniques that are cross-cultural and global and far more sustainable.

The venerable Dave Sellers similarly looks down his nose at the “do-it-yourself, back-to-the-earth” aesthetic, which — as more and more people are coming to realize — reflects both a return to the better part of our culture’s past and a farsighted vision of where our culture needs to go, and hence represents a more authentic manifestation of the name Yestermorrow.

I was amused to read that installation curator Danny Sagan believes that today’s natural-building movement is merely a “subculture,” while the Prickly Mountain experience was a “revolution.” I suspect that history will label the latter a curious episode and the former a prelude to the future. The rediscovery of a simple, natural aesthetic that returns housing to its essential function and builds for durability and recyclability will be required for the transition into a sustainable paradigm.

Robert Riversong

WARREN

YESTERMORROW TODAY

On behalf of the Yestermorrow Design/Build School staff, instructors and board of directors, I’d like to comment on suggestions made in the article “Angles in Paradise” [October 1] that perhaps the school has gone in a direction not originally intended by the school’s founders.

At Yestermorrow, we believe that design/build is a big tent, big enough to house diverse opinions about what “design/build” means and looks like. Yestermorrow as an institution embraces the dynamic tension between different design/build philosophies. Yestermorrow is a place to come and learn, explore, and try out new ideas and methods. Design/build is not a static discipline, nor is the school. Our students are encouraged to form opinions for themselves and stretch their creative boundaries.

We invite you to join in, take some Yestermorrow classes and further invigorate the design/build discussion.

Kate Stephenson

MONTPELIER

Stephenson is the interim executive director at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Warren.

BOARD BASH

When my two sons ask to purchase anything with a Burton name or symbol on it, I look forward to yet another of the many daily opportunities to educate them about how dangerously violent our culture is (particularly for women) [Local Matters, October 8].

It will also be a good chance to explain how pathetic it is that perfectly educated and well-off people who worked very hard to be successful feel the need to abandon any restraint they may have felt at some point over making huge profits from displaying crappy images of self-mutilation on a piece of sports equipment that adolescents view as “cool.”

I will also talk about how ironic it is that kids their age view Burton as an ultra cool company, when in fact the “Love” line they just put on the market bears no resemblance to love when it is grounded in human intimacy and connection.

The only thing it appears that Jake and Donna are intimate with and connected to is their market position, which they are clearly terrified of losing.

Liz Curry

BURLINGTON

DOWNHILL RACY

I think the critics should shut up about the pictures. It’s my right to buy those boards if I so choose. If the self-hurting people and the porn haters have issues with it, they should get over the selfishness. People should still have the right to express their own beliefs.

Burton is right on the money with the right to self-expression. If the critics don’t like it, buy from a different company to get your winter gear.

Tim Gale

SOUTH BURLINGTON

POACH BURTON

In a blog post last year, I wrote that Burton’s 2007/2008 campaign to pay snowboarders thousands of dollars to “poach” skier-only ski areas like Mad River Glen was akin to someone demanding changes to the way Burton does business.

Now here we are dealing with Burton’s ’08/09 publicity stunt — the nude Playboy bunnies and mutilation graphics in the Coalition line — and Burton is relying on the principle of “individual freedom” to justify the move.

That might be legitimate had it not been for the way the company handled itself just last year. Seems Burton wants the freedom to practice its business the way it sees fit while at the same time leading a campaign to target and harass Mad River Glen for selling the product and service it wants to: skiing.

Sexual-violence prevention groups who are offended by the graphics are trying to influence the company, much like snowboarders have been doing (mostly successfully) with ski areas for 25 years. As opposed to trespassing, they are voicing their protests through phone calls and letters. And Burton is refusing to talk to them.

Maybe the company was on to something last year. Maybe the only way to grab the ear of corporate leadership is through aggressive civil disobedience. Perhaps a “Poach Burton” campaign is in order.

Jason Starr

COLCHESTER

Starr wrote the Snowbloggan blog for Seven Days last winter.

HEY, SQUIRE

Elisabeth Crean’s review of “The History Boys,” a charming play and feature film [“Learning from History,” October 8], is on target except for one way-over-the-top assertion: “Oxford and Cambridge [are] Britain’s coveted duo of universities whose exalted educational and social position has no real parallel in American society. (Think Harvard and Yale on steroids.)”

Is she joking? Without appearing chauvinistic, I must say that this is wildly off the mark. Having studied at both Harvard and Oxford, I know whereof I speak. Harvard enjoys an endowment of nearly $40 billion, while the combined endowments of “Oxbridge” is a mere $15 billion. Factor in Yale’s $22 billion endowment, and it is a total rout.

And I know from personal experience that the quickest way to get any grandee from Oxbridge to knuckle his head and call you “squire” is to drop the mighty “H bomb.”

Grudging as the acknowledgment might be, even in the U.K. there is no disputing that fair Harvard is far and away number one in the world — in prestige, influence and power.

Vaughn A. Carney

ESSEX

CLARIFICATION: In “Chick-Lit Hit” [September 17], the story’s subject, Sarah Strohmeyer, claimed she encountered gender discrimination while working at New Hampshire’s Valley News in the 1990s. However, Strohmeyer provided no specific examples of discrimination, and Seven Days did not seek comment from the Valley News before publishing her remarks. Valley News editors deny Strohmeyer’s claims.

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