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Letters to the Editor 

Compost Clarification

The article “Growing at the Intervale” [“Side Dishes,” November 17] stated that the Intervale Center’s new executive director, Travis Marcotte, will be taking charge of moving Intervale Compost Products to its new location in Williston.

To clarify this point, we are delighted to work with Travis as we turn the property, where ICP currently resides, back over to the Intervale Center. However, since the Chittenden Solid Waste District assumed ownership of the composting operation in 2008, it will be CSWD staff, not that of the Intervale Center, who will continue building and then operating the new compost facility on Redmond Road in Williston. We’ll be bringing ICP staff, equipment and the compost piles with us to Williston early next summer, and look forward to continuing the excellent relationship we’ve had with our friends and farmers at the Intervale for many years to come.

Dan Goossen


Goossen is general manager of Intervale Compost Products.

Ticket Trauma

The clear assumption in Andy Bromage’s article [“My Dog Ate My Parking Ticket,” November 24] is that all “violators” are guilty and merely seek a convincing excuse to avoid paying. On Friday, August 13, I left work to find my car, which was parked legally in the lot on King Street, gone. A half hour remained on the meter. I called 911. Though I had received no notice, the city had towed my vehicle for just two allegedly unpaid $12 tickets that were less than six months old. One had been paid in time, but the city failed to process the payment. I received no notice of the other — no ticket, no letter, nothing. I can’t know whether it was valid, and had no chance to pay it on time.

My two toddlers were left stranded at day care for two hours while I took a taxi to the tow company by the airport and paid $150 to retrieve my car. The day care’s overtime fee was $120, and they bought dinner for the kids. Beyond the trauma, the night cost me about $300. Though the city admitted fault and apologized in writing in October, I finally received reimbursement just last week: $95 covered the cost of the tow and part of the first fine. I don’t doubt the city attorney’s office does its best to handle appeals fairly, but I think there may be more glaring problems with the system.

Suzanne Blanchard


What Is Organic?

[Re: “Crop Watcher,” November 17]: We need to come up with another name for that word that is imprinted on Joe Smillie’s license plate: “organic.” As a small organic vegetable farmer in central Vermont, I think the idea of “mainstreaming” organics is impossible, at least what I know to be “organic.” When I go into my garden in the morning, I look around and I don’t see a business in front of my eyes, I see a lifestyle — a thriving, rich, rewarding lifestyle. I know and care about all of my plants, and my proudest achievement in my garden is my compost pile for the promise it holds of richer soil.

By mainstreaming organics, that connection to the Earth, the deep care for the soil and all of its colorful products, is lost. When Stonyfield looks into importing powdered milk from New Zealand to meet its demand, and massive vegetable farms have owners who have forgotten the feel of soil beneath their toes, the “organic” that I know has been lost. What Smillie is doing is massively important and far superior to conventional farming, but can we not call it “organic”? What about “sustainably raised”? Something else? Leave organic for those who live it, breathe it and love it — not for those simply looking for a profit.

Otto Pierce


The Cost of Negligence

People should not be unjustly taxed [“Blurt,” November 19]. I agree with conservatives on this point, but a soft-drink tax is clearly justified. Taxes like this may, on the surface, appear to be an effort by the government to tell people what to do. But the reason they are justified is to hold people and companies accountable for the costs they attempt to externalize. Who should pay for these costs other than those who benefit from them, or whose negligence creates them? Both the companies who sell sugar water and the consumers who buy it are responsible for the health epidemic of obesity, the energy wasted on its production and distribution, and the waste stream at the end of the products’ life cycle. I propose a tax system based exclusively on accountability to externalized costs. I also propose the taxes raised be tied directly to solving the problems created, such as health care and environmental cleanup.

Jeremy P. Munson


We, BP

[Re: “Diving Deep,” November 24]: Oil companies often come under fire for impeding the progress of environmental initiatives and supporting an unsustainable energy future. This was clearly demonstrated by the public outcry in response to the BP oil spill earlier this year. But who is really responsible for such disastrous effects on the Earth? The world demands the cheap and accessible energy that companies such as BP provide; that’s where the money is. Should these parties be blamed for merely giving the people what they want? No. The true enemies of the environment are not distant corporations or lobbyists, but average people like you and me. Until the consumers of the world demand an energy source that is sustainable and clean, the beneficiaries of the fossil-fuel industry can hardly be expected to take steps toward reducing their environmental impact…

As Bob Cavnar said, “As much as people may hate it, everyone burns some amount of hydrocarbons.” The industry and all of its negative effects will remain as long as the demand for petroleum persists, a timeframe solely dependent on the will and actions of the national and global community.

Annie Hopper


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