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Letters to the Editor 

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Ken Picard’s December 22 story “Art or Exploitation? Local Artist Solicits Stories from Rape Victims for Video Project” was about me and my work. It is based upon a false premise and misquotes me.

1. No survivor who was interviewed by me complained to the WRCC [Women’s Rape Crisis Center]. The WRCC had no idea what it was when asked nor the circumstance.

2. No survivor was ever asked to “disrobe.” I did not admit to this, either, but that I had used video instead of an audio platform to capture dialogue.

3. There was only one ad with any reference to a “Burlington Rape Shelter” on Craigslist, not four.

4. I had spoken with the volunteer coordinator at the WRCC, who agreed to composite two stories from dozens for 1/6 authorship credit (profit share). Works of art would be produced in association to sell for fundraising. The director recently called the police claiming no connection, was reported to have circulated an email to a women’s group describing my project “a scam” and had something to do with the creation of this article. She was asked to “cease and desist.” I would not donate any money to the WRCC since it has attacked me.

5. The WRCC has endorsed a project, which is nearly identical to mine, and in my opinion has a serious conflict of interest.

6. and have examples of my art, which is not “glorification” nor “sexualization” of rape crimes.

Dana Graham Phelps


Editor’s clarification: In the story referenced above, Ken Picard reported that Burlington artist Dana Phelps admitted to asking several of the women to disrobe for his project, as is alleged in a complaint filed with the Women’s Rape Crisis Center. In fact, although Phelps told Picard that he had photographed several of his subjects, and said his art project will include “nude and erotic” photos of women, Phelps did not say those photos were specifically of the rape victims he interviewed. Nor did Phelps suggest that he ever asked any of his subjects — rape victims or otherwise — to take their clothes off. On Phelps’ other points, Seven Days stands by its story.

Fat Is the Problem

Judith Levine [“Poli Psy,” December 22] argues against what she calls “sin taxes,” particularly a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, of which the average adult Vermonter consumes 50 gallons annually. Like many others in the media, she focuses almost exclusively on the tax issue while glossing over the underlying problem of obesity, which is rapidly becoming the greatest avoidable public-health problem facing our state and our country. See the findings and recommendations of the attorney general’s Healthy Weight Initiative at

Our tax laws are replete with incentives and disincentives — think renewable-energy-tax treatments. Levine is correct that federal crop subsidies have proven to be a leading cause of high-fructose corn syrup in so much of what we eat. But reducing such subsidies, like lecturing young people to play fewer video games, will not be enough to reduce our skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates.

Revenues from a sugar-sweetened beverage tax should mainly be used to address obesity reduction efforts, particularly to benefit the poor. Among our recommendations is a program allowing food stamp beneficiaries to buy $2 of fruits or vegetables for each $1 of benefits. Another would provide electronic food stamp terminals at Vermont’s farmers markets. A third would leverage federal money to expand school meals for low-income Vermonters.

Bottom line, we need to first acknowledge the severity of the problem, then commit to aggressive steps toward a healthier future for Vermonters. A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is but one of those aggressive steps.

William Sorrell


Sorrell is attorney general of Vermont and a proponent of taxing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Let the Browsing Begin

Thanks so much for [“Browsing Grounds,” December 22]. When the snow melts, I will be driving around with a copy of this bookstore info. What a treasure of information for a book lover.

Carol Pennell

Willsboro, NY

Burlington Bookstores?

Not even a mention of one independent Burlington bookstore in [“Browsing Grounds,” December 22]? That’s just beyond lame!

Norbert Ender


Ender owns Speaking Volumes in Burlington.

No Magic Bullet

The Seven Days crew has done it again — constantly bringing the community articles of great importance [“Biomass Busted? Why Wood-Fired Power Is Catching Heat in Vermont,” December 22].

Energy is an extremely large industry; it’s what “fuels” our entire country. There is no simple “one-way” approach. In order for Vermont to become fully energy independent, we will need to invest in all of the alternative renewable energies (not just biomass combustion).

A similar quote that computer engineers use is: “There is no magic bullet, only 10,000 little ones.” Hopefully our leaders will recognize this in time.

Tyler J. Boemig


Attitude Adjustment

David Carkeet certainly showed his colors in [“I Am a 16th-Generation Vermonter,” December 22]. He could be a 16th-generation Vermonter himself, and he would still never be accepted with a bad attitude like that.

It’s not where you came from when you live in Vermont; it’s how you treat people.

Terry Pitts

Essex Junction

“Flatlander” is an F-Word

I would like to thank David Carkeet for his frank commentary [“I Am a 16th-Generation Vermonter,” December 22]. It is well past time to address the Vermont F-word, “flatlander,” for what it is: an unfunny, divisive comment that degrades people based on birthright. The Vermont F-word sword has two blades of superiority: Vermont traditionalists use the Vermont F-word to claim unassailable rights of lineage, as opposed to the perception of them as uneducated, inbred, poverty-stricken rednecks. The Vermont F-word and its equivalent, “transplant,” are as unfunny and derogatory as any ethnic joke ever uttered.

UVM political science professor Frank Bryan has perpetuated the use of the Vermont F-word since the 1980s and is perhaps the most influential voice in publicizing the ludicrous notion of superiority by virtue of lineage. Sure, it’s always been a joke for him, but as we can see in Carkeet’s commentary as well as through the popular use of the Vermont F-word, the divisiveness is no laughing matter. Professor Bryan officially wore out his joke in 2007, when his unfunny article “The Once and Future Republic of Vermont” appeared in the Washington Post. In his article, Professor Bryan praised the Second Vermont Republic, a secession organization closely associated with a Southern hate group. Not funny.

We are all Vermonters, whether we have lived here for seven days, seven months, seven years or seven generations. (I belong in the last category, not that it matters.) Readers may note that this letter includes the phrase “Vermont F-word” for the seventh time. This is intentional, as I wish to convey exactly how inappropriate we should think this word and those who choose to use it.

Nate Freeman


Stirling Solution

[Re: “Biomass Busted? Why Wood-Fired Power Is Catching Heat in Vermont,” December 22]: To achieve higher efficiencies, I would suggest capturing the waste heat to run “Stirling engines.” These work on temperature differential to expand and contract gas — air, helium, hydrogen — to run a piston or turbine, which turns a generator for more electricity production or possibly for electrolysis for hydrogen production.

John Devereaux


Searching for Salt

I don’t understand how you folks can tout an opening of a restaurant [“Side Dishes: Into the Salt Mines,” November 30], specifically one started by a former Seven Days editor, and fail to note the address. First I thought it could be in the old Phoebe’s space, but this is Kismet. So where the heck is it? Inquiring minds, and foodies, would appreciate the details: location, location location!

Doreen Phillips


Editor’s note: Salt is located at 207 Barre Street in Montpelier, just east of the Hunger Mountain Co-op.

Grit Happens

After reading Rick Kisonak’s review of True Grit [December 22], I have a few comments: First, I felt he missed a lot of key elements in this movie; second, the “wry wit” he wanted from the movie was certainly there. My comrades and I loved the movie. We actually heard people laughing out loud in the theater.

Colin Bates

South Hero

CORRECTION: In the December 22 “Fair Game,” Chris Frappier was identified as an attorney in the public defender’s office. He’s an investigator there.

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