Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice | Issue Archives | Dec 28, 2022

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  • Jeff Drew | Rev. Diane Sullivan
  • Issue of
  • Dec 28, 2022 - Jan 10, 2023
  • Vol. 28, No. 12

Seven Days Writers Reveal What it Took to Report the News in 2022; Remembering Vermonters Who Died; Seven Surprises in Food and Drink; The 10 Best Art Shows; The Top Vermont Recordings of 2022; Staff Predictions for 2023

Digital Edition

News

  • Backstory: Most Revealing Trips
  • Backstory: Most Revealing Trips

    Late last year, we learned from a jailhouse letter that a Vermonter had been arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Our reporting revealed that Nicholas Languerand had spent months before and after the 2020 presidential election hunkered down in his Wolcott trailer, immersed in bizarre online conspiracy theories about child trafficking and voter fraud.
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  • Backstory: Coldest Take
  • Backstory: Coldest Take

    I dread outdoor winter video shoots. I don't perform well in the cold, and neither does my electronic gear. Despite this, I made a date in late January to visit John Predom in Island Pond to film him making one of his massive snowshoe designs. For the prints to work best, it has to be cold, when the snow is light and fluffy. When the day came, it was nine degrees with clear skies. My friend Howard Fisher offered to act as chauffeur on the two-hour drive.
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  • Backstory: Most Neurotic Interview Prep
  • Backstory: Most Neurotic Interview Prep

    Throughout the pandemic, I regularly queried Tim Lahey, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center. With each COVID-19-related question, I worried, He must have better things to do — like keep people alive — than answer questions from a food reporter. But Lahey always answered quickly, offering commonsense and informed advice in clear language. His answers considered the plight of restaurant workers as well as the power of pathogens.
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  • Backstory: Luckiest Twofer
  • Backstory: Luckiest Twofer

    Every responsible journalist understands the importance of protecting confidential sources, but I have no reservations about revealing the wellspring of not one, but two stories I wrote in 2022. For the first time in a long career, my source was an inanimate object — specifically, a mailbox.
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  • Backstory: Most Stressful 'Mall Moment'
  • Backstory: Most Stressful 'Mall Moment'

    I've always been an observer, the kind of person who likes to sit in the corner and watch drama unfold rather than take part in the action. My knack for noticing is a skill that helps me as a reporter. But sometimes my job requires me to ruffle feathers in a way that conflicts with my nature.
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  • Backstory: Worst Driving Conditions
  • Backstory: Worst Driving Conditions

    Reviewing plays isn't exactly hard duty, but it does require getting to a Vermont theater, come rain, shine or ice storm. My beat includes playhouses 100 miles away, around two and a half hours of driving — each way. Can't be late, can't be lost, can't go tomorrow and still make deadline. Sometimes I go alone, but my husband/driver/plus-one, Clarke, is the secret to my reviewing career.
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  • Backstory:  Best Woodward-and-Bernstein Moment
  • Backstory: Best Woodward-and-Bernstein Moment

    Among the pantheon of best journalism movies is All the President's Men, the riveting backstory of how the Washington Post broke open the Watergate scandal and ultimately ended Richard Nixon's presidency. The film follows reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, as they harangue reluctant sources and conduct late-night parking garage rendezvous. It's a superhero flick for nerds.
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  • Backstory: Most Bewildering Subject
  • Backstory: Most Bewildering Subject

    I spent most of the summer chasing the two front-runners in the most aerobic electoral contest of the campaign cycle, the Democratic primary for Vermont's only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The challenge of profiling any political candidate is to see beyond the manufactured story, to figure out where the public persona ends and the authentic self begins.
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  • Backstory: Best Animal Instincts
  • Backstory: Best Animal Instincts

    In week four of my first professional reporting gig, I was eager to prove myself. I had landed my dream job through Report for America, a national service program that places young journalists in local newsrooms. I would be reporting on challenges and opportunities in Vermont's small towns for Seven Days, learning along the way through mentorship and training provided by Report for America.
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  • Backstory: Shortest 'Interview'
  • Backstory: Shortest 'Interview'

    I had no expectation of getting a comment from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) when I set out to cover one of his stump speeches for Becca Balint during the primary campaign for Vermont's sole U.S. House seat. All of our reporters were busy, so I offered to go.
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  • Backstory: Most Surprising Epilogue
  • Backstory: Most Surprising Epilogue

    Almost every week I share a "backstory" in Seven Days. My "From the Publisher" column, created to detail the struggles of this newspaper during the pandemic, is an inside peek at our local media business. I also write about my personal life — experiences I've had in the past as well as things happening now. These pieces in particular seem to resonate with readers, whether I'm writing about swimming laps, taking a train to New York City or shopping for bras.
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  • Backstory: Most Withering Outcome
  • Backstory: Most Withering Outcome

    My first taste of journalism was a postcollege summer internship at Vermont Magazine, a bimonthly publication then based in a converted chicken barn just over the New York State border from my hometown of Arlington. That gig led to a very part-time role compiling the magazine's "Essential Events" calendar, for which I was tasked with sourcing a handful of unique goings-on around the state. The events should "reflect the flavor of Vermont," my editor instructed, "and if they are somewhat obscure, quaint and countrified, so much the better."
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  • Backstory: Most Unexpected Connection
  • Backstory: Most Unexpected Connection

    Last winter I covered the Vermont House's passage of Article 22, aka the abortion amendment. The floor vote was hybrid, and I was watching it remotely, so all I could see of the room was a dark box with miniscule figures in it. To ascertain who was talking, I had to rely on Speaker Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington), who would address lawmakers, per tradition, by the district they represented. In order to quote "the member from Granby" with confidence, however, I felt compelled to confirm the disembodied voice was really her.
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  • Backstory: Best Test of Patience
  • Backstory: Best Test of Patience

    Last fall, I was reading a New Yorker exposé about Teen Challenge — a Christian organization that runs a network of residential programs for troubled teens — when a paragraph stopped me in my tracks. "In May, 2020, Naomi Wood, a student at the Lakeland Teen Challenge, died," the article said. "She had been throwing up, almost constantly, for more than twenty-four hours. On the last day of her life, Naomi, who was born in Liberia and adopted by a family in Vermont, stayed in bed, and the staff left her alone for long stretches without checking on her, according to students and staff I interviewed."
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  • Backstory: Sketchiest Source
  • Backstory: Sketchiest Source

    "You know that they're listening, right?" I took a deep breath, reminding myself to be patient with the man on the other end of the line. I should have expected a few conversations like this when I pitched a cover story about unidentified flying objects in Vermont. After all, you don't just toss out a question like "Have you ever seen a UFO?" and expect to get a big helping of logic.
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  • Backstory: Easiest Story to Spot
  • Backstory: Easiest Story to Spot

    My wife and I were walking our dog in downtown Burlington in July when we passed a young man standing on a sidewalk, gesticulating oddly. He'd take a half step forward, move his hands in front of his face with no discernible purpose, step back, then repeat. He seemed oblivious to the traffic whizzing past on North Winooski Avenue and the other people around. I paused and studied his strange ritual.
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  • Backstory: Best Evidence Vermont Is All Right
  • Backstory: Best Evidence Vermont Is All Right

    My beat is education, not politics, so covering the state Senate race in Orange County was already a bit of a stretch. Plus, the race had gotten complicated. John Klar, a conservative culture warrior, was aggressively challenging Democrat incumbent Mark MacDonald, who suffered a stroke mid-campaign.
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  • Backstory: Most Bittersweet Synchronicity
  • Backstory: Most Bittersweet Synchronicity

    As a child, I had persistent nightmares about death. They weren't gory or violent, but that didn't make them any less scary. The dreams consisted entirely of me floating endlessly in space, forever alone and bored, a state of being that frightened me more than almost anything. In this and many other ways, my late mother and I were very similar.
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  • Backstory:  Scariest Encounter
  • Backstory: Scariest Encounter

    I've been detained and threatened with arrest twice in my 20-year career as a photographer: first, by regime thugs while I was shooting revolutionary protests in Egypt; second, trying to photograph a train for Seven Days. Wielding a camera can be dangerous. When I work in conflict zones, I feel a cautionary dread. That anxiety sometimes spills over when I shoot in "safe" places, too, because my nervous system doesn't know the difference.
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  • Backstory: Longest Interview
  • Backstory: Longest Interview

    Editors are a needy breed, always hungry for copy that's never filed early enough. So when one tells you to slow down, it's a good idea to listen. In August, I learned that between the hours of 8 p.m. and 9 a.m., the newly revamped national suicide-prevention hotline was routing all Vermont calls to a single phone in the Northeast Kingdom. I couldn't shake the image of a call-taker holed up in a small office, all alone. It's a big responsibility, and I wanted to see it firsthand.
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