Letters to the Editor (1/31/18) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (1/31/18) 

Published January 31, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated January 31, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.

O.N.E. for All

[Re "Ready or Not? Is Gentrification Inevitable in Burlington's Old North End?" January 17]: It doesn't feel great to be paraphrased into an ignorant ditz. I imagine it feels worse, though, to watch as businesses and apartment complexes move into your neighborhood without your input or approval, all the while making it harder for you to afford to call that neighborhood home. In a recent Seven Days piece, the voices of Old North End residents were largely excluded in favor of the forces — and faces — of its impending gentrification. First a café moves in, then an apartment complex with a yoga studio. Next thing you know, crime is down and nonprofits are being pushed out of the neighborhood! The process was characterized as a passive one, excluding true examination of the systemic injustice of, and local opposition to, these seemingly intractable forces.

Community-based efforts to address the underlying causes of gentrification are innumerable and unfortunately not covered as frequently or in such depth as those issues against which they are organized. Infinite Culcleasure's campaign for mayor, predicated upon the inclusion and elevation of voices systemically excluded from the political process on the basis of race and class, is just one example of such efforts taking place today.

If we recognize this and organize to make Burlington a place where folks of all races, classes and identities can — and do — have not only "bread, but roses, too," gentrification needn't be inevitable, in the Old North End or anywhere else in our city. 

Emily T. Harrington


History Matters

Thank you very much for your wonderful article about Vermont's local historical societies ["Time Keepers," January 10]. Preserving a small town's legacy is a big task for a few dedicated people in the face of numbing suburbanization and perspective. Thank you for recognizing our work in maintaining our small towns' and Vermont's unique heritage.

John Malcolm


Malcolm is secretary of the Pawlett Historical Society.

Teachable Moment

I am disheartened by the continued attempts to sanitize our history, from school mascots and sports teams to the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award [Off Message: "Library Board Pushes to Rename Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award," January 11; "Surrender Dorothy?" June 21, 2017]. 

Time and again, librarians have protected our right to read material seen as controversial, offensive and even inappropriate. From that perspective, I fervently hope that State Librarian Scott Murphy does not accept the recommendation from the Vermont Board of Libraries. The fact that the vote was unanimous disturbs me as well, but that is for a different letter.

In the case of the DCF award, the salient question is whether the name is honoring the person or the person's contribution. If we are honoring the writing, the name should stay. If, however, we are honoring the person, that is a much more complex question.

Like all of us, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, the woman, was not perfect. But the actions and beliefs now being called into question were not out of alignment with the time. To remove her name merely glosses over the history; it does not change it. Our youth is better served if instead we encourage them to learn about the whole person and examine things in context, to understand how our perspectives and beliefs can — and should — change over time. This should be done with all of the individuals we honor. None of us is perfect, but we should learn from our past actions. It is our only hope.

Monique Hayden


American Idle

It's the spirit of this age that people do whatever is right for them. Case in point: to idle for personal comfort as long as one wants, with no thought about its impact upon air quality for others [802Much: "Warming Up," January 10; Feedback: "Illogical Idling Law," January 17]. Then there are those who were given the responsibility of law enforcement: choosing to join them rather than govern them. But no law will ever change a person's heart toward his environment; he must already recognize and choose to make such a small personal sacrifice for the good of his neighbors, whether in the city, in the suburbs or in the countryside. (Air contaminants have a way of spreading invisibly.) Looking the other way from idlers during this peak season is questionable indeed. And a measly $12 fine?

Christopher Leicht


Don't Waste Wildlife

It does not require a very deep dive on social media to find gleeful "attaboys" and detailed sharing of body counts and bloodlust, all directed at coyotes, often accompanied by triumphant photos of coyote corpses stacked like cordwood [Off Message: "One Controversial Coyote Hunt Is Canceled, and Another Crops Up," January 11].

The joy of killing is nothing new, and coyotes have been a favorite scapegoat for as long as humans have been raising livestock. But the sheer recklessness of killing contests, with the goal of mowing down as many coyotes as possible, is something we should all condemn; not only do they exalt blood sport as something worthy, they are a stain on Vermont's image.

Equally disturbing is the current open season on coyotes, which may be killed 365 days of the year, day or night. This wasteful killing sadly often results in coyote pups becoming orphaned and is in direct conflict with the Fish & Wildlife Department's own philosophy opposing wanton waste killing. While the FWD is tasked with safeguarding and preserving Vermont's wildlife for all of its citizens, most of whom object to the wasteful killing of wildlife, it conveniently looks the other way when these events occur.

A survey by the University of Vermont's Center for Rural Studies revealed that 70.5 percent of Vermont residents oppose the wasteful destruction of wildlife. The proponents of these contests have taken issue with this poll because it clearly undermines their position. It provides powerful evidence that public sentiment is turning away from practices like this and that the time has come for a real paradigm shift.

Lisa Jablow


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