Letters to the Editor (10/30/19) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (10/30/19) 

Published October 30, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated November 12, 2019 at 2:50 p.m.

Mural Coincidence

[Re "American Vandal"; "A Greta Thunberg Mural Is Defaced and Rebooted in Rutland," October 23]: I couldn't help but notice the strikingly similar mind-set and tactics shared by Burlington mural vandal Eric Maier and the unknown perpetrator who vandalized the Greta Thunberg mural in Rutland.  

At first glance, Maier, a self-described leftist, and the Rutland vandal, who is likely a right-leaning climate change denier, appear to be political polar opposites. However, they share a common belief: that, as the self-appointed art police, they have the right to deface artwork they find objectionable in our communities.

Self-righteous persons such as Maier and the Thunberg mural vandal, who both resorted to criminal activity in order to destroy and thereby censor public art, pose a danger to an open-minded society.

Doug Kallen


In Defense of Activists

As a proud fellow political prankster described in Dan Bolles' commendable and desperately needed "American Vandal" article [October 23], I'd first like to express unconditional solidarity with Eric Maier's act and its underlying motivation. There are always people eager to tell activists that they go too far too fast. I'm sure Boston's Sam Adams heard the same advice from "supporters." Does anyone remember their names?

More importantly, what Bolles did was challenge thousands of Vermonters, particularly Burlingtonians, to consider the politics of whose narrative should dominate the public square. His article clearly laid out the pay-to-play intersectionality of racism and capitalism behind "Everyone Loves a Parade!" and the unending efforts of Mayor Miro Weinberger's administration to protect a white supremacist arrangement that put corporate advertising expenditures over human decency on Church Street. The only anti-racist thing to do is remove the shameful mural now and not in 2022.

Albert Petrarca


'Display of Intolerance'

[Re "American Vandal," October 23]: Must say, Seven Days, you have our attention! The irony of musical artist Eric Maier not accepting the artwork of another to the point of destroying that artwork?! Allowing his own political interpretation of the "Parade" mural to prevent others from seeing and interpreting it for themselves?!

What's next? Join Maier in an evening of book burning? Or how about a trip to the Louvre or the Smithsonian, where he can choose which art is acceptable and which should be destroyed for future generations?

The "Parade" mural was meant to be a historical celebration timeline of sorts, illustrated with local pols and celebrities, with no intent to misrepresent our local history. There was never any racial or otherwise evil intent.

I would think fellow artists and the general public should remain outraged by Maier's display of intolerance.

Robert Devost


Two Sides, Two Municipalities

I'm writing about your article last week about Irene Wrenner's performance at our recent selectboard meeting [802Much: "Crazy Train," October 23].

While it's definitely fun to point out the creative ways people participate in local government, I think your article was one-sided. You probably could tell from your conversation with Wrenner that the subject of a merger in Essex has a long and contentious history. I would like to invite you to explore the matter further and consider that Wrenner's performance reflects only one perspective. There are many others. The fact that your article does not include commentary from either municipal staff or elected officials is concerning.

The next 12 months in Essex will see a robust public process as we begin to develop a merger plan and a new charter. It would be really good material for Seven Days to cover. Your paper's reporting on local politics is very good but tends to focus on Burlington and the legislature. I think gaining a deeper understanding of what's happening in Essex would be of interest to your readers.

Elaine Haney

Essex Junction

Haney is chair of the Essex Selectboard.

Climate To-Do

[Re "Carbon Quandary," October 9]: The term "climate change" was coined in 1956 and has been on my mind since the 1970s. I grew up burning wood. It is still very inexpensive, low-carbon heat, especially now with the new advanced wood heaters. 

We all want electricity to power our society, and we have to choose the source. Wind and solar could have been built to supply Vermont with power, but they have been strongly opposed for 20 years. We need to take real action on what is now a climate crisis. 

Burning local wood at the McNeil Generating Station is very different from shipping U.S. wood to Europe. The plant may not be perfect, but it gets biomass from within 60 miles. One hundred percent of the $10 million goes back into the local economy. Burning oil or gas to make power sends $7.8 million out of the state. Most of it goes to other countries.

The carbon cycle for wood is very short. It is called renewable because it regrows. Even if we want to avoid quibbling and say it takes 100 years to grow, that is still better than digging half-billion-year-old fossil fuels out of the ground, which will never regrow and never recapture the carbon released. Remember that in a mature forest there are old trees that fall and rot. They release their carbon without producing any power.

Reduce coal, oil, gasoline and gas use. Make McNeil more efficient with district heat. Buy electric cars. Create electricity from regrowable Vermont wood. Save the oil for lubrication.

Bill Calfee


Forest Economics

"Carbon Quandary" [October 9] looks at the varying opinions on forest carbon storage and sequestration. Forest, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mike Snyder does a great job explaining the broader issues. What is missed or unrecognized by University of Vermont researchers and the anti-biomass advocates is that human socioeconomic systems are the biggest influence on forests. The best way to maximize forest carbon storage and sequestration is to have lots of forests.

We are lucky to have a heavily forested state. Vermont forests are 85 percent privately owned, and Vermont has very high land taxation. Successful forest stewardship is best achieved when landowners can afford to keep the land forested. Landowners need good forest product markets for this to work. Low-grade wood markets such as pulp, firewood and biomass are critical to long-term forest management and ownership. They also help achieve the type of careful forestry most common in Vermont. Discouraging biomass markets, and/or setting too much land off-limits to harvesting, damages the forest economy. This will lead to the conversion of forests to other uses.

Let's support the landowners who keep Vermont forested. Abundant, well-managed forests — supported by a diverse mixture of local forest product markets — are the best tool for long-term forest and carbon conservation. It is not complicated. Good forest management is good carbon management. Commissioner Snyder's leadership and integrity on this issue are greatly appreciated.

Jonathan L. Wood


Wood is a certified and licensed forester.

Reclaiming Christianity

[Re "Good News?" September 25]: I was disturbed by the fact that Seven Days would afford a seven-page spread to a naïve story about evangelical churches in Vermont. Certainly everyone has a right to practice their own religion — but to imply, as this article did, that these churches represent Christianity is misleading. 

As opposed to the churches profiled, there are many Christian churches in Vermont that welcome people of all sexual orientations and do not try to "cure" them — churches where both LGBTQ people and women are respected and honored as leaders and ministers, and where the ministers are held accountable by their peers and the church structure to prevent abuses of power.

When a church is totally independent, as many of the "evangelical" churches are, the power of the minister can be seen as absolute, giving him unchecked access to sexual and power abuses. None of the church groups profiled in your article, including the Southern Baptists, accepts the fact that LGBTQ people can be whole and healthy and called to ministry. Most see them as sinful, an attitude that causes much harm to the human spirit and psyche. It was sad to read about the young woman who found a new life in the church by rejecting her own sexuality. We know that these kinds of "conversions" can lead to self-hate, denial and suicidal tendencies.

I hope that anyone who is attracted to the message of love, acceptance and community in Christianity will seek out a church that states clearly a policy of being welcoming to all, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Nancy Kilgore


Wood Wise

[Re "Carbon Quandary," October 9]: Energy impacts are situational. Every factor in a complex equation matters when determining the carbon impact of our energy choices, including fuel source, transportation, processing, delivery, combustion, the near- and long-term impacts on the source environment, and repercussions such as oil spills, gas leaks and wildfires. So let's focus on our situation in Vermont and the rest of the northern forest, where we need to heat our buildings over the long, cold winter. 

We have an abundance of trees that will release their carbon someday, whether they die of old age or are harvested to produce wood products, including chips and pellets made from the low-grade wood. The high-quality wood made into construction lumber, furniture and other long-lasting products will sequester its carbon for generations. The wood chips and pellets reduce our use of fossil fuel. 

In 2015, the Northern Forest Center commissioned a study to understand one specific situation: the greenhouse gas impacts of using wood pellets for heat in our four-state region. The life-cycle analysis concluded that pellets — sourced, produced and used in the northern forest — immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 percent compared to oil and 59 percent compared to natural gas. Over time, the results get even better.

We need to use every available option to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. In Vermont and the northern forest, using wood pellets instead of fossil fuels to heat our homes, schools and buildings is a huge step in the right direction, readily available at every scale. 

Rob Riley

Canterbury, N.H.

Missing Mags

A few weeks ago, the Burlington coffee staple Maglianero Café decided to close up shop [Bite Club: "Maglianero Café to Become Kestrel Coffee Roasters Café," September 18]. This wasn't just a place where you could get some drip and move on to your day; it was a hybrid gallery, coffee shop and community space. The coffee was among the best in town, but Mags also served a very organic air of freshness and community feel — very Burlingtonesque. It was a place where you could count on having a casual meeting with someone, where you could go and crank out some work, or perhaps you just wanted a cup of coffee with a friend — this was the place. It was more than just a business; it was a community-fueled space with the combination of coffee rituals, interesting conversations, work habits and lots of dogs.

I wish the best of luck to the new coffee roasters taking over, but I also find it extremely hard to believe that Mags' magic could be replicated. Walking in there, where they even have the same chairs — it doesn't feel right. That was the beauty of Mags: It perfected whatever it was not trying to be. 

Ariana Cano


'See You in the ER!'

In a recent letter to Seven Days, Ron Jacobs pointed out the larger picture behind homelessness in Burlington and elsewhere [Feedback: "Homeless Need Help," September 25]. There is also a larger picture behind our health care system for low-income individuals in general. Actual treatment, for example, is relegated to a surfeit of "all-purpose" social workers, whether licensed or not. Doctors with medical degrees who'll take Medicare/Medicaid payments for their services are more rare, and those who have some years of experience are rarer still. You'll most likely find those in the marketplace. Are you homeless and sick? See you in the ER!

The old canard of "Sweden can have universal health care because they're a small, homogenous country" doesn't hold water. With more immigrants now being registered in that country, possibly putting some strain on the economy, day-to-day health care still hasn't disappeared. And though the Swedes pay high taxes for this and more necessities, they're hardly bankrupt.

What about the size factor? In how many other small countries is it a virtual roll of the dice to see the doctor at all? On the other hand, suppose we have a comparable-size state in the U.S. getting universal coverage. If the experiment is good, we can spread it throughout the country. Not that easy? Hmm, how did those other large countries do it? What's the larger picture there?

Tom MacDonald


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