April, 2007

Inconvenient Choices:
The Future of Vermont's Energy Supply & Demand

Which would you choose: a 400-foot wind turbine with blinking red lights on the ridgeline, or blowing up a ridgeline altogether to access narrow seams of coal 1,000 feet below? What does it mean for Vernon residents that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has proclaimed that it will be "over [his] dead body" that Yucca Mountain will become the nation's storage site for nuclear waste? And if you live in Burlington, do you really care?

Wind or anti-wind, nuclear or anti-nuclear, coal or anti-coal - none of these positions helps the state move forward in building our energy future. Instead, they obscure the critical conversation, which is this: How will we generate our energy in five years? Ten years? Twenty years? Who will make those decisions? And what do our choices ultimately say about our relationship to the land, to fellow Vermonters, and to citizens outside the Green Mountains?

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The Green House-Building Effect
Long-term Benefits for the Earth - and Your Bank Account

From turning Chicago's rooftops into gardens to Wal-Mart's pledge to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent in new stores through skylights, lighting and improved refrigeration, the green building movement has gone decidedly mainstream, and Vermonters are joining up as both purveyors and consumers.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, over $7 billion was invested in the green building products and services market in 2005, and that number continues to grow. Vermont is on the cutting edge of that trend, according to Nancy Mears, executive director of the Vermont Green Building Network (VGBN).

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Channeling the Puckish Charm of a Vexing Mystery:
Vermont Stage Company Presents I Am My Own Wife

Flanked by two adolescent tiger cubs, each as big as he is, a young German boy smiles radiantly and fearlessly for the camera, circa 1938. He has an arm around each cat, and their massive forepaws rest on his knees. Zoo animals, yes, but with ears and eyes unnervingly alert. Either of them could strike the boy down without warning, ferociously devouring him in lethal jaws or merely with one casual swat of the paw.

This boy, Lothar Berfelde, lived a life flanked in his early years by the Third Reich followed by four decades of Communist totalitarianism, in addition to the terror he and his mother suffered under his father's roof. During this time Lothar steadily transformed his identity into that of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. An openly gay transvestite, Charlotte bravely negotiated the minefield of these two consecutive regimes cruelly intolerant of state-defined 'difference.' Lothar's Aunt Luise, whom he revered, lost her beloved to the Nazi euthanasia program - the murder of "undesirables" - in 1935; in her memory, Lothar adopted her name..

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Eyes of Ceres:
The Do Nothing State House

Governor Jim Douglas is touring the state inviting Vermonters to speak with him about how the Democratic-controlled Legislature isn't listening to him. His "Accountability Forums" have seemingly only been scheduled in districts he carried by wide margins (except for Springfield, which is the closest to Brattleboro it seems that he likes to go). These events could be dismissed as naked political posturing - on cue, some Democrats have responded by sniping that Douglas shouldn't run for office on taxpayer dollars, which is what they say every time the governor kicks them in the teeth, and they beg him not to do it anymore - except for the part where Douglas' accusations of a do-nothing Assembly happen to be true.

The single largest issue about which the Democrats made a hoopla at start of session, on which they promised to do much and have delivered nothing, is global warming. The Democrats, you may remember, were the party that insisted, over strong gubernatorial and some public objection, to hold four consecutive weeks of hearings just on the theory of global warming so they could really understand just what needed to be done.

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