November, 2007

I, Spy
Debriefing Outed CIA Agent Valerie Plame Wilson

On Sunday, October 28, 2007, the Vermont Woman newspaper Lecture Series presented outed CIA spy Valerie Plame Wilson in what was only her second public speaking event following the release of her memoir, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House.

Prior to her public address, Plame talked with Vermont Woman editor Margaret Michniewicz about a range of issues - from the threat of Iran, the possibility of an appointment by Hillary Clinton, women as spies, to the very personal revelations in her book about her marriage, and her battle with post-partum depression. The December issue of Vermont Woman newspaper will feature additional coverage of Plame's Vermont visit. Following are some excerpts from our conversation.

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Interview with Valerie Plame Wilson

Vermont's Rising Star - Backstage with Grace Potter

"You're hitting us at a really wild time!" Grace Potter exclaims to me, eyes big and sparkling with enthusiasm. The 24-year old Waitsfield native and her band, the Nocturnals, are catapulting into national fame, and it's clear that Potter is having a ball. In late July they played in Japan, in August they released their first CD on a major recording label, they've rocked the late night TV show circuit, and on October 3 they set out on another tour through December, in their first bona fide tour bus - compliments of Willie Nelson.

It's several hours before Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (GPTN) will take the stage as the headlining performers of the First Annual Burke Mountain Music Festival in East Burke and we're in the performers' lounge sipping instant coffee out of Styrofoam cups. Potter and the boys - drummer Matt Burr, bassist Bryan Dondero, and guitarist Scott Tournet - had just flown into Burlington from Los Angeles the day before. "I did my first 'red carpet' ever, two days ago," Potter beams with girlish delight, talking away as she hands me a makeshift coffee stirrer she has unearthed from a counter strewn with bags of snacks and bottles of assorted beverages. "It was so much fun… I was a cartoon character for a moment!" If she's jet-lagged, it doesn't show in either her fresh face or animated conversation. I barely get the words of a question out and she's off around the track, her language peppered with plenty of salty rock n' roll flair.

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Grace Potter

Iraq, Iran - Sounding Ever-More Similar

In the 60 Minutes interview that aired on October 21, CBS' Katie Couric asked exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson if she had discussed with her husband, Joe Wilson, the "pros and cons of going public" with his allegations that the Bush administration had twisted intelligence in order to go to war. "You never for a moment thought this could potentially jeopardize [your] career?" Couric asked.

"It's called living your cover. This had nothing to do with what I was doing," Plame Wilson replied.

Couric pressed her. "Admit it. It comes awfully close to what you were doing, even covertly. I mean, you were trying to ascertain if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. He's writing an article saying it's really not valid, this one assertion. I mean, can't you see how those two things might collide in a very dangerous way?"

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Margaret Michniewicz

Adamantly in Favor of Food Co-Op Shopping

November can be hard on folks just coming off the local-food high of weekly farmers' markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm shares. Fortunately, there are 14 co-operative grocery stores around the state to pick up that post-harvest slack, offering winter local and organic fixes to the "ethicureans" among us - so-named by one blog, whose motto is "Chew the right thing."

But what about those of us who are in the habit of swinging by a Price Chopper's or a Hannaford's. Sometimes the argument that shopping at co-ops keeps Vermont's farms in business is not enough when a party-platter at Costco's costs less than either the individual ingredients or the labor power it took to put it together. As the women - and the majority are women - who run Vermont's co-ops are happy to explain, there are myriad reasons why so many customers prefer to do their weekly grocery run at a co-op. Though ethical eating choices remain co-operatives' main focus, here are seven more reasons to patronize the Keepers of the Local (Cooking) Flame.

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People at the Co-op

Ariel Zevon: Laced with Determination, Making it Farm Fresh

Ariel Zevon, busy behind the LACE kitchen counter at her community Farm Fresh Market-Café, radiates an energetic blend of quiet focus - down to earth and friendly, yet clearly on the job as she kneads bread dough, elbow deep in the yeasty fragrant bowl, her four-year-old tow-headed twins, Max and Gus, happily circling her legs, comfortably underfoot. Opened in June, LACE is dedicated to connecting consumers to the neighbor-farmer down the road by selling small-scale agricultural produce and educating customers on the benefits of buying farm fresh, organic and local foods, LACE also seeks to foster community through various gatherings including dining, cooking, art, music, books and hand-crafts.

Zevon is no shrinking violet in the scope of her vision and practice, encompassing environmental awareness, history, and socio-economic innovation. Standing the traditionally competitive business model on its ear, LACE displays posters urging customers to shop at the Barre Farmer's Market on Thursdays and passes on leftovers from the cafe daily - for free - to anyone who stops in to inquire between 3and 4pm. They also deliver donations twice a week to the Vermont Foodbank - "whatever's here, usually a lot of bread, also milk and produce," says Zevon - as well as local folks' shared home garden overflow.

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Ariel Zevon