Index - September, October, 2015

Lola Van Wagenen’s Click! Is a Lasting Legacy
by Rickey Gard Diamond

Filmmaker, Historial and team leader, Lola Van Wagenen
Photo: Jan Doerler

In a digital world dominated by scary news of ISIS, a blowhard Trump, climate change, Hillary’s “damned” e-mails, and nothing happy except for kitten videos, something hopeful is about to be born—an exciting new online resource called Click! Its midwives are five formidable women historians, four of them Vermonters and three longtime girlfriends. While they all tend toward modesty, despite five whole years of attentive work, Click! is huge. It will be a game changer.

Its name has a timely double meaning: click is the action taken to navigate computers and make Internet connections. And click also denotes those feminist moments when you suddenly see that what you have blindly accepted you won’t next time.

Click! will benefit every woman and man who wants to better understand the women’s movement and what these five historians call our “ongoing revolution.” The struggle they describe is not a war but women’s simple and nonviolent insistence on democracy for all.
The project’s originator is Vermont historian and filmmaker Lola Van Wagenen of Shelburne. About Click!’s design, she says: “We wanted to make something everyone could use, like an online museum. Some will really get into it, or they might just walk through it.”

Her organization Clio, begun in 1996 at, has long provided visual history resources to educators and researchers; it will host the new online exhibit. In Greek mythology, Clio was the muse of history. And those who worked on this project agree that Van Wagenen was the inspiring, driving muse that brought this all together.

Continue Reading...


Laurie Patton Applies Ancient Wisdom at Middlebury College
by Amy Brooks Thornton

Laurie Patton, newly inaugurated
17th president of Middlebury College

top photo courtesy Middlebury College
lower two photos: Brett Simison

A few minutes after 10 a.m. on a brilliant fall morning, Laurie Patton swept into her office greeted the tech guys who were fixing her computer, addressed her assistant, then turned to me, the task at hand for the next forty-five minutes before another group demanded her attention. She asked where it would be best to sit, desk or couch? She chose the table near the outlet. Better for me. Straightforward, gracious, without ostentation or false humility, a hint of humor always ready at the corners of her mouth. Laurie Patton, first woman president of Middlebury College.

In her inaugural address at Middlebury College this fall, Patton quoted poet Heather McHugh: “If you live on the edge of an enormous mountain or an enormous body of water, it’s harder to think of yourself as being so important.” Then Patton added the last line of McHugh’s poem: “That seems useful to me, spiritually”—words that seem to typify her remarkably approachability.

Patton is highly accomplished. First and foremost she is a distinguished religion scholar, teacher, and translator of classic Indian Sanskrit texts. Before Middlebury, she was the dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion. Patton graduated from Harvard-Radcliffe College in comparative religions, received her master’s from University of Chicago Divinity School, and completed her doctorate on the history of religions at the University of Chicago. She conducted research in India and Israel on two separate Fulbright scholarships as well as in Paris and at Columbia University and is the author of several books, including two volumes of poetry. Patton can read in five languages: Sanskrit, French, Hindi, German, Old Irish, and biblical Hebrew.

Continue Reading...


Sue Minter Throws Her Hat in the Ring

by Renée Carpenter

Susan Minter, former secretary of transportation, announced her candidacy for governor in October. photo: Gordon Miller

It takes a unique person to leave an excellent and secure job that one loves and does well to take the risk of running for public office. That’s exactly what Sue Minter did in early September when she left her well-earned position as Vermont’s secretary of transportation.

With the encouragement of family and friends—including former secretary of human services Doug Racine and former governor Madeline Kunin—Minter worked with the Shumlin administration to find her replacement. And then she announced her candidacy for governor, jumping into a field of Democratic candidates that will face off in the Vermont Democratic primary election next August.

The Kick-Off

The official kick-off event for Sue Minter’s gubernatorial campaign was held Tuesday, October 6, in front of the historic train station across from the Waterbury green. As a friendly crowd slowly gathered on a perfect, cool, mostly sunny fall day, Minter spoke with press, campaign volunteers, and posed for a few photos, the collar and sleeves of her crisp white shirt framing a bright service-blue blazer. 

Several individuals with familiar faces from state government, nonprofits, and other community organizations, along with curious individuals wondering, “Who is Sue Minter,” moved about or mingled in small groups.

Continue Reading...


Hillary Clinton’s Quiet Vermont Campaign
by Susan Z. Ritz

Nationwide, Hillary Clinton is surging in the polls and seems to be on a straight trajectory to the Democratic presidential nomination. Her strong showing in the first Democratic debate on October 13; her unflappable performance during the October 22 marathon congressional hearing on the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya; Vice President Joe Biden’s decision not to enter the race; and the withdrawal of Jim Webb, Lincoln Chaffee, and Lawrence Lessig from the field have proven to be game changers for the former First Lady, senator from New York, and secretary of state.

Here in Vermont, however, Clinton still lags far behind the state’s favorite son, Senator Bernie Sanders. With five months to go until Vermont’s primary on Super Tuesday, March 1, 2016, Bernie fever continues to rage through the state. Lawn signs and bumper stickers are popping up from Brattleboro to Burlington, while local news media cover every move Sanders makes as he campaigns across the country.

Continue Reading...


Bernie Sanders, Ever the Outsider, Plays to Win

by Cynthia Close

On an unseasonably hot May 26, 2015, afternoon in Burlington, Vermont, thousands of people jostled for position on the grass in Waterfront Park, and it wasn’t to get the free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream being offered. Enthusiastic college students stood shoulder to shoulder next to white-haired seniors discussing politics, as young children squeezed themselves through the crowd to get a better view of the main event. Following several speeches by local dignitaries, Ben (Cohen) and Jerry (Greenfield) among them, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders took the podium to announce his bid to be the next president of the United States. The cheers of the crowd rose to a deafening roar.

Continue Reading...



Vermont Dollars Vermont Sense

by Rickey Gard Diamond

Since most Vermont women are not rolling in dough, you may not think of yourself as an investor. But if you breathe Vermont air, drink its water, shop at its local businesses, and have a credit union or community bank’s debit card, you are part of an investment revolution—whether you knew it or not. Vermont Dollars, Vermont Sense, a new handbook by economist Michael Shuman and Vermont town planner Gwendolyn Hallsmith (with research help from a St. Michael’s grad student), makes it clear that our state’s citizens are already committed to keeping more of our dollars at home.

For instance, the Vermont Community Foundation has committed to investing 5 percent of its donors’ dollars in Vermont ventures here. Since their holdings are now $8 million, this isn’t chump change. Last year the foundation’s investments yielded development funds for Vermont affordable housing, childcare, farms, food, and energy.

Cooperatives are another form of local investment gaining interest in Vermont. When Betsy Pratt was ready to sell Mad River Glen, a ski resort high in the mountains of Fayston, she decided the people she trusted to protect its local character were skiers who loved it. In 1995, while the ski industry was getting bigger and more cookie-cutter-alike, Pratt’s loyal skiers formed a cooperative; it’s now owned outright by 1,800 individuals with 2,300 shares, all with some say in the cooperative’s mission “to preserve and protect the forest and mountain eco-system.”

Continue Reading...



Divestment: Getting Fossil Fuel Out of Our Portfolio

by Catherine Lowthers

This is the second article for the new column,"Listen To Your Mother,"dedicated to our environment. We are fortunate to live in a state where protecting our environment is a priority for residents and for our government leaders: this is not a given in other states. But we are affected by other states’ choices and corporate and national policies over which we have little influence.

“Listen to Your Mother” will highlight current topics and bring you the most informed perspectives on issues that concern us all, such as divestment, renewable energy, and carbon pollution tax, and invite experts to write on these topics. ________________________________________________

In 2008, Bill McKibben and a group of Middlebury College students started to address global climate change. In 2012, the fossil fuel divestment campaign was launched, based on the concern that, as McKibben puts it, “If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.” Divestment is modeled on the campaign to divest from apartheid South Africa, and it has grown to become a global movement.

Reasons to Divest

There have always been ethical reasons to divest. An investment is a loan that earns interest. Why would we loan money to a company that is selling products that accelerate climate change? Now there are also growing financial reasons to avoid investing in fossil fuel companies. Fund managers evaluate financial risks as it is their responsibility to protect the funds entrusted to them and help them grow. Over the past five years, the value of coal and oil shares has been falling, and more fund managers are divesting.

Continue Reading...


The Call I Almost Missed

Hillary called. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in 2008. The New York Times lay scattered about. Fire roaring. Likely sipping a Dubonnet, I almost did not pick up, and even when I did I thought it was a crank call—until, that is, I heard the unmistakable hearty Hillary laugh. She had lost the primary but called to thank me for Vermont Woman’s endorsement, the only newspaper in Vermont to do so. Her call was a classy gesture, which I cherish.

2008 Was Obama’s Time

At an Obama primary event held at UVM’s Ira Allan Chapel, lines stretched all the way to Main Street and beyond. Obama later spoke outside on the chapel steps to those who could not get in.