Index - September, October 2016

Give Them Shelter: Women in Vermont Providing for Animals in Need
by Michelle A. L. Singer

On May 7, 2016, the Kentucky Derby—one of the most prestigious horse races in the world and the longest continually held sporting event in America— offered a $2 million dollar purse to the winner of the race. This year it was Nyquist, a three-year-old colt. For some, that headline prompts a compelling question: What about the thousands of other thoroughbred racehorses that didn't make it to the Kentucky Derby? What happens to them?

Ginny Iverson, executive director and head trainer of AFTER the Track at Lakota~Way Farm in Hinesburg, Vermont, knows the answer. She says approximately 25,000 horses are bred to race in the Kentucky Derby, but only 20 make it. Of the rest of the 24,980 horses, "some... will continue racing in the lower races, but many of them will soon be out of work. The median age for thoroughbreds retiring from racing is 5 to 6 years old, yet the average lifespan of these horses is 25 to 30 years. These are young, healthy, athletic horses who can be retrained in other disciplines and bring years of pleasure to riding enthusiasts."

This is where Iverson and others like her step in. AFTER the Track (AFTER is the acronym for Assuring Futures for Thoroughbred Ex Racehorses) seeks unsuccessful racehorses that have the potential to become good sport and pleasure horses for adult amateur, junior, and professional riders. Because the horses are purchased outright from the racetrack, they are not rescue animals, but they are still very much at-risk. A not uncommon fate for these horses is the slaughterhouse. Horse slaughter is illegal in the United States, so each year thousands of unsuccessful thoroughbreds are shipped to Canada, Mexico, or even Japan to be butchered. Fortunately, more and more thoroughbred aftercare programs are being founded throughout the country. AFTER the Track is Vermont's only thoroughbred aftercare program and stands ready to help others expand and replicate this worthy effort.

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A Helping Hoof: The Horse as Guide and Therapist

by Kate Mueller

For over 40 years, horses have been coming to the rescue, guiding and educating people—from physically challenged children to veterans with PTSD, teens with emotional problems, and adults seeking personal growth. The first use of horses for physical therapy dates back to 1969, when the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) was founded. In 1999, the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association was founded, expanding the role of horses beyond the physical. NARHA is now called the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH); based in Colorado, PATH provides instructor certification, center accreditation, and educational opportunities.

What is it about horses that makes them uniquely suited to this sort of work? The answers are several. Most obviously horses are large animals—and dealing with a 1,000-pound animal requires leadership skills that smaller therapy animals can’t provide. Because horses are herd and prey animals, they are highly attuned to each other, to other animals, and to their environment. Their senses are acute: with a 350-degree field of vision, they can see in front and almost all the way around their bodies; their mobile ears can take in sound information from multiple sources simultaneously. To survive in the wild, they have to work well as a group. Each horse has his or her “job,” and horse society is all about everyone working together harmoniously. As such, horses provide a model of how to be in the world, and they are also excellent mirrors. Sensitive as they are, they quickly pick up nonverbal cues from the humans near them and reflect what they are sensing.

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Sally Linder: Artist, Humanist, Activist

by Cynthia Close

Sally Linder’s environmental activism is her art. It is not some altruistic activity to be engaged in at a convenient time and place: her art is the core of her being. It is life itself. Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1951, this well-known Burlington-based artist has had a long and illustrious career.

At the age of 12, before she fell in love with art, she fell in love with Robert Linder, whom she married in 1971. They moved to Canada where Linder studied painting and creative writing at McGill University, ultimately earning a BA from Goucher College, followed in 1975 by a BFA from Concordia University, where she received the Board of Governor’s Medal for Creative Work in Visual Arts.

Accolades have followed Linder throughout her creative life, but they were not pursued. They were the results of her many journeys. Artists by nature are seekers of truth. For Linder this search involved deep, internal investigation, at times in isolation, surrounded by harshly beautiful, unforgiving environments. The first of these took place in 1975–1976 when Linder lived alone, in the winter, without telephone, electricity, or running water, atop a mountain in Harrington, Quebec. To say that this experience imbued in her a profound respect for the power of nature is probably an understatement.

This period of isolation gave way to a different kind of journey, one of building family. She had her first child, a daughter, in 1979 and that year moved with her family to a farm in Bethel, Vermont, along with four dogs, seven cats, five horses, and a raccoon. It was there, in 1983, her son was born. In 1989, the family moved to Burlington, where she continues to paint today in the light-filled studio behind her house.

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The Fraught Path to a Renewable Energy Future

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph, with additional reporting by Kate Mueller

The majority of Vermonters are in favor of renewable energy, and everyone wants to save the planet. But though everyone is concerned about the environment, not everyone agrees on how to go about weaning ourselves off fossil fuels.

In 2015, the legislature set goals for when and how much of the state’s energy should be renewable: 90 percent by 2050, with intermediate goals along the way. The Department of Public Service developed a Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP) to ensure that these goals are met.

But to reach the 2050 target, do we build as many renewable energy projects as possible to flood the electric grid with clean energy? Or do we scale down our energy consumption, changing our habits to reduce our carbon footprints at home? People generally agree that both strategies are crucial to meeting the state’s renewable energy goals. Problems arise over priorities: what do we do first, where do we do it, and how fast do we do it.

According to the CEP, as of 2015, less than 20 percent of all energy generated in Vermont is renewable. Of that, about 45 percent of electricity is renewable. Developers have identified opportunities to install renewable energy projects, like solar and wind, to increase the amount of electricity that is renewable.

Some argue, however, that doing a rapid build-out to increase the capacity to generate renewable electricity should not be the top priority because more fossil fuel is consumed heating homes and for transportation. In 2013, electricity accounted for about 28 percent of energy consumption, while gasoline and distillates (diesel and heating oil) accounted for about 48 percent.

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Anaïs Mitchell and the Road to Hadestown
by K.C. Whiteley

We had front-row seats for the Sunday matinee performance of Hadestown at the New York Theater Workshop, the penultimate show before opening night. As the orchestra, which includes Vermonters Michael Chorney and Robinson Morse, began to play “Anyway the Wind Blows” and the Three Fates began to sing, chills of excitement raced through me. I was in New York City about to be transported to a musical feast.

The first Hadestown production took place 10 years ago in Barre, Vermont. Reshaped for the stage and matured from developmental growth in the years between, Anais Mitchell’s reimagining of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as a folk opera has blossomed from a small-town musical theater to a fully developed Off Broadway show.

When Vermont Woman first profiled Anais Mitchell for this column back in March, 2010, Hadestown, the album, had just been released on Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records. Six years later, Hadestown, the Off Broadway production, is playing at the New York Theater Workshop. Thanks to sold-out previews, the run has been extended into July.

The concept for what would become a community theater folk opera about the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice originated when, as Mitchell recalls, “the first few songs just came out of nowhere” and drew her to the myth. She recalls hearing the story as a child and strongly identifying with the musician as hero.

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In Their Own Words:
Gubernatorial Candidates Talk About the Issues

Compiled by Darcie Abbene

We asked the gubernatorial candidates —

Republicans Bruce Lisman and Phil Scott and Democrats Matt Dunne, Peter Galbraith, and Susan Minter — to respond to a list of survey questions ahead of the upcoming primary vote on August 9.

In addition to providing biographical information, we asked the candidates to address their choice of two or three of four issues:

    • Economics & Business

    • Education

    • Environment & Agriculture

    • Health Care

Finally, we asked them to provide some insight into how their experiences and values have developed and will inform their ability to be Vermont’s next governor. Read their responses, in their own words...

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Publisher's Message:
Dream Big with a Touch of Reality

Sue Gillis
Publisher, Vermont Woman

by Sue Gillis

You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?

Remember “Happy Talk” from South Pacific? It’s a great reminder to keep on dreaming because if you don’t, then it’s a sure thing that none will come true. I figured this out a while back along with a couple of tricks to increase the odds and help dreams come true.

One is that they better be somewhat grounded in reality. The other is to accept that not all dreams actually turn out exactly as you hoped for, but many will come close, and coming close may make all the difference. As the motivational speaker Norman Vincent Peale said, “Shoot for the moon. If you miss you will land among the stars!” The point is to dream big (not moderately), and as you launch in your goal’s direction even if you do not reach it, chances are other opportunities will emerge that you could not have imagined.

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