Evangelina Holvino

Evangelina Holvino is a creative non-fiction writer and a free-lance consultant on issues of social differences and justice in non-profit organizations.

Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR file

As a Latina Vermonter, I can relate to the super visibility Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has attracted since she became a congresswoman. The awkward images, memes and constant coverage suggest that her youth, beauty, intelligence, and perhaps most of all, her ethnicity, are the wrong combination for the media. Some of the more benign insults compare her to “an adorable 5-year old who needs to shut up,” or call her disrespectful nicknames like “o’socialist” and “o’crazy o.”

James Cumming

Like the Christmas story itself, it’s a mystery to me, how every year I buy and schlep a six foot tall balsam fir into my home and spend hours decorating it, while my British partner sits on the sofa drinking tea and egging me on.

AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

As a Puerto Rican living in Vermont, I was deeply disturbed by the President’s recent tweet denying Puerto Rico's hurricane Maria revised death toll of two thousand nine hundred and seventy five.

James A. Cumming

I never thought too deeply about the details of what it takes to keep New England looking – well – like New England.

Evangelina Holvino

My friend Carla is stressed out because she’s moving. In addition to asking for boxes my husband and I saved from our own downsizing move three years ago, she’s asked for advice.

It’s the start of another year’s hurricane season, and the effects of Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico still loom large – as hundreds of empty pairs of shoes in front of the capitol in San Juan stand as a mute display of mourning and protest.

I did not grow up attending holiday bazaars, but after thirty years in Vermont I’ve come to appreciate these local markets that seem to come with the season. It’s a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages and the German immigrants who brought the Christmas markets with them to the US – and before that to tenth century Middle Eastern bazaars.

I’m glad Governor Scott has proclaimed today Indigenous Peoples' Day. And I hope we take more steps to celebrate and honor the history, culture and contributions of the Native Americans who inhabited this land before European settlement - and continue to live among us today - like the Abenaki and their descendants.

Nearly three and a half million Puerto Ricans are suffering from the worst hurricane to hit the Island in eighty nine years. And I know this because when I was a child my father would tell me about the hurricanes he had survived as we prepared for another one.

First proclaimed in 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month features many community festivals and activities organized to honor the achievements, culture and contributions of Hispanics, Latin Americans or Latinxs in the United States.

When I recently attended an event in my town to discuss current issues facing seniors, I had high expectations. I wanted to learn what people like me - who identify as ‘neither young nor old’ - could contribute to our community’s well-being.

The white supremacist events in Charlottesville are terrifying, especially for African Americans, Latinxs, Asians, American Indians and all people of color.

Implicit or unconscious bias is increasingly used to explain and address racist behavior in this country, like the disproportionate use of deadly physical force against Blacks by the police. In Vermont, Act 147 establishes deadlines for completing fair and impartial policing initiatives, and the Legislature is seeking funds to implement its own training on implicit bias.

After much procrastination, my husband and I completed our Advance Directives – just before witnessing my cousins scramble to make decisions about my aunt’s end of life as she lay in a coma in a hospital in San Juan. I remember thinking how grateful I was to have my directive on file with my doctor, my hospital and the Vermont Registry.

My partner James was diagnosed with Parkinson’s on his sixtieth birthday. And because we knew so little about this disease, this felt like the end of the world for us.

In spite of the freezing cold, which the wood stove fire could not entirely abate, I enjoyed so much making wreaths and centerpieces with my gardener friends Linda and Edwin. For a few hours in their cabin in the woods we had a Santa-like workshop going on to fit the season.

What shook me most about the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by the police was their execution-style. Then, to complicate the violence, five police officers were killed in a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration a few days later.

I haven’t been able to get the Orlando Pulse’s nightclub shooting out of my mind. Massacres like this one always rattle me, but this one feels closer. It's like the distance got smaller between Orlando and Brattleboro, LBGTQ and straight, Anglo and Hispanic, armed and un-armed. Most analysts blame homophobia and hate. But as soon as I started reading the names of the dead I knew homophobia and hate were not the whole story.

The Puerto Rican government recently defaulted on a 400 dollar million debt payment. Another 2 billion dollars default is expected on July 1st if Congress does not take action. In all, Puerto Rico owes its lenders more than 70 billion dollars that it cannot pay.

I was always a good student, never experiencing trouble in school. But, my brother was just the opposite: distracted, always clowning around and acting out in the classroom. His best grades were never above a C. Yet, in spite of his poor performance, he graduated from high school and found a decent working class job. In the zero tolerance environments of today’s schools my brother would have been suspended or expelled for his disciplinary problems; as is the case with an estimated 4,000 students in Vermont’s public schools yearly.