Commentary Series

Mon-Thurs 6:45 a.m. and 5:50 p.m.

More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers. The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.

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Mark Tenally / AP

In 11 years of reporting for CNN, I did my share of stories on abortion. And when the day-after abortion pill became available, I remember thinking that because early stage pregnancies could be ended with just a pill, the dynamics of the abortion debate would change. And they did – just not in the way I expected.

Glenn Russell

This spring I watched the Vermont Legislature through the eyes of twenty-five college students. Each week students traveled to the state’s capitol to watch and write about how bills become law – or not.

Spencer Rendahl

I'd been dreaming of taking a break from early spring in northern New England and spending two weeks in Spain as a family sounded like just the ticket.


For anyone living near the New Hampshire border, Presidential politics are in full swing. On almost a daily basis, one contender or another will be holding a public event. For example in one recent week, Presidential candidates appeared at 38 public events in New Hampshire including six in the Upper Valley.

Sirichoke /

Nobody knows what’s going to happen in next year's election, but that hasn't stopped people from trying to predict an unpredictable future. We all have our ideas about what we think should happen, but the possible outcomes are so varied that everyone has become a pundit, trying to weigh the maddening array of possibilities.

Matthew Murphy

The theater world woke up recently to the surprising news that Anais Mitchell's innovative and powerful musical play, Hadestown, won fourteen 2019 Tony nominations - this year's largest cache.

Susan Weinstein

I’ve been teaching for 10 years now and I’m just finishing up my 5th year at Champlain College. In my work, I get to connect with young people in a very transitional phase in their lives – from about 18 to 22 years old.

Lange: Lost Worlds

May 8, 2019
Kerstin Lange

Syrian architect Mohamad Hafez was at the Fleming Museum recently to speak about how as a college student in Iowa back in 2004, he began to build miniature scenes of his native city, Damascus, to work through his homesickness. Three of his works can be seen at the Fleming Museum until May 10.

Ram: Being The Arrow

May 7, 2019
Sally McCay, UVM Photographer

A mentor once told me that there are times in our lives when we are the arrow, flying swift and far. As we get older, we’re more often the bow, holding steady and helping to launch others further than we can see or imagine.

Vermont Historical Society

The recent fire that damaged Notre Dame triggered an outpouring of French anguish over the near-destruction of a building they considered a part of France’s soul. That got me thinking about our buildings here in Vermont. And which buildings, if any, are so important they sum up our experience as a state and stand for what we consider ourselves to be?

finwal / iStock

Decades ago, my kindergarten class memorized Robert Frost's Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening. I recall that we performed it several times, gap-toothed, cheerfully yelling the verses to general audience approval. The interesting thing is that the poem has stayed with me all these years, popping up at odd moments to warm my imagination.

Averyt: Poetry Month

Apr 30, 2019
Susan Z. Ritz

For more than 20 years, April has been observed as National Poetry Month. It’s a time when poetry is shared across the country at readings and in workshops, on stage and in living rooms. When school children and adults are encouraged to read poetry, to memorize a favorite poem, or try their hand at writing one.

McCallum: String Bags

Apr 29, 2019

So I’ve been thinking a lot about France again – and not only because of the devastating Notre-Dame fire. News that the Vermont Senate had just given preliminary approval to a bill that would ban single-use plastic bags instantly carried me back to my earliest visit to France in the sixties, and the first time I saw people carrying purchases in string bags.

Moats: Rutland 1941

Apr 25, 2019
The Vermont Historical Society and Vermont Lions District 45

A friend of mine came across some old film recently showing street scenes of Rutland in 1941, and it’s a revealing trip back in time. The Rutland Lions Club made the film, which eventually came into the hands of the Rutland Historical Society.

Unknown passer-by

I’d been living in California, where a phrase like “it’s freezing” merely meant a mad rush to get the warmest sweater possible. So when I told my friends I was moving to Vermont, they warned me it would be cold, really cold. I could handle “cold,” I told them.

Mnookin: Next Steps

Apr 23, 2019

Walkers came from around the state and stretched across age brackets: families with strollers, young children on bikes, teens, college students, partners, baby boomers, and an eighty-five-year-old from Windham County. I was one of them, joining both to speak out against business as usual and to grow a community with shared visions of sustaining life on this planet.

Broucke: Notre Dame

Apr 22, 2019

The impressive-looking flying buttresses of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris are still standing – now seen by many as symbols of strength and endurance. But at the Notre Dame they have no real structural function. Resembling earthbound wings, they’re strictly there for looks. And I should know, because I teach architectural history at Middlebury College.

Mares: The Bee Bill

Apr 18, 2019
Kosolovskyy / iStock

A proposed new law with 60+ co-sponsors to address neonicitinoid pesticide use in Vermont has certainly struck an ecological nerve. Bill H-205 responds to the perils facing all pollinators these days, including stress, climate change, forage loss, narrowed genetic pool, pesticides, and pathogens.

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Dominating the Vermont headlines recently has been our state’s workforce shortage. For the economy to thrive, we need more people, plain and simple. One solution crosses the border into our state 13,000,000 times per year: tourists. If we could convert just one-tenth of one percent of those visitors into residents, we’d have an adequate pool of workers to support healthy, growing businesses.

I asked a group of graduating college students their plans recently.