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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iStock / iMrSquid

Gender roles in politics usually get discussed in relation to women and the pressure they face always to be nice and unthreatening — competent, but not too smart.

aydinynr / iStock

My mother was politically engaged and her driving issue was abortion. Before Roe v. Wade was passed, she’d had friends who’d desperately sought illegal abortions in the tenements of Harlem, sometimes with tragic results.

Stoner: DIY Fiber

Apr 3, 2019
kynny / iStock

For many years, I’ve been part of a small group of Craftsbury residents that’s been working to build community support for bringing high-speed internet service to our town.

olm26250 / iStock

Without a doubt, times have changed. Time was when access to the internet was considered a luxury - even a novelty – but those days are long gone. Today, fast, reliable and affordable access to the internet is as much a necessity as electricity. And the digital revolution touches all aspects of our lives – from our children needing access to do their homework, to businesses requiring a connection to serve their customers and everybody’s need to stay connected with friends and family.

Vermont Business Magazine

Just last week I was standing in a meeting room at a prominent Burlington-area hotel and I could not get onto the Internet. I went over to a window. Still nothing. I finally had to track down a password to access their WiFi.

Upper Valley Land Trust

Lilla McLane-Bradley was dogged; she was fearless; she showed up and she put us to work. I met Lilla in 1987, when I was hired for a part time bookkeeping and secretarial position. She was incoming chair of the Upper Valley Land Trust’s Board – UVLT for short - a group with a big idea – land conservation from the grassroots; sustainable and permanent protection of our region’s most special places.

Phoebe Rotter / Planned Parenthood Vermont

One of the most important women in Vermont history is not known by her full name. A year before the national Roe v. Wade decision, “Jacqueline R,” was part of a landmark court case in Vermont that provided abortion access here.

Archival photo courtesy Vermont Commission on Women

In the ‘70s no one worked harder than social activist Lenore McNeer to ensure that Vermont ratified the federal ERA - the federal amendment to guarantee equality based on sex.

Mizina / iStock

This winter, college-bound students applied for scholarships administered by Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, including the Nordic Educational Scholarship of the Vermont Business Roundtable. This year, one hundred and thirty nine applications were received with forty five finalists making it to our selection committee. These scholarships support students seeking a certificate or two-year technical degree.

Stevanovicigor / iStock

Over the course of what’s now adding up to nearly a lifetime in Vermont, I’ve enjoyed being active in various cultural, civic and business organizations, including the ACLU. And at times, I’ve been called upon to advise state leaders from college presidents to corrections officials. So it’s from this perspective that I say with considerable confidence that it’s time to close the South Burlington Women’s facility, or CRCF.

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.”

Abigail Mnookin

Last Friday morning, my family stood in front of Brattleboro Union High School for one of the local youth-led climate strikes. This strike drew a crowd of all ages, including grandparents and babies in arms, but teens were at the helm, chanting into the megaphone “No more coal! No more oil! Keep the carbon in the soil!”

Katie Titterton

It’s not uncommon for my infant son to get handed around a boardroom table. I’m self-employed and work from home, so I usually schlep him along to meetings where I know he’s welcome.

Suzanne Spencer Rendahl

When my prematurely-born daughter approached the end of her seven week stay in Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Intensive Care Nursery, the hospital informed me that before discharge, I needed to watch several videos about vaccinations – including one with footage of an un-vaccinated child with whooping cough struggling to breathe as his distraught parents looked on.

Tom Rogers

To the great surprise of my family, about eight years ago I took up fly fishing. As the new Agency of Natural Resources Secretary, I thought first-hand experience hunting and fishing would let me better serve the Fish and Wildlife Department and its constituents. I quickly discovered how wonderful it is to stand in the middle of a river, listen to the running water, watch for the flash of fish, and cast a line in hopes of a catch. I was hooked!

Torti: The Need To Listen

Mar 11, 2019
VCWA staff

Last month I attended a meeting that could have been ruined by the type of finger pointing and adolescent truculence that characterizes most of our political debate and diplomacy these days. But remarkably, what transpired should serve as the model for civil discourse between people holding opposing world views.

Keith Oppenheim

I recently went with my family to a dark, icy street in the Old North End of Burlington, where we found ourselves walking up a couple flights of back porch steps into the home of someone we didn’t even know - into a surprisingly beautiful space, an attic loft filled with glittery lights, a piano, a guitar and a microphone. This was Meg’s place. It was her birthday party – and a house concert.

Mark Bushnell

Like our physical bodies, our body politic needs regular exercise to stay healthy. So put on your workout gear for Town Meeting. More than 60 percent of Vermonters live in small towns, and about two-thirds of our towns’ budgets are deliberated, amended, and voted on from the floor of town meetings. We’ll also elect officers, discuss local issues, and if we’re lucky, have some pie.

Watts: Vape Tax

Mar 5, 2019
Christa Guzman / The Vermont Cynic

Vaping as it’s called - the act of sucking in flavored water vapor laced with nicotine - has become quite the rage among young people. As I walk across campus, little puffs linger in the air as students’ draw at their e-cigarette devices.

Mary McCallum

Because I’m a writer and a former librarian, a friend once gave me a refrigerator magnet that says in bold print, I Am Silently Judging Your Grammar. But I believe that language is a living thing with the power to connect us all through meaning and understanding. And in today’s world, that’s no small thing.