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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Cassidy

Teachers, family members, employers - and in fact almost anyone who interacts with other people - have more power than they can imagine, to hurt or to support, and most of the time we’re unaware of the effect we have on others. So I was astonished when a former student contacted me out of the blue to tell me that in going through her father’s papers she’d found reports from when she attended Brattleboro Union High School.

Timothy McQuiston

The first place my wife and I had was a great apartment with an eat-in kitchen, two full baths, washer-dryer, porches, wood stove and even a jetted tub. We were lucky to get it. The place was just sitting empty and no one knew it, including the landlord.

A building on the Green Mountain College campus
Nina Keck / VPR

My private college tuition in 1968 was $2,800, 50 years later it’s $50,000. Meanwhile, state support for public colleges has diminished and educational value has changed both for better and for worse.

Emily McManamy

Pelvic health is a critical, and underappreciated, component of women’s health. But the pelvis - where our organs of sexuality, procreation, digestion, and elimination converge - is deeply private, and many women endure pain or problems without access to diagnosis or treatment – because nobody wants to admit to dysfunction in any of these systems.

Greene

I was dismayed but not surprised to see the third Women’s March on Washington fracture over political differences. With accusations of anti-Semitism and other biases flying, women opted out of the march in droves.

Yates

We’re not the only state to claim our own fifth season. Here it’s Mud Season. In Alaska, the big melt is called Spring Break Up. But whatever the name, this transition from winter to spring signals a reconnecting to the land.

Jerry Harmer / AP

I'm a news hound. So it's not surprising that I've been thinking a lot lately about walls. I'm also a poet with a deep love of history, and to me, walls are symbols that speak of exclusion and threat. And I’m not alone. Over the centuries, countless poets have pondered the value and fate of history's many walls.

Tom E. Puskar / Associated Press

I’ve always been puzzled by the anti-vaccine movement. As a former health care reporter in Maine and Vermont, I interviewed parents who declined to immunize their children. They struck me as generally well-meaning but misinformed when they insisted that the health risks of vaccinations outweighed the benefits, even when faced with scientific evidence to the contrary.

Suzanne Spencer Rendahl

Unlike many who flock to ski resorts, I’ve always balked at the price of lift tickets as well as the crowds. Memories from childhood sitting on a chairlift while getting battered by the wind, and then ice skating down a steep slope also haven’t helped. So early in adulthood I learned the joys of cross- and back-country skiing, which allow me to fly through the woods under my own power.

Lindsay_imagery

All of the plastic manufactured since Bakelite debuted during the Depression still litters the earth. The world is choking on an invention that’s barely a century old.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

It seems that the President is again considering a national emergency declaration as a way of circumventing Congress to secure funding for his border wall. And while it may be technically legal, presidential use of national emergency power to secure funds without Congressional approval sets a dangerous precedent.

Watts: Bus Service

Jan 29, 2019
Watts

Of the many story-lines developing in the Vermont Legislature this session, one of the most interesting is the appointment of Curt McCormack as chair of the House Transportation Committee – because Representative McCormack doesn’t own a car.

Brian A. Jackson / iStock

With apologies to Henry David Thoreau, I’ve lately come to think that the mass of people, or at least a great many of us, are leading lives of noisy desperation.

Andrea Astes / iStock

One of the most enduring fables about our first president, George Washington, is that he could not tell a lie about cutting down that cherry tree.

Keck

Rumors had been flying for months, but now it’s official. Green Mountain College is closing its doors at the end of this semester.

Mares: Seeing Yo Yo Ma

Jan 24, 2019
Mares

Just this week, superstar cellist Yo Yo Ma made headlines again when he surprised a small group of onlookers with an outdoor, informal performance in Mumbai, India. One lucky observer said it left him ‘spellbound.’

Mnookin

A few days ago, my child came home from school dismayed that two kids from her class had made fun of her doing the floss.

The Vermont Historical Society

The other day I came across a pamphlet published by the Ford Motor Company in 1954 with little essays describing tours you could take on the roads of New England — Ford’s way of getting people out driving their cars.

Levin: Roadside Raptors

Jan 23, 2019
Susan Tiholiz

Whenever I drive the interstate after a heavy snowfall, I scan roadside maples and oaks for perched raptors, grimly hunched and staring at the highway — a redtail or a Cooper’s hawk, perhaps; or maybe an immature bald eagle, as brown as dirt and big as a grocery bag.

Averyt

Mary Oliver is gone at age 83 – and I feel like I’ve lost a friend, a soulmate, a walking companion.

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