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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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.

Voters in Montpelier cast ballots at City Hall. Senate lawmakers have decided to defer action on a proposed charter change in Montpelier that would give non-citzens the right to vote in city elections.
John Odum, courtesy

In November, Montpelier voters overwhelming approved a change to the city’s charter that would allow non-US citizens to vote. As Montpelier’s City Clerk, I helped petition originator Roberta Garland bring it to a vote and now it's gone to the legislature for debate and perhaps, approval.

Hy Edelstein

A couple months ago, I clicked on one of those listicles you see online. In this case, it was something like 10 things you didn’t know about the 1960’s TV show – Bewitched.

Yates: Fresh Snow

Jan 21, 2019
Yates

Looking out on the canvas of fresh snow that now blankets the trees and hills of our region, I realize that the artificial boundaries we create like fences, roads, and property lines are gone. They’ve all but vanished. And when I head out on skis, across the dirt road from my house, up along my neighbor’s cow path hill, over the crumbling old stone wall, and into the upper pasture I’m struck by the fresh, undisturbed vista before me.

courtesy of Stowe Farmers Market

A few years ago the book: Hardwick the Town Food Saved brought national attention to the small Northeast Kingdom Vermont town. The book profiled four entrepreneurs with a shared vision and a commitment to a locally focused ag and food economy.

An obliging passer-by

Here’s a little something to think about over the weekend, as women once again march for equal rights and the nation remembers Martin Luther King.

Last summer, Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper, made history when he sued the agrochemical corporation, Monsanto, for causing his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and won. The jury ruled that Monsanto's weed killer, Roundup, had caused his terminal cancer.

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