Thursday, December 01, 2005

the vermont factor

[oberlin, louisiana]

due to complaints from a few people that they miss the
old mass emails (one of these complaints was
accompanied by bribes of maple syrup, a clove of fresh
garlic, and a copy, albeit a week old, of The New York
Times, commodities that are hard to resist in any
circumstance), I've decdided to re-continue to send
out mass emails. but i will also be posting them to
the website so that people we meet along the way can
read the old stuff.

the things to write about keep piling up and over; i
will put most of them off until houston, where I will
spend a week while kevin galavants off to a wedding in
the frigid northern reaches of Minnesota.

to keep you occupied in the meantime, another
question. and i really want to hear your responses,
whether personal opinion or proven fact (especially
those of you who live or have lived in

why is vermont so different? how did it become the way
it is today? and in 'the way it is', i mean - how and
why has it been able to largely resist Wal-Mart, chain
stores and other urban/suburban sprawl? How did the
sense of community in vermont become so strong? (or
re-put, How have vermont communities been able to main
a sense of the local, the small scale, the neighborly,
ie., how have they been able to maintain such a strong
sense of community?)

I've lived in vermont for a little bit, and this is my
impression of the state (of course, correct me if you
think i'm wrong). During this trip, traveling through
small and big towns, sprawl and more sprawl, and all
different kinds of communities, I still hold Vermont
as my community point-of-comparison. Kevin and I have
talked about it: how did vermont become vermont? Most
recently the question was re-sparked by Saint
Francisville, Louisiana, a vermont-type of town smack
in the middle of the bayou, cuddled up next to the
mississippi river: a close knit community with a
thriving and vibrant down-town, a good school system
(according to the owner of the used book store in
town, who raved about the public schools) along with a
strong civil infrastructure in general (police, fire,
library). I will write more about this later, but the
answer to the question 'how did st. francisville
become st. francisville' largely seems to be nuclear
power: the parish (louisianan for 'county') in which
st. francisville lies also contains a nuclear power
plant which provides the town with a meaty tax base,
which provides the town and its people with the money
(and thus time) to focus and develop their community.
but i still wonder: in vermont is it economic? or
something else? how does a whole state become so
awesomely communityfied? and even in st francisville
(and vermont too), it can't all be economic: there
must be that un-namable 'something', that spark that,
mixed with sufficient funds, allows community there to
bloom and grow.

so. i know there are a lot of you vermontians (both
current and ex-pat) out there: i want to hear what you
think and know....


into texas the day after tomorrow,

the steel horse mix (a working list)

1. Lochloosa by Mofro
2. Monday by Wilco
3. Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi
4. Skinny Glasses Girl by Portastatic
5. Pecan Pie by Golden Smog
6. Bukowski by Modest Mouse
7. Sugar Cane by Catie Curtis