Society & Culture

Social media readers applaud Town Report plea to new Vermonters

Cover of Stratton Town Report

By Guy Page

Stratton Town Clerk Kent Young has apologized – sort of – for his Town Report essay urging newcomers to stop trying to make the tiny Windham County (population 216) town like where they came from. 

But some social media readers think he did just fine.

“You came here from there, because you didn’t like there, and now you want to change here to be like there,” Young’s full page admonishment to newcomers (see above) to the popular ‘ski town’ begins. Printed on the cover of the Town Report, it quickly drew Twitter criticism from none other than Ellen Barry, the New York Times reporter covering the Slate Ridge/Pawlet conflict. Barry – who also has reported on the influx of out-of-staters due to the virus – has 44,000 Twitter followers.

Needless to say, word spread quickly,

Not everyone found the essay enlightening and helpful. For example, VPO columnist and Michigan native John Walters said it is “just chock full of Vermont’s bloated sense of superiority that we all know and love.” So now the Town of Stratton website includes an apology – kinda – from Young, an Indiana native who moved to Vermont about 25 years ago. 

“To all of you who have seen the Stratton Town Report cover of this year and found it to be offensive, I offer you my sincerest apology,” Young wrote. “It was intended to be a bit of shock humor, as explained in its description on the inside of the cover, to promote the preservation of a rural Vermont lifestyle.  It was not an intent to offend anyone, but instead to share what I thought to be a cleverly worded letter which, although a bit harsh, was interpreted to say, ‘This is a great place to live, please don’t try to change it to be something it is not.’”

But a quick look at comments on VT Digger’s Facebook page show other Vermonters agree with Young’s original, unvarnished, unreconstructed sentiments.

When VT Digger published its news story headlined “Stratton Town Report Cover draws attention for all the wrong reasons” on Facebook, the first five comments all wholeheartedly support Young. They include the following: 

“Wow, well spoken from the heart, who cares what the people will say” – Bill S.

“It’s true!” – Pam C. 

“I like it! Good for you. I have nothing against people coming to live here, but they should think long & hard before doing so. So many times after living here they will say they want their road paved, want a street light, want this want that…..” – Sharon A.

“There are many people from elsewhere that come and do good. They know VT isn’t just a postcard. But let’s not be naive. Others have come here to make areas of Vermont carbon copies of their former state. Worse, some even opine over Vermont hobbies, traditions and culture, with not just disdain, but a demand for it to cease. Native Vermonters aren’t just here for newcomers bidding. We are trying to live and enjoy life in VT too. If you don’t like hunting, or atvs…okay- but I might. And who are those that tell me I can’t? Yet those issues have become a big divide amongst natives and newcomers.” – Donna L.

Others stood up for the out-of-staters and their differences. And Laura G. added this statement:

Enjoying the irony of the town clerk being a flatlander too. 

It’s hard to find current data on the ratio of Vermont-born residents to Vermonters born elsewhere. But as with Vermont’s cows, so our native-born Vermonters: since 1960, their numbers are in decline. A corresponding growth in newcomers has not been without its problems, the Encyclopedia Brittanica reports:

“While emigration of young Vermonters has slowed, the influx of newcomers is outstripping the growth of the native-born population,” Encyclopedia Brittanica reports. “In 1960 more than three-fourths of Vermonters were native-born; by 2000 this proportion had dropped to about three-fifths. This decrease, coupled with perceived differences in the social expectations of nonnatives over the range and costs of government services, has led to some tension between native Vermonters and newer arrivals.

That trend continued in the five years following 2000, according to World Population Review. The number of people who moved here (7,889) outnumbered by about 700 the number of births-minus-deaths (7148).

In the spirit of Young’s protest that “We are not racist, phobic, or anti-whatever-you-are,” Vermont Daily decided to learn more about the birthplaces of the 2021 Vermont Legislature, which this year is focused intently on repairing what it claims is Vermont’s historic systemic racism. Taking as a sample the first 37 lawmakers on an alphabetized-by-county list (see below) and studying legislative website biographies and other information available online, it was determined that:

  • 20 were not born in Vermont (17 Democrats, one Progressive, three Republicans)
  • 11 were born in Vermont (Six Democrats, four Republicans, one independent)
  • The birthplaces of the other four were not established. 

Many lawmakers came to Vermont in the 1960’s and 70’s, drawn by the new Interstate, the skiing, the counter-culture life, and/or affordable real estate.  As newcomers they encountered some of the tensions expressed in Young’s statement. Time will tell if NYT reporter Barry’s out-of-staters who came to Vermont to ride out the 2020-21 pandemic will encounter the same conflict, and leave a similar mark.

Senators/Reps by CountyBorn in VT?Birthplace/ other info
Senator Chris Bray (D) AddisonNoNew Britain, Connecticut
Senator Ruth Hardy (D) AddisonNoIthaca, NY
Rep. Robin Scheu (D) MiddleburyNoSimsbury, CT
Rep. Amy Sheldon (D) East MiddleburyNoMemphis Tennessee
Rep. Peter Conlon (D) CornwallYesBarre, VT
Rep. Matthew Birong Jr. (D) VergennesYesBurlington, VT
Rep. Diane Lanpher (D) VergennesNoBuffalo, NY
Rep. Mari Cordes (D) LincolnUnknowncollege in Michigan
Rep. Caleb Elder (D) StarksboroUnknownGrew up in Bristol, VT
Rep. Harvey Smith (R) New HavenNoNashua, NH
Rep. Terry Norris (I) ShorehamYesBorn in VT, raised in Shoreham
Sen. Richard Sears (D) BenningtonNoFramingham, MA
Sen. Brian Campion (D) BenningtonNoAlbany NY
Rep. Nelson Brownell (D) PownalNoMoved to VT in childhood
Rep. Dane Whitman (D) BenningtonNoMoved in 2012 from Ventura, CA
Rep. Timothy Corcoran (D) BenningtonYesLifelong Vermonter
Michael Nigro (D) BenningtonNoraised in upstate NY
Rep. Mary A. Morrissey (R) BenningtonYesborn, raised in Bennington
Rep. David Durfee (D) ShaftsburyNoraised in upstate NY
Rep. Seth Bongartz (D) ManchesterYesborn in Manchester, VT
Rep. Kathleen James, (D) ManchesterNoborn in Chicago, raised in Nebraska
Rep. Linda Joy Sullivan (D) DorsetUnknownunknown; higher ed in NY, CA
Sen. Joe Benning (R) CaledoniaNoLong Branch, NJ
Sen. Jane Kitchel (D) CaledoniaYesSt. Johnsbury, VT
Rep. Marcia Martel (R) WaterfordYesConcord, VT
Rep. Joseph “Chip” Troiano (D) HardwickNoStaten Island, NY
Rep. Scott Beck (R) St. JohnsburyYesSt. Johnsbury, VT
Rep. R. Scott Campbell (D) St. JohnsburyNoMaryland
Rep. Martha Feltus, (R) LyndonNoKansas City, Missouri
Rep. Patrick Seymour, (R) SuttonYesSt. Johnsbury, VT
Rep. Henry Pearl (D), DanvilleYesDanville, 7th generation VTer
Sen. Thomas Chittenden (D) ChittendenNoFlorida. Raised in South Burlington
Sen. Phil Baruth (D) ChittendenUnknownUnknown. Educated in Rhode Island, California.
Sen. Ginny Lyons (D) ChittendenNoAuburn, NY
Sen. Kesha Ram (D) ChittendenNoLos Angeles, CA
Sen. Michael Sirotkin (D) ChittendenUnknownEducated in public schools in Queens, NY
Sen. Chris Pearson (P) ChittendenNoborn in Canada, grew up in Maine

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Categories: Society & Culture

25 replies »

  1. The only thing unfortunate about the plea on the cover is that it needs to be said at all. It applies to literally everywhere. If you don’t like the culture of a place… don’t live there; obviously.

    • The comment was harsh, might have been stated differently, but the plea has its truth.
      It isn’t a plea for racism, bigotry, etc. It’s simply that the entire structure here doesn’t need to be torn down based on politically correct, but false, assumptions.

  2. I’m much more afraid of Vermonters wanting to make THERE, HERE, as opposed to anyone purportedly trying to make HERE, THERE.

    • Just wanted to add that I came (decades ago) from the NYC suburbs and the LAST thing I want is for VT to look & feel more like L.I. or NYC, yet every time we go into Burlington, this is EXACTLY what it looks & feels like. So to me, as I stated above, I’m more in fear of Vermonters wanting to make there, here as opposed to out of state folks wanting VT to be like there! I’m out for a reason…lots of them.

      • I tend to believe that Burlington is so liberal because of people moving here, not because of the native people with some roots.

    • Hey Otto,
      The State puts out a list and bio on everybody under the “Golden Dumb” every year, they call it the “Face Book”. Didn’t your father or brother used to be a legislator ? You must know somebody that could get you a copy.

  3. You may be correct, but the Burlington mayor & city council, as well as a whole bunch of VT legislators & senators certainly back them up then, full force. We’ve got crime increasing, BLM scrawled, with permission, all over city/town streets, and the Burlington City Council obediently cut the police force by an arbitrary one-third – all because a bunch of lawless, screaming 20 year olds “demanded” it. You reap what you sow; ’tis true, VERMONT!

    • There were older people as well. There is more to it than at first appears. What isn’t easily visible is seriously dangerous.
      I’m aware of inter connections. Watch out for the Liberty Union Party and don’t believe their publicity.

    • Then I presume you shouldn’t like introducing legalized marijuana, occupation of Battery Park which was used as a giant toilet all last summer, the BLM Marxist movement, studying the legalization of prostitution, the human trafficking that is being largely ignored, etc. etc. Vermont was FINE the way it WAS…these are transforming VT into something it never was.

      • I was in Battery Park a few times. Whatever May be said of the ideology, the place wasn’t trashed.
        As concerns marijuana, I have a serious, bizarre neuro-metabolic problem. This syndrome took my mother’s life. I inherited it from birth.
        Marijuana saved my life.

      • I am sorry to hear of your challenging medical issue, however, medical marijuana use and commercialization of the drug with THC levels that alter the brain, produce hallucinations, & cause medical issues themselves is dangerous as are cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs such as opiates – a crisis VT continues to deal with….unsuccessfully.

        As far as Battery Park goes — it is unlawful to use for “camping” or living and utilizing the property to urinate/defecate is unsafe, unsanitary, dangerous, and illegal. In this manner, it was indeed “trashed”.

        The rule of law matters.

      • There was no defecation or urination that I observed. As concerns marijuana, it is no worse than alcohol and some people truly need it. “…life, liberty…”. I’m an old radical who’s appalled at what’s been happening. And I believe in the Bill of Rights.

      • I’m appalled as well due to blatant censorship from big tech that largely affects only certain ideologies, and the attempt to subdue alternate opinions & views effectively stifling our Bill of Right’s guarantee to freedom of speech, assembly, etc. When a group organized to support law enforcement last summer in Burlington (headed by an African American, btw) – the BLM “protestors” screamed loudly, caused disturbances, and disallowed the media present to interview him on camera!

        Also, since the kids were living in the public park violating the law & obstructing OTHERS from using it – where do you suppose the youngsters relieved themselves 24/7 in the midst of a pandemic no less, when many businesses were: CLOSED.

        Insofar as marijuana, it is not any less potentially hazardous than is alcohol, however, since I’m not an M.D. – the evidence of this is obviously better conveyed by the physicians (even many in VT) who signed onto a petition presented to the VT legislature urging them to reconsider their bill based upon the newer dangers found associated with use. If you didn’t hear of this, that’s par for the course, your progressive legislators don’t WANT you to know, however, even certain democrats did NOT want this here. If you receive Front Porch Forum, there was a warning from a physician’s organization on there as a paid ad, as well.

        I’m not either a republican or democrat – I simply make choices based upon current facts from professionals and abide by the Rule of Law as all should. And censorship against anyone is illegal and dangerous.

  4. It’s about time someone makes a stand for Vermonters you know those of us that have been here for generations. So true. As Vermonters we welcome everyone. We are Vermont, Laid back, we are very proud of our state and Our people just they we are. I applaud you.

    • The suppression of a dissenting voice doesn’t surprise me. I’m also not on one side or the other. I’ve learned better.
      I believe there were Porta-Potties in the area. I encountered no human waste.
      Concerning marijuana, prescription drugs are no better. I’m still trying to overcome a gut problem from taking antibiotics for an infection that wouldn’t heal.
      In reality there are violent Leftists in VT, tied to the out of state groups, who urge the defunding of police in order to remove opposition.

  5. Most likely, where you came from, deprived you of Liberty so you left perhaps not understanding what you were truly looking for. Upon arriving here and wanting to be accepted you decided to contribute by giving back. But how do you give back that which you are in search of, when you don’t really understand what it is in the first place?

    Kent’s point as I see it is, it’s neither here nor there that matters, it’s don’t trample on the Freedoms of others if you want to fit in!

  6. I moved here in1973 for a job offer. I came with the IDEA that I LIKED VERMONT the WAY IT WAS. I Nor my family had any Notion of Changing what was then a CONSERVATIVE STATE. Over time, VERMONT has Slowly Morphed into one of the MOST LIBERAL of States. If you want CHANGE to what you Had, go back there and leave those us who like what we have without changing it ALONE.

  7. The liberals from outside Vermont are guilty of the very crime they rail against most passionately. They are shameless hypocritical COLONIZERS. They might come here to work cluelessly, mindlessly on turning Vermont into the same society from which they fled, as Kent Young bravely called them on. Or they came here INTENTIONALLY to prey on our small state and our tolerant openness, to take over our government and turn Vermont into a socialist experiment. Back in the 1990’s, D. Robert Vautier of the former Vermont Heritage Institute documented the written plans for this socialist invasion of Vermont (email me at bob.fireovid@gmail.com if you would like a copy of Vautier’s “Taking Over Vermont”). In both cases, they are condescending, contemptuous colonizers who are working to bury traditional Vermont values such as hard work, self-reliance, love of the outdoors, and small government. And they ally with money-hungry “conservatives” in the Growth Machine (aka Phil Scott) who are happy to liquidate more and more of Vermont’s beautiful natural resources and turn those non-monetizable assets into more and more concrete, asphalt and buildings to accommodate the invading colonizers.

    • I’d like to pint out that a common error, especially on this site, is to equate “socialism” with hardline “Marxism”. Marxists themselves often promote this idea. What Karl Marx envisioned is a utopian society which cannot work as humans don’t work that way. In practice, those “Marxist” states that have survived and provided real equalities and opportunities are simply based on Marxian analysis, as well as other political/economic/social concepts. Such as Nicaragua.
      That being said, the people coming to VT aren’t always prominent of visible, unless one looks and can “connect the dots”. Some of these people are ruthless and want to disrupt in order not to liberate, but to control. They are dangerous in ways that many people might not believe.

      • Amen! Just don’t think they’re ALL from elsewhere….I’m not native, but came here to live the way Vermont historically had always been – not in an intolerant, march-step, one party, limited freedom Dystopia! Keep speaking out! There is strength in numbers.

  8. They’re actually called: “Rights & Democracy Vermont” (take a gander at THAT website!) – the native Vermonter David Zuckerman is a rabid enthusiast. As far as conservatives “changing” VT – VT was a conservative state for forever until the mid 20th century, so……..BE WARY OF ANYONE ON A “MISSION” FOR EXTREME CHANGE.

  9. What a fabulous “chill” conversation happening here! 1971 I came to VT and have never wanted anything to change until now – I want it back to what it was before a select group came with not so good intentions. There is change in the air though – I hope you can feel it – exposure in process – a matter of time – keep using your voices and logical thinking – it will be HUGE!!

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