Strolling of the Heifers and Climate

Had it ever been suggested that the Strolling Fair would improve if it was squeezed onto the Common such a notion would have been summarily dismissed with a great guffaw. Not worth the effort even thinking about. Then the Retreat decided that it could no longer tolerate an entire day of tumult on its front lawn. Its residential denizens became too frazzled and distraught staring out between the iron bars at the frolicking crowd eating ice cream and dripping sausage, oblivious to the fate of those inside. The Strolling was booted. Like it or not it was going to be packed onto the Common. This produced one of the best Fairs ever!

The compactness created more excitement. The density was creating community as people rubbed shoulders at booths and tables and couldn’t get from one place to another without making eye contact to avoid collisions and bumps. Ten thousand people cheerfully accommodating each other in vibrant confines. Courtesies, waves and nods of forgiveness extended with ease. Every place seemed busier. The ambience was a relentless low but joyful roar. The joint resounded with kinetic energy. A great occasion indeed. If there were problems, and I know there were, they weren’t apparent to the crowd. A sure sign of a well run event. Hats off to the Strolling staff.

And of course the parade. Excellent in every respect. Not sensational. Main Street is not Fifth Avenue and it shouldn’t be. But in it’s natural simplicity and jiggly fun it evoked pure Vermont hometown/small town delight. It had pizzazz and relevance. The sun was warm, the leaves green and gently rustling. It was a storybook summer day. The paraders waved and smiled and danced, threw candy and played music. One felt bathed in sweetness and light.

Including one superbly well placed, well designed and well executed if not fully effective Die-In. Bodies strewn across the parade path, delaying the parade for 13 minutes, was intended to loudly clarion the climate emergency and focus our attention on the reality that sustainability, the very journey of the Strolling itself, hinges on whether or not we change our way of life radically and quickly enough to dodge the fatal consequences of growing climatic chaos. They even thoughtfully timed their action to avoid agitating the animals or keeping the elderly in the hot sun.

The media was all over it. Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman, who accepted an invitation to co-announce with Tim Johnson, did a lovely job of getting into the spirit of things and admirably filled the gap with relevant chatter about sustainability issues. The Lt. Gov. noted that the activists needed a few objective statements but remained mildly supportive. These were all very young people just learning what it means to speak up.

A minor irony that blew by everyone was the Lt Gov. exhorting the protesters to give it up by invoking the fact that all the parade vehicles remaining in the jam were sitting and idling. He of course should have addressed the vehicle drivers to turn off their engines. State law prohibits idling for more than five minutes.

Indeed, these were our own high school students and grads telling us that our community and leadership must take immediate action or in very few years mass death will not be a staged demonstration. A second hats off to very concerned, aware and courageous young activists risking their own welfare for all of us.

Comments | 9

  • Amen

    Well said, Spoon.

  • Deserved recognition

    Thank you, Spoon for so eloquently stating what many of us felt. The response to the actions of these young people on several Facebook sites was disheartening and often enraging.
    Several people felt that the activists removed by the police should have been arrested and jailed. One of them was a 13 year old! The “ is vs them” mentality that often raises its ugly head was alive and well and dozens of comments were made about how terrible it was that the children watching the parade “ had to see something like this happening at a family event.” I feel that those children and their angry parents were fortunate, indeed, to be able to witness first hand what peaceful protest looks like and what it means to be true to your beliefs.
    For a town that likes to brag about how progressive and compassionate it is there was not much of that around regarding this political action,

  • Parade Queens

    The loudest applause goes to those brave young women who staged the demonstration that momentarily forced the parade onlookers to acknowledge their existence and message they so dramatically presented lying down as if to moan and die expressing the gravity of the issue to the center pavement and how it will effect their lives from here on end as if playing out in allegory an apparition of forewarning.

    I think one of the points they were trying to convey was we all may not have the luxury to pick and choose our time and place to face up to the grim and urgent facts and most of all reality of global warming has arrived and will severely alter all of our lives and considering it’s effects have already taken a world wide direct course spreading it’s wrath in permanent destruction and how we need to immediately start cutting out mounting losses.

    These young activist women should head off next years parade atop a float decorated with the Global Warming theme as Parade Queens hoping our attitudes to take action have been reignited, after all this is Brattleboro home to activism on the forefront.

  • All the young people who were a part of this political

    All the young people who were a part of this political action should be commended. The two who remained in place and were removed by police were wholeheartedly committed to the cause and to their beliefs.
    Be nice to see the same level of commitment from the adults of the country.

  • More, please.

    I know some felt inconvenienced, but I’d like to encourage these protestors to do more. An entire summer of disruption, perhaps.

    I’d suggest two tracks – one annoying and one helpful. The first would be to continue to stop ordinary business on a regular basis – the parade blocking was a good example. Protestors might want to find out who are the worst climate offenders in the region are, and shame them a bit. Make it inconvenient to use cars and engines. Shame people who take plane trips. And so on. Be obvious. Make it weekly news (think Yellow Vests in France), and have a message to deliver to the media every week. Keep it simple and repeat often.

    One the helpful side, perhaps some positive climate action could be undertaken and highlighted. Do a project to help birds, bees or insects. Help convert something to become renewable. Help older folks insulate. Get people to pledge to make a change. Put in some new gardens or trees around town. Etc.

    Finally, I suggest each action be used to increase the numbers. Always invite others to join in and help. I’d like to see seniors blocking streets, or families. Don’t let anyone box this in by saying it is just a bunch of kids. Time for more people step up.

    • Can I more, sit?

      I agree. From the hundreds of comments on both the Commons and the Reformer sites the majority of people were just pissed that anyone would have the audacity to interrupt the strolling. There were suggestions that the 13 year old child protesting be jailed; that the cars should have driven over the participants; that small children were having their psyches scarred for eternity by having to see a peaceful protest and the First Amendment at work. Many, many people were upset that the tourists who came for the parade would be so horrified they would leave town before buying lunch or a souvenir. And while there was a small but vocal outpouring of admiration and respect for those that took part in the political action most of the responses were small minded; hateful and ignorant to the reality of climate change and what it means for future generations. Few people seemed to get the connection between agriculture and climate chaos. Their day was ruined by a 13 minute interruption. It doesn’t take much for the less compassionate; the less progressive; the less welcoming part of this little town to raise its ugly head. We’ve seen it over and over regarding the homeless and panhandling issues and we saw it in regards to the protest at the stroll,
      I hope that those involved with the planning of the action at the parade will perhaps reach out to other like minded organizations not only for solidarity but for the finer points of organizing successful peaceful protests. We’ve seen them work before many times. Sometimes you just have to take to the streets and be loud.

      • Edit comments?

        I attempted to edit my heading but couldn’t- not sure why my autocorrect likes to put nonsensical words in my mouth ( or text) but there you have it..

  • Why oh why?

    People would like Democrats to have a climate focused debate. From the Guardian today:

    “The Sunrise Movement is calling on the party to allow a climate-focused debate.

    DNC chair Tom Perez has warned that any candidate who participates in one will be banned from other party debates.”

    Why, oh, why, DNC? Sure, don’t hold one yourself. Be that way. Fine. But ban candidates from participating in others? Lame and not very democratic.

    • Determined to lose the election

      The DNC seems committed to handing the 2020 election victory to Trump again. From the ridiculous ruling early on that vendors couldn’t have association with any candidates other than the incumbents to the adolescent meme they spent time, energy and money on show how clever they are with the Beyoncé song, “ Boy, Bye” directed at Trump to now this shortsighted, undemocratic and just plain stupid ruling that candidates can’t take part in climate change debates. Since nobody on the a Republican side is able to even have a conversation about climate change this would give the Democrats a huge hand up in establishing a line of communication with voters about the # 1 concern that progressives have.
      I don’t understand why the DNC views that opportunity as a negative in this election. We need every bit of information and useful debate about the largest threat to life as we know it.
      Much like the last election it seems that the no longer useful DNC is more than willing to hand the country over to the Republicans. All that’s left is for them to find someone else to blame.

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