Public Service The Vermont Way

When it comes to solving the irritating problems of daily life some of us are more persistent than others. I am one of those people who looks at all of the roadblocks to resolution as a challenge. Giving up is never an option. It means being labeled a pain in the ass, but it is a label I proudly embrace.

Recently, I was billed by Comcast for $108 in services I did not order. I don’t know how my account was compromised but, during the month of October, someone ordered on-demand movies and a streaming subscription.


Our Human Obligation

Every so often we need to be reminded that the power brokers of the world are capable of
horrendous atrocities. The road to those atrocities is paved with unrestrained egotism, racism, misogyny, xenophobia and a disregard for the value of human life. World leaders become intoxicated with their power and as it goes unchecked they begin to believe that they can justify anything they do. Modern day examples are not hard to find.

As the U.S. impeachment process plays out it is important to realize that the current president has headed down a road that has led to the justification of the marginalization and torture of people not to his liking. This is the same road that was traveled by Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and many others.


Brattleboro’s Seasonal Overflow Shelter Opens Monday, November 18th

BRATTLEBORO, VT—Brattleboro’s Seasonal Overflow Shelter (SOS) will open Monday, November 18th.  After a successful first and second season located at the upper dormitory on the Winston Prouty campus (formerly the Austine School for the Deaf), Groundworks’ staff and Board are grateful for the opportunity to return to the space for a third year.

This year’s shelter will operate the same as prior years at this location: anyone seeking shelter will have to register for a bed through Groundworks Drop-In Center (at 60 South Main Street) between 9am and noon.  Access to the shelter will only be permitted through transportation provided by Groundworks. 


Do They Care?

It is possible that the Supreme Court may be poised to enable the Trump administration to decrease the U.S. population by 700,000 people and, in the process, ruin the lives of all of those Americans and their families.

The 700,000 are young people who were brought to this country at an early age by parents who were not American citizens. These innocents have been considered to be here illegally. President Obama realized the difficult situation these young people were in and in 2012 he established a policy labelled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that is referred to as DACA.


Hoping For A Camaraderie of Justice

There is a new kind of camaraderie that has developed among people who feel that standards of justice, morality and fair play have been lowered to an unconscionable level by Donald Trump. Those lower standards have not only affected Americans but they have colored political activity throughout the world. Hopefully, once Trump is out of power, those standards will be somewhat restored.

The new comrades of the 21st century have created something akin to a massive support group because they feel the need to share their pain. Many have resorted to professional therapists, and if anecdotal evidence is close to statistical fact, the number of people who have sought therapy since Trump was elected has risen significantly.


People’s Forum on Healthcare

Do you and your family rely on Medicaid (Green Mountain Care) or Dr. Dynasaur? Do you have to buy private insurance, and worry about the rising costs? Do you have health insurance but avoid getting care because your deductible is too high? Are you dealing with medical debt? Do you have difficulty finding a primary care doctor?

Join others from the community at a public forum on the fight to protect Medicaid, keep local hospitals and clinics open, and fulfill the promise of universal health care in Vermont.


A Tale of Two Cities

The southeast corner of Vermont, that includes Brattleboro and Windham County, is a unique place. There is an abundance of people whose sense of fair play compels them to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to commitment to social, political and economic issues.

Although there are what some might consider too many non-profit organizations, local people are generous and give time and money freely when they see a need. Windham County has a reputation of being a very liberal area and that has most people characterizing it as a harbor for activists who consider themselves far to the left on the political spectrum.


Vermont Workers’ Center Get Involved Meeting

Join us on September 25, 1-2:30 PM at Brooks Memorial Library Meeting Room, 224 Main St.
to learn more about the Workers’ Center, the Healthcare Is A Human Right campaign, and ways to be involved. We’ll share basic information about the Workers’ Center, a grassroots member-run organization that organizes for a more just and democratic (small ‘d’) Vermont.


Strength of the Storm Film & Discussion

As part of the week of climate action, the Vermont Workers’ Center and Extinction Rebellion of Southern VT are sponsoring a screening of the film, “Strength of the Storm,” directed by Rob Koier. The screening will take place on Thursday, September 26th, 2019 at 118 Elliot Gallery (118 Elliot Street, Brattleboro) from 7:30pm-9:30pm, and will be followed by a discussion.

This film shows Vermont residents who were directly impacted by climate change during the flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, as they realized that they were all in this together and organized after the destruction of much of their mobile home community.


Disability Justice Advocate Lydia X.Z. Brown Speaks at Landmark College, October 1

The Fall 2019 Landmark College Academic Speaker Series opens with disability justice advocate Lydia X.Z. Brown on Tuesday, October 1 at 7 p.m. in the Brooks M. O’Brien Auditorium, located in the East Academic Building.

The talk, entitled “Cripping Intersectionality: Neurodiversity and Disability Justice” will focus on how disabled people’s cultural work, community building, and leadership offer necessary interventions for liberation work everywhere, from the streets to the ivory tower, grounded in intersectional theory and practice.


VT AFL-CIO Turns Left: Van Deusen Elected President, Adie Vice President

South Burlington, VT— This weekend, in its largest convention in two decades, the Vermont AFL-CIO elected a progressive reform leadership for its approximately 10,000 members statewide. The fourteen newly elected members of the slate aim to revitalize Vermont’s labor movement through organizing new unions, promoting activism among rank-and-file workers, and championing a Green New Deal to combat environmental crisis and economic inequality.

Said Liz Medina of UAW Local 2322 and new District Vice President for Washington/Orange Counties, “I am excited to be part of a rank-and-file slate that has a bold vision for the future of the labor movement.”
Asserting that they are not afraid of strikes, the newly elected members to the AFL-CIO state leadership pledge not to support political candidates in Montpelier who do not fight for union and social-justice interests.


A Homeless Rebellion – Mission Statement/Press Release

Written by James Douglas, Matthew Vernon Whalan and homeless citizens of Brattleboro (reprinted from Counterpunch.org)

Brattleboro, Vermont — James Douglas, a homeless citizen of Brattleboro, was arrested on July 11, 2019, at 12:30 a.m. for sleeping in Plaza Park downtown. People who sleep there at night do so because they have no other safe place to go. Now that park is no longer safe.

We in the homeless community feel that the police enforce and threaten to enforce the trespassing ordinances randomly – not consistently – and on public property, which, for the homeless, is like being terrorized; you never know when they will show up.


And Now …

Prior to the election of Donald Trump there was discussion on i Brattleboro that Donald Trump was unlikely to win and that If he did win that Hilary would have been equally as wrong for the country.

I felt that, at least for people of color and those seen as different: That the difference between the effect of two candidates would be very different in degree.


Climate Emergency Declaration Begins at $50M School Board Meeting

After admonishing the school directors at the Windham South East School Union meeting Tuesday night June 25 for failing to educate students about climate change Kurt Daims of Brattleboro Common Sense (BCS) proposed an advisory resolution to include Climate Crisis in every regular meeting of the school directors. One person spoke against the resolution, and after an enthusiastic debate the resolution was approved.


500+ VT Union Members & Allies Picket Scott Walker

Burlington, Vermont, 5/30/19 –Today 500+ Union members and allies picketed the GOP fundraiser in Burlington which featured extremist Union-buster Scott Walker and Vermont Republican Governor Phil Scott. The picket was organized by AFSCME-VT, IBEW Local 300, The Vermont Buildings Trades, and dozens of other Unions & pro-Labor community/political organizations.  Labor appreciates the support received by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders who reached out to supporters yesterday to express his backing of the picket and to encourage Vermonters to demonstrate alongside us.

The demonstration was electric! Speakers included AFSCME Local 1343 President Damion Gilbert, myself [VT AFL-CIO District Vice President/AFSCME Local 2413 member David Van Deusen], IBEW Organizer Danielle Bombardier, President of APWU-Vermont President Omar Fernandez, and many other Labor and community leaders (*see below for full list of speakers).


Civil Rights For All Banner Raising at the Brattleboro Food Coop

The Civil Rights For All main street banner will be hung under the Brattleboro Food Coop sign at 5 pm on May 21st (Rain date the 23rd).

Civil rights are the rights of the people, the heart of democracy. Stand up now at this “good time” event. Stand up together, in a positive way that will make friends, not enemies.


Community & Camaraderie – West River Wetland Tire Removal

In the Spring of 2017 I started alerting the Town of Brattleboro and related parties to the increasing tire accumulation  in the wetland just off the West River Trail . Last Fall Kathy Urffer , Steward of Connecticut River Conservancy , and a pirate  crew of volunteers ,  including  our local  Fire Dept , set out on a cold rainy  morning  in our first attempt of tire retrieval . I believe  we brought  in around 133 tires that day .

On May 4th this Spring , volunteers  from The West River Trail,  S.E.Vt Watershed ,  Conn River Conservancy , and  Brattleboro Fire Dept came  to help along with volunteers  from related area businesses , independent  individuals , and also , VERY ENCOURAGING , a young  man from our local school  system . We got over 138 tires  that day , this was more challenging then before  as the tires were more spread out and  in deeper water.


AFSCME-VT Calls For Picket Line Against Scott Walker 5/30/19

Rutland, Vermont, 2019 -The Vermont Republican Party has invited former Union-busting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to talk at a private fundraiser on May 30th, in Burlington at the Hilton Hotel on Battery Street. And while Vermonters are struggling to win a basic $15 an hour livable wage for all, wealthy VIP donors will be paying $1000 a seat to hear how Vermont too should follow his anti-Union lead. This is unacceptable.

Scott Walker is rabidly anti-Union. While Governor he rolled back foundational Union rights for workers in Wisconsin, making that state “right to work,” and essentially stripping all meaningful collective bargaining rights away from public sector workers.


Community Asylum Seekers To Receive Unsung Hero Award

BRATTLEBORO – The Community Asylum Seekers Project will receive the Unsung Hero of the Year award Friday in a ceremony at 6 p.m. at River Garden.

Stephen Crofter, one of the founders of CASP, will accept the award from Compassionate Brattleboro on behalf of the Brattleboro area volunteers of the organization he helped found in 2016 that provides material and moral support to those seeking asylum from violence and poverty in their home countries.