Op-Ed: Vacuum Exists for Young Secular Church in Vermont

Even in secular Vermont there exists among her people a faith in something bigger than themselves. In the many interviews Vermont Gossip has conducted so far when asked if they believe in God or a higher power our young interviewees invariably said yes. They may not believe in any of the mainstream faiths. Perhaps too many black eyes over the course of history; the opposition to gay marriage, the opposition to abortion.

The mainstream faiths don’t have much pull in Vermont but I believe young Vermonters want to be spiritual and have a strong spiritual connection to each other. In some ways it’s innate to believe in a bigger purpose than just our small selves, and a secular church in Vermont could attract congregants who aren’t finding what they seek in mainstream faiths. Even the Unitarian faith seems too mainstream for Vermont.

Vermont needs a church that believes in evolution, same sex marriage, a higher power and a strong moral purpose on this earth. To be good not to get into heaven, but rather to make heaven out of our earth. Issues the church would rally its congregants around would include wealth and income inequality, climate change, and immigration.

The church would remind us to welcome the stranger into our homes and shelter them; remind us to have dinners with our neighbors; remind us to share things like baby toys and clothes instead of throwing them in the trash; remind us that we are all animals with instincts and purpose and that we do best when we trust our instincts: to be honest, to share, to hold the door for someone.

The church would also teach that happiness and satisfaction are biochemical rewards for behavior that is good for survival. For example, we feel rewarded when we fix a broken car by a feeling of accomplishment and purpose. This very task of fixing and then for that deed belonging to the community is good for personal survival. It assures the individual of a place within society. The church would teach that these are the highs we must seek.

The church would bring people out of their sometimes isolated lives into a community of others. It could include readings from the Bible, the Koran and Shakespeare. Any ancient text to show that humans today are not that much different from humans 400-2000 years ago. We all go through the same struggles, the same experiences of loss and joy. Ancient texts remind us of our roots and our collective purpose. Instead of seeing ourselves new and detached from ancient history, it is better to see ourselves as part of it and contributing to a future which will one day remember us at this pivotal moment in human history. A time in which we must drastically reduce our CO2 emissions to save our fragile planet.

Every morning this summer I have woken up to media reports of floods and fires and drought. The disruption of the climate has already had its effects and will continue to do so as long as we don’t dramatically reduce CO2 emissions. Isn’t it funny that in a way nature is responding violently against our assault? To be very practical and secular we could say God is saying, “Look you have limits and you have needs for survival. It is up to you to respect the laws of nature and physics and not emit CO2 from coal plants and cars.” We wouldn’t say God is punishing us because there is no need for that. We live in a practical world where blue collar men confront challenges like rusted off bolts and well caps that don’t want to come off. Not a supernatural world where if they can’t get the bolt or the well cap off they blame God. They just get it done.

Blue collar men and women confront challenges every day that call upon all of their resourcefulness and instinct. They use physics and hand tools to lighten their work. We need a church that reminds us that those of us who work with our hands for a living are smarter in some ways than those of us with law degrees. So why shouldn’t pay be equal for both? We need  a church with strong moral purpose that addresses the status quo and challenges it. Why do people hoard so much money when others go without? Why do we drive and travel so much?

The church would serve as a reminder that we still want to come together around a common purpose. God or a higher power may or may not exist, but we still find comfort in believing in something bigger than ourselves. Perhaps that’s all spirituality really needs to be.

Winooski Man’s Home is Threatened by F35s


Drew Burns has lived in Vermont 12 years and he lives in Winooski. Burns, 33, is married and has one kid, 2 and a half. He works as an interventionist in a group home for kids. He also has a tee shirt business and a bubble soccer business at playbubblesoccer.com. His tee shirt business is called Pineale. He has been selling Bernie Sanders tee shirts well lately. He loves living in Vermont.

When asked if the community of Winooski is strong Burns said, “I think it is. I think it’s getting stronger. I think there’s a lot of really good young leadership in the town. I’m excited to see where it goes.”

To make the community stronger Burns said, “Well I think that the F35 poses a really big threat to Winooski. There is a line going through a big part of the town that the people on the wrong side of it are gonna have their home values disappear when the houses may be declared uninhabitable [because of the vibrations from the planes] which is kind of scary for me because that line has shifted a little bit, and we’re right on the edge of it. We’ve only owned our home there for three years and we have a two year old son and we’d like for him to be able to grow up there but if we can’t keep equity on our home we’re gonna have to leave.”

“I think that the local media was really slow to get involved in a reasonable way in the cannabis debate that’s going on right now. I think that showing the reality of the impact that it’s had in Colorado has been underreported. There’s so many fact finding trips and wait and see reports that our legislators have been resting on for the past two years. I just got back from Denver last week and there’s so many misconceptions about it going out there you hear that there’s weed shops on every corner and nothing’s getting done and nothing could be further from the truth. Denver is attracting young people. It’s flush with creative capital and real life capital and it was just so bustling I was really surprised to see that. I think it could do the same for our community.” Burns favors legalizing weed in Vermont.

“Obviously Bernie Sanders is a big leader here. As far as the Chittenden county area, which is all I can really speak to, definitely the people at the Community and Economic Development office. Their work here in the last 25 years has totally changed the face of this town. People involved in fair housing, micro business development things are really support the people who need it the most here and in an inclusive way where they can build their own lives and their own dreams and I think that is really special.”

When asked who he was going to vote for for the next Vermont governor Burns said, “I like a lot of the tone of what the Shumlin administration has brought to the state, but it’s hard to say this far out. I’m open to all candidates right now.”

When asked if kids should be challenged more seriously earlier in life, Burns said, “I think it depends on the type of challenge too. A lot of the ways that children are being challenged now are ways that are completely new in human history. As technology outpaces humans as far as the speed of its growth and the dynamics of what’s involved in that. Where we’re seeing newer problems that weren’t a thing, like online bullying. Never a thing before. Fat shaming is a new thing. The dynamics of social media in general where people feel pressured to live their lives from the outside in. I feel really lucky that I didn’t have to deal with that when I was growing up. I don’t even know how to support kids going through that.”

When asked if human instincts were as complex as animal instincts Burns said, “Absolutely. I think that we are out of touch with [instincts]. I don’t think that we trust them or use them or rely on them as much as we once did. There’s anecdotal stories of before electricity and street lights changed the way we saw the atmosphere. Native Americans could see stars in the daytime just because they were so much more sensitive to it. So I think we possess it. And I think we’re growing new complexities that we don’t quite know how to use yet, but we’re just as much a part of nature nad as beautiful as everything else.”

When asked if emotions are instincts Burns said, “I think they can be, but I think people mistake their emotions for truth a lot of the time and I think that the brain has an autopilot in it that we confuse for our critical thinking and that can get kind of messy.”

For hobbies and recreation Burns said he hikes, kayaks, plays with his son and creates art.




Burlington Man Wants Police to Be More Active in Community



Arnulfo Marquez who goes by JR because it’s easier for everybody to say is 21 and he moved to Vermont 21 years ago. He lives in Burlington and works at Five Guys. He likes living in Vermont, especially the food and the local atmosphere.

When asked if the Burlington community is strong JR said, “I’d say sort of strong, but not really strong enough.”

To make the community stronger JR said, “Pay attention to the crimes so you can actually catch the people who cause the crimes. It seems some of the officers don’t pay attention to some of the crimes or pay attention to certain people who look like they will cause a crime. Where I live some crimes have happened and it seems like people have already called the police where I live and they haven’t done anything. Just drive around and look and say, ‘Okay, it looks like there’s nothing going on here.'”

When asked if there is anything the local media isn’t covering JR said, “Some people I know are musicians and I feel like they aren’t noticed. Maybe cover some of the local musicians who feel like they’re not noticed or feel like their under achieved or don’t feel like they’re being appreciated.”

When asked who he saw as leaders in Vermont JR said, “People who take notice about things that go on around them and who are open to say ‘Okay I know this is going on so maybe this should happen.’ Then this will take action and follow through.”

JR doesn’t know who he is going to vote for governor yet.

When asked if children should be challenged more seriously earlier in life JR said, “Maybe. But if there’s like a really tough challenge that they might mess up, then yes. They can actually learn from their mistakes and say, ‘Okay I can work better to make better choices.’ Cause that’s how I was raised to believe: if I mess up okay I can make a better choice next time it happens.”

JR isn’t sure if human instincts are as complex as other animals.

“Some emotions are kind of instincts, yes.”

JR doesn’t support legalizing pot in Vermont. For hobbies and recreation JR cooks. “It kind of calms me down and keeps me organized.”

JR doesn’t know who his representatives are. “I try not to worry about all that.”

Op-Ed: Media Should Stop Reporting Names and Showing Faces of Mass Murderers To Prevent Copy Cat Attacks

Mass killings are almost taken for granted these days. From the Tsarnaev brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon to James Holmes who killed 24 people and injured 70 others in a Colorado movie theater, these killers become faces we remember. It shouldn’t be that way.

When killers become famous for their deeds it inspires others living in this sick society with no hope and no strong moral guidance to copy the attacks in order to become famous for something.

I put the blame for the rise of mass shootings and domestic terrorist attacks partially on our sick society and partially on the news media for their morbid glorification of the killers. The killer’s faces lead with headlines that recite the number of dead and the area where it happened: “9 dead in shooting at black church in Charleston, S.C.”.

Imagine a country where these killers are not identified and their faces are not emblazoned into our collective memory. Some would argue that it’s in the public’s interest to know who committed these attacks. The media would argue that a motive needs to be divined.

The motive is sickness when it is not mental illness. A deep spiritual sickness that has descended over our country. The causes are broken families, endless competition, bleak economic prospects for many and a feeling of being left out or left behind.

The news media doesn’t have to glorify these killers by making them famous. They don’t deserve to be made famous. The victims deserve to be made famous and their deaths a sober reminder that we have to heal our society if we want to live in security.

We can all agree to shun these killers and not report on them and then take up that news media time to encourage those with suicidal or homicidal thoughts to seek help. We are all fragile human beings and this sick society produces a lot of bad apples. Isn’t it time for sober reflection on our values as a society. Is a non-stop pursuit of money really the best mindset for ourselves and our children?

Some would argue yes. Money makes the world go round. Maybe it is time to think of a better system. Robots are replacing US workers and some media reports say that up to 1/3 of current US jobs will be replaced by robots  by the year 2025. Our dependence on an income to survive will put these workers in bread lines and soup kitchens and out on the streets. If something isn’t done to heal our society crime will skyrocket as people become more and more desperate to survive.

It is clear that big banks and capitalist titans with more wealth than the bottom 90 percent of American workers prevent us from living sustainably. It is up to Americans to learn how to farm and live sustainably and up to the .1 percent to provide housing for the most vulnerable. We have the land to live on. We are slaves to the banks for that home or business. It shouldn’t be that way. While all of this economic disparity is taking place our sick society is producing mass killers and the media is giving future killers a platform to become famous on.

While we must rise up and take back our country from the richest .1 percent, and that is an Op-Ed in and of itself, we must also do our best to dissuade homegrown terrorists from acting out their most depraved homicidal thoughts. We can do this if the media, out of an abundant concern for national security, stops reporting the names and showing the faces of the killers in mass shootings or bombings.

Burlington Man Says Vermont Could Do a Better Job Including Minorities

Seth Arthur, 35, lives in Burlington and works as a recycler. “Born and raised. Just moved back so…I’m a Vermonter for life.”
When asked if Burlington has a strong community Arthur said, “Definitely I’d like to see a little stronger when it comes to diversification. But it’s pretty strong. Yeah we take care of each other out here.”
When asked what could be done to make the Burlington community stronger, Arthur said, “It seems like [Burlignton] has an antiquated mind set and it seems like granted, you know, the theme of Vermont is ‘We take care of each other,’ but at the same token the majority of Vermont is Caucasian and I see a lot of blacks and minorities being left behind.”
Arthur likes living in Vermont. He has two kids, 5 and 14. Arthur said beside the pill addiction the “inkling of racism” is under reported in Vermont. “It’s kind of behind closed doors but at the same token it has been pushed a little bit.”
Arthur said he sees Bernie Sanders as a leader. Arthur believes children should be challenged at an early age. “They enthrall so much information at such a young age, and you see the Asians excelling, I mean, fifth sixth grade their doing calculus and it’s a matter of how much we invest in our kids and what we push on our kids. So I think that instead of pushing TV and activities physical activities, I feel like school work should be pushed and honed in on. We’re behind. America is behind.”
When asked if he thinks human instincts are as complex as other animal instincts Arthur said, “I think so definitely. Intuition is my instinct that is God-given and man if you don’t follow that, you’re screwed.”
When asked if emotions are instincts Arthur said, “To some degree cuz you know emotions will let you know how you feel about a certain situation, and for the most part if you feel like your partner’s cheating most of the time your partner’s cheating. So yeah, I definitely feel like emotions is part of instincts.”
When asked if humans are more inclined to be selfless than selfish Arthur said, “I think there’s different kinds of people. Cuz I feel like I’m a good person but at the same token I can be selfish pending on the situation at hand, what will it allow me to be? I feel like there are a lot of good people in the world and I feel like there’s a lot of overly selfish people in the world. And it’s just a balance. But I do feel like everyone is more inclined nowadays to do bad because that’s what we, once again taking it back to the television, that’s what we push on these people, you know the stereotypes and the bullshit.”
Arthur supports legalizing weed in Vermont. For hobbies and recreation he likes to smoke weed. “And, you know, sports. Read. Same old same old. Bike ride. Nothing too serious, but I like to be active.”
When asked if he thought we focus too much on the economy Arthur said, “Definitely. I think we need to go back to trade versus all this credit shit. You know, we outsource virtually everything nowadays, and, you know, economically we’re hurting by it cuz there’s no jobs and our money, you know, we’re paying a lot of foreigners and the money goes overseas over the border, so it’s not helping our economy. Everyone knows this. Certain people are meant to get rich off this, but you know, it is what it is.”
Arthur’s advice for youngsters is, “Everything in moderation.”
Arthur said “no” and “yes” when asked if climate change is a serious threat. “I feel like the earth purges itself. That’s why we have storms and everything else, earthquakes all that. I feel like the earth will eventually purge itself. Hopefully it won’t purge itself back to the point where we restart civilization. I also feel like we pollute way too much. Like in Georgia they don’t even recycle. Yeah, with not everyone on board, we’re doomed to be the next China.”
Arthur does believe in God or a higher power. His favorite restaurant is Sweetwater.
When asked if he thought kids should wear uniforms in class in an effort to reduce stress, Arthur said, “Definitely. Kids are tough and if you’re not dressing up to the status quo, they might have some problems. So to alleviate whatever they are going through, yeah definitely.”
When asked if he thought children between the ages of 12 and 18 should be in same sex classrooms in an effort to reduce distractions, Arthur said, “I feel like they should actually separated cuz I’m not going to be distracted by another dude sitting next to me versus a fine, curvaceous, voluptuous woman man. It shouldn’t be co-ed in classes. Maybe in the dining area.”

Florence Resident Says Focus More on Getting People Out of Social Programs and Into Work


Kim Webster has lived in Vermont all her life. She lives in Florence. Webster, 45, is an administrative assistant at Casella Waste. She is married and has one daughter.

“[Florence is] a very small community so it probably is a strong community,” Webster said, “but we actually pay our taxes and go to school in the town of Pittsford. So I think altogether yes it is a strong community. It’s a close knit group of people who look out for each other, care for each other, always willing to help each other.”

“I think that probably the creation of jobs and the way that Vermont doesn’t work to keep businesses here is probably something that needs to be covered [by the local media] more. My opinion is they don’t promote business growth but maybe try to push it out, so I think that that could be covered better.”

“I’d like to see Phil Scott become the governor, I think he would do a great job of leading us.”

“I think [kids] are way challenged enough. I think they don’t let them be kids anymore, so there’s not the time for the playing and getting them outside and letting them run around and be kids and I think they just push so much on their plates now. It’s crazy.”

When asked if she believes human instincts are as complex as other animals, Webster said, “I hope so.” When asked if emotions are instincts, Webster said, “Yeah. I think that they are because everyone feels them differently. It’s all in how your raised.”

“I hope we’re inclined to be good people.” Webster does not support legalizing pot in Vermont.

For hobbies and recreation Webster said, “My daughter and I have a horse, we have dogs that we do dog diving with. I just like to be home enjoy my garden and that type of thing.”

Vermont Senator Peg Florey and Vermont Representative Charles “Butch” Shaw are Webster’s representatives. Webster believes they are doing a good job.

“I think that there’s a lot of focus on the economy but it needs to be done differently. I think that we need to focus more on getting people to work and less on the social welfare benefits.”

Webster’s advice to youngsters is, “Just follow your heart. Try to be true to yourself.”

The most pressing issues of our time, according to Webster, are “Probably a lot what’s going on with Isis and terrorism and that kind of thing keeping our border safe.”

“The whole state [of Vermont] is a hidden gem. I just think the agriculture and the nature and the apple orchards and the farms that are left getting out to see that and experience it.”

Webster does believe in God or a higher power.

When asked if youngsters should wear uniforms in school to reduce peer stress factors Webster said, “That’s a tough one. I understand the idea behind it. It’s good, but I still think you need to allow them to be individuals. There needs to be better teaching about bullying and respect for others and live and let live.”



Playwright’s Festival This Saturday at St. Michael’s College in Colchester

The Vermont Playwright’s Circle is hosting PlayCon this weekend at St. Michael’s College in Colchester. The event begins at 9:30 AM on Saturday September 26 in Cheray Science Hall.

PlayCon is a playwright’s workshop that features award-winning Vermont playwright Dana Yeaton as the keynote speaker, and workshop presenters include Jeanne Beckwith, Maura Campbell, James Lantz and Luc Reid. It runs until 6:30 PM.

The Vermont Playwright’s Circle is 17 years old. They are based in Montpelier, and they host monthly playwright workshops at the Montpelier Senior Center in the resource room. The next workshop is Tuesday October 20th starting at 6:30 PM. To participate one must contact VPC president, Kim Ward, at vtplaywrightscircle@gmail.com.

The VPC hosted TenFest this past August 13th-16th at The Valley Players Theater on Route 100 in Waitsfield. TenFest is a four day festival of ten minute plays. This year featured plays by Leslie Becker, Jeanne Beckwith, Em Frappier, Liam Kuhn, Margot Lasher, Robert McCarthy, Jack Rushton, Sequana Skye, Kim Ward and Dvora Zipkin.

Vermont Gossip reached out to Kim Ward to see how the TenFest went and what to expect at this year’s PlayCon. “This was our best year ever for TenFest!” Ward said. “We had 270 audience members and nothing but high praise for the quality of the shows, both for the scripts and the production value.”

Ward says she’s expecting 35 people at this year’s PlayCon. “I’d say the major focus is on writing plays but there is a sub-focus on staging new work in Vermont, which would interest anyone, and in particular theater artists who are involved in producing theater.”

“I’m not entirely sure where the focus on theater comes in Vermont, but I do know that we are and always have been a sort of summer retreat for NYC and therefore for artists from NY. There is a longstanding tradition of Vermont being a place for writers, harkening back beyond the more famous writers such as Robert Frost. The bucolic setting, the slower pace, and the strong community have been a huge factor in creating that focus.”

When asked if getting involved in local theater bring communities together, make friends of strangers, and bring people out of their isolated lives, Ward responded, “I am living proof that it does all of those things. I was a very introverted, shy child. I spent most of my time with a book in front of my nose, mostly so I wouldn’t have to feel awkward and try to talk to people. As I met and got involved with theater people/theater, I began to be more open and confident. Also, any kind of project where you have to open yourself up and experience feelings/cooperate, you’re going to begin that kernel of community.”

“There is clear and unrefuted proof that when people are trying to open up and connect any kind of project will help with that. If we have a quilt to make, a puzzle to solve, a play to put on, we’re going to have people connecting, strengthening confidence, and becoming more of their true selves.”



The Vermont Bands Babytaker and Hamjob are Vermont Gems According to Rutland Lady

st. lawrence

Stephanie St. Lawrence has lived in Vermont for 23 years. “I like Vermont,” St. Lawrence said. She works at the College of St. Joseph’s in the kitchen and up at the Cortina Inn.

Asked if the community of Rutland is strong, she said, “I think it could use some help. I feel like the people need to come together a little more. We’re really separate. We didn’t always used to be so separate from each other.”

St. Lawrence said to make the community stronger it takes a long conversation. St. Lawrence sees Bernie Sanders as a leader.

“I think kids have enough challenge as it is just being kids. They go through a lot just having to learn how to be little adults. They have a lot going on.”

Asked if human instincts are as complex as other animals St. Lawrence said, “I think in some ways. [Kids] know when danger’s around, they know when to be scared, when to be happy. They can tell when family is there.”

St. Lawrence said when asked if emotions are instincts, “Emotions are emotions. Instincts are like, ‘I need to eat. I need to breathe. I need to sleep.’ Emotions are different. They are completely separate.”

When asked if she thought humans are innately selfless or selfish, St. Lawrence said, “I think it’s all in how you’re raised. I try to give as much as I can. I was told to do that.”

St. Lawrence supports legalizing pot in Vermont.

For hobbies and recreation St. Lawrence said, “I like to paint. I paint a lot. I’ve been painting my door in my room, it’s a nice scene. I like to write. I’ve made videos. I went to Stafford for two years, video production. I actually had a commercial that aired around here for like 2011.”

Asked if we focus too much on the economy and not enough on surviving together, St. Lawrence said, “Yeah. I think. That definitely comes back the community thing, you know, we’re more focused on money, less on trying to keep people together keep people happy and feeling safe.”

St. Lawrence’s advice to youngsters would be, “Just be who you are. You’re looking at someone and you’re feeling like, ‘maybe I should be that way because oh, you know, they’re making it they’ve figured it out.’ But they didn’t figure it out either, they’re just as confused as you are.”

St. Lawrence said the most pressing issue of our time is women’s issues and minorities. “There’s a lot of equality things happening in the media right now, it’s just like women in the media and then other races are fighting back right now and there’s a lot of inequality. There’s a difference between fairness and equality, you know, everybody gets this but not everybody should get this because they already have it. They don’t have to have double what they already have.”

St. Lawrence touched on climate change. “I’ve seen a lot happening. The ice caps are melting, California’s falling into the ocean, there’s a drought. When I was younger I don’t remember hearing things that were this out of hand. It’s definitely changed pretty fast.”

On the idea of a carbon tax St. Lawrence said, “I guess I don’t really have a problem with being taxed more. I get my paycheck, I’m still able to buy my food and live my life. I’m not going to bitch about the small problems.”

St. Lawrence said Babytaker and Hamjob are two bands that are Vermont gems.

“I definitely don’t believe in any of the Gods mankind has made up. There probably is something out there, but we haven’t figured out who it is, what it is, but there’s something.”

St. Lawrence doesn’t believe high school students should wear uniforms. “That would cause more stress.”

When asked if she prefers organic whole foods or if it matters St. Lawrence said, “I’ve tried. It costs a little more. I don’t usually get to the coop that often or up to Hannaford’s. It’s easier to just do the shopping really quick and try to be as healthy as you can.”

Burlington Man Wishes Media Would Talk More About the Link Between the Economy and the Environment


Daniel Cmejla has lived in Vermont for seven years now, and he lives in Burlington. Cmejla, 24, works for a solar company.

“There are always things that every community could work on, but Vermont in general and Burlington have great values. I like it. There’s a sense of community and a sense of togetherness.”

To make the community stronger Cmejla said, “I feel like people could waste less electricity and talk more about Bernie Sanders. He’s so great. Yeah so people could just be more efficient, more considerate of others. Some times people these days, you know, “I’ve talked to a lot of farmers who have told me that some people these days care more about how much money they make at the farmer’s market versus whether or not their neighbors can eat. So I think looking a little bit around us is also very good for the community.”

“I love living in Vermont. It’s wonderful. I recently traveled outside of the country for six months, and if I wasn’t coming back to Vermont I don’t think I could come back at all.”

“I’d say there’s more stuff we could talk about [in the local media]…the synergy between economics and the environment. A lot of times in Vermont there are these two lines, you have people who care about the environment and then people who are focused on profit. I think the media could report a lot more about how the two are not mutually exclusive. They’re often together. Vermont could be doing so much more becoming energy independent. And then also supporting the politicians who can do that. I know that there’s a lot of talk about Bernie Sanders around here, but if we talked about Bernie as much as we did about Tom Brady then there would be more of a hope for our country. I think he’s great. He’s gonna do awesome.”

When asked who Cmejla sees as leaders, he said, “Well there are a lot of amazing non-profits and advocacy groups and leaders and I think a lot of them are leaders, but if I had to pick out two people I’d pick out Will Rapp the former, the creator of Gardener Supply and the Intervale, who played a huge role in the cooperative movement in Vermont, and I would also pick out Bernie Sanders just because that ethic is something that will potentially enable Vermont to spread its amazing community with the world and the country. The country really needs a little bit more Vermont.”

Cmejla does not know yet who he will support for the next governor of Vermont. “I’m not sure yet.”

Cmejla believes that children should be challenged in a bunch of ways: at school and outside. “Not enough people spend enough time outside and it used to be a part of the way the world is that you’d spend some time out there physically challenging yourself. I think Americans and children could travel more and experience a more diverse world.”

When asked if human instincts are as complex as animal instincts Cmejla said, “I don’t really know on that one. But I’d imagine that instincts are something that wouldn’t be specific to the human capacity for thought, so it’d be one of the things that united us most closely with other animals.”

Cmejla said in response to the question ‘are our emotions instincts?’ “Some of them. Emotions are great, so I’d hate to look at them just in terms of survival because they’re really what makes me happy, but I mean certainly some emotions are. There are some times where I think, and I’m feeling a certain emotuion, and I think this must be some sort of tribal remanence from when I wasn’t able to use a more sophisticated part of my mind, and it’s all about finding a balance between your instincts, you emotions and then reason. No one is perfect.”

“I think the drug war in general could be undertaken far more effectively. We have a huge prison overcrowding system. We need to look at the results of different policies that we’ve had and then use those results to base our policy in the future, which we don’t do often enough.”

Cmejla’s advice to youngsters would be, “Spend a lot of time outside and don’t take everything they teach you in school necessarily for granted, like we live in an economy based on the concept of endless growth and there are just assumptions like that every once and a while I find myself realizing something I assumed about the world is wrong.”

Cmejla said climate change is a serious threat. “Absolutely I think it’s a serious threat. In a bunch of ways some of which we’re already seeing, weather, all sorts of things. But another way it’s a threat is just the fact that there are so many complicated complex systems going on and if we think we understand them all as humans we’re kidding ourselves a little bit. We don’t know what we’re doing to our oceans, a third of our coral reeves have been destroyed, and then we’ve got large climactic situations we just don’t understand enough to say, ‘Hey let’s burn all this carbon and increase the temperature.’ We’re changing the geology of our planet. We can’t look to the past to say what’s worked in the past has worked. I think precautionary principle really had us take action on climate change. We can do that in Vermont. There are efforts to put a price on carbon pollution in Vermont right now which would make the state energy independent.”

Cmejla said he would support a carbon pollution tax. “I support a carbon pollution tax absolutely. It could make a ton of sense. In Vermont we could weatherize over 20,000 homes with it. There’s just a huge amount of progress we can have both for our economy and our environment. Vermont’s one of the few places that can actually lead this country.”

Cmejla said there are so many hidden gems in Vermont. “I’m not gonna say all of them though I don’t want to share them with everybody. But yeah Vermont is just amazing. There’s so many rivers and lakes and wonderful jumping spots and hiking spots. If anyone was thinking I’d say go up to the Northeast Kingdom, go to Parker Pie Pizza [in West Glover] and then around there you’ll see some of the most wonderful lakes and rock climbing and hiking that you can see anywhere in New England and perhaps the country and maybe even the world.”

Cmejla was asked if students should wear uniforms in school in an effort to reduce stress. “If it reduces stress then possibly but it’s a really complicated question. If it’s going to reduce people’s stress I support that. You go to school to learn. We should do whatever is going to optimize learning. But I mean measuring stress is such a difficult thing to do, and there are more complicated layers to it beyond just having to get up and dress in the morning, and there are a lot of different aspects of that, but as far as being an individual, that should be considered.”

Aspiring Director/Actress and Competitive Dancer Share their Take on Vermont Gossip


“I was born in the Rutland hospital,” Maya Redington said. Redington, 17, and pictured on the right in the above photo has lived in the area ever since. “I like it. I think people have a lot of opinions on Rutland, but I have hometown pride.”

Zoey McFadden was born in Randolph. She lives part time in Rutland and part time in Stockbridge.

“I think that there is a strong sense of Rutland community, but there’s also a few stragglers,” Redington said.

McFadden, 15, said, “I think our community [in Stockbridge] is definitely pretty strong. When the flood of Irene happened a few years ago everyone just came together and just worked together to make things better. We were estimated to not have power back for at least a month and a half and we got it back in three weeks just by the community working together.”

Redington is a waitress, “Up where her mom has a café. But I also direct and I act a little bit too, and my dad is a musician so I do a little bit of that too but it’s mostly hobbie stuff.”

Redington said she thinks there is an underground scene in Rutland that slips past the local media. “I think there’s probably always some awesome cool underground things that aren’t being covered by the local media. I think everywhere. I think Rutland has good potential for stuff like that too. In the arts community I definitely know a lot of cool things happen under wraps and a lot of cool bands and stuff like that that isn’t always covered.”

Redington said she thinks Senator Bernie Sanders is a leader in Vermont. “Bernie Sanders is definitely a humungous leader right now. He’s totally dominating and I think we all hope the best for him.”

Redington is mixed on whether or not we challenge our children seriously enough from the beginning. “I think it depends on the child. I think some children definitely can strive to be pushed farther and take on certain roles and challenges that others might not be able to handle right away, but are led into it later in life.”

Redington said our instincts are as complex as other animals. “I think for some people it’s different but I think our instincts are huge and are hugely important to everything in life.”

Redington said she believes emotions are instincts. She doesn’t have an opinion on legalizing pot. “Personally for me I don’t really care either way.”

Redington said, “I do a lot of stuff in the arts. I’m really into film. So I hope to make film and be in film some day.”

McFadden said, “I’ve danced competitively for the past two years. Like tap and jazz and ballet.”

Redington was asked if America focuses too much on the economy and not enough on surviving together. “Unfortunately the world is run by money. So our economy since it’s definitely not been super good for the past few years that also has to do with us surviving and living and existing because the world revolves around [money].”

Redington would offer this advice to a group of youngsters. “I guess that your feelings and emotions are valid, and that don’t let elders belittle you too much because you are important and the things that you are thinking super matter in life and that I don’t know, but hold on and just keep doing you.”

Redington said climate change is a serious threat. “Yeah. It’s like September and how hot is it right now? I think something’s happening that’s not good. I couldn’t tell you what, but it’s really abnormally warm. Something’s up.”

When asked if it upsets her that some of her elders aren’t taking climate change seriously, Redington said, “Yeah. And I think some definitely are taking it seriously, but I think certain things are being too looked into when other things are just like under the radar needing to be looked at more.”

Redington said Vermont has lots of hidden gems, especially in their people. “I think of myself as a hidden gem which is like probably super egotistical to say but I just even in thinking that there’s probably so many more hidden gems.”

Redington said she does believe in a higher power. “I believe in something. I don’t know what I believe in but I definitely have faith in something of a higher power. So yeah.”