Burlington Man Talks Heroin: Why Vermonters Do It, How to Stop It; Praises Immigrant Population

Sam Appleby, 28, has lived in Vermont for most of his life. “I grew up in Barnard,” he said, “did some traveling in my early twenties, but I’ve been living here in Burlington for about two years now.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you think the community of Burlington is strong?”
Mr. Appleby: “I think so. I think it’s getting stronger. Yeah, there’s a lot of art, especially in the South end. The South End arts district has just been exploding with talent. I think musically this town is really getting cool. But there’s the drug problem, there’s also that kind of eating at the heart of it, so it’s something we have to try to combat as a community.”
Vermont Gossip: “What do you think could be done to combat the drug problem?”
Mr. Appleby: “Well I think I read some good stuff about treatment and prevention rather than jailing people. When I was younger I had a lot of friends who got mixed up in that. Some of them died, some of them went to jail, and the others got their act together. But I don’t think the solution is more policing and more jailing of non-violent offenders. I think we need to focus on rehabilitation, treatment and education. You know, start in schools.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you think that drug use is a result of rebellion against authority?”
Mr. Appleby: “I think that’s part of it. A lot of young kids want to defy their parents. It’s also escapism. You know if you have a crappy life, it’s really easy, you can just change your consciousness. You know, take some drugs that make you feel better. I think that’s hard for a lot of people to get past once you get into that life. But yeah, I’d say rebellion is a part of it but also just boredom and escapism are two of the big factors.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you think adults could do a better job of messaging the importance of, say things like, family and jobs?”
Mr. Appleby: “Yes. I think definitely with my parents they instilled a work ethic in me, but it’s not something that I see with the new generation. A lot of college kids are, it’s not their fault really, the economy has kind of turned and it’s hard to get a job in your field with a degree. But yeah, I think it’s important that everybody in the community, not just families, really educate their kids about this, the stuff to look out for, and to just you know, become a member of the community by working. Nobody likes to do it but it makes our community stronger and it makes you a better person.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe that elementary school students should be taught to grow food in a hands on environment?”
Mr. Appleby: “Absolutely. Absolutely. I did a little farming when I was younger, and it’s something that every elementary school should teach because food is so important. I remember in high school you could take shop or home ec, I think you should have both mandatory.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe that high school students who have an interest in it should be taught how to make furniture from Vermont, sustainably harvested wood?”
Mr. Appleby: “Absolutely. I actually wish I could make furniture. I’m not too crafty but you know, definitely.”
Vermont Gossip: “What’s newsworthy and relevant in your life right now? Birth of a family member? New relationship? Promotion?”
Mr. Appleby: “Well I’m a comedian. So I would say that the Vermont Comedy Club is the biggest news that I could wish to share with anybody. That scene here in Vermont is getting so huge. It’s starting to attract big names. I think everybody should just go down to the comedy club and have some laughs.”
Vermont Gossip: “Are you married?”
Mr. Appleby: “I am not. I’m single.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you have any kids?”
Mr. Appleby: “No, not yet.”
Vermont Gossip: “Is there anything that isn’t being covered by the local media that you would like to see be covered?”
Mr. Appleby: “Local media is doing better than nationally, but I’d always have to say Bernie Sanders. We gotta get that guy in office. Here in Vermont he’s one of our own, so I think we hear about it and there’s a lot more optimism, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t need more coverage. It needs to be, you know, a personal battle for everybody.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe that there are tensions between old Vermonters and new Vermonters?”
Mr. Appleby: “New as in moved to the state?”
Vermont Gossip: “Yeah.”
Mr. Appleby: “Maybe not here in town, but I grew up in rural Vermont, so yeah there is a bit of that kind of anger about people coming in and building these huge summer homes, driving up the property taxes and only spending maybe a week out of the year up here. So I think that’s the only thing on that topic I think I would say. Here in town I think there’s a lot more, there’s a big immigrant population here and I’m glad that mostly I see that that’s supported. There’s a lot of Vietnamese, Somalians, and I think it’s really great that up here it’s accepted because that’s not the case in a lot of the rest of the country.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe that Hollywood corrupts the minds of our youth with all the sex and violence and parties that they have in movies?”
Mr. Appleby: “I think that’s always been a part of entertainment. You go back to Shakespeare, there’s just as much sex and violence in that entertainment as there ever was. I think yeah, they’re putting out what sells. Sex sells. Violence sells. I watch violent movies, I play violent video games, but what’s important more is teaching people to draw a line. You know, between reality and a game. I love video games, I’ve probably committed hundreds of thousands of simulated murders, but I know I’m not going to go out into the real world and you know, do some horrible, violent thing. So yeah, as long as people know it’s not reality. It’s just good fun.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe that our instincts are as complex as other animals?”
Mr. Appleby: “I think so. I think a lot of it, I think we’ve forgotten a lot of it. LIke out sense of smell. We’ve gotten away from our animal selves. Being in this, you know, consumer culture, always looking at a screen. So, you know, I think we are as complex but it’s something that we’ve forgotten or maybe choose to ignore.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you think it’s important for us to get back to that or do you think we’ll be alright even if we don’t.”
Mr. Appleby: “I think that we should be aware of it, at least. Maybe unplug a little bit during the day. As to how important that is, I couldn’t really say until I saw it in action.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you think that emotions are instincts that were selected by nature for survival?”
Mr. Appleby: “Yeah. I think it’s something that, you know, it’s deeper than we understand, you know, that fight or flight kind of instinct. Yeah, you know, emotions are kind of a defense mechanism, you know, if you see something scary your heart rate jumps it means to get out of there. If something makes you sad it means maybe you should do something about it or avoid that situation. So, yeah, I think it’s a deep instinct that we have.”
Vermont Gossip: “So you do support refugees coming into the state?”
Mr. Appleby: “Absolutely. I mean my family…we were Irish immigrants a couple generations back, and you know back then you’re hearing the same stuff you’re hearing now: all the potato eaters coming here and stealing all the jobs. But you know we need to continue to make America that place, you know, give us your tired, your hungry, your poor, you know, all this border containment nonsense about putting up a wall or you know, tearing apart families because maybe the kid was born here but the parents were illegal immigrants. It’s just, you know, whatever your nationality that’s just not good living. We can’t treat each other like that no matter where you’re from.”
Vermont Gossip: “Would you support legislation that would make it illegal to charge women more than men for the same goods and services?”
Mr.Appleby: “Yeah, I suppose I would support that. You know, I think closing the wage gap between men and women is also something that needs to be enacted everywhere.”
Vermont Gossip: “Would you support legislation that would provide all Vermont service veterans who have PTSD with a service dog and a life time of free dog food?”
Mr. Appleby: “Yes I would.”
Vermont Gossip: “Would you support a private initiative to build three story buildings in Burlington and Rutland like Brooklyn and San Francisco? Basically raze the Victorian houses and put up apartment buildings?”
Mr. Appleby: “Oh if it’s housing they’re putting in then yes. There’s a huge housing problem here. It took me forever to find an apartment downtown. Yeah, there just isn’t enough of it, so if that’s what they have to do, that’s what they’re going to have to do.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you want to see high tech jobs come to Vermont?”
Mr. Appleby: “I would say so. Yeah. I know that there’s a growing boom in clean energy and solar projects here, a lot of graphic design firms, and yeah, anything to diversify the economy.”
Vermont Gossip: “Would you support a website that aimed to pair apprentices with master tradesmen?”
Mr. Appleby: “Yes.”
Vermont Gossip: “Are you on Facebook?”
Mr. Appleby: “I am.”
Vermont Gossip: “Are you interested in networking with fellow Vermonters?”
Mr. Appleby: “Yeah, definitely.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you think Vermont youth are told often enough that having a family and kids could be one of the most satisfying things they could ever hope to experience?”
Mr. Appleby: “I guess that would depend on the case: whatever kind of family upbringing they had. I know that was instilled in me, but yeah, no one can be told often enough that family is important. Maybe starting your own teaches you what life’s all about.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you think that we should be telling Vermont youth to be on the lookout for a life mate early on because there might never be a better chance to meet a life mate?”
Mr. Appleby: “I don’t think so. No. I’d say wait. People say life is short. I don’t really buy that. I think that we’re just not aware for all of it. So, you know, just slow down on it, you know, it’s always when you stop looking for love that it seems to find you.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you know who you’re going to vote for for the next Governor of Vermont?”
Mr. Appleby: “Actually no. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with Shumlin’s performance, so before voting again I need to do a lot more research.”
Vermont Gossip: “Who’s your favorite Vermont band?”
Mr. Appleby: “Oh, Iva May. It’s this girl that I work with her name is Brittany May. She’s absolutely fantastic and she performs at the Light Shop, also has a college radio show on Wednesdays.”
Vermont Gossip: “What’s your favorite Vermont brew?”
Mr. Appleby: “Long Trail. I lived in Bridgewater for a long time so there’s a lot of people who would be angry with me if I said otherwise.”
Vermont Gossip: “How do you feel about the prospects of synthetic biology? Genetically engineering everything from salmon to mosquitoes so the former grow faster and the later die off.”
Mr. Appleby: “I don’t think that GMO’s are necessarily bad for you. I’ve done some research that suggests that it might be fine to eat, as long as we’re made aware of that, like we have a right to know what’s in our food. As for fish, I’ve seen some of those, the genetically modified salmon and they just look gross. Like I’m a cook. So I would never use that in my kitchen, but there’s a lot more that we don’t know about it. I wouldn’t exactly write it off, but I wouldn’t go tampering necessarily half cocked without knowing more.”

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