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An Open Letter from Nat Frothingham to Readers and Friends of The Bridge


Dear Friend of The Bridge,

As a kid growing up I don’t think I ever imagined I would ever want to raise money for anything.

But then — later on — I discovered a few enthusiasms and these enthusiasms took hold of me.

Discovering Shakespeare

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One of my early and continuous enthusiasms has been theater and a passion for the plays of Shakespeare. I loved the language, the storytelling, the men and women and kings and clowns who emerged four-square from a flat page and the thrill of putting a great play in front of a live audience.

Hitting a Brick Wall

I was a college senior when I got the chance to direct a production of Shakepeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Right then and there, I found myself face to face with the fact that we needed money to put on that play. We needed money to build a set, pay for costumes, promote the play so that people would attend.

What sort of dream world had I been living in as a child growing up? In a perfectly fictional world we would not have to go out and seek financial support for any of a thousand great and necessary causes — like feeding desperately hungry people, or saving a rain forest or supporting a college or a library or an orchestra or planting a tree to remember someone who has died.

Explaining What We Are

Then there’s The Bridge with its need for financial help.

We are what we are. In writing the paper, we are aware of the beauty and sacredness of life in all its diverse forms. We are also aware of the dark and destructive forces at loose in the world.

But The Bridge is a very, very local paper. We aim to honor the English language. We care deeply about the communities we serve. We aim to be fair, and responsible — and also independent. And we put out a paper that’s offered free of charge 23 times a year to everyone in Montpelier and across central Vermont.

In December it will be 22 years since The Bridge published its first issue and it’s been more like a bumpy ride than smooth sailing — but who wants smooth sailing anyway?

In 1993, when we started we put out one issue that December, then three or four issues in 1994. We crawled forward to 10 issues a year, then 12. Just before the banking collapse of 2008 — 2009, we attempted to go weekly — and crash landed. Since 2009, we’ve been publishing twice a month — and cutting expenses, paying back debt — but publishing nevertheless.

Not Quitting on a Better Paper

We could be a better paper than we are — yes. We are committed to becoming that better paper. We want to be able to wrestle with some of the harder, more complex, issues and stories that aren’t being covered – stories that often have to be followed and tracked down not in 7 to 10 days but sometimes in seven to 10 weeks.

Writing about the Tough Issues

Our Saturday farmers market — what a valuable asset and how much it tells us about the promise of self-reliance. But do we really know how to find our way back to greater food self-sufficiency?

I am over and over again amazed at the joy, intelligence, energy and courage of our young people. But what do we need to do to make it possible for a young generation of Vermonters to find work and pursue a life here?

We are often lucky in our elected and appointed officials. Many serve as volunteers and put out hours and hours of time in public service. But what about the money that increasingly poisons and corrupts our political life?

And what can we do about the waste and ugliness of much of the new commercial development that is weakening, if not destroying, the integrity of our towns and village and is attacking our family and community life as well?

Our list of problems could go on and on: hunger and homelessness locally, a drug epidemic locally, rising health care costs way beyond inflation and a climate change emergency that is demanding vast changes in the ways we lead our lives. And what deeply worries and confounds us — the human appetite for greed and what greed inevitably produces — violence and war.

We are moving forward at The Bridge. In recent months, we have taken solid steps to become a community non-profit organization instead of a privately held business.

We have been working with writers in our community since we began. But now we have it as a major goal — to intensify our work with a range of writers: both beginning and experienced writers — including elders, youth and professionals.

Since October 15 when we started our 2015 end-of-the-year campaign, we have received contributions that amount to $3,618 toward this year’s campaign goal of $15,000.

Please accept our thanks. We continue to be grateful to our loyal advertisers. I am grateful, as well, to our board of directors and close friends. Our board and friends have helped with a survey of our readers, with a summer fundraising event at Charlie O’s, by writing for The Bridge and often waiving their writing fee and by helping us edit our stories in advance of publication.

Since 2009, The Bridge has had good office space at the Vermont College of Fine Arts — a saving and generous contribution that makes it possible for us to continue.

Asking for Help

If you read and like The Bridge, please support us financially by finding a return envelope in this issue and sending us a contribution.

To anyone who contributes $150 or more and let’s us know that they want it we are offering a copy of the new Adamant Co-op Cookbook. Where else would you find a brilliantly illustrated country cookbook with a recipe for Bean Hole Beans with enough cooked beans to feed a small army of 100 people? And why not help us celebrate and support the oldest, smallest (and perhaps the most spirited) co-op food store in the state?

If the return envelope is missing from your copy of the paper, please help us with a contribution made payable to “The Bridge” to this address: The Bridge, P.O. Box 1143, Montpelier, VT 05602

Or stop in and see us and save the postage. We’re here at the College of Fine Arts five days a week. We answer the phone. We invite letters and messages. Come in and talk. Or we can talk on the street.

Thanks in advance, sincerely,

Nat Frothingham