Home Commentary Letters to the Editor, Sept. 6, 2023

Letters to the Editor, Sept. 6, 2023


We Live in an Ivory Tower

To the Editor:

Kudos for standing by your article “Post-Flood Montpelier Table Set …”. You did the right thing.

This letter is for those who bristled at the accusation that “one of us” could be racist. I’m talking about all of us enlightened Montpelier folk who have BLM flags on our lawns and acknowledge that our boutiques are on Abenaki land and have enough financial security to volunteer our time and food trucks for free (but only to our own kind).

I hate to be the one to tell you this, Montpelier, but you can be racist too.

In central Vermont, we live in a tower as ivory as our demographics. When everyone up here looks the same as we do, and acts the same and believes the same, it’s easy to talk the talk without ever testing if you can walk the walk. During the cleanup period, when our population was injected with a shot of diversity, we stumbled pretty hard. And continue to, based on the local response to this article. 

I’m sure Ms. O’Connor is an AMAZING person who is beautifully charitable. And I highly doubt she was thinking: “Only give food to my fellow white people. If anyone doesn’t speak English, let them pay or let them starve. Also, if anyone asks, I think slavery was pretty cool.” No, 999 out of 1,000 times, racism does not look like that.

I’ll give you a hint, though, at what it DOES look like. It’s an emotional response. A defensiveness. Very similar to when someone goes: “Hey, I know our intentions were noble, but the reality is that it caused a clear imbalance of equity between the privileged and the marginalized, especially along racial lines,” our response wasn’t: “Oh, crap! Really?” It was a disgusted: “How DARE you!” We cared more about our egos than how our actions might have affected others.

Thanks for keeping us real, Bridge.

KC Phipps, Montpelier

Resiliency Includes Economic and Social Plans

To the Editor:

After the devastation of the July flood, there are a lot of discussions about how Montpelier should respond to the disaster. How do we, as a city, become more resilient in the face of climate change? 

But first, let’s be honest. The city faces many long-standing issues that have nothing to do with the flood:

Shrinking population

State government moving away from Montpelier 

Crumbling infrastructure

Housing shortage

Lack of effective economic development 

High tax burden 

In order to meet these and the flood-related challenges, we need to evolve beyond the old way of doing and thinking about things. Our historical civic paralysis, exemplified by the endless committees, making “perfect” the enemy of the good, and our habit of kicking seemingly intractable problems down the road has come at a steep price. However, it is not too late for Montpelier.

The flood has created an opportunity to rethink and reimagine our city. Our plan for resilience must be comprehensive and include economic and social components that have been pushed aside in the past. I believe resiliency must mean more than just diverting the rivers or we will all be complicit in the decline of our beloved city.

Robert Kasow, Montpelier