A Tree Grows in South Burlington
[Re WTF: “What’s up with the ‘Wolf Tree’ at Red Rocks Park?”  November 7]: I grew up in Red Rocks, before the city of South Burlington ever thought of buying it. The wolf tree was old when I was little. We — my siblings, neighborhood kids and I — would climb her. She has grown some in the 50-plus years I’ve been alive, because the railroad spike has gotten higher up on the trunk. She is starting to look rather sad now that she is that much older with branches that are breaking off. She was glorious in her younger days and a friend to the kids in Queen City Park. There is a group that goes out on the solstices and celebrates around her.
Bravo to Pamela Polston for proposing a monument for Burlington [“What We Want,”  November 28]. As a participant and critic of what’s going on in public art in the U.S. I am saddenend that most public art is so bland as to ruffle no feathers; in calls for public commissions, there are long lists of requirements of what that art must “do.” I attribute these attitudes partly to our country’s puritanical background. What about wonder and awe and something simply fantastic that lifts us to another realm? In other words, art.
Thanks so much for Paul Heintz’s hunting-with-the-governor article [“Riding Shotgun,”  November 21]. I really enjoyed it, including his willingness to poke fun at himself. The playfulness and occasional profanity were awesome! I can’t believe they spotted whitetails as they were heading out of the woods. Great look at the governor. Our trim and fit governor is such a badass!
Divest from Big Meat
I have considerable respect for Bill McKibben, but targeting big oil while ignoring the much greater greenhouse impact produced by America’s meat-centered diet is like campaigning against obesity while munching on a Big Mac [“Bill McKibben Recruits Vermont For The Next Climate-War Offensive: Divest From Big Oil,”  November 28]. Livestock agriculture contributes more to global warming than burning oil, coal and natural gas combined. According to Akifumi Ogino at the Graduate School of Agriculture in Kyoto, as reported in New Scientist, “a kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for three hours while leaving all the lights on back home.” Eighty-seven percent of these emissions can be eliminated by a vegan diet (compared to a mere eight-percent reduction achieved by eating “sustainable” or locally raised meat and dairy). Asking churches and colleges to divest from energy companies, while ignoring what’s on your own plate, is both morally and ecologically amiss. The day that McKibben and 350.org begin to promote a vegan diet will be the day they get serious about the real causes of climate change.
Conflicts All Around
While I appreciate concern over former sex offenders, the attention paid to them is over the top [Fair Game, “Offender Bender,”  November 28]. The suggestion that journalists are different from people in any other profession is, sadly, a fantasy. If all journalists were subjected to background checks and all that information published for all to see, then fine.
It’s also possible that, in this case, the ex-offender has some unique insights to covering other offenders. Journalists have conflicts of interests all the time, and the public deserves to know about them. However, suggesting that an ex-offender is special doesn’t cut it. Either journalists are like all employees, and it’s no one else’s business, or all should submit to checks for all to see.
You have to ask yourself why you brought this up in the first place. Was it for honest public discourse on the state of journalism or because you could use the phrase “sex offender” to get more eyes on the article? This article itself indicts what journalism has become, simply printing words that gain market share.
I don’t know which Irish protests Judith Levine attended, but it is emphatically not the case that pro-choice activists responded to Savita Halappanavar’s death by calling only for clarifying legislation [Poli Psy , December 5]. At each of the four protests in Dublin after Savita’s death was made public, speakers and marchers called loudly for repeal of the 8th Amendment, which prohibits abortion in all cases other than where a woman’s life is threatened. Perhaps if Levine had contacted Irish pro-choice activists before writing this piece, this could have been clarified for her.
Truth and Consequences
As someone whose family has always raised most of our own food while bartering and trading with neighbors, I read Kathryn Flagg’s piece with interest [“A Kinder Kill,”  November 21]. And I agree with letter-writer Ben Hewitt [Feedback , November 28] that on-farm slaughter, an integral part of the genuine local food system that has always been part of Vermont culture, should continue.
The irony, however, is that Hewitt’s fluff-pop book, The Town that Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food, has been instrumental in drawing the attention of regulators eager to put an end to all noncommercial economic activity. Now Hewitt is posing as the champion of a cause he helped to undermine.
The kind of “local” food system Hewitt promotes — an upscale, boutique version of the industrial food system, cleverly marketed with the buzzwords of the day — comes with a long list of negative consequences. The potential demise of on-farm slaughter is only one among them.
As long as there are those who will exploit Vermont’s food system for their self-aggrandizement and profit, we will surely see the steady erosion of the healthy, neighborly, authentic local food relationships that have made Vermont a wonderful place to live.