Wow, reading Rick Kisonak’s review of Rust and Bone  [Movie Review, January 23] made me wonder: What film did he see? From his plot description I could more or less guess we watched the same film, but very little else in his review matched what I saw. I’ve read many of his reviews and generally appreciate them, but this hatchet job seems so out of the park, I’m intrigued.
I’ve certainly had bad reactions to films that others have loved, so I’m not so much taking issue with what is, after all, his legitimate critique as just musing on how personality differences influence perceptions in such divergent ways.
Rick refers to the film’s identity crisis, the poorly developed characters, the incoherent story line, maddeningly artsy and arbitrary, not to forget meaningless sex — where was that film playing? The film I saw had characters who caught and held my interest, and story lines that wove through its own complex weft, bringing a couple of very different worlds together in the random way it happens in the real world, and I didn’t find it far-fetched and self-indulgent any more than all art is. If that becomes a standard to avoid, how do we deal with Lang, Cocteau, Almodovar, Resnais, Stone, Kurosawa, Coppola?
At the very least, I agree that Rick ought to get his refund for having sat through it all for only two stars’ worth of cinema. Me, I definitely got my money’s worth and feel generous enough to give it four stars.
Great Daycares, Too
I definitely think an article on daycare in Vermont is valid [“Daycare Nightmares,”  January 30]. However, this was only about negative experiences. We’ve used a home-based daycare for nearly five years, and Beth Sanders, the woman who runs it, is amazing and now a valued member of our family. There are many stories like this that I’ve heard. I know many working parents with young children and only hear raves about the programs they’ve chosen. This article makes it look like the situation here is horrible, and it’s not at all. I’d hope for a follow-up article reviewing the stellar programs such as Nurturing Young Minds.
Cheating the System
It seems to me that getting off the system and going to work, if you possibly can, would so help the children [Poli Psy, “Poor Logic,”  January 30]. Children need to see a good work ethic. Unfortunately, people in Vermont make more being on the system. Add up all the housing benefits, food, health insurance, etc. — why would anyone want to work? Personally, I think the whole Vermont system needs to change. I think fewer children would be in Department of Children and Families custody if parents were held to a higher standard than what the DCF demands.
I’m wondering, also, how much is the state spending on sending people to get a better education? How many people are being paid to take some college class, say, through CCV, and the minute they get the check, they quit school? I’ve seen a person do this for three years: get the $3000 check and then quit. That’s $9000 in three years for not having to do much of anything.
[Re “Checkout Time? Leaders Question Program That Puts Vermont’s Homeless in Motels,”  January 30]: I’ve worked for Spectrum, COTS and Women Helping Battered Women, and I can tell you that the entire system of emergency housing is abused. I was a contracted town service officer on behalf of the Department for
my supervisors demanded it, I was housing women who were dealing and smoking crack and not victims of domestic violence. It was well known within the organization that it was happening, but nobody did anything to change it, despite my and my colleagues’ objections.
Seven Isn’t Enough
You might have included Steve Delaney in your lineup of nationally known journalists residing in Vermont [“Dateline Green Mountains,”  January 23]. Delaney is a veteran journalist and correspondent for NBC News. He covered presidential candidates from 1964 through 1984, served as resident correspondent in the Middle East for four years and covered the State Department during the Iran hostage crisis. After NBC, Delaney served as host and correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor’s cable newcast, Monitor Radio. He is now a voice on Vermont Public Radio and is completing his third novel. When rendering news as the sage voice of Christian Science Monitor radio, he provided balanced and provocative insights, with a timbre that resonated like Walter Cronkite’s.
Remembering a Reverend
[Re “Papering Over History,”  January 23]: While I was delighted Kevin J. Kelley chose to address a neglected portion of Vermont history in assessing the role of both the Burlington Free Press and the Burlington Daily News in forming public opinion during the period, I was disappointed how the important roles of the local clergy were marginalized in the case of Dr. Alex Novikoff. Kelley states, “Several UVM faculty members and Burlington religious leaders defended Novikoff’s rights.” Kelley duly cited Rabbi Max Wall but omitted that 18 religious leaders came to Novikoff’s defense.
Interestingly, a member of the Catholic diocese, UVM alumnus Rev. Robert F. Joyce (who would later serve as bishop), was serving as a trustee of the university at the time of the case and was unwavering in his support of Novikoff’s rights. In the final vote on whether to retain Novikoff, Rev. Joyce was the only trustee to vote in Novikoff’s favor.
The civic roles of Rev. Joyce are often diminished, but, as a Vermonter, he supported local higher education at both UVM and Champlain College and promoted interreligious relations through his collaborations with Rabbi Wall. This factor should be taken into account to provide a more inclusive view of attitudes of the time and accurately document the details of the historic events.
In Praise of Public Access
We received more than a dozen letters in response to Andy Bromage’s January 23 feature, “Keeping Watch,”  about the future of public-access television. Excerpted below, they’re proof that people are not only watching but also learning from and engaging in it.
Andy Bromage brings up a lot of great issues about access television’s quest for relevance and funding in a changing media and communications terrain. I’d like to point out that there’s not three but five public-access TV stations based in Chittenden County. In addition to VCAM, RETN and CCTV, there are Lake Champlain Access Television in Colchester and our small but active station, Mt. Mansfield Community TV, in Richmond.
Over the years I have worked with all three of our local channels, and I firmly believe that their dedication, professionalism and technical skills play a large role in strengthening the vibrant, thriving democracy that we have — and take for granted at our peril. Whether it is hosting local programs on diverse topics of interest as well as presenting controversial subjects that the mainstream media do not air, covering the nuts and bolts of governmental and educational meetings, or teaching us how to make our own media, the role that public-access television plays in our communities is vitally necessary if we are to be well-informed citizens with exposure to diverse points of view.
We need to back local media organizations in every way possible, and, if current funding mechanisms change, we need to come up with new ways to support them and the use of the public airwaves for the public good.
I have counted on the savvy and expertise of RETN staff to help bring to vibrant life the experiences of people in my art classes. I took part in a weeklong teacher-training program, where faculty modeled best practices while also helping educators learn effective ways to share video skills with their students. It was one of the very best educational training experiences I have ever experienced in 30 years of teaching.
Far from being a place just for the tech-savvy generation, there is an open-arm welcome there for all who want to learn the skills and language of video communication.
This past fall, the Fleming Museum was able to produce, with the help of RETN, seven hourlong educational programs covering a broad range of cultural programming including poetry, gallery tours, distinguished lectures, even a performance of traditional Balinese music. The productions are available to view not only on RETN’s channel and website but via our own YouTube channel that extends our reach internationally.
RETN facilitates free equipment training and rental and expert advice, and then airs the productions through its many outlets. This has proven to be a win-win scenario for both organizations and helped us to realize an important goal for the museum in a manner that was both easy and affordable. We consider RETN an essential partner in our expanding media outreach.
Cohen is director of the Fleming Museum.
I am a teacher who is active in getting my students into the community. RETN, the public television station in Burlington, has been an incredible support. I brought two students in to participate in a three-day video training. My students not only became motivated but were also engaged throughout all of the sessions. Josh said to me, “I think I can really use cameras to show what I learn in school.” This experience has transformed the way Josh thinks about learning. The other student, Brandon, was so excited to take footage of snowboarding and show what is possible. Public-access television has to continue to get funded because it truly changes how our community sees itself.
I have been collaborating with RETN for the past decade in order to bring my students a most unique and life-changing experience in media education. The great folks at RETN assisted us in starting our own student-run broadcasting studio. They have trained me, trained my students, and, most recently, worked with me to teach adults the art of producing quality media. Our program has won us national acclaim on more than one occasion.
Jay M. Hoffman
Hoffman is Vermont’s 2013 Teacher of the Year.
Public-access television has been an integral part of community in Chittenden County, especially for Hunt Middle School. RETN actively seeks out teachers to provide opportunities to enhance history, science and language arts in their own neighborhoods. Students learn skills necessary for their future in a competitive digital world. Media allow thoughts and ideas to travel from the classroom to the community and beyond.
Kathy Hevey and Deb Rossell
Burlington and Cabot
As a small nonprofit without the luxury of a marketing budget, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of free services and education that public-access stations provide. Over the last five years, the staff of Linking Learning to Life has learned how to operate video equipment, edit using iMovie and get our material aired. I really have no idea how we would have been able to develop these essential skills without RETN.
Public-access stations are integral to democracy. In Essex Junction, an average of 2.4 percent of registered voters attend the annual meeting. That’s about 178 people voting on a multimillion-dollar budget that will affect more than 9000. Many more people watched the meeting a few days later because they couldn’t make it that night. CCTV is working with Essex Junction to cover our upcoming annual meeting live, so residents who can’t be there can watch in real time. It’s a first for the village, and hopefully the beginning of a successful partnership of technology and democracy that encourages more people to participate in village government. We couldn’t do it without CCTV. Public-access television funding should be handled like a utility; equal access to government is as essential as electricity.
Sopchak is a trustee of the village of Essex Junction.
Since August, the Greater Burlington Y has been hosting “The Y Connection,” a live call-in program on CCTV Channel 17, and it’s an effective way to deliver news and information about our programs and services. We believe public-access television matters, and we hear from a lot of Y members and friends who agree.
Recently, Rosemarie C. from Burlington wrote to us and thanked us for a program we aired on recovery from injury. “Before seeing your program and then meeting with the Y trainer, Casey, I was afraid to attempt any form of exercise for fear of exacerbating my injuries,” she said. “What a great service you have provided getting those of us with injuries moving and staying strong during recovery.”
Since the work of the Y takes us far beyond our walls, this episode and all the others are “messengered” to public-access TV stations in Grand Isle, Richmond, Jericho, Underhill, Shelburne, Colchester and many more through a clever sharing service called the Vermont Media Exchange. Our show, this service, and viewing the Y Connection are provided for free.
More than broadcasting programs for the community made by the community, public-access TV also trains people on equipment and provides affordable workshops on technology, advocacy and much more. I just attended an insightful workshop on marketing trends in Vermont featuring a panel of local experts, all for the cost of lunch. I hope public-access television sticks around for a very long time.
Workman is communications director of the Greater Burlington YMCA and producer of “The Y Connection” on CCTV.
A letter in last week’s Feedback section titled “Biased Against Biomass”  improperly identified Josh Schlossberg as a “paid activist whose backing comes from the out-of-state group Massachusetts Forest Watch.” Schlossberg does not work for or get funding from Massachusetts Forest Watch, which is an all-volunteer operation; he runs the Vermont field office for Washington, D.C.-based Energy Justice Network. He’s lived in the state for 11 years.