Editorial: But … it’s glorious in Vermont

The news these days isn’t that great. Bernie conceded the Democratic primary campaign to Hillary, Trump dominated the Republicans, and as a nation we are approaching a national election in which millions of Americans are disenchanted, if not disgusted. Meanwhile, ‘the Donald’ fired his pro-Russia campaign manager and instead brought on the most radical right-wing media elements (Andrew Breitbart, Sean Hannity, the disgraced former head of Fox News Roger Ailes) and others — whose calling cards are spreading misinformation in a bald-faced attempt to confuse voters to the point they react emotionally to issues rather than with facts.
And, yet, in Vermont we’ve had a glorious summer.
In world affairs, Turkey squashed a military coup and is cracking down on political freedoms, Syria’s civil war continues to deteriorate, the stability of Afghanistan’s government continues to waver, Africa is a mixed caldron of possibilities and hopelessness, North Korea issues its ominous (but mostly empty) threats, Russian forces threaten the Ukraine, China’s economic and military might is expanding, and Britain exited the European Union. American forces, meanwhile, are creeping back into conflicts in Libya and Iraq to fight the Islamic State.
And, yet, in Vermont, we’ve had almost no mosquitoes this summer, rain enough to keep the grass from dying and the vegetables growing, and glorious weekends to enjoy hiking, biking, running, paddling, sailing, windsurfing, kite-boarding and mountain biking on trail systems that are growing bigger and more sophisticated day-by-day.
Nationwide, the economy continues its steady march out of the depths of the Great Recession, racking up steading growth and the second strongest bull market in Wall Street’s history over the past eight years (contrary to the conservative media’s constant stream of misinformation that the economic is in the doldrums). And yet it is an economy that benefits the wealthy more than America’s middle or lower classes.
And yet, in Vermont, wages have been on the upswing, unemployment is as low as it goes, and job opportunities in certain parts of the state are plentiful. The state’s economy could always be better, taxes could be lower, the water in Lake Champlain could be cleaner, we could emit less carbon dioxide, schools could produce better educational outcomes, but we are at least having adult conversations and addressing those issues forthrightly.
Closer to home, the June opera in Middlebury was a sold-out affair both weeks; the new town hall is working well and the new college park is underway; Porter Hospital has staged a miraculous turnaround among staff and in its public perception and is on a path of greater financial stability; new housing starts have been strong, construction firms are hiring and housing renovations are keeping businesses hopping; and, most recently, Woodchuck Cider held its second annual Ciderstock (drawing thousands of music lovers to town), while Middlebury’s New Filmmaker’s Festival put on its second annual event to spectacular success — hurt only by another glorious summer weekend that may have kept some potential filmgoers craving the outdoors, rather than a seat inside one of the four downtown film venues.
Drilling down even further into Middlebury life, Drop-In brewing is now offering pint-sized glasses of its famous brew at its Route 7 South brewery, and they’re expanding their facility to include a canning operation this November. Over at Appalachian Distillery (makers of vodka and other spirits) on Exchange Street, they’re in the process of adding a half-million dollar storage space for their aging process, a mark of success which complements the recent expanded capacity at Otter Creek Brewing — now the largest brewery (by volume of product) in Vermont. And Lincoln Peak Winery, for those who have not been there on a Friday night, has created one of the most popular Friday evening picnic/music venues in the state with crowds of 500 or more gathering to enjoy a laid-back Friday.
In the category of first-world problems, one of the biggest Middlebury and Addison County face is trying to find a free weekend to fit in all the activities, events and cool things one wants to do.
It’s not a perfect world out there, and where we live is not an idyllic version of Camelot, but amidst the national and world problems, don’t forget to notice that it has been a glorious summer in Vermont.
Angelo S. Lynn

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