Letters to the Editor (9/6/23) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (9/6/23) 

Published September 6, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

'More Joy! Less Oy!'

Thank you for your report on the status of the synagogue building in the Old North End ["Burlington Entrepreneur Buys Historic Old North End Synagogue," August 21, online]. A number of attempts were made to purchase the synagogue and carry on its legacy for the Burlington Jewish population, but, sadly, they were unsuccessful. We are blessed that the new owner, Kitter Spater, will carry on with community spirit!

A slight correction: The building was in use before the pandemic! In 2016, Congregation Ruach haMaqom was formed there, bringing Jewish Renewal to the northern Vermont Jewish ecosystem. We used the Ahavath Gerim synagogue as our home until the pandemic shut everything down in 2020.

Also, Congregation Ahavath Gerim met once a month there for its Shabbas morning services.

While we are grieved that this historical building has been lost, we treasure the time when Ruach haMaqom was an active congregation there. We are now housed at the First Unitarian Universalist Society Meeting House at the top of Church Street and continue to serve all. Our motto is: More joy! Less oy!

Rabbi Jan Salzman


Editor's note: Our story correctly reported that the building had not been used for religious purposes since the pandemic hit.

Help for 'Jeffrey'

I was saddened while reading Anna Nasset's chronicle of her decades-long nightmare of escaping her stalker ["Fight or Flight," August 23]. Although I'm very happy she is free from "Jeffrey," it is the outcome of his story that grips me. Nasset said, "All I ever really wanted was for him to get the help he needed."

Jeffrey's documented mental health diagnosis of schizophrenia did not lead to him getting the help he really needed. Instead, he was handed a 10-year prison sentence.

Our society does not consider mental illness in the same vein as physical illness. If you break an arm, we send you to the hospital. If your mind is broken, we send you to prison. We should do better.

Janet Paine


Five Words on Bread and Puppet

[Re "Circus of Life: Inside Bread and Puppet Theater as Founder Peter Schumann, 89, Contemplates His Final Act," August 30]: Chelsea Edgar is the boss.

Scott Koeze

South Burlington

Egress Strategy

[Re "UVM Announces Plan to Build Housing for 540 Students," August 14, online]: I do hope the University of Vermont intends to upgrade the emergency egress fire escapes it has removed from its second-story buildings for a pleasing campus look. Both UVM and Saint Michael's College have ignored the necessary safety egresses in the event of a fire. Chief safety and compliance officer Mike Schirling has had more than enough stage training on emergency egress and fires to not ignore this safety issue.

UVM housing would be a new-construction build, which would require second-story egress or scaffolding. Just saying: Student safety is being overlooked for pleasant-looking campus buildings, and that's just wrong.

Penny Gillander-Dame

St. Albans

On Leash

I, too, have converted to leash-walking my dog and am grateful for Rachel Mullis' article ["Going to the Dogs: One Burlingtonian's Journey to On-Leash Dog Ownership," August 9]. I would add one more important reason to leash your dog: Some dog owners always leash their dog because their dog can be reactive to other dogs. Your dog may be very friendly, but if it bounds up to a reactive dog, chaos can ensue!

Paige Russell


Music Man

Just wanted to thank Chris Farnsworth for his write-up of Wicked Louder's debut album [Review This, August 9]. Appreciate it very much. As for the confusing running order? It is called Frustrated Mess for a reason. Wage heavy peace.

Derek Lorrigan

Thetford Center

Blame Champ

Despite the claims of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, there's scant evidence that cyanobacteria pose a serious threat to human and/or canine health ["Beach Bummed: Floods and Hot Weather Have Spawned More Algae Blooms in Burlington Bay," August 16].

I suspect Burlington's actual reason for beach closures is part of an elaborate public manipulation campaign, aimed at concealing the existence of the Lake Champlain monster. Burlington's beach closures are in response to Champ sightings, not phosphorous runoff or algal blooms. Rather than admit the truth, the City of Burlington and marine biologists at ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain manufacture fear of cyanobacteria as a means of deterring beachgoers (Champ's preferred food source).

Will Seven Days report on the truth or continue to enable this cover-up alongside the rest of the mainstream media?

Aaron Lipman


State of Addiction

I recommend Seven Days' comprehensive report by Colin Flanders on the state of addiction in Vermont ["Vermont's Relapse: Efforts to Address Opioid Addiction Were Starting to Work. Then Potent New Street Drugs Arrived," June 14]. It's a heartbreaking picture of our current local opioid crisis!

The writer interviews many knowledgeable Vermonters working on this epidemic. Flanders reports that the epidemic is quickly escalating, with fentanyl and meth readily available, cheaper, more powerful and more addictive!

My Elmwood Avenue neighbors and I experienced the opioid epidemic face-to-face this summer, when the Burlington opioid marketplace moved to our neighborhood yards and sidewalks.

We already know combating an epidemic requires strong public support; honest, up-to-date information; effective prevention strategies; and easily accessible treatment!

We already have some addiction treatment infrastructure and experienced people in place. We just need more public support, more funding and staff, more honest and current information, more treatment options, more coordination, and fewer drugs!

How about a Burlington opioid epidemic point person to coordinate among the agencies, assess the status and needs, report to the public, research what other cities are doing, and work with our state legislators and congresspeople? Burlington recently hired a staff coordinator to focus on housing for the homeless.

The legislature already passed a safe injection site bill. Gov. Phil Scott vetoed it, perhaps based on the misconception that these sites would encourage people to use drugs.

Addicted Vermonters need our help now. Vulnerable young people need honest public information and support!

Steph Holdridge


Hair Transplant

I'm a new transplant to Vermont, and your All the Best local guide [August 2] is my go-to reference for most things — except finding a barber. My husband, who is white, easily perused the website for this year's winner and finalists of best barbershop and found a great barber. However, as a Black person with type 4 hair (look it up), it's frustrating that only one shop on your list appeared to specialize in cutting Black/African American hair.

No shade, but let's keep it real — not everyone's skilled at cutting beautiful curly, kinky tendrils and coils. Period. It is also not lost on me that Vermont's whiter than the driven snow, with Black or African Americans making up just 1.5 percent of the population. Still, Black barbershops and Black beauty salons are more than local businesses; they are sociohistorical brick-and-mortar havens of gendered racial affirmation, cultural epicenters (think hip-hop, fashion trends and cultural expressions often used to condemn the Black community until they are conveniently commodified for wider consumption), and hubs for community organizing. It's tough to believe there's only one barbershop in the Green Mountain State.

I can't help but wonder: Where can I get a fresh cut?

Lamont Bryant


Editor's note: Our annual Daysies competition is reader-powered. Enough people have to nominate a business in the first round of voting for it to advance to the second round. It's a numbers game, which disadvantages lesser-known businesses as well as those outside Chittenden County. Seven Days tallies and announces — but does not endorse — the winners. For a good type 4 haircut, we recommend Maggie Hazard at Winooski's Wise Rose Beauty.

State U Strategy

[Re "Pass or Fail? Newly Branded Vermont State University Needs More Students — but Its Enrollment Is Declining," August 16]: I'm looking for strengths to promote Vermont's state colleges. The locales and historic specializations of each campus are strikingly attractive, so why homogenize?

In New York, I studied at SUNY Fredonia (known, like Lyndon, for its media production) and attended events at SUNY Purchase (known, like Johnson, for its arts) and SUNY Stony Brook (known for its strong theater program).

So why not, at least, give each VSU campus stunning portfolios and emphasize its local sights and resources? VSU at Lyndon, VSU at Randolph, VSU at Castleton and VSU at Johnson each deserve special notice, not dumbing down to some lowest common denominator.

Michael Cerulli Billingsley


Read This

[Re Kids VT: "Turning the Page: The Children's Literacy Foundation Inspires Kids to Read, One Book at a Time," August 22]: While volunteering as a mentor at Charlotte Central School, I worried that kids who live on "the other side" of the highway dividing our village did not get to the town library. Inspired by the wonderful work of the Children's Literacy Foundation, I looked into starting a Little Free Library for kids outside the Charlotte Grange.

As part of his Eagle Scout project, Stuart Robinson designed and built a receptacle to reflect the Grange's architecture. With the generous help of Friends of the Charlotte Senior Center and the Flying Pig Bookstore, we fill it with books that kids want to read.

Note to parents: There's a mountain of evidence showing that the more children read for pleasure, the better they read, write and spell — and the larger their vocabularies.

Susan Ohanian


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