Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Explore our latest coverage of environmental issues, climate change and more.

Weiss: Community And Contradiction

Mary Fafard
NVU-Johnson students (left to right) Zoe Clark, Tyler Plante, and Tumba Felekeni discuss their research regarding Smugglers' Notch Ski Resort's environmental practices with 'Introduction to Sustainability' course instructor Lisa Zinn.

Fletcher – the town where I live - doesn’t have a post office. So even though I pay taxes and vote here, and my kids went to school here, my mail comes from Jeffersonville in the Town of Cambridge.

Jeffersonville is also where I do most of my shopping, where I go to the library, and where, for the past five years or so, I’ve been intimately involved in a community center project.

Another town where I spend a lot of time is Johnson, where I work at Northern Vermont University.

So I’ve often wondered which one is my primary town. But lately, I’ve realized that it’s not a contradiction to consider myself a member of more than one geographical community. All are filled with wonderful people, and each has its own distinctive character.

I’m especially attuned to environmental consciousness, and west of Fletcher you’ll find four locally-owned wind turbines on top of Georgia Mountain. Due south lies Cambridge’s community solar array, at the site where I bring my recycling. Some might consider such installations unsightly, but I don’t – even though I do recognize the contradictions inherent in many sustainable energy solutions.

Just to our southeast is Smugglers’ Notch Ski Resort, and while downhill skiing is not the greenest of pursuits, I consider myself both an environmentalist and a downhill skier.

Walt Whitman once wrote: Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself; I am large, I contain multitudes.

And his verse reminds us we are never just one thing.

Johnson recently hosted a student symposium on sustainability, in which one display illustrated how Smuggs works hard to lessen its effects on the environment.

Just as Whitman made peace with the fact that life is rife with contradiction, I gain peace from knowing that people in so many Vermont communities are implementing forward-thinking eco-solutions.

An uninterrupted view of the Green Mountains from a chairlift on a clear winter’s day is a truly transcendental experience. Yes, it does take some energy to get us up there. However, my guess is that Whitman himself, quintessential nature-loving bard that he was, might not have cared.

Not even a whit, as it were.

Russ Weis advises first-year students at Northern Vermont University in Johnson, where he also teaches writing and works closely with two student environmental groups.
Latest Stories