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The 'Paradox Of Development': Vermont's Tensions Between People, Land And Progress

A July 3, 1928 photograph of reconstruction of the Winooski Bridge after the 1927 flood, looking toward Winooski with the Champlain Mill in the background.
L. L. McAllister
UVM Howe Library Special Collections via Vermont Green Mountain Digital Archive
A June 1928 photo of Winooski Bridge reconstruction after the 1927 flood. Winooski's woolen mills were among the largest private employers in the state through the 1940s, reflecting Vermont's challenges of developing industry and workers to staff them.

It's an issue the Green Mountain State has grappled with for generations: how can Vermont develop its economy and attract new workers without losing the qualities that make Vermont, well, Vermont? We're talking about this "paradox of development," how Vermont has attempted to answer these questions in the past, and what that history can teach communities in Vermont today.Paul Searls, history professor at NVU-Lyndon,  explores this paradox in his new book Repeopling Vermont: The Paradox of Development in the Twentieth Century.

He joins Vermont Edition to discuss efforts in the past to engineer both Vermont's natural and human landscape, how shifting economies away from agriculture toward emphasizing tourism and outdoor recreation affected the people in (and those drawn to) the state, the tension between development and tradition, and ways Vermont communities today can weigh the benefits and drawbacks of change.

This summer, The Vermont Historical Society is partnering with the Vermont Department of Libraries for a series of community conversations on development and progress.  Upcoming dates include:

Broadcast live on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
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