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Forum, July 5: The importance of local nonprofits

Published: 7/4/2020 10:00:13 PM
Modified: 7/4/2020 10:00:11 PM
The importance of local nonprofits

A recent move from the town of Grantham to the city of Lebanon has highlighted for us, the importance of the Listen, Cover and Salvation Army stores. All three nonprofits accept donations with gratitude and support and offer a variety of gently used household goods, furniture, tools and, in the case of both Listen and the Salvation Army, clothing, for purchase. During the last Christmas season, we purchased a gift certificate from Listen for one of our granddaughters who loves “vintage” clothing; she had a wonderful time spending it.

You might be surprised at what you can find. Listen’s store in Canaan and its expansive Lebanon store on the Miracle Mile are both open and full of great, well-organized buys. The Salvation Army store on 7 Martin Drive, right near the Sherwin-Williams paint store in West Lebanon, is petite by comparison but offers a “high end” clothing rack. If you are in the market for another bookcase or desk, the Cover store at 158 S. Main St. in White River Junction might be the place to go.

Supporting local organizations, particularly in this time of economic struggle due to COVID-19, is paramount for the well-being of all of us who live here. The added bonus is that proceeds are recycled back into our communities. Listen exists in order to support Upper Valley families with the basic necessities of everyday living. It maintains a food pantry, provides heating support and steps in when a family is in crisis. All proceeds from the Salvation Army stores maintain its Adult Rehabilitation Centers, which have addiction recovery as the central mission, while the Cover store funds home repair and weatherizing projects, which bring volunteers together to work with families who need assistance.

These essential organizations rely on our support to fuel their outreach. We recommend them to everyone.



Stop inflated spending in Lebanon

Using a chart provided by New Hampshire Public Radio, I find that Lebanon had the third-highest per capita police budget in the state during 2019. The total police expenditures were $5,413,408 for a per capita budget of $391 per taxpayer. Our highway and street budget is $251 per person and, lo and behold, our health expenditures per capita are $0.

Maybe that’s why, on a Thursday at a modestly attended farmers market event, there were three police cruisers there, which I assumed meant at least three police officers. I also met a police officer cruising the rail trail on a four-wheeler recently. Whenever they are digging holes in our streets, which seems quite often these days, there are often a couple of police officers and cruisers there, which I assume is as economical as flaggers.

I can only hope that during this time if there are fewer people daily and nightly in Lebanon because people aren’t shopping or working that the police have curtailed their expenditures.

When will Lebanon begin to look out for its taxpayers? I assume some will defend this high figure by stating that we need police services for people who work and shop in Lebanon — and who don’t live here and consequently don’t pay anything to utilize them.

I urge taxpayers of Lebanon to speak out against inflated spending and constant tax increases.



Consider our history, and our hearts

When I moved to the Upper Valley from southern Vermont a couple of decades ago, I remember being impressed upon learning that Dartmouth College was founded as an institution dedicated to educating Native Americans. It wasn’t until a few years later that I learned how naive I was, and that the true motive was to Christianize them. Racism was alive and well.

Fast forward a couple of centuries to today: It was shocking to see the recent Valley News photograph of the Baker Library weather vane, removed from its high perch, with all its innate racism on vivid display. Taking it down was the right thing to do, although it will be simply a symbolic act, like the removal of racist statues and monuments around the country, unless genuine dedication to systemic change in most all aspects of American society permeates the country.

As for the fate of the weather vane, I sincerely hope it is not consigned to some dusty basement on the campus. Much better, in my opinion, would be to install it right beside the entrance to the library, with an accompanying plaque that explains the history and the context of the weather vane and the founding principles of the college.

Small but meaningful changes are more likely to come when we exhibit these relics from our collective history, giving viewers the opportunity to consider not just the nation’s history, but the condition of their own hearts as well.


Hartland Four Corners

Bears are losing their habitat

It is obviously too late to save the Canaan bear (“Hunt is on for bear that injured man in driveway,” June 23), but why isn’t more being done to help the bears? Why was a bird feeder out, in Grantham, in early June? The birds can fend for themselves by that time and keeping a feeder out was not doing the bear any favors. The bears are already struggling to find food to feed themselves and their young. Take in the regular bird feeders and secure the trash in a safe place. Why should a majestic animal have to die because of this?

I grew up on the same land that I live on now and never saw a bear, in the wild, until I was over 60 years old. Could part of this be because their habitat is getting smaller and smaller?

When people build McMansions, which they occupy a month out of the year in some cases, they feel the need to have lawns several acres in size. The tree companies are called in to strip everything out of the forests but the tall, healthy trees. Some of the forest floors look so clean one could eat off them.

About a mile from where I live, there is a side of a mountain being stripped so building lots can be sold. How can anyone wonder why there are so many more bear sightings and fewer birds? These are excellent reasons to sell land, or leave it, to the Vermont Land Trust. In mid-summer this town has roadside cutting along all of the back roads. This includes a lot of beautiful, large blackberry bushes (as well as milkweed). Last year my husband and I observed a young bear sitting up on the stone wall across the way chewing on the one scraggly little blackberry bush that was too high for the road cutters to reach. He ran away when he heard walkers coming down the road.

This story was a good reminder to people about bringing in their feeders by the end of March.



Our self-discipline is failing

So far, the Upper Valley has done an outstanding job at controlling the coronavirus. Cases are minimal. We achieved this by excellent adherence to the common-sense, science-based precautions set out by epidemiologists: wearing masks in public, keeping at least 6 feet away from others, using the sanitizers and disinfectants provided in public places. By accepting these minor inconveniences, we have protected each other from illness, suffering and death.

Unfortunately, our self-discipline is breaking down. At Walmart recently, at least half the customers wore no masks and made no attempt to keep their distance except at the checkouts. The store management made no attempt to alter this behavior. The story is the same in many public places.

As vacationers and summer residents return, year-round residents and businesses will determine the standard of health precautions. If we aren’t masked, why should they be? If we are, we have a right to ask for the same public-spirited courtesy from them. And a simple request works: Across the street from Walmart, BJ’s has a sign: “Please wear face coverings in our store.” Everyone did. An employee handed out sanitizer and disinfectant sheets at the entrance. (Which means, of course, that the more time you spend shopping in BJ’s, and the less time shopping in Walmart, the safer you will be.)

Finally, we can expect the return of some Dartmouth College students in the fall. I hope the college understands that it bears responsibility for enforcing COVID-19 precautions among its students, not just on campus but in the community.

If Dartmouth thinks it has had town-and-gown problems in the past, just wait till its students reimport a deadly disease that we had just about gotten under control.



The tragic rejection of science

The rejection of science-based safeguards against COVID-19 by many Republican leaders tragically disregards centuries of difficult human progress.

We are deeply indebted to a millennia-old legacy of observing natural phenomena that helped lift Europe out of the Dark Ages and led to the creation of the scientific method. The goal of the scientific method has always been to discover cause-and-effect relationships by asking questions, carefully gathering and examining the evidence, and seeing if all the available information can be combined into a logical answer. Its strength is that, recognizing the dangers of personal, religious or cultural bias, it demands a rigorous skepticism about what is observed.

Such biases created a long history of resistance to and dismissal of truths that were religiously, culturally or economically inconvenient. One infamous example was the Catholic Church’s compelling Galileo to recant his discovery that the Earth revolves around the sun. More recently the tobacco and fossil fuel industries have challenged overwhelming scientific evidence of the harmfulness of their products. Now many GOP leaders are rejecting science by refusing to support wearing masks as a way to combat COVID-19.

They should remember that the scientific method that led to the conclusion that masks are an important tool in fighting the virus had no agenda, but rather had built-in safeguards against bias. It only sought the truth. That truth has been offered to us all. America has already paid a terrible price for anti-science-biased Republican dismissals of it. If they continue, it will only become more tragic.


West Newbury

Pawns of their own neurology

Just went shopping at Shaw’s Supermarket in Springfield, Vt. About half of the customers were wearing masks. Most of the unmasked were men in their 30s and 40s. These men are angry. In brain science parlance, they are in fight response. They are experiencing “amygdala hijack” and their bodies are telling them to fight. It’s understandable. We are all experiencing some manner of intense neurological reaction to the current crises. We are all, well, triggered.

Rationally speaking, wearing a mask when out in public is really not that big of a deal. It’s also an act of kindness and caring. Those who claim it is a slippery slope to totalitarian rule are struggling with reality and are to be pitied.

But for many, wearing a mask is a form of compliance that comes in direct conflict with their hyper-activated fight response. No surprise that it’s mostly young and middle-aged white men. They have been socialized to, and are habituated toward, expressions of anger and rage and violence. And when their amygdala and sympathetic nervous systems are on fire, watch out. There’s no reasoning with them.

They have misinterpreted the feelings that have been precipitated by misguided signals from their brains, and they have fallen under the spell of the attendant rushes of adrenaline and noradrenaline and cortisol that are flooding their nervous systems. And in this case, they have come to the faulty conclusion that wearing a mask is at best silly and at worse the act of an unmanly, compliant sheep. And so they defiantly rage against mask-wearing.

I suppose they are to be forgiven. They cannot think clearly. Their front brains are shut down. Too bad that their neuro-pugnacity, their fight response to a fairly simple request, not only puts others in jeopardy but also shows just how unaware they truly are. It’s a great irony in fact: These (mostly) men say don’t want to be controlled by the government — but, lo and behold, it turns out that they are only feckless pawns and unquestioning sheep in blind obedience to their own unexplored neurology.



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