Forum, July 6: Don’t Waste Lebanon Village Market Infrastructure

Thursday, July 05, 2018
Don’t Waste That Infrastructure

This is the time for all good Upper Valley real estate magnates to step up and be counted among those willing to turn a small disaster into a triumph for our community. With a little creativity and a lot of will, many urgent needs can be well-served; the path has already been beaten and we need only follow it. I point to the Greyston Bakery, founded by Zen roshi Bernie Glassman to train some of the most marginalized and desperate people in New York in the culinary arts. As per its website, the bakery has been “changing lives for 35 years.”

The now sadly defunct Lebanon Village Market has a functional industrial kitchen, food storage, serving facilities and plenty of space. Across the road is River Valley Community College. Neighbors include successful restaurants. Our social service community includes Listen, The Haven, WISE and other well-experienced agencies serving desperate people, many of whom need job training and many of whom are not, for many reasons, suited to traditional higher education routes out of poverty and personal struggle.

Greyston Bakery proves — as so many equally high-minded but not necessarily as well-designed programs have tried to — that people others have been willing to throw away or dismiss or not see enough in can blossom and thrive when offered the right opportunity.

It’s true that a place replicating Greyston Bakery would compete with Upper Valley businesses. There are ways to ensure that doing good doesn’t inadvertently cause harm.

There is so much talent here, plenty of money and an overwhelming need. What we don’t need is another mixed-use commercial real estate development when a nonprofit, revenue-earning facility, transforming lives and bringing more deliciousness to local life at the same time, could be built instead.

Don’t waste this chance. And to nonprofit agency leadership staffs and boards: Don’t think of this as competition, but as complementary to your work. Please let us prove that if Noo Yawkuhs could do it, we can do it better.

Sarah Crysl Akhtar


A Fragile and Dangerous Moment

Three times, it would appear, the United States has been in a position in which its survival depended on its willingness to endanger itself and its citizenry: the American Revolution, the Civil War and World War II. Other wars, such as the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, and Vietnam or Iraq can be thought of as optional in the sense that, even if we had chosen not to fight them, the continued survival of the U.S.A. could have been taken for granted.

These optional wars are in a morally different category from the first three in ways that are hard to characterize, except that they seemed to be of a nature that depended less on the insertion of agitation, acquisition or individual personality and ambition to supply their justifications.

At this moment our politics is in a fragile and dangerous state, one not yet irreversibly bent in a violent direction, but with what might seem to be possibilities for unleashing unwise and destructive forces that could carry us into ruinous territory for which we are in no way prepared. Our government, led by a reactive and reckless man, seems to be trying to shed its inherited legitimacy both at home and abroad and to want to shoot from the hip in whatever matter comes up. The rest of the world has been rattled by our actions and does not now know what we stand for. To their eyes, our rapidly changing positions appear radically whimsical and unmotivated. Honorable alliances, habits and protocols, forged over two centuries, are being discarded every week. Can we restore any kind of stability before an optional war begins to look like a cure-all? How can we dissipate the gathering fog before war or something like it comes to seem to our commander in chief inevitable or desirable? Is there a way to cool off our reckless leadership?

David Montgomery


The President Is Mistaken

If President Donald Trump thinks that removing the family separation policy will make everything better instantly, he is most certainly incorrect.

Plenty of families have not been reunited yet, and if the prolonged separation continues, it can be permanently damaging to the separated child’s health. It will damage the bond between the separated parent and child almost forever.

In my opinion, Trump needs to do more than just stopping what he’s doing to be forgiven for these inhumane actions. Perhaps actually reuniting these families would be a good next step.

Owen Welch, age 10