Pride tree slated for state-owned land in Windsor following Selectboard rejection

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/24/2023 4:43:18 PM
Modified: 5/24/2023 4:43:03 PM

WINDSOR — Months after being rebuffed by the Selectboard, a nonprofit advocacy group will plant a “LGBTQ+ Pride Tree” on a designated state historic site in town.

LGBTQIA2S+ & Allies of Windsor has an agreement with the state to place the tree on the grounds of the Old Constitution House in June at the start of Pride Month.

Last fall, the Selectboard voted against allowing a Pride Tree to be planted on the Town Common.

“The collaboration with the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program stemmed from the original Town of Windsor Pride Tree project, which was sadly rejected by the Town Manager and the Selectboard, despite strong public support,” Amanda Jordan Smith, founder and director of LGBTQIA2S+ & Allies of Windsor, wrote in an email. “Windsor is not an island, however; it is a town in the state of Vermont — a state committed to promoting and advancing social justice and equity.”

The flowering cherry tree will be planted at 6 p.m. on June 1 during a ceremony at the Old Constitution House State Historic Site at 16 N. Main St., following the raising of a Progress Pride Flag at the Windsor Municipal Building at 29 Union St.

“The Old Constitution House has a long history, including being the site where the Vermont Constitution was signed, the first of its kind in America to ban slavery,” Laura Trieschmann, Vermont state historic preservation officer, said in a news release. “This ceremony furthers that history of equity and justice at the site known as the birthplace of Vermont.”

Town Manager Tom Marsh said the Selectboard doesn’t get to vote on the tree site because it is state land.

Marsh said most of the resistance to the tree last fall was based on the proposed location, not its symbolism.

“I think what was lost in the local discussion last fall was to put a Pride tree on the Town Common, and that was really the point of contention,” Marsh said.

He noted that there are no other memorials or commemorative installations of any kind on the common, save for the cornerstone of an old school building that was demolished decades ago.

“Once you were opposed to it, there seemed to be a lot of animosity that you were opposed to the LGBTQ community in general,” Marsh said. “I think that was an unfortunate direction that that conversation took.”

Ultimately, the Selectboard voted, 3-2, last fall against planting a tulip tree on the common.

Board member Paul Woodman said this week that his opposition to the tulip tree was not just about the location. He said he voted against the tulip tree after hearing from constituents who told him about negative encounters with people who supported the tree.

“They love the LGBTQ community, but they were fed up with the bullying tactics that had been going on in the town,” Woodman said, citing instances of name calling that took place at meetings and on social media.

“It was about the requesters,” Woodman said, not about the proposal for the tree itself.

However, Woodman said, most of those conflicts have been resolved as residents became involved in an ongoing dialogue about the tree.

If the Pride Tree was proposed on town property today, Woodman said, he would support it, in part, because of those community discussions.

“If they want to shuffle one over to the fairgrounds, even better,” he said. “I’m game.”

He characterized the planned tree planting at the Constitution House as “fantastic.”

Marsh and Woodman said there have been discussions about designating an area on the Windsor Fairgrounds near the community garden to plant trees that honor individuals or groups.

“I truly believe that the main thing to focus on now is simply that the tree is being planted. The dialogues that have taken place in this town since I have been involved in the Selectboard have been positive and constructive,” Emma Caffrey, who was elected to the Selectboard this March and serves as the liaison to the town’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (known as JEDI), wrote in an email. “I can’t speak for the whole board, but I am thrilled that our town and our state are willing to loudly support the queer community.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at or 603-727-3221.

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy