Social media readers applaud Town Report plea to new Vermonters

By Guy Page

Stratton Town Clerk Kent Young has apologized — sort of — for his Town Report essay urging newcomers to stop trying to make the tiny Windham County (population 216) town like where they came from.

But some social media readers think he did just fine.

“You came here from there, because you didn’t like there, and now you want to change here to be like there,” Young’s full page admonishment to newcomers (see above) to the popular ‘ski town’ begins. Printed on the cover of the Town Report, it quickly drew Twitter criticism from none other than Ellen Barry, the New York Times reporter covering the Slate Ridge/Pawlet conflict. Barry — who also has reported on the influx of out-of-staters due to the virus — has 44,000 Twitter followers.

Needless to say, word spread quickly.

Cover of Stratton Town Report

Not everyone found the essay enlightening and helpful. For example, VPO columnist and Michigan native John Walters said it is “just chock full of Vermont’s bloated sense of superiority that we all know and love.” So now the Town of Stratton website includes an apology — kinda — from Young, an Indiana native who moved to Vermont about 25 years ago.

“To all of you who have seen the Stratton Town Report cover of this year and found it to be offensive, I offer you my sincerest apology,” Young wrote. “It was intended to be a bit of shock humor, as explained in its description on the inside of the cover, to promote the preservation of a rural Vermont lifestyle. It was not an intent to offend anyone, but instead to share what I thought to be a cleverly worded letter which, although a bit harsh, was interpreted to say, ‘This is a great place to live, please don’t try to change it to be something it is not.’”

But a quick look at comments on VT Digger’s Facebook page show other Vermonters agree with Young’s original, unvarnished, unreconstructed sentiments.

When VT Digger published its news story headlined “Stratton Town Report Cover draws attention for all the wrong reasons” on Facebook, the first five comments all wholeheartedly support Young. They include the following:

“Wow, well spoken from the heart, who cares what the people will say” — Bill S.

“It’s true!” — Pam C.

“I like it! Good for you. I have nothing against people coming to live here, but they should think long & hard before doing so. So many times after living here they will say they want their road paved, want a street light, want this want that…..” — Sharon A.

“There are many people from elsewhere that come and do good. They know VT isn’t just a postcard. But let’s not be naive. Others have come here to make areas of Vermont carbon copies of their former state. Worse, some even opine over Vermont hobbies, traditions and culture, with not just disdain, but a demand for it to cease. Native Vermonters aren’t just here for newcomers bidding. We are trying to live and enjoy life in VT too. If you don’t like hunting, or atvs…okay- but I might. And who are those that tell me I can’t? Yet those issues have become a big divide amongst natives and newcomers.” — Donna L.

Others stood up for the out-of-staters and their differences. And Laura G. added this statement: “Enjoying the irony of the town clerk being a flatlander too.”

It’s hard to find current data on the ratio of Vermont-born residents to Vermonters born elsewhere. But as with Vermont’s cows, so our native-born Vermonters: since 1960, their numbers are in decline. A corresponding growth in newcomers has not been without its problems, the Encyclopedia Brittanica reports:

“While emigration of young Vermonters has slowed, the influx of newcomers is outstripping the growth of the native-born population,” Encyclopedia Brittanica reports. “In 1960 more than three-fourths of Vermonters were native-born; by 2000 this proportion had dropped to about three-fifths. This decrease, coupled with perceived differences in the social expectations of nonnatives over the range and costs of government services, has led to some tension between native Vermonters and newer arrivals.”

That trend continued in the five years following 2000, according to World Population Review. The number of people who moved here (7,889) outnumbered by about 700 the number of births-minus-deaths (7148).

In the spirit of Young’s protest that “We are not racist, phobic, or anti-whatever-you-are,” Vermont Daily decided to learn more about the birthplaces of the 2021 Vermont Legislature, which this year is focused intently on repairing what it claims is Vermont’s historic systemic racism. Taking as a sample the first 37 lawmakers on an alphabetized-by-county list (see below) and studying legislative website biographies and other information available online, it was determined that:

  • 20 were not born in Vermont (17 Democrats, one Progressive, three Republicans)
  • 11 were born in Vermont (Six Democrats, four Republicans, one independent)
  • The birthplaces of the other four were not established.

Many lawmakers came to Vermont in the 1960’s and 70’s, drawn by the new Interstate, the skiing, the counter-culture life, and/or affordable real estate.  As newcomers they encountered some of the tensions expressed in Young’s statement. Time will tell if NYT reporter Barry’s out-of-staters who came to Vermont to ride out the 2020-21 pandemic will encounter the same conflict, and leave a similar mark.

Senators/Reps by County Born in VT? Birthplace/ other info
Senator Chris Bray (D) Addison No New Britain, Connecticut
Senator Ruth Hardy (D) Addison No Ithaca, NY
Rep. Robin Scheu (D) Middlebury No Simsbury, CT
Rep. Amy Sheldon (D) East Middlebury No Memphis Tennessee
Rep. Peter Conlon (D) Cornwall Yes Barre, VT
Rep. Matthew Birong Jr. (D) Vergennes Yes Burlington, VT
Rep. Diane Lanpher (D) Vergennes No Buffalo, NY
Rep. Mari Cordes (D) Lincoln Unknown college in Michigan
Rep. Caleb Elder (D) Starksboro Unknown Grew up in Bristol, VT
Rep. Harvey Smith (R) New Haven No Nashua, NH
Rep. Terry Norris (I) Shoreham Yes Born in VT, raised in Shoreham
Sen. Richard Sears (D) Bennington No Framingham, MA
Sen. Brian Campion (D) Bennington No Albany NY
Rep. Nelson Brownell (D) Pownal No Moved to VT in childhood
Rep. Dane Whitman (D) Bennington No Moved in 2012 from Ventura, CA
Rep. Timothy Corcoran (D) Bennington Yes Lifelong Vermonter
Michael Nigro (D) Bennington No raised in upstate NY
Rep. Mary A. Morrissey (R) Bennington Yes born, raised in Bennington
Rep. David Durfee (D) Shaftsbury No raised in upstate NY
Rep. Seth Bongartz (D) Manchester Yes born in Manchester, VT
Rep. Kathleen James, (D) Manchester No born in Chicago, raised in Nebraska
Rep. Linda Joy Sullivan (D) Dorset Unknown unknown; higher ed in NY, CA
Sen. Joe Benning (R) Caledonia No Long Branch, NJ
Sen. Jane Kitchel (D) Caledonia Yes St. Johnsbury, VT
Rep. Marcia Martel (R) Waterford Yes Concord, VT
Rep. Joseph “Chip” Troiano (D) Hardwick No Staten Island, NY
Rep. Scott Beck (R) St. Johnsbury Yes St. Johnsbury, VT
Rep. R. Scott Campbell (D) St. Johnsbury No Maryland
Rep. Martha Feltus, (R) Lyndon No Kansas City, Missouri
Rep. Patrick Seymour, (R) Sutton Yes St. Johnsbury, VT
Rep. Henry Pearl (D), Danville Yes Danville, 7th generation VTer
Sen. Thomas Chittenden (D) Chittenden No Florida. Raised in South Burlington
Sen. Phil Baruth (D) Chittenden Unknown Unknown. Educated in Rhode Island, California.
Sen. Ginny Lyons (D) Chittenden No Auburn, NY
Sen. Kesha Ram (D) Chittenden No Los Angeles, CA
Sen. Michael Sirotkin (D) Chittenden Unknown Educated in public schools in Queens, NY
Sen. Chris Pearson (P) Chittenden No born in Canada, grew up in Maine

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/John Phelan

13 thoughts on “Social media readers applaud Town Report plea to new Vermonters

  1. “’While emigration of young Vermonters has slowed, the influx of newcomers is outstripping the growth of the native-born population,’ Encyclopedia Brittanica reports.”

    Don’t worry, with our upcoming new legislation, the huge number of Vermont children that constitutionally can be killed in the womb will be made up for by the huge number of sex tourists after the prostitution bill passes.

  2. “My name is Larry and this is my brother Darrell, and my other brother Darrell.”

    Gotta love this Town Report cover.

    How do you argue against what it says?

  3. Young has it on the nose. But the worst part is that the – look at the list – the greater part of the flatlanders who have moved here are Yorkers. After over 280 years, they have finally won the war and subjected Vermont. It’s way past time we learned our lesson from the Green Mountain Boys and sent them packing.

  4. I’ve always said that the legislation is 98% full of out-of-staters. They are the ones ruining the state.
    We Vermonters have always got along without them.
    I’m a 7th generation Vermonter. My Grandfather always said “you let these out of staters move in, they’ll take over” Boy was he right.

    Kent Young, you had nothing to apologize for, you spoke the truth.!!!!

  5. A friend of my once told me the story of how many years ago his father, a talented engineer, had been recruited to run Vermont Tap and Die in Lyndon. After a few years, someone asked him to run for town office. His father, a smart fellow, thought it would be wise to seek the advice of W. Arthur Simpson. Simpson was a community leader, dairy farmer, and State Representative.

    He caught up to Arthur at milking time in his barn, the best time to get ahold of him. I don’t know how many people remember or have used a one legged seat that was strapped to your waist that you could sit on when moving from cow to cow with the surge milking machine in tow, but Arthur was wearing one of those when his father caught up with him. Following him around as Arthur continued his milking, my friend father told him that people wanted him to run for office and asked his opinion.

    “Well”, said Arthur, “the best thing for a new person to do is for the first five years or more just go to town meeting and other meetings and listen. Do not say anything. Then if your still interested offer to help out in a minor position. Do that for a few years. See how it works out. And then consider doing more”.

    Good advice back then. Good advice for now

    • Anyone capable of serving their fellow Vermonters doesn’t need to ask someone else what to do – that is not leadership.

  6. I moved here from the west coast twelve years ago. One of the reasons I moved here was because it appeared the whole world was not trying to move here. It was out of the way not very popular. The hard winters and lack of urban resources kept immigration at bay. It was what people on both coasts call a ‘flyover state’ and that was fine with me. At the same time; I noticed that in many cases once her young who were born here became old enough, the grass was greener and a large swath of Vermont’s young natives picked up and moved away to a ‘more exciting’ place to live. But things are different now. It’s natural beauty, it’s laid back ‘do your own thing’ attitude has suddenly caught the attention of the well to do urban dwellers whose cities have fallen (once again) into filth and despair and with the failing dairy farms and geriatric land owners whose grandchildren have no interest in maintaining the upkeep of expensive property land taxes sales are booming by out of state buyers who can afford it, despite the astronomical taxes here that many natives can no longer afford and look for a less expensive rural life in North Carolina and other states further south. It’s happening all over the country in states like Montana and Wyoming who’s natural beauty and rural atmosphere sit in ‘liberal’ pockets and drive the native working stiffs to reside where it’s hot flat and crowded. Soon you will have to be somewhat wealthy to be able to afford living in The Green Mountain state. Seems like that’s happening in most liberal states now.

  7. Newly proposed State of Vermont Welcoming Pamphlet



  8. Most likely, where you came from, deprived you of Liberty so you left perhaps not understanding what you were truly looking for. Upon arriving here and wanting to be accepted you decided to contribute by giving back. But how do you give back that which you are in search of, when you don’t really understand what it is in the first place?

    Kent’s point as I see it is, it’s neither here nor there that matters, it’s don’t trample on the Freedoms of others if you want to fit in!

  9. Disclaimer: We moved here from rural ( yes there is such a thing) NJ. What Stratton’s town clerk has posted is nothing new. When I worked in Staten Island, the locals said very similar about the Brooklynites coming across the Verrazano Bridge. In Sussex County NJ,we said the same to the immigrants from Bergen.

  10. Kent Young has eloquently expressed the feelings of most VERMONTERS! He does not need to apologize to anyone. Especially flatland carpetbaggers. Good on you Kent Young.
    His spot-on observations should be writ large in every one of Vermont’s Welcome Centers and included with every piece of printed literature mailed out by the Vermont Tourism Bureau, if for no other reason than there are too many words to fit onto a license plate…
    Damn, I wish I’d said that!

  11. There’s also Chris Bates D-Bennington/ He was from IA then IL before VT. He had legal problems in IL and isn’t suppose to have any firearms. But an article from TNR shows him shooting with a rifle. He also introduce legislation to outlaw air rifles, with little experience knowing about them. I’ve emailed him on that position. There’s internet info about him. Anyone seems attracted to VT only to ruin it.

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