Vermont Woman is a forum for news, issues, features, arts and entertainment from the perspective, experience, and voices of Vermont women. Vermont Woman is a bi-monthly newspaper published in South Hero, Vermont.
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Vermont Woman endorsements are the results of staff consensus. Endorsements for the November 2016 election are published in this issue, as it is the only publication prior to the election.
George Washington was elected the first president of the United States in 1789. In the ensuing 227 years, countries in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and other parts of the world have elected women heads of state, but not the United States. Here we are in 2016, and for the first time in our history, a woman is the presidential nominee of a major political party. It's about time! Now is the time to use our hard-won right to vote and elect Hillary as our first woman president. How proud Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and all the suffragists would be.
There's a fancy holster on the market today. It comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes and was designed for women. It's made by Designer Concealed Carry, a company founded by Kate Woolstenhulme, and is one of several companies that make high-end handbags that double up as gun holsters.
Women don't immediately come to mind when talking about guns, but they are the fastest-growing segment to participate in shooting sports, the National Shooting Sports Foundation says. According to the foundation's surveys, most women decide to carry for protection. Respondents also mentioned hunting and shooting with family and friends.
Despite this growing trend, statistics indicate that the number of women who hunt or carry a firearm for protection is still small. According to a recent study by Harvard Injury Control Research Center and Marie Claire magazine (February 2016), 12 percent of women own a gun, 57 percent of whom said protection against strangers was their main reason for owning a firearm.
Wendy Butler hunts with a custom-made flintlock made from bird's-eye maple her grandfather collected. It's the type of gun that "would have been used back in the 17th and 18th centuries," says Butler. Butler, who coordinates the Japanese and Korean language programs at Middlebury College, teaches hunter education at Middlebury College and is a chief instructor for the state of Vermont, participates in primitive biathlons, a competition involving snowshoeing on wintry trails to reach targets at which you shoot with archaic pistols and muzzle loaders.
The muzzle-loading flintlock requires Butler to build each bullet, "one element at a time." It's "something you would see Davy Crockett using. No magnifying scope, no crosshairs," Butler says. The handmade bullet, the effortful challenge it presents, and the emphasis on the experience over the outcome reflect the new hunting paradigm women are building.
Women "bring a completely different face into hunting," Butler says, who asserts that she wears "dresses all summer long" and doesn't identify with the stereotype of the "camo'd up man."
Lumbering under the weight of an overstuffed backpack, I guessed at how many pounds I was carrying. I was walking my first miles of the Long Trail, having just said good-bye to my mother where she dropped me off in North Adams, Massachusetts. The plan was to hike 270 miles to the Canadian border through the mountains of Vermont. But more immediately, the plan was to make it to Stratton Mountain, where my partner and I would mail home 11 pounds of gear that seemed so important last night as we packed for our trip but that now seemed unessential on our backs.
As I did my mental math, thunder rolled in the distance. In the pit of my stomach, I felt fear. This would be our first summer storm on the trail, and we would have to hunker down out here in the woods or keep traveling through it. It started to sprinkle, and I considered taking out my rain gear but decided to wait until the sky really opened up, which it quickly did, and all of a sudden with no warning, I was soaked, and so was my pack. First lesson: Put on your rain gear at the first sign of rain.
Several miles down the trail, rain pouring over me, I started to smell the peppermint soap we were carrying. I stopped to take off my pack and investigate. Out came many items, into the rain, including the soap, which had opened in my pack and covered everything in a slimy sudsy film, including the toilet paper. Next lesson: Carry the soap—and toilet paper—in their own Ziploc bags.
Gun control is a subject that brings into focus how women's issues are more accurately human ones, bound by gendered habits of mind, and well worth questioning. Women's courageous voices this past session at the State House have resulted in one new gun statute, called Act 14. It prohibits gun ownership for violent offenders and those judged dangerous because of mental illness.
If it surprises you this didn't exist before, you should know the gun control conversation is far from over. As Ann Braden of Gun Sense Vermont told Vermont Woman, it will be important to show up in the coming year's session. At an event in preprimary August, organized by Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden), all the Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor showed new unity on the issue of gun control. Yet the crowd attending was only about 100.
When Vermont Woman editor Kate Mueller suggested a column on the health of Vermont's forests. I had no idea how much ground I would cover. Many hours and interviews later, I have a new appreciation for the work our environmental stewards do every day and a deeper understanding of the complexities facing all of us to protect Vermont's revered forests.
This column presents the current state of Vermont's forests, how they have changed, and the impact of climate change and development. Next issue we cover what we need to do to keep our precious forests and wildlife habitat healthy and thriving.
First, a quick look at our past. Two hundred and fifty years ago, 90 percent of our state was covered in a vast old-growth forest that disappeared as European deforestation began in the Champlain Valley, opening land for farming, raising sheep, exporting the giant softwoods that made up Vermont's virgin forests, and trapping for furs. Logging became Vermont's largest industry. The 1840 census recorded over 1,000 sawmills in operation.
Gravity, time, and the environment are Pat Steir's handmaidens as she creates iconic paintings hanging in museums around the world. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tate Gallery (London), and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), among many others. In 1973, as a young artist, she was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1981. Her alma mater, Pratt Institute, awarded her a doctorate in 1991.
A Coup for the Helen Day
The art critic John Perrault called Steir one of today's most underrated artists. The fact that the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe is hosting a solo exhibition by an artist of this caliber is indeed a coup and a feather in the cap of curator and newly appointed executive director Rachel Moore.