The book is a collection of 62 written profiles with black and white photographs of Vermonters taken over the last 60 years.
The author wrote a summary of those years and the changes he noticed—The interstate, gentrification, the banks, the direction of the legislature and small changes, such as posted land, the Vermont accent, and…the end of a classless society. Most of the comments and letters received by the author, discuss their inability to cope financially and a rising anger about the legislature and the state government.
“They are not out friends anymore,” said a cleaning lady and she practically shouted it.
“I feel violent,” said an auto garage owner when thinking about the direction the state is moving towards.
“Our pensions don’t cover our costs,” said a recently retired couple, we would like to leave but can’t find a buyer.”
“We have given up on our dream of building a house on our land in Walden. The state legislature’s two bills concerning a carbon tax are what really scared us into that decision. I don’t see how the older population in Vermont will survive the push for more wind and solar farms and the costs associated with migrating off fossil fuels. We just wanted to live out our retirement years in peace and quiet, staying warm, enjoying nature, family and friends. Looks like we’ll be doing that in Maine.”
“I cannot tell you how much your new book (A Lifetime of Vermont People) means to me. I was moved to tears after I bought a copy in St. Johnsbury and pulled over at a rest stop and began to turn the pages. This sudden release of emotion surprised me and when I thought about why, I think it was because of who and what we have lost here in the state I call home.”
Some Vermonters now realize their home is not an asset but a liability because of the property tax, student tax, and the cost of energy and upkeep.
And it is ironic that Vermont will welcome refugees from other countries but there is no comment about the Vermonters who want to leave Vermont. They are refugees from one of the most expensive states in the union.
I have spoken to so many that I plan to do a book called the Vanishing Vermonter….An Endangered Species. I will interview a bunch of them and let them tell their story. I will also have a section where Vermonters can comment about what to do about bringing Vermont back home.
The more I think about this anger the more I realize it is about the cost of living, for sure, but embedded in their souls is that foreboding anxiety that we are losing our way of living—the culture—that has made our state so unique.
The book A Lifetime of Vermont People is available at independent Vermont bookshops and at Peter Miller’s website, www.silverprintpress.com.