A reporter for the New York Times has been in Brattleboro for the past two days interviewing townspeople about you know what. Our murders.
Murders happen everywhere, but what’s different about ours is the response.
While we can’t change what happened in the Co-op, we are responsible for how we respond; and I know that many like me are moved by how much grief and compassion has been expressed.
In my mind, this vulnerability defines the strength of this community. We aren’t perfect, but neither are we numb or blind. We feel. We hurt. We question. We respond.
Sabine Rhyne, the Shareholder and Community Relations Manager at the Co-op, had this to share about our community’s response:
“I wish you had been by my side on Thursday morning when we opened. First, there were a small group of people milling around outside, regulars, who wanted to be there as soon as the doors opened. Then, two long-time co-op shareholders walked in, carrying a large box full of vases of flowers from their garden to set on each checkout counter. Then, a delivery of bagels and cream cheese from our friends at the vitamin company across town arrived for the staff. And bit by bit, the store filled with people and flowers and cards, many folks touching and hugging, almost all smiling and tearing up simultaneously.“
After the initial news frenzy, there hasn’t been much in the coverage about the Co-op tragedy; but beginning last night, at the two-week mark, I noticed new headlines–this time with a community focus:
“Co-op copes with shooting aftermath”
“Co-ops across the country send support to Brattleboro”
“Vt. co-op receives support after fatal shooting”
When the New York Times reporter asked me how we would rid ourselves of this tragedy, I replied that we couldn’t; that it had become part of who we are; part of our history.
When she asked how we would move on, I said that I didn’t know; but that I trusted that with the abundant heart and creativity and compassion of this community, we would find our way, one step at a time.
When she asked what I felt most strongly about–whether it was that someone I knew committed such a crime–or that it happened at the Co-op, I said that it was both of those things in the beginning; but now my attention has shifted to the community–how we respond, how we support the Co-op staff, and how we compost such a horrid act.
Kelly Salasin, August 24, 2011