Orange, Chocolate-Chip Scones~the preservation of democracy

Orange, Chocolate-Chip Scones~the preservation of democracy

Wednesday mornings at the old Sweeties Market
Wednesday mornings at the old Sweeties Market

A rainy Wednesday in March brings to mind the memory of orange, chocolate-chip scones.

This would be just the day to sit a spell at the counter at Sweeties on Route 9 in Marlboro–sipping a latte, taking in the aroma of bacon, the morning conversations, the ebb and flow of townspeople and tourists beginning their day

Sweeties has been closed now for a handful of years and we’ve all grown accustomed to having to leave town for gas or a six-pack, but the absence lingers like a loved one, and sometimes rises like an ache, particularly in wintry months or on rainy days like today.

“After the General Store, comes the Post Office,” says a neighbor. “Then the school.”

Marlboro School was at the center of last week’s Pre-Town Meeting  in response to Act 46 which seeks to consolidate school governance.

“Forced, short-sighted, rushed through legislation,” is how one woman described it.

Marlboro Pre-Town Meeting, Kelly Salasin, 2017
Marlboro Pre-Town Meeting, Kelly Salasin, 2017

A discussion of the unintended consequences of Act 46 ensues; and I’m surprised by a consideration that hadn’t occurred to me until then, and how deeply it shakes me–not the loss of our precious Junior High, or the loss of our vibrant voice; or how these losses will reshape our school, and our town; but something that strikes at the center of self-governance:

Town Meeting.

I know not everyone can make it on the first Tuesday in March, and I know that efforts in other towns to shift the meeting to an evening or a weekend haven’t produced the desired results; But our old Town House fills up with body heat and breath and voice and community, and that’s something.

And even in the years when you’re not in a chair or on a bench or at that front table or up at the podium, the gathering holds space for who we are and how we live and what happens here, not just in Marlboro, but all over the Green Mountain state, and even across our nation, as Bernie proved to be true.

Sure Town Meeting would continue for awhile; the old timers here are hearty like that; but the absence of the school budget–ie. the absence of children at the heart of decision making–would hollow out the gathering, until it became a dusty relic of itself.

“New Stairs,” Marlboro Town Hall, Kelly Salasin, 2017

Just before our Pre-Town Meeting closes, a follow up question about our “Geographically Isolated” and “Structurally Isolated” school comes from the floor:

“If we find that it doesn’t work for our town, can we go back to what we had?”

The response sends a chill through my body, particularly this year:

“Once you take it apart, you can’t build it again.”

Never-Ending Summer

Never-Ending Summer

There comes a day when summer’s end is whispered almost everywhere.

Is it always a Sunday?  Or does it just feel that way because it’s August.

South Pond/detail, all rights reserved, Carol Brooke-deBock, 2011

Three weeks deep into the month that steals the sun, we gather for a potluck brunch at the pond for a second time this season.

We do the same every Friday evening, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but the Sunday brunch is something special, arranged spontaneously by a string of unusually fair days, or in this case, by the approaching end of our time together at South Pond.

Some years we arrive for breakfast in sweatshirts, and other years in swimsuits, but always with thermoses of coffee and pitchers of orange juice and pints of just picked berries.

Either Carol or Joan (both if we’re lucky) will have a basket with something warm and cinnamon-y inside, and then there’s Don with his dish of richly crusted quiche; and Susan’s homemade goat cheese; and Andy, with eggs and meat, which he’ll fry on the grill under the bright morning sun until we are all well fed and his head is dripping with sweat.

Friends, and friends of friends, fill plates and gather around picnic tables or on blankets or in beach chairs in the sand, while young ones scurry off with bowls of fruit to nibble beside the swing set or atop of overturned boats.

Some arrive late, and heads will rise to see what new dish is added; and if empty handed, these latecomers will be encouraged to join the feast, “There’s plenty left,” we’ll say (whether there is or isn’t), and odd forks and pot lids for plates will be produced to accommodate.

South Pond, all rights reserved, Carol Brooke-deBock, 2011

No one should think on summer’s end at a time like this, and if one finds herself doing so, she should keep it private and try to talk herself out of it by thinking things like: those shadows are always just as deep beside the shade tree at this time of day; that patch of red on the distant hill is surely a decaying branch of leaves; the sudden, crisp current of the water is a relief on such a humid day.

South Pond, all rights reserved, Carol Brooke-deBock, 2011

After breakfast, we turn toward crossword puzzles or card games or conversation about the weather or politics or bovine lactation– with Coral who is off to get her doctorate in Alberta in a field that is apparently filled with possibilities.

Other young adults, once children, are asked about their college or travel plans; while other children, once babies, swim out to the dock or paddle off in kayaks, as mothers swim across the pond to the sandbar, no longer needing to look after anyone but themselves.

Someone picks up a ukulele and suddenly music makes more magic of this day. Time slows, and although we’ve all grown older together, it seems as if this morning, this pond, this community… will never end.

South Pond, all rights reserved, Carol Brooke-deBock, 2011

Thus I force my surrender into late summer’s embrace, pretending it’s not ending, as I open my novel and sink down into my chair.

The illusion is almost perfect until someone says she has to go, and calls after her kids to find a ride home if they want to stay longer.

I look around and realize that most everyone here can drive already.

By the time I finish the chapter, I see that same family, all four of them, walking in single file up the pond path.

Each of our families has distinct “pond” personalities–some arriving every afternoon and staying for dinner, others preferring quiet mornings, and yet others stopping in for a dip here and there in an otherwise full day.

As one who stays into the night, I’ve watched this particular family depart many times up the same worn path under the same trees–only now the children are taller and stronger than the parents.

Like a doorway out of the present, and away from our shared past, this family departs under a dappled light that most certainly is not summer’s.

South Pond Panoramic, Marlboro, VT, 2011; Bill Esses, all rights reserved.

Kelly Salasin, South Pond, August 21, 2011

Highlights of the Community Meeting, Part II

Highlights of the Community Meeting, Part II

photo credit: David Holzapfel

Close to a hundred Marlborians gathered last night for Part II of the Community Meeting Process with Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD).  Below you can find the Live Twitter coverage of the event (in a 140 characters or less)–including a link to the results of the town vote for the top two community priorities.

Don’t forget to mark your calenders for the last gathering of this three-part series slated for Monday, May 24.  VCRD will return with a resource team specifically organized to support the goals set by our town.

Meeting Highlights via Twitter Feed

Is a town pub on the docket for Marlboro? Come find out tonight!

Part II of the Community Meeting in Marlboro about to get underway. Outback filling swiftly. Awesome choc. chip cookies!

Lots of socializing going on in the parking lot & the paths & around the tea pot; Part II of Marlboro’s Comm. Mtg. about to begin.

Chair Forrest Holzapfel (who looks like a young Ron Howard) opens the meeting in Marlboro tonight

More seats unfolded for the growing crowd here at Marlboro’s Community Meeting, Part II

VCRD Director Paul Costello , photo credit: David Holzapfel

Executive Director of VT Council on Rural Dev’t, Paul Costello addresses the community; says VCRD looks 4 towns ready to do this work

9 forums here last month in Marlboro with 27 visiting experts; tonight’s mtg is the middle of a 3 part process

Wil Fielding standing/photo credit: David Holzapfel

Townspeople taking turns reading summaries of “opportunities” identified at last month’s Comm Marlboro; voting will occur

After volunteering to read the “Generate Energy” topic, citizen Jonathan Morse is chided for adding commentary 🙂

The Principal of the elementary school arrives at tonight’s Comm. Mtg. The President of Marlboro College is also in attendance.

Though Marlboro is the SMALLEST community VT Council on Rural Dev’t has served, it has the HIGHEST participation proportionately!

Jean Boardman addresses the room/photo credit: David Holzapfel

#VCRD has 25 pages of notes from last mtg & will issue a report to the town next month following tonight’s Comm Mtg in Marlboro

Townspeople cont. to arrive at Marlboro’s Comm. Mtg–People I have NEVER seen BEFORE! Cool!

#VCRD impressed with Marlboro’s PASSION 4 “Sustainability” 45 ppl attended this topic mtg last month while 2 other mtgs took place.

Ellen Lovell, Marlboro College President, shares “Opportunity” linking Marlboro College more fully with town around volunteering.

School Principal Francie Marbury shares “Opportunity” 4 “Rte 9 Safety” plugging REMOVAL of passing lane in front of MES (no chiding)

What is the future of the economy here? Does all $$ need to run down hill? How do we invest in the next generation in Marlboro?

The idea of a “TOWN CENTER” comes up in a majority of “Opportunities” brainstormed for Marlboro at the last meeting.

Sunny Tappan addresses room/photo credit: David Holzapfel

Marlborian Sunny Tappan suggests REMOVING the word “SHOULD” from town language; many don’t “get it”

Marlborian Nancy Anderson questions why comm. daycare/preschool isn’t on list. School Board Member Loren Poster shares concern.

VCRD Exec.Director Costello echoes Craig Hammond point:not just voting on topic,but on all INTENT shaped around it at last mth’s mtg.

8th Grader Lucas Schoen makes request to dev’t more activities for youth in Marlboro.

“These are all good topics, but it seems that everything needs to fall under the Internet/Cell Issue FIRST” Frustrated Marlborian. HO!

photo credit: David Holzapfel

FUN! Everyone gets tiny envelope with DOTS inside. 3 Red dots=3 pts each. 5 Blue dots=one pt each. LET THE VOTING BEGIN!

ITZA DOT PARTY in the MARLBORO ELementary Outback. 100 townspeople posting their vote on the wall.

Dot Party/photo credit: David Holzapfel

OMG! That was SO MUCH FUN! Everyone sticking their DOTS where they want them! WIFI LOADED with red & blue!! Great Process!

What a VIBE here at the 2cnd Marlboro Community Meeting! Someone playing piano.Cookies all gone.Team counting DOTS.

18 Marlboro “Opportunities” narrowed down to 8 by the COOL DOT Voting Process. Boisterous room suddenly goes silent.

Childhood friends Jason MacArthur & Forrest Holzapfel (Chair of the Community Mtg Process) post the top 8 priorities 4 Marlboro Comm.

The Priorities established tonight will determine the focus for the 3rd Community Meeting in Marlboro.

Michelle, photo credit: David Holzapfel

Marlborian Michelle Holzapfel speaks to the viability of Sky Line Restaurant as our community center.

Marlboro College President/photo credit: David Holzapfel

Round TWO of DOT VOTING underway.8 Priorities narrowed down to 2! Mood much less jovial. #VCRD

Last Votes. (Tom Simon)/photo credit: David Holzapfel

ANd the WINNERS are! The 2 focuses for Marlboro have been chosen! Stay TUNED!

photo credit: David Holzapfel

#VCRD INside scoop~Click the link 2 see the results of Marlboro’s Second Community Meeting;the top 2 “winners” R:

Marlboro Resident Polly Wilson votes, photo credit David Holzapfel

Good Night, Marlboro. Another inspiring community process.

Yours Truly, Tweeting the Meeting, photo credit David Holzapfel

Kelly Salasin

And the Winners ARE:

And the Winners ARE:

The DOT Voting Process at Marlboro's 2cnd Community Meeting with VCRD

Marlborians at the Second Community Meeting with the Vermont Council of Rural Development choose the top TWO focuses for ACTION.

Narrowed down from a list of 18, then a list of 8, the community has voted to act on:

Develop a Marlboro Community Center


Improve Walkability and Expand Bike & Walking Paths

Community Matters, Part II

Community Matters, Part II

“There is no power greater than a community
discovering what it cares about.”

~Meg Wheatley

The Youngest Attendee (photo: David Holzapfel)

Now that we know what matters to us as a community, it’s time to come together to make it happen.  Let’s have some fun!  (PS.  Don’t tell the little one, but a town pub was high on the priority list for most community members.)