Friday, December 30, 2011

107 back in action

Good news for Riptonites heading east: route 107 is back open.
The reconstruction of Route 107 was accomplished in 16 weeks through a combination of innovation and hard work. More than 46 companies, including two major contractors and two railroads, worked with VTrans, National Guard units and law enforcement personnel to complete the project.

“The opening of the last mile of damaged roads from Tropical Storm Irene marks a significant milestone in our state’s recovery,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin. “It re-connects the communities of Bethel and Stockbridge as well as a critical corridor in North – South travel in Vermont. It also symbolizes the Vermont Strong spirit that has prompted this remarkably swift recovery from much of the devastation left by Irene.”

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ripton trains to Sheldon Museum

Riptonite Paul Bortz gets a nice Addision Independent profile, concerning his hobby.
“It was going back and remembering my early childhood, when I had (toy trains), but they sort of disappeared,” said Bortz, a retired minister who is now 70. “Part of the journey of aging is ‘coming home.’ So I am coming home.”

And Bortz has more than enough locomotion for his voyage into nostalgia. A fraction of his growing train collection — which he began assembling only four years ago — is on display at the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History through Jan. 14 as part of “A Child’s Delight,” an exhibit featuring antique toys, games, historic photographs and holiday decorations.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eastern route from town to be closed briefly

125 in Hancock will be closed for a couple of days this weekend.  It's for culvert repair:

The closure, which will take place along Route 125 about two miles west of its intersection with Route 100, will render the road impassible for two days. Work crews will close Route 125 at sunup on Saturday, November 19, and plan to reopen the road sometime on Monday, November 21.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Other towns influenced by Ripton's river planning

Our town's river planning process seems to have won admirers, according to this report:
Middlebury River Management Planning Task Force to be Formed. Following the model of the successful river management planning effort in Ripton, the Board endorsed forming a Task Force to develop a plan for on-going management of the Middlebury River as it flows through East Middlebury.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Should Vermont reduce Post Offices, service?

Bernie Sanders is holding a public meeting in Montpelier, to see what Vermonters think about reducing postal service.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is holding a meeting this Sunday to ask Vermonters what they think of closing some post offices and possibly eliminating Saturday mail delivery, proposals on the table from the U.S. Postal Service.

Sanders will be offering free lunch, as is his style, particularly when he’s campaigning for re-election, as he is.
This is an important issue for Ripton, being both somewhat isolated, and having experienced the near-killing of our post office.
The meeting is at 1 p.m. Sunday at Montpelier High School. The free lunch starts at noon. For information, call his office at (800) 339-9834.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ripton first responders receive autism training

Ripton's first responders were trained in how to respond to people with autism.  Autism Alert provided the class.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Riptonite in Britain

Ripton local Bill McKibben is interviewed in Totnes, Britain.  The subject is transition towns and community resilience.

We covered those topics earlier, when interviewing Bill for this blog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Community solar hot water power session coming up

Ripton will host a meeting about solar hot water tech on September 27.  It's part of our community's engagement with alternative and sustainable energy.

Here's flyer information:
The Ripton Energy Asssistance Program is partnering with VPIRG, Vermont's largest environmental non-profit, to bring the new Solar Addison County program to Ripton. Solar Addison County is finally making it easy and affordable for homeowners and businesses all across Addison County to heat their water with the sun. For all of us who have ever wanted clean, renewable energy, that's made in Vermont, this is a great opportunity. If you'd like to learn more about how solar hot water technology works, to ask questions about the program or process, and see if this could work for you, VPIRG and and the REAP steering committee are putting on a public info session on Tuesday September 27th.
More information:
Solar Addison County Info Session

Tuesday, September 27th, 7:00 pm

Ripton Community Building

(thanks to the REAP Steering Committee)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ripton Art Show coming up!

The 2nd Annual Ripton Art Show is coming up this weekend:


Ripton Community Church

Opening Reception 4-6PM

A showing by 15 area artists: Yinglei Zhang, Mary Swanson, Klara Calitri, Lisa Whitman, Jean
Cherouney, Tal Birdsey, Ginger Birdsey, Bridget Nardiello, Molly Hawley, Patty LeBon Herb,
Phoebe Stone, Rebecca Purdum, Sarah Wesson, Linda Hampton Smith and Richard Weinstein

Music by Rick Hawley, gourmet food provided by Lisa & Joe Durante


Proceeds benefit the Ripton Community Church.
For more information call 388-9681

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Federal assistance for hurricane relief

(Very useful information received in email - thanks to Sally Hoyler)

As of today, FEMA has approved $4.3 million in assistance -- $4.2 million in housing assistance and $165,228 for other needs such as replacement of personal property. More than 2,000 Vermonters have registered for assistance, a number that will increase. To date there have been just over 700 homes confirmed as severely damaged or destroyed, and assessments continue.
There are 30 inspectors in the field and 750 property inspections have been completed. In addition, three disaster recovery centers are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day until further notice: in Barre at Barre Municipal Auditorium, 16 Auditorium Hill; in Brattleboro at Living Memorial Park Skating Rink, 61 Memorial Park Drive; and in Waterbury at the Waterbury Fire Department, 43 South Main Street. The recovery centers are staffed with disaster recovery specialists from various federal, state and local agencies and organizations who can provide information and answer questions about storm-related assistance. Additional centers will be opening soon.

The White House has approved individual assistance for homeowners and businesses in eight counties: Addison, Chittenden, Orange, Bennington, Washington, Rutland, Windham and Windsor.

Assistance for losses sustained anytime after the storm may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help recover from the effects of the disaster. Even those with insurance may be eligible for help from FEMA if their insurance policy does not cover all their needs, FEMA said.

Step 1: Register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There are several ways to register:

Apply online anytime at

Call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY at 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. Multilingual operators are available to assist with the application process.

By smartphone or tablet, use, or for devices with the Android operating system, a FEMA App can be downloaded at

When applying for aid you will receive a nine-digit registration number that can be used for reference when corresponding with FEMA.

It is helpful to have the following information handy:

Current telephone number;

Address at the time of the disaster and current address;

Social Security number, if available;

A general list of damages and losses;

If insured, the name of insurance company, agent and policy number; and

Bank routing number for any direct deposit.

Step 2: Receive a property inspection.

Within a few days after registering, eligible applicants will be telephoned to make an appointment to have their damaged property inspected. The inspectors, who are FEMA contractors and carry identification badges, visit to make a record of damage. They do not make a determination regarding assistance. There is no cost for the inspection.

Step 3: All applicants will receive a letter from FEMA regarding the status of their requests for federal assistance. Some will also receive an application for a low-interest disaster recovery loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Anyone who has questions about the letter from FEMA should call the helpline (800-621-3362 or TTY, 800-462-7585).

Those who receive an application packet from the SBA should complete and submit the forms. No one is required to accept a loan but submitting the application may open the door to additional FEMA grants.


An additional resource for those whose homes have been damaged is their local Homeownership Centers. These centers are funded, in part, with Community Development Block Grant funds from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. They make low or deferred interest loans for home repairs and can help pay for damages that are not covered by insurance, FEMA or SBA disaster loans.

Renters who have been displaced can contact the organizations listed above, local housing nonprofits, housing authorities or search for available apartments on, or by contacting:

Central Vermont Community Land Trust HOC – 802-476-4493 or

HOC of Chittenden County – 802-862-6244 or

Gilman Housing Trust HOC – 802-535-3445 or

NeighborWorks of Western Vermont – 802-438-2303 or

Windham and Windsor Housing Trust HOC – 802-246-2109 or

In addition, The Department of Banking, Insurance, Health Care and Securities is available to assist with questions related to floor insurance at (800) 964-1784 in state or (802) 828-3302.

In response to the storm, the ACCD is:

· Creating a Housing Task Force, headed by Jennifer Hollar, Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development to work with VEM and FEMA to develop a housing recovery plan and guide its implementation.
Working with our fellow housing agencies, Vermont Emergency Management and FEMA to identify vacant apartments that could be available for temporary housing.

Requesting a waiver from the Treasury Department that would make vacant apartments in many federally-supported properties available to any displaced Vermonter regardless of income.

Seeking additional housing and development resources in the form of block grants and Section 8 vouchers from HUD, in coordination with the congressional delegation.

Establishing a Housing Task Force of state agencies and federal and local partners to work with FEMA to develop a housing recovery plan and to guide its implementation.

Running a call-center at the Agency of Commerce to collect damage information from mobile home park and apartment owners at 802-828-3211 to provide to FEMA.

Accompanying FEMA today as they tour impacted areas and assess housing needs. Senior ACCD officials are traveling with FEMA today.

Reaching out to the private sector and the philanthropic community to help fill the gaps. T

This is a lot of information and if you have any questions, please let me know or call Ashley at 828-3806.

Very truly yours,


John F. Campbell

President Pro-Tempore

Vermont State Senate

The State House

115 State Street

Montpelier, VT 05059

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One Ripton farm considers

Two Ripton farmers reflect on raising animals.  That's Sebastian and Kate from North Branch Farm and Gardens, and their thoughts range from practical matters (one fine sandwich recipe) to different ways of eating locally.

They sell in the Middlebury farmer's market, and can also be found at home if you call ahead first (388-2059).
Check out the article, and their Website, and their products!

Be careful of flood-damaged crops: Dept of Health

What crops are safe to eat, in the wake of hurricane Irene?  Vermont's Department of Health issues this advisory:
Throw away ANY food that has come into contact with floodwater.

Throw away any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with floodwater. Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops and crimped caps. Also discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with floodwater because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
For canned goods that came into contact with floodwater, remove labels, wash thoroughly with soap and hot water. Then place in a weak bleach solution made with 1 tbsp. unscented liquid chlorine bleach for every gallon of water from a known safe source and leave for 15 minutes. Re-label with marker.
If refrigerator and freezer doors are kept closed as much as possible during a power outage, a refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours, a half-full freezer will keep the temperature for about 24 hours.
Do not cook and eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs or other refrigerated foods that have been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more.

Wash hands thoroughly with clean water and soap before and after handling food items.

Never taste food to determine if it is safe. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if it has been at room temperature for more than two hours it can make you sick. Bacteria multiply very quickly at room temperature.

If you have any doubt about any food item, throw it out.

For more information about food safety after the flood –Go to the Health Department’s website, call 800-439-8550 (toll-free) or 863-7220 – or dial 2-1-1.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ripton Fire Department in the storm

Reflections from a Ripton volunteer:

Hurricane Irene was a true disaster for the state of Vermont. Here in Ripton we were very lucky, due in part to the mitigation work done since 2008. Moreover, Riptonites generally are prepared for these instances.

What the Ripton Fire Dept accomplished during the storm:
  • Pumped water out of basements.
  • Flagged hazards.
  • Removed trees from roads.
  • Maintained safety around downed power lines.
  • Checked on those with high health risks.
  • Served as information center when all phones were down.
  • Prepared to treat and stabilize patients in the event that Ripton remained inaccessible to any transport.
  • Provided medical and fire coverage for Hancock, Goshen and Lincoln in those places that were accessible by our emergency vehicles.
  • Surveyed road damage.
  • Mitigated road damage where we could.
  • Reported road damage to road commission.
We are still providing coverage to Hancock, until they no longer need us.
Our two cadets distinguished themselves during this emergency. Our newest cadet provided phone coverage at the station, freeing up firefighting personal to go out in the field. Our older cadet helped out in the field, helping to run the machinery to pump out flooded basements.

Ripton Fire Department continues to be in touch with Emergency Management and FEMA.

Amazing photos of Vermont after Irene

Some amazing, spooky photos of Vermont after the hurricane:

(thanks to Tammy Snyder)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Irene recovery: answers to questions

Bernie Sanders has posted a fine frequently asked questions page about Irene recovery.
For example,
If my property or business was damaged in the storm, or if I have immediate needs such as food or shelter, what should I do first?

I have heard that the President has declared a "Major Disaster." What does this mean for Vermonters?

What does FEMA "Individual and Household Assistance" cover?

How do I apply for FEMA Individual Assistance?

What help is there for renters and homeowners through the Small Business Administration, and how do I apply?

Should I wait until I am approved for disaster assistance before making repairs to my home?

Should I move back into my home if it is damaged?

My basement is still flooded. What should I do?

My land is facing immediate damage by a river or stream, is there help available?

A propane tank washed into my front yard by the flooding. What should I do?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Another post-hurricane resource

There's another fine Web resource for our post-Irene needs. It's from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.

Resources offered or requested by Vermont municipalities relating to Irene
flood damage. Contact Cory Gustafson at if you would like to
add city/town resources or needs to this list.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One fine Web hurricane resource

Check out VTResponse. It's a Web resource for hurricane recovery, practical, and updated frequently.

Some items on it: Helping Hands, Temporary Housing, news, and mapping.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Willem communication

Update and requests from representative Willem Jewett:

Friends and Neighbors:

I've been out visiting with folks in the most
damaged areas of the district (Hancock). On Monday evening things looked pretty
bleak but a great deal of progress was made today. On Monday travel in or out of
the entire upper White River Valley (Rochester, Hancock, and Granville) was not
possible. As of this evening even passenger vehicles can make it over the gap. I
wouldn't have thought it possible when I saw the damage on Monday but a few
excavators can do a lot of work when the skies are clear.

I have two
brief requests:

#1) If you have been affected by Hurricane Irene please
call 211 to report your situation. Every one of these individual reports helps
us to document the extent of the damage and form the basis for our requests for
federal disaster relief funding.

#2) Let me know if you need help.

Collitt and Jewett speak to the storm

Two Riptonites reflected on our roads after the storm. From the Addison Independent:

In one location, the Middlebury River took out a swath of guardrail, noted
Ripton Selectman Richard Collitt.

“It’s nothing as serious as 2008,” Collitt said, harkening back to a brutal stretch of rain that erased several portions of Route 125 and took out entire sections of some local roads in Ripton, East Middlebury, Salisbury, Leicester, Goshen and Hancock.

“The town roads fared a lot better,” Collitt said, though he cautioned that some
small bridges on private roads in Lincoln likely sustained some damage that
might not be covered through federal disaster aid grants.

Indeed, most of the repairs made to local infrastructure following the 2008 flood — including the new Lower Plains Bridge in East Middlebury — stood up to Irene. The exceptions proved to be a small trunk of the Ripton Road and a washout on either
side of the culvert near the town garage.

Rep. Willem Jewett, D-Ripton, noted the washout areas of Route 125 were in some of the same locations as in 2008.

“I have a strong feeling that a different way of repairing (Route
125) would be in order,” Jewett said.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ripton hit hard by hurricane

Hurricane Irene hit us hard. Trees down, power out, river up, flooding on the rise.

We even made the BBC.

Some of us are cut off, like the folks past Old Town Bridge.

(Old Town Bridge, washed out twice)
125 is closed in several places, apparently.

Our emergency response squad volunteers have been working day and night.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

125 closure

Route 125 is being closed, from Hancock to East Middlebury. Flood damage.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurrican Irene about to smack into Vermont

Hurricane Irene is drawing closer, and might cause Ripton some grief. What are your thoughts?

Some Web resources (while you have internet and electricity):

I'm happy to blog up your photos, video, audio, and stories, as you can get 'em to me.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Riptonite arrested in Washington

Ripton local arrested in Washington, protesting a planned oil pipeline.

People arrested include Bill McKibben, the prominent climate activist and founder of; Jane Hamsher, who founded the popular liberal blog
Firedoglake; and Gus Speth, whose career includes co-founding the Natural
Resources Defense Council and chairing the White House Council on Environmental Quality in the Carter Administration.

Bill says he's doing well so far.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

From the Fire Department picnic

The Fire Department's picnic was a big success.

Here's chief Erik lording over us:

Full size here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thunder on the mountain

Ripton was hammered by a sudden, fierce thunderstorm just now.

We received a flash flood warning, and weren't alone:

... A line of strong thunderstorms will move through Caledonia...
eastern Addison... north central Rutland... northwestern Windsor...
Orange... south central Orleans... southeastern Chittenden...
southeastern LaMoille... southwestern Essex and Washington counties...

At 531 PM EDT... a line of strong thunderstorms was located from
Stillwater State Park to West Cornwall... moving southeast at 25 mph.

Monday, August 8, 2011

"African American Women and Christian Mission in the Civil Rights Era" - coming up at the town church

Later this month is a new presentation at our community's church:

Friends of Ripton Community Church invite you to share in another Ripton Lecture Series. This lecture will be presented by Middlebury College Professor Mary Kay Cavazos. The topic is:“A Leavening Force: African American Women and Christian Mission in the Civil Rights Era”. Dr. Cavazos is also Ripton’s new
pastor and will begin conducting services in September. Please join us on
Sunday, August 21th at 4:00 pm for a great lecture, and help us welcome her to
our community.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Picnic Saturday!

This Saturday is a town picnic! It's the Fire Department's:

Annual Fire Department Picnic Saturday July 30, 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm
at Ripton Fire & First Response, 25 Dugway Road. The department will supply
grilled fare; side dishes from you are welcome. Come enjoy an afternoon with
your friends and neighbors!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ripton Community Yard Sale coming up

The Ripton Community Yard Sale is coming up fast!

It's Monday, July 4th, and runs from 7am to noon.

Sign up, and reserve space by the Methodist church for $5.
Set up at home, and you'll be put you on a map for free.

Call 388-7442 to join (leaving message with your contact number is ok). Or email Roger Barkin: rogerbarkin at gmail dot com .

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thomas Jefferson: a Ripton talk this Saturday

Local Thomas Jefferson expert will give a talk at 4:00 pm, Saturday, June 18th, at the Ripton Community Church.
The topic:

In the context of Thomas Jefferson’s tombstone legacy, i.e.: Author of the Declaration of American Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia, Chip Stokes will explain what Lincoln meant by his closing phrase of the Gettysburg Address; “Government of
the People, by the People, for the People. "

In the words of Merrill D. Peterson, Stokes “undoubtedly has the best collection of Jeffersonia in private hands in the United States or in the world."

Sponsored by Friends of The Ripton Community Church.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Had enough rain?

If you think we've had too much rain, you're not alone. One weather analyst says 2011 is a record-setter for rain. It's partly due to getting record amounts of snow this past winter.

Look how Vermont is doing, compared with the rest of the US:

I'd like to ship some of our rain to my Texan friends.

(thanks to Bill McKibben for recommending Jeff Master's fine weather blog)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sanctuary Sunday coming up

Coming up this Sunday at the town church is "Sanctuary Reflections", a multimedia presentation by Jim Stapleton and Diana Bigelow .

The seventy-five minute program will feature readings from Jim’s recently
published book, Sanctuary Almanac, and a selection of Diana’s own songs.
During the 1980s the couple lived in the Mid-Hudson Valley at the John
Burroughs Nature Sanctuary where Jim was resident naturalist. In 1987 he
organized his natural history observations into a book-length almanac of
stories and meditations. Diana’s songs were written a decade later on the
Olympic Peninsula in Washington where the couple then lived. The songs share
with the stories a reverence for the natural world and offer a complementary
perspective on “sanctuary”.

That's this Sunday, June 12th.
Sponsored by Friends of The Ripton Community Church.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Central Vermont floods

Parts of cental Vermont suffered flood damage from rain this week. Here's one story about Barre, and a blog post about Montpelier.

How did your home make out, in Ripton or elsewhere in our rainy zone?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bill McKibben, Riptonite, on communities and climate change: part 3

Here's part 3 of our interview series with Riptonite Bill McKibben. (Here's part 1, part 2)

7. (from Twitter) More generally, how can the internet strengthen a small community, and how weaken it?
i think for the first time we can really imagine staying at home in a local
economy and still being a part of the larger world. there's no longer the need
to choose between staying by your roots and 'going out in the world to make
something of yourself.'
8. (from Facebook) What role can cohousing play in building a more sustainable world?
cohousing is a completely great movement, but not mostly because it's more
efficient (though that's nice). it's because it is helping us recover the idea
of community and connection. most humans at most times and places have lived in
close emotional and physical proximity to many other people; it's only in our
brief postwar moment that we've embraced the idea of building bigger houses
farther apart from each other as the 'American dream.'
9. (from Facebook) "As people start to feel the pinch of limited resources (think: impending peak oil), they tend to get more conservative. I'm thinking of Europe that seems to blossoming in so many ways (including sustainable design) but is also building a bigger wall around itself) Is there any way to avoid this slide into localized survivalism?"

a very important question. i think we need to do everything we can to build real
solidarity. it's one of the reasons we've organized as one of the
planet's few true global movements, with people participating in every corner of
the planet. climate change is truly the best example of 'if we don't hang
together, we hang separately'

One more interview part might be forthcoming, if we get more questions.

Please comment!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ripton school car wash coming up fast

It must be nearly summer, as the annual Ripton school car wash is nearly upon us.

The Saturday after next, "the 5th and 6th graders will be holding a CAR WASH on JUNE 4th from 10 - 2 at the Mobil Station in Middlebury!!! "

The results of this half-day of work will go towards a fine act of appreciation from those kids.

Please contact Tammi Beattie with questions. And volunteers, of course.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What are those purple boxes?

Ripton residents and visitors might notice several mysterious boxes hanging over our main roads. A purple, rectangular box hangs over route 125 about one mile below the General Store. Another appears above the Lincoln Road. What are they?

They are information weapons against a tree pest.

According to the USDA and Vermont's Ag department,

The purple traps are coated with an adhesive that captures the insects when they
land and are baited with a lure to attract the pest if it is present. In
addition, the color is thought to be attractive to EAB, and is relatively easy
for humans to spot among the foliage.

What's the enemy?

[The]emerald ash borer (EAB), a non-native, wood-boring beetle that has
killed tens of millions of ash trees in the eastern United States and Canada.

Good news: "To date, EAB has not been detected in Vermont."

For more information, check out this site.
Or read this:

“The traps being placed around Vermont will help us discover if we have EAB
in Vermont early on which allows us to address this invasive pest immediately,”
said Jon Turmel Vermont State Entomologist. “Early detection is the best tool we
have to fight EAB...

The triangular purple traps do not pose a risk to humans, pets, or wildlife;
however, the non-toxic glue can be extremely sticky,” said USDA State Plant
Health Director, Mark Michaelis. “We want people to understand that the traps
don’t attract or pull beetles into an area, but rather they are a detection tool
to help find EAB if it is present in the area.”
These traps will be
monitored and remain in place throughout the summer during the beetles’ flight
season. The traps will be monitored throughout the summer and removed in the
fall. Results from the trapping will be available once the traps are removed.

If you see a purple trap on the ground, please call the USDA’s toll-free
num ber: 1-866-322-4512. The EAB hotline is staffed during regular business
hours and a message may be left at any time. Callers are asked to include a name
and telephone number.

(thanks to Warren King; image from takomabibelot)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bill McKibben, Riptonite, interviewed: part 2

Ripton writer and cofounder of this blog Bill McKibben is working energetically to help mitigate and understand climate change. He graciously agreed to let me ask him some questions about our small town's role in an age of a transformed planet.

This post is the second in a short series. Here's part 1.

Some of these questions were crowdsourced from the Web. I'd like to thank Doug Reilly, Kathryn Tomasek, Fred Moody, Ed Webb, JohnnyGunn, Erica Stephan, and others for their thoughts.

4. When and how should our community partner w/other communities?

on a local basis, to help figure out our regional future, we've got all
sorts of possibilites: acorn (addison county relocalization network),
all the state folks working on local food and energy, great people at
the college and at UVM. on a global basis: we need to amplify our
local concerns through networks like

5. (from the MetaFilter online network) What does your skiing tell you about our community, and its place in a transforming world?

i love the fact that we have a vibrant muscle-powered sports scene up
here. the Ripton-Goshen plateau is some of the best xc skiing in the
American east (Bolton-Stowe is its only rival in Vermont) . There's
nothing that makes me happier than seeing red-cheeked friends out on
the trail somewhere. Of course, xc skiing is also the single most
vulnerable sport to climate change; maybe Mike Hussey can help us build
a little bit of snowmaking to make sure our season lasts longer than a
few weeks going forward

6. (from Twitter) How can social media build local initiatives, like bike paths or co-ops?

The net in general is a great tool for helping people keep in touch
easily. It's like the bulletin board at the post office but somewhat
easier to use! communities around vermont are having great luck with
front porch forum; hopefully it will be a great complement to the
when it arrives!

meanwhile, social media in particular are great for letting people do
things like arrange impromptu carpools or deal with surplus produce
from the garden. travel by mouse!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bill McKibben, Riptonite, interviewed: part 1

Ripton writer and cofounder of this blog Bill McKibben is working energetically to help mitigate and understand climate change. He graciously agreed to let me ask him some questions about our small town's role in an age of a transformed planet.

This post is the first in a short series.

Some of these questions were crowdsourced from the Web. I'd like to thank Doug Reilly, Kathryn Tomasek, Fred Moody, Ed Webb, JohnnyGunn, Erica Stephan, and others for their thoughts.

What are some of the best ways for a small, rural town like Ripton to respond practically to climate change?

well, we have to figure out how to make ourselves as resilient as possible in the face of changing conditions--the flood should have been a major wakeup call, and it feels like we've at least begun to respond. and we have to figure out how to make ourselves more self-reliant in the face of what will be rising energy prices/increasing shortages. efforts to figure out hwo to power our lives clsoe to home are a great idea--i keep hoping the day will come when we'll look up at the ski hill and see a windmill turning

and most of all we all have to figure out how to play a part in the political drive to cut emissions. ripton has been enormously supportive of our efforts at, for which i'm eternally grateful. in a sense it's where it all began, at the frost turnout when we stepped off on that first march to burlington in 2006

Which habits should we consider changing?

well, for rural areas transportation is always hard. patronizing the actr bus would be a good start--even though it's sometimes inconvenient. one of my resolutions for the year!

What are the best ways to learn about climate change in 2011?

for people who like weather, i recommend a blog by jeff masters at weather underground. it's pretty consumed with tracking hurricanes during the summer, but all year round it gives good updates on new climate information.

(more questions and answers to follow)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ripton's Tik Root speaks this Sunday

This Sunday, in Ripton's church, Tik Root will describe his Syrian odyssey.
At 4 pm, come hear the story!

Charles Billings writes:

Tik Root, a Ripton resident and Middlebury College student, had just begun Arabic classes at Damascus University in Syria when, on March 18, he was arrested by the Syrian secret police. He spent the next two weeks in a secret police prison, held without any contact with the outside world. Tik would like to use this talk to thank the many members of the Addison County community who rallied around his cause, contributing in a variety of ways to efforts to secure his release. In the talk, he will describe his arrest, imprisonment, and eventual surprise release by the Syrian secret police. He will also share his perspective, gained during previous months of travel and study in the Middle East, on current events in the region.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vermont stories in the Ripton church

Vermont folklorist Jane Beck shared wonderful stories last Sunday, in the community church.

Beck arranged these into categories based on common life experiences: family stories, stories about the coming of the automobile, touchstone tales. Stories about social change, "hard stories" about the worst things in life, "strong man" stories, even accounts of Robert Frost spanned a rich, moving hour.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Come tomorrow night for the town school's principal search!

There's an important event tomorrow night, a community forum where Riptonites can meet the person who might become our school's new principal.

Tracey Harrington will be available for conversation and questions Tuesday, April 26th at 6:30pm. All are not only invited, but encouraged to attend.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fresh Web presence for Ripton Town

The Town of Ripton has a new Website. has been carefully built by Sally Hoyler, and is fine work. Lots of useful, up-to-date information, presented in a lovely design.

This was built using a Web service called Squarespace, with which Sally and other Riptonites have had good experiences. It's easy to use, allows a lot of user control, and has solid support.

Looks good, Sally!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tik Root back in Vermont

Good news: Tik Root is back in Vermont.
after long negotiations to establish he wasn’t a CIA agent or some other covert operative, Root caught a flight from Damascus to London and then another to Logan International Airport.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ripton local located in Syria

Tik Root was missing for several days this week. Friends and Ripton family couldn't find him in Syria, while politcal protests in that nation surged into social unrest.

He's been located today, "in the hands of the Syrian authorities, who are currently responsible for him", according to the Facebook page created in his honor.
Please follow that Facebook page, and send your support to the Roots!

Friday, March 18, 2011

New Fairpoint broadband pricing: some research

Some Ripton residents recently received a mailing advertising Fairpoint’s new internet service plans.

What do these new plans offer, and how much do they cost? One Ripton resident did some research via phone, email, Web, and print. This took some time and effort, since there wasn't a single Web page or printed document with the information.

Here’s what was learned about the real costs.

The short version: Fairpoint’s low-cost pricing ( $16/month first year discount good through April 30th) is a lure, a short-term deal to lock us into more expensive plans.

This plays out through different packages:

  • The “Double Play Bundle” - phone & internet, no voicemail ("Fairpoint Exchange Select package"), For a 1-year contract, the costs are: $60.99 plus taxes/surcharges (ave. $10) = $70.99/month. If you maintain that service for a second year, the cost rises again, to $76.99 + taxes/surcharges, or $86.99/month.
  • "Double Play” plus voicemail? Monthly charges go up to $65.99 plus taxes/surcharges (taxes average $10), or $75.99, for that first year. Second year: $81.99 + taxes/surcharges (ave. $10) = $91.99 per month.
  • The cheapest plan simply adds internet to your existing phone plan. The internet fee is $19.99 per month, plus whatever your phone bill is. That’s for the first year. After that, the internet fee goes up to $35.99, plus your phone bill.
  • Internet only, without any phone service? No annual contracts, just month to month billing, at $40.99.
  • A "TriplePlay Bundle": "TriplePlay Bundle" : without voicemail: $77.99 per month (plus taxes and surcharges) for the first 12 months, then $124.99/month (plus taxes and surchrges). If you want voicemail, the price increases by $5/month to $82.99 and $129.99 respectively.

These prices might not apply next year, as there is no guarantee the price won't go up after the first 12 months.

There are three additional charges which can apply across all of these plans. For example,

  • Inside wire guard: add $3.99/month
  • Wireless router: $59.99 (or you can buy your own)
  • Early termination of contract: $79

Moreover, if you switch to one of these plans, the billing cycle changes. Instead of being billed for the previous month, you're billed for the next month, so the first bill will be especially high.

Any thoughts? more information?
(some edits for clarity)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Snowstorm in March

A huge snowfall hit our town! An unusually high amount of white stuff for this time of year.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A new local education initiative has launched, and seeks your input. The ACSU Study Committee is looking into the possibility of setting up a regional education district (RED) , and hopes to develop community discussions around that topic over the upcoming year.

The RED project has representatives from the following towns:
  • Bridport 1
  • Cornwall 1
  • Middlebury 5
  • Ripton 1
  • Salisbury 1
  • Shoreham 1
  • Weybridge 1
The Study Group's Website publishes a good amount of information, along with a discussion forum.

(thanks to Amy McGlashan)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rural post offices under threat

The United States Postal Service is considering closing hundreds of small, rural post offices, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Beginning in March, the agency will start the process of closing as many as
2,000 post offices, on top of the 491 it said it would close starting at the end
of last year...

Ripton's office is not under threat at the moment, according to its post mistress at last night's Town Meeting. It doesn't lose lots of money, not present safety issues. But it's probably a good idea to keep buying stamps there, and using the 05766 zip code when ordering stuff online.

Because our post office is a precious thing. Another WSJ article notes the story of a small mountain town's PO closing.

New site for Vermont agriculture discussion

A new Web site about Vermont agriculture was launched this week. What Ceres Might Say is a blog about "particular information on the history of agriculture in Vermont".

It's written by Roger Allbee, former state ag secretary.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Natalie Kinsey Warnock Author Visit at Ripton Elementary

Vermont author Natalie Kinsey Warnock will be visiting Ripton Elementary School on February 16th. Her visit is part of the activities that are being planned for our February literacy celebration. Ms. Kinsey Warnock will be doing a whole school presentation from 9am-10am. The public is invited. Later, she will lead the 3rd-6th graders in a writing workshop. All of her books depict Vermont life and traditional values of family, hard work, and friendship. Many thanks to Friends of Ripton School (FORS) for sponsoring this event, and thanks to Linda Kautzman, media specialist at Ripton Elementary, for arranging this exciting opportunity for our community.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Riptonite in Franklin County

One Riptonite is working on growing Vermont's economy. In his new role as the state's Commerce Secretary, Lawrence Miller is touring the state with our new governor, looking for ways to build more jobs. That link leads to a description of a visit to Franklin County.

Poll calls about Vermont Yankee?

Has anyone received a poll call about Vermont Yankee this week?

One Burlington Free Press writer reports getting a "push poll" call:
The person who received the call said the question included asking the recipient how he/she felt about Vermont Yankee losing 650 jobs and how reliable and safe nuclear energy is, and would a review by the Public Service Board be better than a decision by the Legislature.

I haven't.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One Ripton home lost to fire

One Riptonite's home was destroyed by fire this week. According to the Burlington Free Press,
The blaze broke out at about 1:30 p.m. in the mobile home of Robert A. Bergedick, 65, of 1740 Goshen Road, police said. He escaped. Firefighters arrived to find the home fully engulfed, police said.

Authorities said the fire was accidental.

The mobile home was owned by James and Kay Doolan, police said.

Ripton's volunteer firefighting team were on the scene.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tal Birdsey to speak in Middlebury

A Ripton resident is giving a reading at the Ilsley public library, down in Middlebury, the week after Sunday:

Tal Birdsey, author and educator
Living School, Living Words
Sunday, January 16, 2 p.m.

Tal will read from the manuscript of his
"in-progress" second book tentatively entitled Living School. His first book, A
Room for Learning - The Making of a School in Vermont, recounted the formation
of North Branch School in Ripton. What does a living school look like? Hear the
ideas of a dynamic, vibrant educator.