Vermont – A Transformed State

Queeche Covered Brdige

Queeche Covered Brdige

Spent 10 days in Vermont, my home state, visiting family and attending my high school reunion.

Vermont remains amazingly beautiful and unspoiled. Even though it weathered a once-in-a-century flood 3 years ago, it has completely recovered, as far as I can see.  This covered bridge was washed away and reduced to splinters during the flood, but has been rebuilt in a remarkably short time.

When I was in high school, Vermont was a poor state with bad health care, mediocre schools, and poor nutrition. Its economy was based on dairy farming, maple syrup production, and tourism.  Dairy farms were failing because they were too small and transportation was too expensive to compete with the larger and better located farms of the midwest.  It was solidly Republican and conservative.

Sometime in the early 1970s this all changed. It has done a political and economic 180. Today it is heavily Democratic, progressive, liberal and has the only socialist (independent) senator in the nation in Washington.

Vermont has universal medical care, a very robust elderly care system, a network of farmer’s markets that are subsidized for poor families, and low unemployment.  Tourism, book publishing, and the arts are flourishing. Burlington, its largest city, is cited as one of the best places to live in America.

How did this happen?

As the farms went under, they were purchased by people looking for second homes away from the city.  Many came from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. Authors seeking peace and solitude came, as did artists and musicians. The Internet made living and working there easy. In Vermont they could enjoy privacy, continue to work, share the beauty with friends and live where it was not congested.

In time they became residents, brought the more liberal and progressive views of southern New England and have voted in a different kind of politician.