Vermont, Old and New

Opinion / Mar. 30, 2017 9:50am EDT

I watched John O’Brien’s first film, “Vermont Is for Lovers,” over the weekend. When I first saw the film, I was a kid and it just didn’t resonate with me. The second watching was a much different experience. The movie was utterly charming in a way that was completely lost on me when I was a boy.

I took particular note of how much had changed in Vermont since the movie was released in 1992.

The state seems always to have been shielded from the changes one would expect in rest of the world. That factor provides an unpolished charm to film footage even as recent as O’Brien’s.

In one scene in the middle of the movie, the late George Lyford, who would later be the star of O’Brien’s third film, “Nosey Parker,” laments the waves of out-of-staters’ home dotting Tunbridge’s placid hillsides. He cites that as his biggest environmental concern for the state.

Hyperbole aside, one thing is certain: changes in Vermont’s demographics have left us with a bit of an identity crisis.

The make-up of the state has changed quite a bit. The population has migrated resolutely away from the rural towns celebrated as Vermont’s trademark, moving toward larger (though still pretty small) population centers in Chittenden County.

We’ve bobbed along, carried by the currents of progress to something at the same time better and worse than what we had.

We have nice things now: plumbing that works all-year-round, electricity, even high-speed Internet access, if we’re lucky. But we’re losing a few things, too. Tight-knit communities and trust in our neighbors, for example.

Time marches on. That’s a fact we must live with (and revel in), but it’s about time we spent some effort helping time pick its parade route.


Return to top