The Vermont Brand: Green Not Mean

Jet Fighters daily screeching across the Vermont sky? Lockheed Martin vying for control and influence? Burlington policemen shooting at unarmed citizens? I am shocked by the militarism in this state. I recently moved here from the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area to escape the military-industrial complex and endless talk of wars, military contracts, bases, Guard, etc.

Vermont is known throughout the rest of the country for its natural beauty, outdoor recreation, peacefulness, small town life and independent-minded citizens. This is Vermont’s BRAND. This is what makes the state unique. So imagine my surprise as a new subscriber to the Free Press when I almost daily read key stories, editorials and citizen comments on various results of militarism.

I ask the citizens of Vermont to step back and analyze where things have gotten to and whether this is the Vermont they envision. Debates should not be about particular noise levels of fighter jets but whether we should even have fighter jets in our midst. Is that part of Vermont’s BRAND? A brand that has been carefully and successfully developed for decades? Vermont has a strong, varied and resilient economy compared to other states. Any discussion about job creation and sustainable economic activities should center around and support the Vermont BRAND. And new directions coming from city, state and federal levels should be evaluated by the same – does this support the brand and image Vermonters aspire to? Or, conversely, does that new directions or initiative take away from who we want to be?

I came to Vermont to live out my remaining years in a better way. I came with an idyllic image looking from the outside in. Now that I am an insider, I receive almost daily shocks to that image. Will we end up like the rest of the country or will we preserve and nurture a better way of living? I, for one, will pull for the latter. And I ask all fellow citizens to prioritize and hold high our unique, attractive and successful Vermont BRAND.

Greg Paradiso

Greg Paradiso lives in Burlington. This piece originally appeared on BURLINGTONFREEPRESS.com as “Militarism Hurts Vermont’s Brand,” August 22, 2012.