Author Archive: David

Breaking into the Hollywood boys’ club: Nell Scovell pulls back the curtain

Even if you don’t know the name Nell Scovell, you’ve probably seen her work and laughed at her jokes: she’s written for The Simpsons, Late Night with David Letterman, Murphy Brown, created Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, and co-wrote the 2013 blockbuster book Lean In with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. She has also written jokes …

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Tackling toxics: Will Vermont side with industry or citizens?

In the aftermath of the discovery in 2016 of widespread contamination of drinking water around Bennington, Vermont, citizen’s groups have lobbied for laws to tighten restrictions on toxics. But on April 16, 2018, Gov. Phil Scott vetoed legislation intended to help protect children from toxic chemicals in toys and other products. The Vt Senate overrode …

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The long road to gun control in Vermont

On April 11, 2018, Gov. Phil Scott strode onto the steps of the Vermont State House and signed into law the first major restrictions on gun ownership in the state’s history. The move represented a dramatic about face for the Republican governor — and the culmination of a years-long organizing effort led by gun safety …

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Business leaders demand action on clean water & carbon

Five Vermont CEOs recently wrote an open letter to Vermont Gov. Phil Scott urging him to support studies for clean water and decarbonization. “We, as leaders of companies that employ more than 800 Vermonters and account for over $1 billion in sales each year, are concerned by your refusal to seek new information and analysis to …

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Is our economy stacked against women?

As part of marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we speak with Rickey Gard Diamond, author of Screwnomics: How Our Economy Works Against Women and Real Ways to Make Lasting Change. Diamond explains that she invented the term screwnomics to refer to “the economic theory that women should …

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Stand up: How to speak out & win

We mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a conversation with author Gordon Whitman about his new book, Stand Up! How to Get Involved, Speak Out, and Win in a World on Fire. Whitman is director of policy for Faith in Action. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania …

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Are we living in a post-truth world?

Are we living in a post-truth world, where “alternative facts” replace actual facts and feelings have more weight than evidence? Is the the attack on truth and the media a step towards authoritarian rule? Lee McIntyre, author of Post-Truth, says this phenomenon has roots in the denial of scientific facts about smoking, evolution, vaccines and …

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How Heady Topper is brewing social change: The Alchemist’s Jen Kimmich

Heady Topper, the legendary and elusive IPA from The Alchemist named one of the top 100 beers in the world, has spawned a cult following — and social change. Alchemist co-founder Jen Kimmich is an influential political activist who serves on the boards of the Vermont Public Interest Group, Vermont Council on Rural Development, Main Street Alliance, …

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Vermont’s secret Olympic pipeline

In February 2018, the US women’s cross-country ski team team won the first ever Olympic gold medals in their sport. Olympic skiers are now returning home, which for many of them is to Craftsbury, Vermont. This small northern Vermont community has become a pipeline for Olympic cross-country skiers, many of whom are part of the …

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Walkout and speak up: Students and teachers take on gun violence & austerity budgets

Can students and teachers change the story on gun violence and school cutbacks? One month after the school massacre in Parkland, Florida, students across the country and throughout wintry Vermont walked out of class to demand new gun safety laws. Student activist Hazel MacMillan, a junior at Harwood Union High School in Moretown, Vt., speaks …

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“Schools are not prisons:” Pedro Noguera on real school safety

Will arming teachers, hardening schools, and putting cops in the halls make schools safer? Or will it just result in students going to jail instead of the principal’s office? What is missing from the conversation about school safety? Dr. Pedro Noguera is Distinguished Professor of Education at University of California Los Angeles and director of the …

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From Nazis to Watergate to Trump: Legendary WaPo editor Harry Rosenfeld connects the dots

An unsung hero of the Watergate scandal was Washington Post editor Harry Rosenfeld, who directed Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein in their Pulitzer Prize winning exposes that brought down Pres. Richard Nixon. Rosenfeld was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1929 and, after witnessing German attacks on Jewish owned businesses and synagogues, he emigrated to the US …

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How Vermont embraced gun safety: Gun Sense VT founder Ann Braden on the challenges ahead

In December 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Ann Braden, a stay at home mother of two in Brattleboro, VT, decided enough was enough. Shortly after the Newton killing, she gathered 12,000 signatures on a petition calling for universal background checks on …

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#NeverAgain: Vermont student activists demand gun safety

In the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people, students from around Vermont have streamed out of their schools and into the Vermont State House to demand new gun control laws. They are part of a national grassroots student movement for gun safety saying #NeverAgain. The response has been remarkable: …

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Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas: Transforming activism into law on sexual harassment & gun safety

The Vt Commission on Women reports that 60 percent of women say they’ve experienced sexual harassment at work, and most of those say they have experienced retaliation for speaking up about it. Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford) is lead sponsor of a bill to change Vermont’s sexual harassment laws to ban non-disclosure agreements and protect victims’ …

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Vt. Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman: Vt. is not protecting most vulnerable

Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, the lone third-party lieutenant governor in the country, often finds himself at odds with Republican Gov. Phil Scott. Zuckerman argues that Scott is not keeping his promise to protect the most vulnerable while cutting budgets. Zuckerman also discusses his support for a $15 minimum wage — despite acknowledging that it …

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Is Vermont’s renewable energy revolution over?

Gov. Phil Scott says he is committed to the goal of having Vermont meet 90 percent of its energy needs with renewable power by 2050. But Vermont is moving in the opposite direction: Renewable Energy Vermont says that in 2017, there was a 50 percent drop in new net metered solar projects. Are new state …

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Do Vermont schools spend too much? Rep. Dave Sharpe says no

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott promised not to raise taxes, but he is now presiding over the largest property tax increase in memory. What happened? Gov. Scott says that schools spend too much. But Rep. Dave Sharpe, chair of the Vermont House Education Committee and a former teacher, dismisses this charge and says the tax hike …

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The fastest women in the world: The remarkable rise of the US Women’s XC Ski Team

The U.S. earned its only Olympic medal in cross-country skiing in 1976, when Vermont skier Bill Koch captured silver. That may soon change: The women of the US cross-country ski team are serious contenders for an Olympic medal in South Korea in 2018. In this Vermont Conversation, and author, coach and skiers discuss the remarkable rise …

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VT Attorney General T.J. Donovan: Yes to reform, no to private prisons

On January 23, 2018, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan issued a statement strongly opposing a plan by Gov. Phil Scott to build a $140 million 925-bed private prison in Vermont. “Vermonters should ask some tough questions about whether there is a better way to address the need for correctional facilities in the state of Vermont,” …

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Can we end mass incarceration?

According to the ACLU, Vermont currently incarcerates approximately 1,700 people. That’s three times the number of people it incarcerated in the 1980s and 50 percent more people than in the late 1990s.  According to the Sentencing Project, Vermont imprisons Black men at a higher rate than any other state. All this comes at great cost: …

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The Post and the leaker: Daniel Ellsberg speaks

The Post is a new Hollywood movie about the dramatic decision by the Washington Post (together with the NY Times) to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The movie features Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. The real-life star of this drama was Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the top-secret history of the Vietnam War to the newspapers. Ellsberg was a former Marine …

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State of Working VT: As inequality deepens, Gov. Scott faces self-inflicted property tax hike

Vermont’s economy is growing slowly, but income inequality has deepened. That’s the conclusion of the State of Working Vermont 2017 report issued by Public Assets Institute. The report shows that 1 in 9 Vermonters — including 16,000 children — live in poverty. Paul Cillo, founder and president of Public Assets Institute, discusses these issues and explains …

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The people’s treasurer: Beth Pearce

State treasurers are not typically viewed as crusaders for economic justice. But Vermont State Treasurer Beth Peace has quietly and doggedly championed programs, some of them first-in-the-nation, aimed at strengthening the economic security of working people. She pushed for passage of one of the broadest public retirement programs in the country, Green Mountain Secure Retirement, …

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Trailblazers: Vt Sen. Becca Balint & Rep. Kiah Morris on #MeToo, activism and politics

Vermont Sen. Becca Balint and Rep. Kiah Morris are political trailblazers. Balint, the Senate Majority Leader, is one of the first women to be elected to Senate leadership and the highest ranking openly gay legislator in the state. Morris is just the second African American woman to serve in the Vermont legislature. In separate interviews, …

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Bill McKibben & Ken Squier: Media, resistance & the way forward

A rare meeting of two icons: Bill McKibben, author, activist and founder of 350.org, and Ken Squier, owner of WDEV Radio Vermont and a legendary sports broadcaster who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January 2018, held a public conversation moderated by Vermont Conversation host David Goodman on December 6, 2017 …

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How the GOP “lost its soul:” Republican strategist Stuart Stevens on Trump and his enablers

Stuart Stevens has been a top Republican strategist in the presidential election campaigns of Mitt Romney and George W. Bush. But Stevens has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump and now describes himself as “homeless” in his own party. He talks about why he wrongly predicted Trump could not win, how Trump has …

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Don’t cry for the fallen: Madhulika Sikka on downfall of once-mighty media men

Matt Lauer of NBC, Charlie Rose, of PBS and CBS, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, John Hockenberry of NPR – all of these powerful men of the media have one thing in common: they no longer have a microphone due to sexual harassment allegations. Are these men getting their just due, or being denied due …

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Ethan Allen, poser? Revisiting Vermont history

Journalist-turned-historian Mark Bushnell has been writing about Vermont history since 2002 for the Rutland Herald, Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and VTDigger. His latest book, Hidden History of Vermont (History Press, 2017), takes a new look at some old stories. He questions whether Ethan Allen, leader of the fabled Green Mountain Boys during the American Revolution, was the war …

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Can local food save the world?

Vermont’s local food movement is a national leader. There are ambitious goals: the Vermont Farm to Plate plan calls for 10% local food consumption by 2020, while the New England Food Vision aims for 50% of all food consumed in New England to be from local sources by 2050. But we have a long way …

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Billionaire Bonanza: America’s oligarchs

A new report, Billionaire Bonanza 2017, shows that the three wealthiest Americans — Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and investor Warren Buffet — have more wealth than the bottom half of all U.S. households combined. “If left unchecked, wealth will continue to accumulate into fewer and fewer hands,” says Josh Hoxie, report co-author. …

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Terri Hallenbeck on two decades as a Vt. political journalist

Terri Hallenbeck started work for the Burlington Free Press in 1998, where she served as copy editor and assistant metro editor. She joined the paper’s capital bureau from 2005 to 2014, when she left to join Seven Days, where she was the staff writer covering state politics until November 2017, when she left journalism to work for …

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What the U.S. can learn from Finland

“If you want the American Dream, go to Finland,” said British politician Ed Miliband. This is the premise behind Finnish journalist Anu Partanen’s book, The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life. Partanen discusses what the U.S. can learn from Finland about love, taxes, education, and happiness. She describes how Finnish mothers receive 10 …

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Reuben Jackson: Poetry, jazz & dissent

Reuben Jackson has been the host of Friday Night Jazz on Vermont Public Radio since 2012, a job he has just announced that he will leave in 2018. Before this, he was curator of the Duke Ellington Collection at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. for 20 years. Jackson is also an accomplished poet and an …

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Sarah Browning: Poetry of provocation & witness

Sarah Browning is co-founder and executive director of Split This Rock: Poetry of Provocation & Witness, and an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. She talks about poetry as protest, white supremacy and privilege, her work organizing poets, and the annual Split This Rock poetry festival. She also reads from her new collection …

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Bill McKibben: Radio Free Vermont & resistance

Could an aging Vermont radio man, aided by a crew of Olympic cross-country skiers and craft-beer drinking fellow travelers, lead the resistance to Donald Trump? That’s the plot of Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance, the latest book by author and activist Bill McKibben. The central character of McKibben’s first novel bears an uncanny …

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Power Struggle: The epic battle to shut down Vermont Yankee

Vermont’s lone nuclear power plant, Vermont Yankee, operated from 1972 until 2014, when the plant shut down for good under intense political and financial pressure. POWER STRUGGLE is a new feature-length documentary by filmmaker Robbie Leppzer about the political battle to close Vermont Yankee. We speak with Leppzer and Arnie & Maggie Gundersen, key figures …

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Can a business change its culture?

Rob Miller wanted to shake things up: the president and CEO of Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU) wanted to make his company more transparent. And he wanted to be more responsive to customers. First, he had to change the business culture. He talks about how you pursue passion and purpose and change the culture …

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#MeToo: Women fight back against sexual harassment and assault

The #MeToo campaign, in which women are taking to social media to share their experiences with sexual harassment and assault, has shined a bright light on what women deal with daily at work and in public. This campaign has been energized by revelations about how Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein routinely sexually assaulted, touched and humiliated …

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Is the media fair to Pres. Trump?

Pres. Trump insists the media is “terribly unfair” to him. Is it? Jesse Holcomb, formerly of the Pew Research Center and currently a professor of journalism at Calvin College, dissects media coverage of Trump, and delves into the quality of news articles on the right and left. He also explores the influence of far-right Breitbart …

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Changing the face of the outdoors: First all-African American ascent of Denali

In 2013, the first all-African American team of climbers tackled Denali, or Mt. McKinley, in Alaska, North America’s highest peak. The expedition was sponsored by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). The goal of the expedition was to inspire minority communities to look outdoors for enriching experiences and to encourage environmental stewardship. James Edward Mills, who was …

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Co-working: Office & community for workers without an office

Co-working is what independent workers do who share an office but not a job. Vermont has seen a variety of co-working spaces pop up from Bennington to Burlington. They serve telecommuters, freelancers, and independent entrepreneurs. We speak with leaders of several Vermont co-working spaces. (October 4, 2017 broadcast) Wayne Maceyka, organizer, HinesburgHUB Dimitri Garder, Director, …

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No room for refugees?

As the world refugee crisis swells, Pres. Donald Trump has capped the number of refugees that the U.S. will accept at 45,000 — the lowest level since the refugee resettlement program was established 37 years ago. In 2016, Pres. Obama set the cap at 110,000. Trump calls it the “America First Refugee Program,” evoking the name …

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Naomi Klein: Resisting Trump’s shock politics and winning the world we need

Bestselling author, activist and filmmaker Naomi Klein is known for her critical writings on corporate globalization and capitalism. Her books include No Logo (1999), The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and This Changes Everything: Capitalism Versus the Climate (2014). Her newest book is No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World …

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Slow food pioneer: Visionary food writer Patience Gray

Today’s movements celebrating slow food and simple living owe a debt to food writer Patience Gray. In 1986, she published Honey from a Weed, considered one of the greatest cookbooks of all time by the likes of Mollie Katzen and April Bloomfield, and she has influenced culinary trailblazers like Alice Waters. For more than 30 years, Gray …

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Juan Gonzalez: Can mayors save America?

Juan González is one of the best known Latino journalists in the U.S. He has been a crusading columnist for the New York Daily News for nearly 30 years, co-host of Democracy Now! for 20 years, and is now a professor of journalism at Rutgers. His books include Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos …

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“Give me your tired, your poor:” Peter Gould’s anthem for the immigrant rights movement

Peter Gould has been involved in Vermont arts as a performer, director, teacher, and author for more than 45 years. He is the founder of “Get Thee to the Funnery,” a youth Shakespeare program in Craftsbury, Vt. which celebrated its 20th season in 2017. As half of Gould & Stearns — a 2 man touring …

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Is Vermont’s climate economy a national model?

A week after Hurricane Harvey broke climate records and tore through Texas, Vermont is hosting a “national innovation summit” about responding to climate change: building the climate economy. “Answering climate change could be the greatest economic opportunity in world history. The Climate Economy includes key sectors such as clean energy development, thermal and electrical efficiencies, …

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After Katrina: Trauma, racism, and recovery 12 years after America’s worst disaster

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. It was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Nearly 2,000 people were killed in the storm, and millions were left homeless. For New Orleans resident and author Alexander McConduit, the human impact of Katrina still stays with him. He has channeled his …

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How bullies can be stopped

Teen suicide rates have spiked dramatically, especially for teens in middle school. In many of these cases the cause is bullying. This disturbing trend has shaken Tom Murphy. Murphy, a resident of St. Albans, Vt., is a former All American wrestler and MMA fighter who has now dedicated his life to showing young people how to …

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