Follow by Email

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What It Is Ain't Exactly Clear

This is the first time I've been away from my hometown in 5 years. Really, away. Not running to MA or NH for whatever, but away for a period of time. Uninvolved and looking in on things. And I have to say it's not all good there.

It's been a hard year there. And 3 events- the murders and the flood- inadvertently defined who's who in Brattleboro. For all its magnanimous face, for all its touted "community", the truth is that there are 2 Brattleboros. One is the ego-hippies, equal trade buyers, Trustafarians, and plain old weathy type, and the other is the great unwash, the rest of us.

This was apparent to me when there was a bunch of politicos that showed up for the "vigil" for the coop manager (middle class white man) that was shot but nobody even knew about the "vigil" for the pizza parlor worker (poor white young woman) that was shot. And again when the flood came and businesses and downtown had no end of help, while the poor people in the trailer park were and are lucky to have a half-dozen show up to help them, as they try to live with the muck in their homes...

And in the midst of this glaringly obvious class delineation, the most and longest discussions on iBratt are the numerous threads about the proposed skatepark. There's an actual battle line being drawn over- a skatepark.

Bratt is good at rallying behind causes. There are protests all the time; much hooplah about shutting down the local nuke plant, for instance. But those causes are clean and remote and require little of getting one's hands dirty or smelling something bad.

What really made my ass twitch was seeing a story about people planting flowers by the interstate exit. Very nice, but how about the people at the next exit, whose homes have been growing mold and god knows what else since August 27th? Where's the story and pix of smiling happy hippies holding shovels there?

So this break from the norm has been informative. I'd heard from several others about what Bratt is really like and now I see it myself. I'm one of the poor; it's only because I live in public housing that I got the help I did. The poor suckers who owned their own trailer homes, who invested every cent they had in that place, stand alone.


Anonymous said...


Austan said...

My reaction precisely.

annieoatcake said...

Your insight and perception of life truly inspires me, Laura. Sometimes, when I comment on different sites, I worry myself sick that I might be some weird Pollyanna... then I read your blog and I just think 'fuck it, I'll say what I feel!' (excuse the french!)

Austan said...

Annie- we all need to say what we feel and think. That's the only way anything'll change. When you're silent, you're alone. And you'd be amazed how many are speaking fluent French these days. ;)

This post probably won't get me a big welcome home, but it needs to be said.

paulg said...

Crap is right,
but Brattleboro is hardly the only 2 faced town in the world.

I lived in Eugene, Ore. in the 80's and planted trees for a living - 'bout as gritty a job as you can get. I worked with guys who either drank or smoked their pay checks. They were pretty smart as a rule, but with issues.

My house mates were grad students at the U. of Oregon (the cross walks had ducks - the U's mascot - painted on them).
Not a lot of overlap between those two worlds.

Austan said...

Paul- it seems ironic to me that the town motto is "There's only one Brattleboro". And I recall saying to a co-worker at the coop when I first got there, "Boy, there are enough two-faced people around here to make a deck of cards!" Bratt doesn't corner the market in anything, I'm just naive, I guess.