• Between the Lines
    January 25,2009

    'Blue Vermonster'

    We can claim to be the most pro-Obama state in the Lower 48, according to a new analysis of his victory by Chuck Todd and Sheldon Gawiser of NBC News.

    In "How Barack Obama Won," the duo parses state-by-state results to draw conclusions about the country's political direction.

    In Vermont (which they dub "The Blue Vermonster"), they note that all voting groups went more heavily Democratic this year than in 2004, but that senior citizens showed the most remarkable shift. Those 65 and older backed President Bush over Sen. John Kerry 52 percent to 47 percent in 2004, but swung behind Obama by 69 percent to 31 percent this year.

    Oh, and apparently the Vermont Progressives' "We're not spoilers" memo hasn't reached the national media. In explaining how such a blue state could keep re-electing a Republican governor, the authors note that the third party "has more than once paved the way" for a Republican to win a race.

    The final word

    Followers of the late Donella Meadows have waited years for the release of the book she had nearly finished before she died unexpectedly in 2001.

    Meadows was world-renowned as a leader in the sustainability movement, whose work was applauded by the likes of Thomas Friedman and earned her a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award. Her 1972 book "Limits to Growth" is credited with launching a worldwide discussion of the growing pressures on the Earth.

    In Vermont, she was also a neighbor and a friend to other residents of the Cobb Hill co-housing community she founded in Hartland.

    Now Chelsea Green is posthumously publishing her final manuscript, "Thinking in Systems: A Primer." It uses the simple imagery of Slinkys and bathtubs to explore complex questions of how systems — any interconnected set of things, from cells to people — produce their own pattern of behavior over time.

    And the book promises to provide practical models for problem-solving, whether the issue is global warming or family dynamics.

    Fresh ideas

    Rutland eighth-grader Sarah Porch wonders why "I can write/These words/Straight out/Of my soul/And share them/With total strangers/When I can't/Even tell my friends/What I feel."

    Vermont students, including Porch, share plenty with complete strangers in a new anthology from the Young Writers Project. The nonprofit aims to prod and support fledgling writers by providing feedback and publication of their best work (the project's page appears in this newspaper and others).

    The 64-page paperback anthology features the work of more than 80 students, including poetry by Montpelier ninth-grader Miranda Scott, Rutland senior Casey Hayes and others, and several personal essays (including one about a memorable ski race by Brattleboro seventh-grader Halie Lange). It's illustrated with the work of student photographers.

    More information is available on the YWP site at www.youngwritersproject.org/node/20203.

    The reading light: spotlight on events

    The New Voices program sponsored by Misty Valley Books in Chester is a great way to discover fresh voices. This year's 15th annual event takes place Saturday.

    The day starts with a cross-country ski outing and winds up with dinner, but the heart of the program (and the free part) is the reading and book signing at the First Universalist Church on Route 103 North in Chester's stone village.

    Here's the lineup, starting at 2 p.m.: Hillary Jordan, "Mudbound"; Angela von der Lippe, "The Truth About Lou"; Michael Dahlie, "A Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living"; and Lewis Robinson, "Water Dogs."

    The reception and book signing runs from 4 to 5 p.m. at the church. For more information, visit www.mvbooks.com.

    Do you have a tip for Between the Lines? Send it to ruth.hare@timesargus.com.

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