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The Commons
Voices / Letters from readers

We are having this discussion at the town level

The writer serves as vice-chair of the Brattleboro Selectboard.

Originally published in The Commons issue #425 (Wednesday, September 13, 2017). This story appeared on page E3.

RE: “Can we talk about our town?” [Viewpoint, Sep. 6]:

I really appreciated this piece, Shanta Lee Gander. It has been on my mind quite a bit lately, and others I know are thinking about it as well.

Who our community is for is such an interesting question, because the answer seems easy. Yet it is not, as it differs for each who answers.

Most everyone would say, “Our community is for all!” But that “all” is subjective and based on our own bias and expectation.

Some say all but would not include our homeless or addicted population.

Some say all but would not include people from out of state.

Some say all but would not include Republicans. Or would not include our LGBTQ population. Or people of color.

Not that they would make a point of excluding them in public statement, but their thought process would do that automatically.

The most important thing from my perspective is that we keep having this exact discussion at every decision-making level in town. We ask: What kinds of businesses are we bringing in for people to frequent? What kind of employers are we attracting? Are we putting services in place to help those who need them and making them easily accessible? Are we investing in infrastructure that will make sense 20 or more years from now?

I would have to disagree about having no leadership (though in that instance, I might be a bit biased myself). I truly think our town officials might not be perfect, but we are compassionate, action-oriented, and willing to take a good look at ourselves and the community. We take criticism and feedback, then move to make the changes we can.

That said, the old boys’ (or girls’) club is certainly around this town, and it is heavy in certain sectors, such as arts and events. This has always made me very uncomfortable and feeling a bit indignant.

I would love to talk more with people who are interested in the identity of Brattleboro for the future, as well as the truth about whom our community is adequately serving right now.

Brandie Starr


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