Rev. Lise Sparrow

Pledging allegiance

A group of off-duty state troopers were caught in a brazen act of self incrimination. Now that there is clear evidence, who will be held accountable? And how?

It seems like a bad dream: a group of off-duty state troopers invent rap verses using the most egregious of language - including “If being racist is right then I'll never be wrong” and multiple uses of “NAPA,” an acronym for “North American pavement ape” - while playing online games.

Not an imagined nightmare, this series of events occurred among Vermont State Police troopers at the Westminster barracks. Documentation of this behavior, including names of troopers participating, was reported to Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison this past month.

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An ode to teachers — and to a great teacher

Maggie Cassidy, beloved Brattleboro Union High School teacher of French and Spanish, the best of teachers. She dedicated her entire career to the Brattleboro community.

In recent weeks, approximately 8,403 teachers In Vermont have resumed packing their lunches and organized their households, and many dropped off their own children. They're filling our schools with welcome, learning, and perhaps the most formative experiences of a lifetime. We know that this year schools are particularly strapped...

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A celebration of community in food, song, and spirit

NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner offers a salute to U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and his work for racial equity

More than 300 people began streaming onto the Retreat Farm and into a big white tent on Aug. 13 as Sam Waymon - brother to the late musician and civil rights activist Nina Simone - and two backup vocalists set the upbeat rhythms for the third annual NAACP Freedom...

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What more could we have done?

This week has marked Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year - a special time preceding two other important holy days, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, which also take place in September. I am sure I join with many in the local community in wishing all our Jewish neighbors a safe and prosperous new year. Even so, this time of heightened awareness and celebration can also be a time of heightened risk for our Jewish brothers and sisters. Within the past two...

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Thank you to essential workers

The Jewish Passover, the Christian Holy Week, the Muslim time of Ramadan, and the Bahá'í feast of Ridvan all recently celebrated or are still celebrating the best of who we are in times of suffering and darkness. Together, we want to acknowledge the gift of courage and hope currently shining from those in our community, visible and not so visible, who are considered, regardless of their faith and practice, “essential” in the realm of labor and who continue to light...

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Interfaith youth return from Lakota country

When Jonah Petrie returned in July for his fourth year to La Plant, S.D., with the Brattleboro Area Interfaith Youth Group, he had earned the role of youth leader and stepped into that role with ease. More tentative was his hope to rekindle his friendship with a young Lakota boy named Xavier whom he had met when Xavier was a seemingly happy-go-lucky seven-year-old. Now Xavier is a lanky 12-year-old with the weight of his heritage on his shoulders. His older...

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Can hate speech push us toward unity and love at the heart of every faith tradition?

Eight years ago, 10 of us met in Dummerston with Brillo pads and rubber gloves to scrub a granite rock in the Dummerston quarry which had been defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti. Last September, locals in West Glover, Vermont, raised funds to replace the side of a barn that had been defaced with racist graffiti. In October, a rainbow church sign at the West Dover Church was slashed. Recently, two schools have dealt with cyber-bullying of Jewish students. And just a...

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Welcoming the stranger in our midst

The stories of neighbors helping neighbors are manifold in this compassionate community of ours. But with the holidays just past, I thought it might make sense to write about the hospitality we are able to show strangers in our midst. As we well understand, this is particularly challenging at present when the strangers are refugees - more than half of them children - and with the number of refugees now permitted entry to this country cut by more than half.

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