I am a Vermonter by choice, not birth
“Take Back Vermont” signs spontaneously appeared throughout Vermont in 2000 as an inchoate reaction not just to the newly passed Civil Rights law but to the perception that newcomers were co-opting the state’s politics and culture.

I am a Vermonter by choice, not birth

Don’t try to tell me that we good ol’ flatlanders have done our chosen state of residence harm

ATHENS — At a recent meeting in town, one of our residents decided to have a rant about Vermonters.

To him, Vermonters are - like himself - born and bred in this fair state, and he said in no uncertain terms that he had no use for “flatlanders” or “outsiders.” He said that “we” came into “his” state with (and I paraphrase) “dollar ideas when there was a 50-cent budget.”

I must admit that I was offended by his outburst and his obvious dislike of people like me.

Oh, that is right - I am a flatlander. I was born and bred in western Massachusetts, and I chose to move to Vermont in my mid-20s. I have been (for the most part) happily living here for almost 36 years.

No, I don't consider myself a Vermonter in the sense that I was born here, but I do consider myself one because I chose to live here.

My family roots (at least on my maternal side) go from western Massachusetts well up into Vermont. My ancestors are buried in the Vermont towns of Windsor, Tinmouth, New Haven, and Pawlet. Two of my ancestors from Massachusetts fought in the Revolutionary War and, if you go back far enough, one stepped off a ship on the shores of Plymouth, Mass.

No, I am not a native Vermonter in any way but my heart. I am a New Englander, born and bred and damn proud of it, just as almost all in this country are proud of where they came from.

* * *

So don't try to tell me that we good ol' flatlanders have done our chosen state of residence harm. I have served on the school board, I am a lister, I was in the parent-teacher group, I am the assistant town clerk, I serve on the Planning Commission, I was the town health officer, I am involved in the Historical Society, and I was the one the started the renovation of our town office.

Where have you been when the town needed people to serve it?

You are the one who sits there in self-righteous indignation while we “flatlanders” do something.

You insult and belittle us while we earn our living and pay our taxes in this fair state.

You would rather see the state go to hell in a handbasket than let us know that we have done some good.

Fortunately, not all “native Vermonters” have your attitude. You are the rare exception and a dying breed. I feel bad that you can't and won't accept the helping hand of friendship extended to you.

That is really too bad, because as a rule, we flatlanders are pretty decent people.

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