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This story appears in the April 5, 2012, edition of the Rutland County Express.

President Obama’s visit to Vermont last week may have been the first from a sitting president in 17 years, but throughout its history, the Green Mountain State has played host to many others. Some have come to campaign, some have come for pleasure and two were even born here. But, few, if any, of these visits were very remarkable. With that, I present an alternate history to Vermont’s presidential visits.

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A version of this story appears in the Feb. 16, 2012, edition of the Rutland County Express.

“For a state with so many hills, Vermont is pretty flat.”

This sentiment was expressed by a colleague of mine recently after a visit to the Vermont State House in Montpelier. And while this realization is nothing new, a day spent wandering the halls of our state government really drives it home.

At a time when the average citizen feels increasingly powerless — at the mercy of governments, corporations, banks, churches and other institutions that seem more concerned with self-preservation than with the public good — it is refreshing (and comforting) to know that Vermont’s government is still accessible, democratic and equitable.

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In recent weeks, the Internet has been consumed with the latest meme. Inevitably, it has finally arrived here in Vermont.

For those readers less familiar with web jargon, a meme is a term used to describe a “concept that spreads via the Internet” (source: Wikipedia). It is often a cultural reference of some sort that is played out in numerous iterations by users. For a primer, visit knowyourmeme.com.

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Originally published in the Rutland Herald and Rutland County Express on Dec. 29, 2011.

Two thousand eleven is almost behind us, and it’s a year I think almost all of us are happy to put in the rearview. But before we ring in 2012, let’s take a moment to look back. Borrowing from Twitter, I’ve compiled my list of the biggest stories trending in #RutVT in 2011.

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Vyto Starinskas / Rutland Herald photo

(Originally published in the Rutland Herald on Nov. 30, 2011.) By now this scene is commonplace. Throngs of people convened on a predetermined location. Their motivations for being there were myriad, but all agreed they would not leave until they got what they wanted. There was shouting, pushing, shoving. In some extreme cases, people were even injured.

This wasn’t Zuccotti Park or Tahrir Square. It was retail stores across America last week rapt with Black Friday mania. As I combed my Twitter and Facebook feeds last Friday morning I was struck by the vacillation between disgust and glee in my friends’ status updates — a microcosm of American attitudes toward this pseudo-holiday.

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