On Aug. 24, the Rutland Herald published two commentaries that seem to point to some potential common ground across the political spectrum, at least here in Vermont.

Louis Scotellaro’s commentary, “Embracing diversity,” discusses the recent U.S. Census numbers for Vermont, and the efforts by Bob Harnish and Al Wakefield to promote a “Declaration of Inclusion” from town Select Boards and organizations across Vermont. John McClaughry of the Ethan Allen Institute also wrote a commentary, “Afghanistan collapse, Vermont opportunity.” Mr. McClaughry advocates for Vermont welcoming the “Afghan interpreters, translators and cultural advisors who stood with, and often fought the Taliban with U.S. soldiers and Marines … desperately trying to escape from lethal Taliban retribution.”

I first heard about the Declaration of Inclusion when Al Wakefield spoke at the April 2021 Project VISION meeting over Zoom. In April, there were a small number of towns that adopted this statement. Now, there are at least 18 towns that have joined in. In April, I wondered how the Rutland Town Select Board would handle this declaration. I had a hunch it would not pass. But I was surprised that our Select Board instead “filibustered,” rather than actually bring up a motion, debate and vote on a Declaration of Inclusion.

When I read the text of the Declaration of Inclusion, it seems like it is a restatement of existing federal laws against discriminations of various kinds. Some of our Select Board members come from a conservative or libertarian viewpoint, and seem to be against making redundant or unenforceable laws. But this Declaration of Inclusion is not a law, but a statement of values. Maybe it’s redundant, but given our current political divisions, perhaps a reminder is helpful. Granted, this ethic should extend beyond town governments, also to schools, businesses and other organizations. This Declaration of Inclusion by a town Select Board is a statement. They are nice words, but not actions.

Back in April, I started to write down some couplets, inspired by the work of Mr. Harnish, Mr. Wakefield and others. The sentiment of this Declaration of Inclusion could be expressed in other forms, perhaps through the creativity of artists, musicians, poets, filmmakers, etc. So, for what it’s worth, this is my poem, inspired by the Declaration of Inclusion (coming to a town near you):

Vermont Welcome Signs

By Ron Pulcer, 2021

Vermont is the Green Mountain State

Just look at our green license plate

Although Vermont’s mountains are green

It’s not the only color seen

September and October’s rainbows:

Sugar maple reds, oranges, yellows

As do willow, oak, birch on sky blue

All together with evergreen hue

November’s stick season reveals

The terrain that tall trees conceal

December’s bright snow, long dark night

Winter, waiting, by hearth fire light

April showers, mud season track,

May flowers, Green Mountains come back

Twelve months through Vermont’s four seasons

Many colors, many reasons

Vermont’s palette is not static

We’re more than monochromatic

Green Mountains, yes, but many hued

All people, respected, valued

It’s been twelve score and five years ago

Upon reflection, how did it go?

One Truth was NOT self-evident

We now declare an amendment

Henceforth, we declare the sequel

All People Are Created Equal!

Faith, hope and love in positive fusion

Town Declarations of Inclusion

Our highway border signs proclaim

“Welcome to Vermont,” with nickname

Welcome travelers, Vermont is scenic

We say “Welcome,” but do we mean it?

Ron Pulcer lives in Rutland Town.

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(1) comment

al@wakefield-global.com

Ron, soooo beautiful!!! Your creative support is unsurpassed; so very helpful!!!

Great Blessings!!

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