Monday, December 11, 2006

Liberal Coffee, Independent Books, and Smart Dogs

This photo and the morning that surrounded it sums up some very important components of community in Vermont for me: Local coffee shops, Radio, independent bookstores, dogs, and politics.

Saturday morning, leaving my own dog and boyfriend still in bed, I trotted off to town (Montpelier) for what turned out to be a bustling Saturday. My first stop, of course, was at Capitol Grounds to get my morning cup of coffee. If you haven’t been to Capitol Grounds, you might not know, that the size options for your coffee are quite different from Starbucks. Your options, from smallest to largest, are conservative, moderate, liberal, and radical. To top it off (no pun intended), the two most common brews are “Bob’s House Blend” and “Bob’s Senate Blend”. This means that I frequently get to place my morning coffee order by requesting a “liberal senate” or a “radical house”. I think these orders pretty much speak for themselves.

After this wonderful opportunity to state my political wishes and receive a delicious cup of coffee in return, I was off to my next stop, Bear Pond Bookstore. Ken Squire, owner of WDEV radio, was broadcasting live from Bear Pond. Ken Squire was not alone. He was accompanied by renowned Buster the Wonder Dog, a border collie who frequently makes appearance with Ken at WDEV events. You can’t see it in this picture, but the chair that Buster is sitting in actually has the name “Buster” embroidered on it. Ken woke up Vermonters on this Saturday morning with his beloved “music to go to the dump by” and his commentary on the people and books that surrounded him at Bear Pond. I perched myself on the steps leading up to Bear Pond’s fabulous children’s section and watched the broad cast unfold.

Here is a little script of what I observed as I sat on the steps observing a not so typical Saturday morning radio program live from the smallest state capital.

Enter stage right, Bear Pond employee, George, holding 4 copies of the New York Times

Ken Squire (KS): Wow, you have a lot of copies of the Times there.

George (G): I’m still looking for the comics.

KS: It’s above the fold on the front page.

All that wit before 9:30 on a Saturday morning in December.

As if having WDEV broadcast live wasn’t enough for Bear Pond to offer me for entertainment and education that morning, Chris Graff arrived at Bear Pond about an hour later ready to sign his new book Dateline Vermont. I was getting a copy signed for my wonderful boyfriend, Robb, for Christmas. Of course, I have already started reading it and it is absolutely fabulous. Apparently, I’m not the only fan because Bear Pond sold out of this book on Saturday.

So, this blog is more of a story, than an essay, but there is an important moral to the story. The reason that I am able to enjoy a Saturday morning like this is because of the political and personal choices that Vermonters make everyday. There is very strong legislation to support Vermont’s downtowns. WDEV is one of the few family owned radio stations still around, which enables for considerably more freedom in terms of programming. Most importantly, everyday, Vermonters just like me, make the decision to spend their days enjoying and supporting their local community. Without the support of community members, small businesses such as Capitol Grounds and Bear Pond Books, would not be able to survive and I might find myself at the mega-chain counterparts that now dominate the majority of the American landscape.


At 5:40 AM, Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Take care and be vigilant, the mega chains are constantly studying demographics and will eventually spring into action. It is good when a town has business restrictions, such as Cannon Beach Oregon has, no franchises, no neon. Though some franchises are there now, but they were the flagship franchise that branched out from Cannon Beach.


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