Flags and Signs

Theft of items from homes is illegal, disturbing, and a violation of property rights. Stealing flags and signs from front yards is a desecration of tradition and neighborliness.

While First Amendment rights are technically not violated when flags and signs with political messages are stolen, the theft of personal property in the form of a political statement is a symbolic act of speech repression. To steal a political sign from someone’s front yard or a flag from someone’s porch is equivalent to stealing an American flag. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a Black Lives Matter flag or a Trump campaign yard sign. Stealing a private citizen’s message from their private property says that the thief does not respect freedom of speech.

My new BLM sign in response to local racism.

What do we do about this? Some of us are giving donations to causes, or purchasing flags or signs in response to racism or hate in Northfield. But anyone can respond without spending a lot of money. Here’s an alternative, cheap and easy way to show your support for your cause of choice:

Print a phrase or image on a regular sized piece of paper and tape it to the inside of your window. It might not seem like much of a statement, but it actually works.

An 8 1/2 x 11″ window sign evolved to a successful local movement.

One Northfield as a banner and call to action started exactly this way. An 8 1/2 x 11″ window sign helped initiate Northfield’s town and village merger. Now, my approach was a little excessive — I posted 6 signs in 3 windows — but it was a start. Brad Denny printed a banner and Jill Donahue let it hang on the facade of Northfield Pharmacy. They and many others deserve credit for getting public momentum going. But it started with a window sign. You can do that.

As for our local thieves — you never know who has hidden security cameras, so don’t press your luck. As for our local apologists — hey, you have your right to say what you think. Just remember, you are the sum of your words.

Mary Freeman

mary-headshot-draft-1I’m taking a break from local issues today to share news of my mother’s passing.  She was known by many in the Northfield community, some of whom may wonder of her or who may wish my father condolences.

My sister and I wrote her obituary yesterday.  It felt like we were writing the resume of her life.  There’s really no way to capture a sense of soul in a brief, factual chronology of a loved one’s work, accomplishments, and interests.  But for the record, I’ll share the obituary.  Then I’ll add something a little more personal.

Mary Freeman (1938-2016)

Mary K. Freeman of Northfield VT passed away peacefully on November 25, 2016, in Sarasota, Florida.

She is survived by her husband, David Freeman, two daughters, Betty Capron-Herrick and Rosie Laquerre, two sons, Richard Freeman and Nathan Freeman, seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren as well as many beloved nieces, nephews and their families.

Mary felt a deep commitment to her work, her community, and social life.  She was a dot-the-I’s-and-cross-the-T’s bookkeeper and was a fixture at the Follett Bookstore at Norwich University.  Mary served as a Lister for the town of Northfield and was a long-time member of the Northfield Business & Professional Association.  Mary was Treasurer of the NBPA for several years.

Mary put in countless hours with David to create the inaugural Labor Day Parade and Bicentennial Celebration in 1975.  She and David were honored to have been named as Grand Marshals of the Labor Day parade for their behind-the-scenes dedication to our community.

Mary was a member of the Northfield Historical Society and a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist church.  She was an active member of the Eastern Star, serving as Chapter Secretary in Northfield.

Funeral services will be held May 20, 2017 with arrangements by Kingston Funeral Home.

Condolences may be sent to:

David Freeman
1800 Englewood Rd. Unit 165
Englewood, FL 34223

On a personal note, I’d like to say to those who have lost a parent, I now know your pain.  My heart is with you if you have experienced such a loss.  For those who haven’t, my heart will be with you when that time comes.

My mother was a good and fine lady, likely much like yours.  She was resistant to change, but when my father led the way she adapted and found new ways of finding happiness.

One of the most significant changes was the sale of their home on Freeman Road.  The Freeman family isn’t broad in numbers but we are deep in local heritage and tradition.  The idea of moving off the hill wasn’t popular with my mother, but the reality of retirement and the need to downsize was evident.  My parents made a new home closer to town and began to winter in a Gulf Coast town south of Sarasota.  I must say, her smile was vibrant in Florida.  She danced, rode a bicycle, and went swimming in her retirement community.

My father, David, stood by my mother’s side as her husband, life companion, and over the last few years, as her primary caregiver.   He’s reached an important milestone in his life more dramatic than any other, and one I can’t possibly imagine.  My hope is that he finds a new happiness in the years to come.

Kids, Cops & Dogs: NPD brings Canine Unit to Bridges Summer Camp.

About two dozen Northfield students in the Bridges Summer Camp watched K9 Huey and his partner-handler, Sgt. Dodge from the Barre Town Police Department.  K9 Huey is trained to find missing persons, track criminals, sniff out illegal drugs, and protect his partner when necessary.  Huey his own web page and is one of only  a small group of K9s in Vermont.  Huey and Sgt. Dodge attended the Bridges Summer program by invitation from Officer Dan Withrow from the Northfield Police Department.  kids_cops_dogs 2.pngOfficer Dan,  a Vermont Police Academy Gaiotti Award recipient, holds a BA in History from Norwich University and served as Deputy Sheriff prior to his placement on the NPD in 2013.  Earlier this year he approached staff at the Bridges Afterschool Program with a proposal to hold a one-week Junior Police Academy.

I’ll let Officer Dan explain in his own words:

Huey’s appearance was one component in the week-long session.  Officer Dan arranged multiple learning opportunities for students junior-cadets.  Bridges Program students learned about firearm safety, civil rights, control-and-restraint maneuvers, fingerprint dusting, and other enforcement practices.  Students also participated  in mock traffic stops, wore “drunk goggles” to learn about driving under the influence, and watched the Northfield Emergency Services conduct an auto-vehicle extraction using the “jaws of life”

A local alternative newspaper?

If I’ve learned anything from my work on NatesUpdates.com, it’s that there’s demand for local information which seems to not be covered elsewhere.  This has led me to wonder if it’s time to broaden the scope of local online news and information.  Maybe you’ve been thinking about this too.  If so, take the two-question poll here:  https://surveynuts.com/surveys/take?id=101599&c=1478875061TPTV

…and please send me a note!

First, let’s establish readership on NatesUpdates as a barometer of interest in alternative news and insights.  If NatesUpdates can draw a crowd, it makes sense that more writers could draw more of a crowd.  

So what kind of crowd can one person draw?  Well, here are the NatesUpdates.com stats for the first 21 posts over a period of four months — including one month when I didn’t write anything:

Stats — WordPress.com

In the world of one-person startup blogs, these are pretty good numbers.  And none of this could have been done without you.  Consider yourself part of a movement among those who appreciate local news in a  21st-century medium.

But back to the question:  “Is it time for a local alternative newspaper?”

NatesUpdates.com is great, but wouldn’t  it be better to have a news source a little bit bigger than a one-man blog?    Something like a Vermont Digger, but just for the greater Northfield area?  More contributors?  More points of view?  More information?

You might ask, “Is there really enough going on to justify an alt-paper?”

Believe, me, there is.  I’ve been asked to write on more subjects than I could possibly cover.  And frankly, these are things  readers would appreciate.  For examples:

  • How can a local business get 25 customers on a Thursday night?
  • Did you know the Northfield Middle/High School has ranked in Vermont’s Top 10 schools according to US News & World Report — three years in a row?
  • What are the best hiking trails in the area?  What does the view look like from the top of Scragg Mountain?
  • Did you know there’s a new connection between Northfield and TriBeCa’s The Flea Theater?  Yea, that’s a super interesting story I can’t wait to get to.

And these are just the tip of the iceberg topics.  There are lots of stories to tell!  There are pictures and videos to share, surveys to take, and maps to show us where to go.  You’ve seen it all here, all created by one guy with not enough time on his hands.

So let’s put the ball in your court.

If you’re a reader, what do you think about supporting an alternative news source?  What if you could ask for a specific topic to be covered?

If you’re a business owner, what do you think about powerful, alternative promotional opportunities, like video, lots of photos, and an awesome story?

If you  write or have a camera, what do you think about a new venue to share your creativity?  What if an alternative paper could generate revenue so you could get paid for your work?

If you have publishing experience, what do you think about taking the reins of something really fun and awesome for our community?

And please, don’t be shy.  This is your community.  You contribute.  Your ideas, thoughts and feelings matter. You care about Northfield and you’ve come to realize it’s time to join a larger effort to share in our important, day-to-day stories.

On my end of the equation, I’ll keep writing, knowing there’s a bigger picture about local goings-on than my personal views.  My professional goal isn’t to write a vanity blog.  I just want something more for Northfield — something we can get excited about.  

So send me a note and click here to answer two simple questions:  https://surveynuts.com/surveys/take?id=101599&c=1478875061TPTV

Let’s talk — alternative news can bring a breath of fresh air to Northfield.  What do you think?







People Around Town: Christine Barnes, Sally Davidson

Have you seen someone go the extra mile for our community in one way or another?  Sure you have, probably at least once a week or so.  Maybe you’ve done it yourself.

So how about we take a moment and say, “Hey, good job!”

Take a picture and send a note about the person who should be recognized.  We’ll post it on NatesUpdates under the title, “People Around Town.”  It’s time for the unsung heroes to have their day.


So, what’s the inspiration for this type of post?  Well, this morning we caught Master Gardener Christine Barnes tending perennials at the crosswalk next to the Common Cafe — and instead of driving by, we thought it would be great to take a picture and sing a praise or two.

“There’s a small group of people who have been trying to get a gardening club together but there hasn’t been much Christine Barnes original.jpginvolvement yet,” Christine said.  “Sally Davidson was down here yesterday.  We just want the Common to look good.”

Sally is an active member of the Recreation Committee and Christine is a member of the Friends of the Winooski and Northfield Conservation Committee.  However, it appears they are taking up the cause of downtown beautification on their own, not as an official duty.  Kudos to Christine and Sally for their work downtown!  Same goes for Vincent O’Neill and Christine Motyka and anyone we may have missed who prepare the beautiful downtown for summer.  Let’s think of them whenever we’re driving by or walking through the Common.  : )

And don’t forget, if you see someone doing a great job, send a picture and a note so we can celebrate People Around Town for everyone to read about and see!

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