Saturday, September 08, 2007

Act 250

Preface for those outside B-town: Act 250 is a 20 some year old Vermont law regulating land use, that has been described to me in its general purpose as something to ensure Vermont doesn't become like New Jersey (sorry Jersey!). I haven't talked to any lawyers about it, but it seems super-general.

Second Preface: Even tho it's a political issue the following post is still very important to the daily functioning of OHF.

Someone has already called me out on my promise to write more on the blog, and there is a political issue that is burning me up (even beyond another ninety degree day), and that's what blogs are for, so . . .

In fact, it's hard not to imagine that the blogosphere floating above burlington isn't full of alot of what I'll say, but electronic democracy here it goes:

It is hard to believe that someone wants to shut down (or even make life harder for) Intervale Compost. In fact, my first question always is: who could this possibly be benefiting. Certainly not Burlington residents, who would do what with their yard and food waste. Not Organic Farmers whose land this compost nourishes.

It would seem the public arguments for enforcing the law (and if it just seems unfair to you to start enforcing a law 5 or 10 years after a business has been running, well, that's just one you'll have to piece together) are run-off into lake Champlain. To me this is the single most powerful argument, the largest problem for Compost. My counter-argument goes something like this: on balance this operation does alot more good for the environment than bad. I mean, for one, it is part of the reason Burlington is thought of at all as a green city. But forget the above mentioned items that the state gov might rather see land-filled, what about the product, the compost that is created. Isn't, as the ads on tv always say, the petrol fertilizers that people put on their lawns and gardens way worse for the lake than the compost. Then think about the added disease resistance using compost and compost teas gives you over some of these fertilizers, so that maybe you don't have to use deadly pesticides.

Then there is a second argument which is just a historical mindf-ck (I hope no children are reading this, excuse my language), the archaeological one. This has to do with sacred sites of the Abenaki. This is a tough one to beat, since it is almost impossible to concieve of being in a more politically correct spot than Native Americans. The now peaceful image we have of Native Americans seems to be generally true of the Abenaki (I coincidentally have been reading about them). Very respectful of the balance of nature, and in fact farmers of the Intervale themselves, albeit a few years earlier. From what I've read thus far of the religion and customs I can't imagine that taking the Vermont environment a few steps backward is what any Abenaki wants, but . . .

Someone said this whole thing was started by a citizen whistleblower, well I certainly hope Intervale Compost gets to face whoever really does want to give them trouble. Would it be a blog if I didn't give my conspiracy theory? Conventional Farms would be an obvious target, but it could just be that a lot of farms outside of Burlington would be find it a lot easier to crack the market if it was a lot harder for Intervale farmers to get compost. Well, even saying it I admit it sounds a little crackpot, and the mere fact that I've had this long to think about it this long means the season must be slowing down at least a little.

One thing we can all agree on, Vermonters sure like their tempests in their teapots.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the article that reported this in the Free Press, the "whistleblower" is Abenaki, so you might have to revise your theories a bit.

12:29 AM, September 13, 2007  
Blogger Josh May said...

I do need to adjust theories, probably greatly, not cause i didn't know that it was an abenaki who was the one who stood up to the monster machine of compost, but cuz I think the small affront to my self was blown a bit out of proportion (by me): which is not to say that alot of the old arguments don't stand, I still think abenaki's are in a bit of an unholy alliance with the republicans who are still, let us not forget, at the head of the executive here in Vermont. But as I've been driving around the Intervale this week, past the piles of compost, and there are a lot of them, I catch myself thinking, "What would people like to see here, on these ten acres?" "A seperate nation?" i'd like that too, but I don't 'spect that we're getting that. All ye who a read, or at least that one commentor, is there a plan for what to do with compost, or is this more just a tear down project?

11:06 AM, September 16, 2007  

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