Saturday, January 16, 2010

A “Tipping Point” We Can Be Proud Of

On Friday, Philip Baruth of VT Daily Briefing posted this article entitled:

The Penultimate Tipping Point On The Drive To Close Vermont Yankee Was Reached On January 14, In The Year Of Our Lord 2010.”

The connections Philip makes speak to the success of the walk and corresponding statehouse events as well as the political realities facing Entergy and its supporters. Speaking to Gov. Douglas’s need to condemn Entergy regarding the tritium leak and the company’s blatant misinformation campaign, Baruth notes,

No one wants disintegrating infrastructure as their signature legacy.

What does this mean for those of us working to see VY close it’s doors in 2012 and kick Entergy out? It means we need to ‘step up’ our citizen-led efforts and build on the energy generated from the walk. This means we take the overwhelming public support received by the walkers and place it in the lap of the VT legislature. While Entergy has certainly assisted in our efforts to convey they have no place here, it is up to us to make sure they legally have no place here.

In order to guarantee a firm “no” vote in the VT legislature this year, it needs to be abundantly clear the citizens of VT are supportive of a new energy era. Here’s what you can do:

Go to our Action Center and use the tools provided to take action. Letters to the Editor will be crucial over the next few months. Also, if you have not yet seen the film we screened for legislators on Wednesday, watch it and pass it on to others. Click Here to view it. Email, Facebook or Tweet this to everyone you know.

Finally, get others involved. Ask your friends, your neighbors and your family to participate. The voices of the People will inevitably close Vermont Yankee.

To the communities that took us in, the supporters, the cheerleaders and the tremendous positive energy: Thank you!

Chad Simmons


Thursday, January 14, 2010

“All We Have Are Our Feet and Our Voices."

Why We Walk film screened for legislators.

There is really no justice that can be done from what is to follow that can describe today’s events. The pictures and the words can convey a powerful story, but being in that room today with such passionate, committed souls and feeding off of their collective energy…We were there…alive.

Democracy certainly does exist in Vermont. I believe even the most hardened cynic of government and politics was moved as we proclaimed our desire to shed the toxic asset burdening the communities surrounding Vermont Yankee and legislators responded to our concerns and vision.

170 people bundled in thermals braved the frigid, but thankfully calm morning to complete the final six miles from Barre to the Statehouse steps (It was -1° when I walked out the door). School children, parents, teachers, business owners, builders, artists and social workers marched in solidarity to carry the message to legislators that Vermonters are ready to move beyond Entergy Vermont Yankee and the Enexus mess being hoisted upon us. Walkers arrived at the statehouse just after Noon, poised and excited about the day’s events. The mood was reminiscent of a large neighborhood block party, where friends and family commiserate and celebrate. A small cadre of TV cameras and photographers created a thin wall between the two sections of walkers sandwiched together, as the room seemed to swell. As the clock approached 12:30, a steady stream of curious legislators, lobbyist and supporters poured in to the Cedar Creek Rom of the statehouse.

Due to a last-minute call by Gov. Douglas announcing a bill signing (conveniently set for the same time?) participants and onlookers anxiously waited. As word got to us that Senator Shumlin and Shap Smith were in route, Betsy Williams took the mic. While the bulging crowd and cameras towered over her, Betsy’s words soared…and as soon as she began her introduction, you could feel the full force of the thousands of voices she carried with her. After a brief welcome, Betsy provided the framework for our announcement: Democracy is alive in Vermont, and as we made our way through community after community, it became abundantly clear that Vermonters want their democratically elected officials to end the toxic reign of Vermont Yankee. With a colossal print of the “Retire Vermont Yankee” petition to her right, Betsy proceeded to proclaim its contents. This was the first time I had heard it read aloud in its final form and instantly felt awash with a bizarre blend of jubilation, glee and calm. Walkers and supporters cheered, wildly at numerous points. Truthfully, as we approached 20 minutes, I became slightly anxious, as Senator Peter Shumlin and Representative Shap Smith were still in queue to speak. But that was fleeting. Betsy closed with: “No discount electricity rate that Entergy may offer Vermonters can justify failing to take advantage of this opportunity. It is simply the right thing to do. Future generations will thank you for doing it,” and with that, presented Peter and Shap each with a petition, signed by 1,656 individuals.

Senator Shumlin then took the stage. At that point, the crowd had inflated to beyond the petite-sized door towards the cafeteria and I was pushed to the outer limits of the scene. No matter, the vibes permeated the entire statehouse. Let me just say that Senator Shumlin went out on a political limb, if you will, for Vermont, his constituents, supporters as well as the people of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The crowd erupted as he unequivocally proclaimed his desire to see Vermont Yankee retired. He then took the next few minutes to detail and articulately argue the plethora of reasons why Vermont Yankee and the Enexus/Entergy scheme is a bad deal for Vermont. If the point-by-point reading of the petition wasn’t enough, Senator Shumlin detailed the germane issues currently before the legislature and on the front pages of every news outlet in VT, including recent findings of tritiated water, a woefully underfunded decommissioning fund and the preposterous corporate trickery known to us as Enexus. As the press conference concluded, Bob suggested to Senator Shumlin he might want to think about running for governor. The Senator agreed.

Speaker Shap Smith remarked about the arduous task set before the legislature regarding the looming vote. He concluded his comments with "I'm the father of an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old, and I don't want them asking me, 'dad when you had the opportunity why didn't you make them pay up and why are we paying for it now'?" Well said Speaker.

As the camera crews picked up and the legislators dispersed, the walkers, supporters and remaining curious folk were left in an ecstatic daze. This isn’t an everyday occurrence for most of us. The thrill and deep sense of purpose and accomplishment lifted us all. The walkers proceeded to grab a bite in the university common-like cafeteria. Organizers took a few minutes to catch our bearings and then began to prepare for the afternoon “legislative meet & greet” planned between 3:00-4:00pm. As 3:00 approached and I was scurrying to tweak the sound, the cafeteria filled with walkers, supporters and a drizzle of legislators. The Windham County delegation gets big props for shuffling their schedules and being true champions, encouraging other legislators to join us. Senator Jeanette White mentioned to me she even announced it on the floor of the senate yesterday. Audrey Garfield welcomed folks and shared her poignant reflections and the significance of today’s and proceeding day's events. She then introduced Chris Martin, Nancy Braus and Clara as they each shared their stories about the 126-mile trek in the name of democracy and acting on behalf of future generations. The three added a humbling element to the day’s events and provided a raw glimpse into the answer ‘why we walk?’ We then screened a short film, projecting the numerous voices and faces of people walking to close VY. It concluded with an urgent request that legislators vote “no” to the continued operation of Vermont Yankee. The sing-a-long was a spunky touch I thought, but possibly a touch too ‘gentle’ for the legislators. Audrey eloquently concluded the program and invited legislators in attendance to converse with walkers. The next hour was spent mingling, sharing stories and articulating to legislators our desire, and nearly everyone we met along the way, to stop the continued operation of VY.

All told my friends, a sincerely monumental day and something we should all be tremendously proud of…not to mention fortunate that we still have the ability to directly participate in the democratic process. But the work is far from over. As we awake on Thursday, the challenge to trump the Entergy/Enexus media-machine intensifies. As Deb Katz (Executive Director of the Citizens Awareness Network) responds to the question “what can we do?” We need “every Who in Whoville” to step up and act. We can be proud today, but tomorrow we must activate with the kind of vigor and unflinching passion I know we are capable of. Click Here to go to our Action Center or call me to plug in to our ongoing efforts to close VY this legislative session.

Thank you for everyone’s truly inspiring support. Each aspect of the walk could not have been possible without the support and unwavering dedication of the people. I will post the flood of news reports on today’s events at the very bottom of this post and they come in. Is everyone as tickled as I am when the “I Am VY” web-ad pops up when clicking on web articles? Ohhh, that Entergy/Enexus!

Click Here for the full album of photos. Thank you David Shaw, Cate Woolner and all the walkers for the beautiful photographs to complete our story!

See you on the streets! One way or another.


Chad Simmons


PS: I would be remised to not mention, that while today was a powerful day for us all, we were all deeply saddened to see the news reports come out of Haiti about the devastating earthquake. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Haiti.

News 'Clippings':

Rutland Herald

Times Argus

Burlington Free Press

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Voices Will Rise…Like the River’s Steam

Ahhh, I love to be reminded why I live in Vermont…the meandering streams, quiet roads and the tremendously hospitable people. This past weekend, I was finally able to join the crew as we stretched from Sharon to South Royalton and on to East Randolph. Before I share the journal entries from other walkers gathered this weekend, let me say this: Vermont Yankee will close. Not because of the stockpile of waste, tritiated water or the preposterous scheme to create a debt-riddled shell corporation (although, that’s not a sexy top-3 list), no. Vermont Yankee will close because Vermonters have a voice. Democracy is thriving in Vermont. It is abundantly clear the people are fully behind retiring Vermont Yankee on schedule. It is now up to the democratically elected legislature to see to it, that those voices are respected.

Check out the VPR story that ran 1/12 that sums it up: Click Here.

Walk on:

I had imagined my weekend would be spent reading books, feeding the fire, and taking walks on my snowshoes. Instead, I found by accident—or so it seems—the Safe and Green Campaign in South Royalton, and decided to walk a one day stretch with the group in support. That itself isn’t too remarkable…what worked very well was that the group was the coming day without a warm inside place for lunch, and I happened to know some friends along the day’s route. Well, inside thirty minutes, those friends had found a space for us in a local church, well heated by wood, and in an ideal spot along the way.Torsti RovainenChelsea, Vermont

An email from Leo entitled “Caffeine”

Yet one more item that the crew totally nailed-- all in all an incredible effort thanks

North Hartland lunch stop:

Miracles happen! I joined the walk Monday night in Springfield. I heard walkers talking about not having a place to stop for lunch on Wednesday. While walking on Tuesday I noticed how important it was to have an inside place for lunch. So I looked up the name of the only place I knew in North Hartland, a pottery shop. The walkers said most likely a pottery shop would not let 20 winter dressed people with packs come in to sit down. I called Information but they did not have a phone number for the pottery shop. So the next day since I could only walk part of the way and I reached my car I drove to the pottery shop and not only did the owner agree to let us have lunch at the pottery sop but she went out to get a copy of the local newspaper, since we were on the front page, and she asked the walkers to autograph her copy of our photo. She said she was honored to have us for lunch and put out tablecloths. As group of walkers doing up to 16 miles a day we appreciated the stop. The locals were responding more and more as we got local press coverage walking through the state. I call it a true miracle having someone open their business to 20 strangers. Laura Simon, Wilder, VT

Vermont is so incredibly beautiful. Walking today from South Royalton to East Bethel through this beautiful, lovely river valley, I was so grateful for this peaceful, quiet, pristine land we call home. We are all part of this land. I worry what would happen if a radioactive cloud covered our farms, hills and rivers? It is outrageous and immoral to continue to allow this accident-prone, outdated plant to continue.

I wonder, what are we about? Have we become so disconnected from this natural, beautiful place? This is Verd Mont. It is in the state’s name. I see the Green Mountains all around us as we walk. Vermont has the potential to become the leader in renewable, safe and GREEN energy. Kip Moeller – Colrain, MA

This walk has proved to me that the great majority of people, at least along our route up the Connecticut River Valley into the White River Valley, support shutting down Vermont Yankee, the sooner the better. The response from drivers and residents along the way has been multiple thumbs ups, “thank you for what you are doing” comments, and a very small percentage of disapproving drivers. As we have walked along the way, we have been welcomed into homes, community centers, a pottery studio, coops, and always with gratitude.

Thank you to the rest of our group and the enlightened state of Vermont, which will tell the nuclear industry to pack up and leave. Nancy Braus, Putney, VT

With that, the day has come to rock the Statehouse. Within hours, dozens of walkers will take to the streets one last time to complete the last 6 miles of the walk…poised to share the resounding call to close the toxic liability rattling on the banks of the Connecticut. We’ll be seeing you on the streets.


PS: It seems as if we have attracted followers...of the radioactive kind, if you will. They even decided to join us at a few of our forums and take notes. Check out their blog, it’s cute! YesVY

PSS: Thank you Nancy Braus, Cate Woolner for today's pics!

PSSS: Alright, this is it. Check out John Mingle's piece from here. John was gracious enough to spend a couple days with us on the road.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Plume For Your Thoughts

Finally! Our first film of the walk. Thank you Carl! Click on:

Step It Up Walk

Here is where my mind goes every time I hear Entergy spout off “Clean, Safe, Reliable” or “We’ve been operating for XX days in a row now”

“Nuclear power plants don’t have to blow up or melt down to release radioactive poisons into our air and water. All it takes is their routine, everyday operation.”(Kay Dry, Safe Energy Communications Council, 1990)

Tritium. That’s today’s buzzword and yet another of a very long list of reasons why this dilapidated, polluting reactor must be shut down immediately and replaced with other forms of electricity production. On Thursday, Entergy’s ever-present spokesperson Rob Williams announced:

Our environmental monitoring department reports that, for the first time, a small amount of tritium has been identified in a sample taken from a monitoring well at the plant.

Well-worded Rob! But not quite sir. In fact, in a report provided to the VT legislature in May 2009, tritium was found. And in today’s Rutland Herald article entitled “Tests suggest radioactive leak at VY”

The well, located between the reactor building and the river, first showed contamination of radioactive tritium at 700 parts per liter in mid-November, but by Wednesday, the contamination had jumped to 17,000 parts per liter.

I am not so sure we can trust them to act in the people’s best interest moving forward. But enough about the Entergy/Enexus band aid campaign. How are those walkers doing? Let’s hear from the walkers:

I had the privilege of being able to join the Step It Up group…from Windsor to White River Junction Wednesday. I didn't know exactly how my day would unfold, but in the beginning I was towards the front of the line walking along to the beat of Hattie's drum - an awesome way for me to find my rhythm and get into a good mindset for the 15-mile walk. Twenty of us had a clear day in the 20's with only some wind - I guess that would be considered a fairly good day for walking in the Vermont winter. It was hard work and I got sore towards the end - but the great conversations and rest stops broke up the day and helped the 15 miles pass without feeling too long. Finishing 15 miles felt good, but gave me even more admiration for what most of my fellow walkers have accomplished by walking most or all of the 69 miles so far! We encountered wonderful hospitality along the way, especially by our hosts for lunch and dinner. Barbara at Earthstar Pottery took us in for a fairly spontaneous lunch stop and Birdie met us at the Upper Valley Co-op in White River Junction where she had organized neighborhood potluck for the rest day. Most people driving by made an effort to show their support with a honk, wave, or thumbs up. People rolled down their windows or even came out of their homes to say "thank you"! It was an amazing experience, one I will always remember. The group was well organized, supportive, and fun. My thoughts will be with the group for the rest of the way and especially in Montpelier!”

Cory Frehsee

Brattleboro, Age 33

The day ended with the arrival at the Old South Church (First Congregational Church) and was cheerfully met by Pastor Mandy Lape-Freeberg. She was exceptionally accommodating a

nd had some time to eat and converse with the walkers. Bob was able to help out with a water-heater issue.

Walkers are finding this venture to be a wonderful opportunity to soak in the splendor and history of VT. The Pastor explained that the original Old South Church, which burned down and was rebuilt in 1798, was where the VT constitution was written. It was then signed in the tavern next door, now called “The Constitution House.”

Route 5 provides walkers with moving views of the VT landscape. Mt. Ascutney never seemed so stunning as walkers approached, veered, and passed the natural landmark, allowing ample time to appreciate what we can so easily scurry by on any given day. On Wednesday morning, walkers felt as if they had wandered into the movie Dr. Zhivago, as the fog from the river billowed from the passing train.

The feedback continues to be overwhelmingly positive and many people instantly “knew who we were.” Bob recounts one older gentleman opening his garage door and shouting, “Go get ‘em!”

Thursday was a day to rest-up, make phone calls and prepare for the latter 50+ miles. In the evening, walkers were invited to a potluck and discussion by the WRJ Transition Town group, which was followed by a screening of the film “Global Banquet.”

In my now routine morning call with Bob earlier today, team ‘Strut It To Shut It’ was in the midst of beginning the official veer northwest, heading up Rte 14 following the White River towards Sharon. Along the way, an update was provided to the listeners of WKVT, channeled by the Great Steve West. Tonight, walkers will once again be treated to a celebratory potluck.

I must flower the followers and supporters with an abundance of thanks and gratitude. The positive feedback and donations once again validates that our role is to bring the voices of the people to the VT Statehouse…The “People’s House.” It’s become clear we don’t need to ‘tell’ legislators to close VY…they know this already. What they need to hear is that The People want VY closed.

Thank you again to the drivers and those providing food and shelter. And thank you to Yaktrax for providing walkers with dozens of Yaktrax Walkers, to help get everyone from point A to point B safely.

We intend to do a full photo exhibit of Bob on his cell phone. Check you local art gallery soon.

News and goodies below.

Be warm!

Chad Simmons

Full Photo Album Here


Green Mountain Daily-Tritium Leak at Vermont Yankee

Times Argus-Tritium


(looks as if the Reformer just cut and pasted the ENVYpress release)

Bennington Banner

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Footsteps Heard Near and Far

Hiddy-ho from near the White River Valley! It has been an invigorating and eventful few days to say the least. Unless, of course, you are walking 16 miles over the course of an eight-hour day…there tends to be a bit more monotony involved.

Needless to say, the walkers and our supporters are clamoring to arrive at the steps of the VT statehouse next week Wednesday, as the 2010 VT state legislative session began Tuesday. Entergy/Enexus clearly laid out a bad deal for ratepayers and taxpayers and continues to demonstrate their inability to reliably and safely provide Vermont (and New England for that matter) with the electricity we need to build our future energy infrastructure. We walk with this one message to state legislators: Vermont Yankee is not worth the risk. We don’t need it. Close it and replace it. Vote “No” to continued operation this year.

Walkers continued to follow the graceful meander of the Connecticut River as the group moves north. On Tuesday, Bob reflected on the early morning start and the serene VT landscape they ambled through. Bob described the initial seven-mile ascent leaving Springfield and the “somewhat harder” four-mile decent moving towards Windsor. The weather was sunny and peaceful.

The walkers were grateful for the Weathersfield Town Energy Committee and the Weathersfield Town Office for coordinating and hosting (respectively) Tuesday’s lunch and break in Ascutney. Needless to say, the walkers greatly await the hour-long midday break to eat and rest. Thank you to Denis Rydjeski and Betsy Eldredge for the generous use of their beautiful home on Monday for lunch, a break and an interview.

Here are some comments left by those that walked over the past couple of days:

I found my way to the Quaker Meeting House in Putney yesterday [Sunday] morning, and arrived just as the group of walkers was about to head out. I quickly laced up my boots and joined them. It was truly wonderful! The camaraderie, the food, the organization, all of it was beautifully done. And the weather made me feel like I was trapped inside a permanent snow globe. It was lovely. So thank you for putting this together, and for allowing me to participate. I hope that the legislators read and take to heart our message. In peace, Emily Koester (Northfield, MA)

Having the RV and driver Ra makes so much difference. Beyond just having "facilities" when Ra drives up we know he will have hot drinks, gourmet dark chocolate and a big smile... much appreciated luxuries on a cold, long day. Shut it down! The nuke, not the RV :) Cate Woolner (Northfield, MA)

The support walkers are getting continues to be overwhelmingly positive. On Tuesday morning, a driver pulled off to the side and shouted (paraphrasing) “I just heard a story about you on VPR!” She eagerly voiced her support for the walk and for closing VY.

Speaking of press, Monday and Tuesday saw the walk buzz take off with numerous media outlets from across the state covering the walk. Vermont Public Radio carried this story entitled “

Vermont Yankee Opponents Start Walk To Montpelier.” Click on the links below to view other stories.

WCAX Channel 3

New Hampshire Public Radio

Rutland Herald

Valley News

Also, walkers did radio interviews with hosts from WDGR. We are all very thankful for the overwhelming coverage and hope this accurately and articulately tells the stories we have as residents living in the shadow of Vermont Yankee.

I realize this post is nearing the ‘overly lengthy point,’ however, let me talk for a minute about the ‘Interweb’ responses these stories have generated.

These peopel are idiots…I seriously hope they get hit by a truck, or something. (Tom, WCAX post)

Get a job you 24 nitwits!! (True Vermonter, Rutland Herald post)

I think "10 dirty aging wannabe's" is a more accurate assesment. (B. Rock, Rutland Herald post)

Three weeks back, I was told (via an anonymous web post) that I don’t even deserve to flip burgers.

We strongly encourage those that support closing VY, replacing it and a just transition for its employees to NOT replicate these kinds of attacks. That is not our purpose.

I realize these violent and angry sentiments represent the extreme minority, but they also represent the fear that the Entergy/Enexus-lobby/PR machine has successfully injected into this debate. These are the voices currently squelching genuine progress to in-state, affordable and renewable solutions guided by efficiency and conservation. These are the voices that insipidly cling to the status quo, with powerful, morally corrupt corporate stooges at the helm (Think Jay Thayer in front of VT legislators and regulators). This is why we walk. To democratically and non-violently support the solutions we seek for healthy, positive communities. For today, tomorrow and generations to come.

We continue to be flooded with support from folks in communities along the walk route and from those living in the shadow of VY. Thank you one and all. On Monday, Gayle Davidson, a massage therapist from Shelburne Falls, MA, volunteered several hours of her time to provide aching walkers with much-needed massages. She plans to go up again and will bring up supplies (healing oils, moleskin, etc.) that are needed. If you have items or skills you would like to donate, please give me a call at 802.377.7403. Thank you again for the truly amazing support!

Thank you to Cate Woolner for the touching photos for today’s post (sorry they are so tiny!). To view them all, Click Here.

Tonight we are in White River Junction. Join us tomorrow, Thursday, January 7 from 4:30-7 pm, at #157 and #

149 Latham Works Ln, for a potluck and screening of the film"Global Banquet."

Final note…really! If you have not yet signed our “Retire Vermont Yankee On Time” statement that will be presented to VT leadership next week Wednesday at 12:30pm in the Cedar Creek Room, AND you live in the 20-mile evacuation zone, Click Here to sign the statement.

Until I overwrite again.

Chad Simmons

Do you do The Facebook? The Twitter? If so, post this to your friends and fam!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

As The Snow Flies

Despite confusing weather reports, day two of the Step It Up walk was a straightforward success (Take a gander at today’s still-shots and you’ll know what I’m talking about). Walkers and supporters are now sitting down to a potluck dinner and resting those feet for tonight’s dance and celebration at Boccelli’s. The elation from walkers on the road makes me wish I could make the whole walk…but alas, I’m home jabbing away at my keyboard…supporting from afar.

Bob called around 8:30 this morning jovial and completely charged up. The conflicting weather reports made it challenging to plan for today’s jaunt (“Should we leave early and huff it? Or, do we hang tight and push it in the afternoon?) All told, walkers only took on about 2 inches of snow and some wicked wind-gusts between Putney and Bellows Falls, but completely manageable.

About three-dozen folks started out the morning with nearly 30 walkers making the whole stretch. We had a 12 year old, a 78 year old, a New Yorker and everyone in between. Walkers were gleefully welcomed for lunch in Westminster where they enjoyed hot soup and the cozy, warm respite of kind supporters. The crew pulled into the evening’s bunkhouse around 3:00pm to switch shoes prior to the potluck and dance.

All told, feedback from drivers passing the poised walkers was positive and upbeat. There were numerous honks and thumbs-up in support of the walkers throughout the day…more positive than negative. Rich Garrant (Brattleboro, VT) recalled one not-so-nice comment tossed out a scurrying vehicle: “You F***ing freaks!” Rich chuckled.

While talking to Betsy Williams (Westminster West, VT), she was enjoying some hot chocolate and veggies at the Compass School, Sunday’s crash joint. She was reflecting on the past two days and how rejuvenating it was to have a warm, mid-day stop for lunch. She felt that the spirit of the walkers was really good and there was a strong sense of solidarity. She also wanted to thank Vermont State Representatives David Deen and Mike Mrowicki for attending the previous evening’s events.

Cate Woolner (Northfield, MA) lamented that the weather was not too bad, but the last mile told her “she was insane for doing this. It feels like a long way to Montpelier.” She echoed that most responses from passers-by were positive and “felt friendly.” Unfortunately, the exception were the two fingers flung in the groups direction. Cate exclaimed her pleasure that three others from Northfield, MA (5 miles away from Vermont Yankee) were on the journey north. She felt the experience is allowing participants to “be open to one another…” and felt everything was “organic.”

Woody Bernhard (Marlboro, VT) echoed the thanks and appreciation for all the support the walkers have received thus far. He felt everything was very well organized. Woody adds “we couldn’t do it with out their support. The lunches…that’s where you feel the support.”

Which leads me to a word about support…over the past couple of weeks, the Entergy/Enexus machine has been hard at work forcing public ‘support’ and throwing gobs of money (our electric bill dollars) at the issue. Today, I read an opinion piece by VT Department of Public Service Commissioner David O’Brien in the Times Argus and an Entergy banner ad popped up at the top of my screen. How about that for ‘support.’ The point is, those making hot soup, providing a place to sleep and coordinating potlucks and dances for the walkers, are demonstrating genuine support for what so many of us feel is the best path forward…the way WE want to power our communities…our houses, businesses, schools and public buildings.

As each day passes and each step is taken, it becomes clearer that Vermont chooses efficient, renewable solutions. Vermont chooses community support over multi-million dollar, canned support.

For those of you following along and if you live in VT, call your legislator. Let them know you support an energy future without the Entergy/Enexus machine at the helm. Click here to find out how to contact them. The VT legislative sessions, starts this week! Also, if you haven’t yet and you live in the 20-mile Evacuation Zone, sign our “Statement of Support to Retire Vermont Yankee on time.”

I’ll be bringing it again shortly. Walk on…as they say.

C.B. Simmons

**All photos from January 3, curtosy of David Shaw©

To view our full set of photos, Click Here.

The Snow, the Slush and the Cold Couldn’t Hold Us Back

With the ‘energy’ levels off the charts and the snow dancing in the air, the Step It Up Walk kicked off at The Stone Church in Brattleboro yesterday, January 2nd, as we commenced our 126-mile journey to the VT Statehouse.

I have to admit, my expectations of yesterday’s activities were far and away exceeded. I knew as I watched a line of 70 walkers snake through the streets of Brattleboro, that we will be successful in taking back our energy future. We WILL close Vermont Yankee on schedule! This is what democracy looks like. (Photo by Chad Simmons)

Walkers, families, supporters and press gathered around 9am at The Stone Church near the end of downtown in Brattleboro. The mood was boisterous and alive. People shared New Year’s stories, snacked on food donated from local businesses and friends and worked out the last minute details before we took off. At about 9:30am, Randy Kehler (Colrain, MA) welcomed the crowd of nearly 100. Bob Bady (Brattleboro, VT) set the tone for the day both illustrating the monumental and historic opportunity we have to democratically choose how we power our communities as well as the significance of embarking on the 126-mile walk. Betsy Williams (Westminster West, VT) talked about the importance and impact sharing our stories with communities and legislators will have. John Hoffman (Charlemont, MA) recognized the feeder walk that took place on January 1st from Gill, MA to Vernon, VT and the toxic impact VY has on Massachusetts communities. Jim Moulton (Chesterfield, NH) reiterated the unprecedented opportunity those of us living in Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have in sharing our story with the communities along the walk route. As a special treat, local folk singer Dan MacArthur, lifted the already high spirits with a couple of songs including “Study War No More.” (Photo by David Shaw (C))

With that, a long line began weaving its way north, up Putney Road heading towards Putney. This is what Carl Doerner had to say about the first day of the walk. Carl (77 from Conway, Massachusetts) is walking most every day and is filming along the way:

After our first day's walk, Sherrill and I crashed at 8 PM, so I was cranking the stove for this morning's fire by 4 AM, but surprisingly I felt no pain going down the stairs. Usually a five-mile jaunt is enough to cause that to occur to my 77-year-old legs, while yesterday's hike was more than nine miles. This walk is really well organized, with many Vermonters providing food and shelter along the way. After the feeder march came up from the border to Vernon on New Year's Day, 70 of us met at a church in Brattleboro on January 2nd to begin the walk. More than 50 of us pulled off our boots and lounged about in a home half way between Brattleboro and Putney [Dummerston] and just a few hundred yards off Rte 5, where we had a sumptuous lunch and opportunity to sit about for an hour - which made it like two 4.6-mile walks instead of one of 9.2. There was another sumptuous dinner of potluck items awaiting us at the Putney community center (including a roast turkey). Dan DeWalt's trio hammered out music, followed by a skit performed by Court Dorsey, an actor well known in Western Massachusetts. While contributions are appreciated, it isn't necessary to bring food on the walks."

The “skit” Carl spoke about was an informative, engaging ‘performance’ with Deb Katz (Executive Director of the Citizen’s Awareness Network) and Court Dorsey (AKA: Will Nukum-CEO of NUCORPAC) debating the question “Should Vermont Yankee operate beyond 2012?” Bob Bady exclaimed the debate was outstanding…funny and really engaging. Betsy Williams added "They outdid themselves."

Carl ended his post with this telling comment: “Missed a great shot yesterday of a woman coming out of a fitness center on Rte 5 shouting, ‘Thank you for doing this.’”

Day one can be checked off as a massive success. Thank you to all the walkers, supporters, businesses, community groups and individuals for your unwavering support. As Bob said during his kickoff commentary “…we don’t have millions of dollars for advertising, legions of lobbyists and lawyers.” We don’t need all that. We also don’t need a massive, slick ad campaign to

‘influence’ Vermonters. We have our stories, our boots and the support of our communities.

Day two from Putney to Bellows Falls. Join us along the way, follow along or join us tonight at Boccelli’s, 46 Canal St in Bellows Falls, between 7-10pm. Food, lively discussion and music from Planet Zydeco will be there to keep the energy high.


Chad Simmons

PS: To view all our uploaded photos, Click Here. This will be updated regularly.

(Photo by David Shaw (C))