November 30, 2015

Combining art and science in the dentist’s chair

Observer photo by Heleigh Bostwick Ryan D. Goslin recently moved his dentistry practice from Burlington to Talcott Road in Williston.

Observer photo by Heleigh Bostwick
Ryan D. Goslin recently moved his dentistry practice from Burlington to Talcott Road in Williston.

By Heleigh Bostwick

Observer correspondent

Up to 20 percent of adults fear going to the dentist, according to WebMD. Shelburne resident Gennifer Noble used to be one of them until she started seeing Dr. Ryan Goslin three years ago.

“I never thought I’d have anything good to say about a dentist, but I do now,” she said. “He’s a really nice guy and his staff is so welcoming, friendly and professional.”

Goslin recently moved his dental practice from an old Victorian on Clark Street in Burlington to a newer building on Talcott Road in Williston.

“A lot of our patients were moving out towards Williston, and it’s easier to get to,” Goslin explained, adding that the new location is better suited to housing the technology needed for modern dentistry.

Noble, like many of his other patients, followed.

“Patients feel very comfortable with us,” Goslin said. “I try to keep it light, maybe tell a few jokes.”

Goslin grew up in Rhode Island, graduated from the University of Vermont, where he met his wife, Kristina, and became a registered dietician with the intent of studying medicine. While at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, a chance encounter with a friend, a dentist back in Rhode Island, changed his mind.

“He suggested I come and spend a day with him,” said Goslin. “It just so happened that a patient came in that day that had had an accident that knocked out six of his teeth. We had to put him back together.”

Goslin realized how much he enjoyed working with his hands and combining an artistic aspect with science. He decided to become a dentist instead.

Goslin joined the Navy and received his degree from Indiana University School of Dentistry, completing his general practice residency at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. His credentials also include Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry and Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists.

Goslin treats patients of all ages and provides a full range of dentistry services including cleaning, extractions, crowns, bridges, whitening, Invisalign orthodontics and implants.

“Our patients like that we have a range of services because it means they have fewer specialists to visit, and it decreases the number of dentist visits,” Goslin said.

Patient care coordinator Lee Andors recently joined the practice, but his two dental hygienists, Dory McLaughlin and Megan Obuchowski, have been with him for nine years. Dental assistant Tracey Josselyn has been with him for 15 years. His wife, Kristina, works part-time on the business end.

“Tracey has known some of our patients since she was three years old,” Goslin joked, explaining that he bought the practice from her father in 2005.

“He’s extremely professional, but not only that, everyone is so friendly in the office,” said long-time patient Jack O’Farrell. His wife, Dede O’Farrell, agreed.

“Nobody really looks forward to going to the dentist, but everyone in the office really cares about you as a person,” she said. “He hires the best people, very professional, and we’re fortunate to have someone like that be our dentist.”

For more information, visit or call 662-5966.

Williston Recreation and Parks

By: Todd Goodwin

Family Programs

Snowmobile Safety Course

This six-hour course provides the opportunity to earn the certification necessary to legally operate on the Vermont Statewide Snowmobile Trails System. Participants must be present for all classes to be eligible for certification. Vermont state law requires that all operators born after July 1, 1983, who are 12 years of age or older, must take and pass a state approved snowmobile safety course. Ages 12+, Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 1, 2 and 3, 6-8 p.m. $10 per person.

Adult Programs

Pulse Cycling

Pulse Cycling Studio and the Rec Department are teaming up to offer these introductory indoor cycling programs. Come try one out and see if it is the fitness workout for you. Pulse Cycling Studio offers inspirational indoor cycling classes, for first timers to seasoned cyclists, instructed to energizing music that will make you feel like a kid again. Ages 18+. S: Tuesdays and Fridays, Dec. 8-18, 6/6:15-7 a.m. S2: Tuesdays and Thursdays, Nov. 8-17, 5:30-6:30 p.m. $55

Golden Gear (50+)

Come try out these 45-minute indoor cycling classes on upright indoor stationary bikes, instructed to a mix of tunes from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s that will inspire you to keep pedaling while singing along to your favorites. With 35 minutes of riding and 10 minutes of stretching, you will leave feeling energized and upbeat. Ages 50+. Tuesdays and Fridays, Dec. 8-18, 11-11:45 a.m. $55.

Holiday Wreath Workshop

Designed especially for your holiday decorations. Join Registered Horticultural Therapist and Master Gardener Donna Covais, who will guide you in building a gorgeous wreath and having loads of fun while doing it. In addition, you will learn how to use the powerful effects of plant activities to reduce stress and improve your sense of wellbeing. Blind since age 40, Covais is a former florist who will inspire and motivate you. No experience necessary and all supplies are included. Ages 18+. Friday, Dec. 4, 6:30-8:30 p.m. $55.

Boxwood Tree Workshop

Whether decorated with just plain, tiny pinecones or shiny balls and baubles, the boxwood tree is a delightful centerpiece. Created with your own hands, this masterpiece is accomplished with easy instruction in one fun session, with help of Donna Covais, registered horticultural therapist and master gardener. Ages 18+. Wednesday, Dec. 9, 6:30-9:30 p.m. $55

Boot Camp

Come join this group exercise that mixes traditional aerobic and body weight exercises with interval and strength training. Challenge yourself with this fast-paced, calorie-burning workout. This program is for all levels and modifications are offered. Your first class is free to try, but pre-registration is required. Ages 16+. Instructor: Susie Posner-Jones. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6-7 p.m. $60 for eight-visit punch card.

Youth Programs

Babysitters Course

This Red Cross Babysitters Training provides individuals with information and skills necessary to provide safe and responsible care for children. Training in leadership, professionalism, basic care, safety, safe play and basic first aid will be covered. Ages 11-15, Monday, Nov. 23, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. $95.

Horsemanship Camp

The Livery Horse Farm and the Rec Department are teaming up to offer a two-day horse camp. All levels of riders are welcome. Your child will have lots of hands on experience with plenty of riding time, a daily lesson, horse care instruction and stable management. Grades 3-8, Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 23 and 24, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. $110.

Boxwood Tree Workshop

Children will decorate and create their own boxwood tree. Created with their own hands, this masterpiece is accomplished with easy instruction in one fun session, with help of Donna Covais, blind since age 40 and a former florist. No experience necessary and all supplies are included. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Ages 6-16, Saturday, Dec. 5, 9-11 a.m. $45.

Rec Youth Basketball Programs

Registration for Rec Basketball is now open, deadline to register is Nov. 23 to ensure placement on a team. Leagues begin in December. The programs being offered this year are: Kindergarten Basketball Clinic; First/Second Grade Coed Program; and separate leagues for boys and girls in grades 3/4, 5/6 and 7/8. Check the Rec Department website for days, times and fees. There will be a coaches meeting on Nov. 23.

Basketball Coordinator

The Rec Department is looking for a person to help out with Saturday morning basketball programs. Coordinator will oversee a gym each Saturday, December through February, including setup, take down and working with coaches and teams. Hours are 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. If interested, please apply with the Rec Department. Applications are available on the website, under Forms.

Todd Goodwin is Williston’s recreation director. To learn more about the Williston Recreation and Parks Department, visit or email

Letters to the Editor

Cottonwood Crossing

We are writing about the Cottonwood Crossing development, a large mixed-use project (173 housing units and 68,500 square feet of commercial space) proposed for the former driving range property on Route 2. Thank you to the informed residents who spoke at the Development Review Board (DRB) meeting last week. We were impressed by the thoughtfulness of our neighbors who took the time to contribute to this important discussion.

We encourage Williston residents and the DRB to carefully consider some key issues about this project. Most importantly, the residents who live in Maple Tree Place should be a priority. The proposed development could have a negative impact on this low-income housing complex, including two roads that would run right through the property, cutting residents off from their playground and laundry facilities. With many children, elderly and people with disabilities living there, it seems unsafe and unfair to divide up their neighborhood in that way.

In addition, there is a need for affordable housing units in the new proposed plan. Considering the shortage of perpetual affordable housing in our town, and the strong support in Williston for it, we were surprised that it was not included. In the original 2010 plan for this project, a quarter of the units were designated as affordable, while the current plan has none. This seems like a missed opportunity for our town.

At the meeting, residents raised additional issues—such as potential traffic problems, safe crossings for pedestrians (especially children), possible harm to an environmentally protected area (Burr Oak Knoll), problems with the idea of “transfer rights” and the benefits of a town community center in the new development. We encourage residents to find out more about this project and let the town know your views.

— Alice Fothergill
and Cynthia Reyes

The tragedy in Paris and social media

In the wake of the horrible tragedy that struck Paris and the ensuing Facebook posts, I was compelled to post my own remarks over the weekend. The response, commentary and sharing of my post was such that I felt the need to write this letter and send it out again in another forum.

Posted Nov. 15, 2015 at 9:06 a.m.: “I have watched posts for the last two days of people saying those of us who temporarily changed our profile pictures are wrong. I am truly appalled. How dare you make such a blanket statement and assume my support and recognition of one country is my ignoring of the rest. Political correctness has gone way too far in my opinion. I will not be told who I can and cannot support nor will I stand by and allow you to denigrate me for it. How about stepping back and taking it for what it is … A simple show of support and unity for a horrible tragedy instead of trying to manipulate it into something it isn’t. Shame on you!!!”

Small ripples a wave makes. Any show of unity and support should be applauded not denigrated. To imply it is anything else is so wrong. Such narrow-minded assumptive grandstanding needs to stop!

— Joy Limoge

South Burlington requests help making crosswalks safe

South Burlington is very happy to share our roads with our neighbors to the east as they commute or otherwise drive to or through South Burlington. However, on our major feeder roads such as Williston Road, Kimball Avenue or Kennedy Drive, all too often drivers fail to stop for pedestrians and bicyclists trying to cross our streets at crosswalks. Vermont state law mandates that “vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the roadway within a crosswalk.” This is true whether crosswalks are freshly painted or have worn down through traffic use. This is also true whether or not there is a yellow flashing RRFB crossing light (a “Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon”) activated by the pedestrian/cyclist. Even if the RRFB crossing light does not work or shuts off prior to the pedestrian reaching the other side of the road, all vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the roadway within a crosswalk. In addition, drivers must yield right of way to pedestrians when they are making a “right-on-red” turn at an intersection. Too often, drivers glide through these turns without coming to a full stop and with no regard to pedestrians that may be crossing. Even when you have a “right-on-red” arrow, please check for pedestrians as you make those turns.

Please watch for pedestrians and cyclists trying to cross our streets and please drive at or within the posted speed limits. Thank you for helping make South Burlington a safer walkable and cyclable community.

— Dana Farr, chairwoman
South Burlington Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee

Guest Column: ‘Making’ an education

By Doug Webster

Vermont students are making their mark in the “maker” movement. At this year’s Champlain Maker Faire, 11-year-old Noah Schwartz stood in front of dozens of people, including a group of angel investors on motorcycles, FreshTracks Road Pitch Riders, to pitch “Noah’s Fizzy Maple Lemonade.” Noah, competing against those who graduated college and beyond, won first place.

Noah started his lemonade business to help fund the air-compressed rocket business he began at age 8, after attending the first Champlain Maker Faire. Noah’s compressed air rockets allow kids to make their own rocket out of paper and tape. He has been nominated for the NBC show Little Big Shots with Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Harvey. “Noah did a better job pitching than most adults,” said the Road Pitch Riders.

Never heard of a Maker Faire? No idea what “making” means? Making is creating, producing, crafting, shaping, tinkering, composing and building. It sits at the intersection of art and science, and at the crossroads of technology and design. It engages people of all ages, creates solutions to real-life problems and stimulates growth of the “innovation force.” It is as much about people as it is technology.

For our youth, making fosters a culture of imagination, innovation and growth, allowing them to personalize their educational experiences. It allows them to connect to the adult world with a common intellectual mission. Making offers a platform for collaboration, multiple perspectives, initiative, persistence and expanding a child’s natural curiosity. It allows students to transform content versus simply reciting it. Making provides the “pull” in learning versus the “push” often associated with standardized testing and regulations. Making provides youth a forum for exhibiting, presenting, selling, collaborating, and can be a “sport for the mind.”

In short, making is cool.

This year’s Champlain Maker Faire included activities that address all aspects of the Maker spectrum:

Igniting interest of youth in STEM and maker projects

Exhibits of experienced makers where many commented on the increased sophistication of projects

Maker-to-market, including FreshTracks Road Pitch and CMF Adopt a Maker Pitch.

In addition to the second year of the ChampBot Challenge, the fair included a new Drone Derby, a Swap-Stitch-Make workshop sponsored by Vermont Teddy Bear, and a Robot Battle. There were more than 50 maker exhibits. These are things that get kids excited about STEM and STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). We want kids to say, “Yes, I can do that!”

ChampBot is a great example of creating with form and function. Teams are scored based on performance and aesthetics. Most school teams take pride in their ChampBots and display them at their school.

Joe Chase, science instructor at Essex High School said, “Making, sharing and reflecting show the deepest levels of knowledge, and the Maker Faire has them all.”

Although the Champlain Maker Faire and Rutland Maker Faire are for all ages, there is an upcoming Maker Faire specifically for students, teachers and parents to come together and share their creations. The Aiken K-12 Maker Faire is scheduled for Nov. 21 at UVM Davis Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. See And, if you are interested in starting a school maker faire in your community, contact the Agency at or register at

Doug Webster founded and produces the Champlain Maker Faire. He is past president of the National Association for Workforce Improvement, producer of the RETN TV Series, “A Renewed Culture of Innovation” and “Makers on Screen” and he works to strengthen STEAM education for the Vermont Agency of Education.

Perkins takes historical helm

Stephen Perkins

Stephen Perkins

By Karen Sturtevant

Observer correspondent

It is rare to meet a person that is as passionate about Vermont’s preservation and heritage as Stephen Perkins, the new executive director of the Vermont Historical Society and a Williston resident. The position fits him well, complementing his expertise in cultural history study and non-profit management, as well as his experience as director of development and communications at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in Burlington.

“ECHO is a wonderful place,” Perkins said. “Being able to engage people in new and exciting ways is a goal of mine. I hope I can take that with me.”

Perkins’ new role begins Dec. 1. He will oversee The Vermont Historical Society, which operates the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier, next to the Capitol building, and the Leahy Library and Vermont Heritage Galleries in Barre.

“One of my goals for myself and the staff is to have every single person that visits the Capitol building also visit the Vermont History Museum,” Perkins said.

The Museum exhibits the largest collection of Vermont cultural artifacts.

“We learn what happened from yesterday back to the Abenaki culture,” Perkins said.

Preserving Vermont’s heritage since 1838, the society boasts the national award-winning exhibit, “Freedom and Unity: One Idea, Many Stories,” where visitors time travel to the 17th century through current day.

“What’s cool about that visit is that it’s really comprehensive, like a full-size Abenaki wigwam, a log house kids can go into and a ski lift within the exhibit,” Perkins said. “It’s very interactive history.”

Located in the Spaulding school building in Barre, the Vermont Heritage Galleries showcase special displays including exhibitions about the Civil War, the growth of Barre from 1880 – 1940 and artifacts weird and wonderful representing Green Mountain history. The Leahy Library, located on the second floor, is open to the public four days a week. Rare pamphlets, letters, maps and books dating as far back as 1770 are found there. The library has the largest printed genealogical collection in Vermont.

Along with collections, resources and activities offered by the Vermont Historical Society, it also sponsors Vermont History Day in affiliation with National History Day. In 2015, more than 200 students from Vermont schools participated in the statewide program competing for awards and prizes. Perkins’ love of history started early. When he was in the sixth grade at Williston Central School, he was a participant.

Perkins, an eighth-generation Vermonter who is the fourth generation to live on his family’s Williston homestead, said, “What I want is for people to stay inspired by Vermont’s heritage. The first call is to the Vermont Historical Society. We all love this state and live here for a reason. We all contribute to the story in this state. And that’s really, really powerful.”

For more information on the Vermont History Museum and Vermont Heritage Galleries current exhibits and hours of operation, visit

New pastor to help Williston Federated Church transition

Observer photo by Stephanie Choate Rev. Randy Besta began Nov. 8 as interim reverend at Williston Federated Church.  Besta said he rarely stands behind the pulpit when preaching.

Observer photo by Stephanie Choate
Rev. Randy Besta began Nov. 8 as interim reverend at Williston Federated Church. Besta said he rarely stands behind the pulpit when preaching.

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Williston Federated Church’s new spiritual leader traded one traveling life for another.

After a career jetting around the globe in business consulting, Besta said he heeded his calling to join the church. He has spent the last 10 years traveling the United States and Canada as a transitional pastor, helping churches bridge the gap between long-term leaders.

“I go to churches for up to two years in the period of time between long-term ministers,” Besta said. “I help them say goodbye and deal with any challenges, tensions or issues. I help them figure out who they are and get ready for whoever is going to come next.”

Reverend Joan O’Gorman retired from her post in June, after nearly eight years with the church.

Besta began on Nov. 8, and will be with the church for 18 months to two years. He and his spouse, Jim Rombough—along with their dog, Barney, and cat, Tucker—have begun settling into Williston.

Besta said his role is to “help the church heal from Reverend Joan’s leaving, and help them prepare for a new minister, so when the new minister comes in, everything is perfectly smooth,” he said.

With the tight bond that frequently develops between minister and churchgoer, Besta said there are often parishioners who need soothing.

“Whenever a longer-term minister leaves the church, there are people who are grieving,” he said. “It’s part of my job to help them go through the healing process. It’s losing a friendship.”

Sally Stockwell Metro, church lay leader who helped with Besta’s selection, said the church was looking for an interim pastor to help members prepare to seek a new long-term pastor, and Besta has helped numerous churches grow and define their missions.

“He is a humorous man who delivers sermons that speak to us about living as active Christians in today’s stressful world,” she wrote in an email to the Observer. “We look forward to working with him to determine our goals in the future and to be current and meaningful to people looking for their spiritual home.”

Besta, who is Canadian, has always had a strong faith. He was an alter boy in the Roman Catholic church as a child, then, like many people, took time away from the church in his teens and 20s.

Later in life, he joined his current denomination. Williston Federated Church is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church denominations.

“It’s who I am theologically,” he said. “Their beliefs match my beliefs.”

His faith led him to leave his consulting career.

“It was a call, a sense that I needed to do it,” he said. “The longer I was in consulting, the more I grew to detest it.”

Besta’s religious philosophy focuses on the needs of others.

“We are the hands and feet and heart of Christ in our world, let’s go out and make a difference,” he said.

Besta invited all residents to come by the church for Sunday services.

“The United Church has a slogan, ‘No matter who you are and where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here,’” he said. “That’s one of the principles I try to live by and see that our church does as well.”

And, if anyone happens to be selling a motorcycle, he’s in the market.

Williston protestors reflect on lifetimes of activism

Observer file photo by Al Frey Activists Doug Smith (left) and Ulrike von Motke sit chained to a replica pipeline in Williston in September.  The six arrested, all grandparents, said they were supported by a group of young protesters who stood with them.

Observer file photo by Al Frey
Activists Doug Smith (left) and Ulrike von Motke sit chained to a replica pipeline in Williston in September. The six arrested, all grandparents, said they were supported by a group of young protesters who stood with them.

By Kristina M. Goslin

Observer correspondent

Karen Starr’s first sit-in was in a potato field in northern Maine. It was getting dark, and the farmer kept right on plowing around the protesting pickers with his tractor. The pickers didn’t budge. Rumor had it the land owner wasn’t going to pay them their bonus at the end of the harvest season. The unpicked potatoes were going to rot and the pickers knew it. So did the farmer. They got their bonus. Starr was 12 years old.

Fifty years later, Starr, who lives in Plainfield, and five others ranging in age from 62 to 84 chained themselves to a metal fence before dawn on a chilly September morning, aiming to stop work on a controversial gas pipeline project in Williston.

“I’ve always felt a responsibility to speak up when I see things that need to change,” Starr said, reflecting on what has motivated her through half a century of protesting. Back on that potato farm when she was just a child, Starr felt the injustice of being stiffed fair pay for honest work, especially since many of her fellow pickers were children of indigenous people or migrants who depended heavily on the money to buy school supplies and other essentials. “That experience was the perfect example that people have the power we give them, and we won,” Starr said. “That made quite an impression on me.”

A variety of experiences and motivations over the decades brought each of the six protesters to that chain-link fence on Sept. 21, but a common thread tied them together: the desire to connect with all generations and share the responsibility for action. “Here we are, grandparents and great-grandparents, getting arrested,” said Fred Wolfe, the 84-year-old great grandfather living in Strafford, Vt. “But 20 young people in their 20s and early 30s were there supporting us. That’s very meaningful to me.”

Wolfe doesn’t have as long an arrest record as some of his fellow protesters. In fact, he didn’t log his first hours in jail until 2001. He had taken his granddaughter to Washington, D.C. to see him block the entrance of the Department of Energy in protest of the ANWR (Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge) drilling project in Alaska. Wolfe and 21 others were arrested. “As I was led away in handcuffs past my granddaughter,” Wolfe remembered, “she turned to me and said ‘thank you.’”

Wolfe, who sports a snowy white beard, said he cares deeply about kids, and has often played the role of Santa Claus in Strafford. Wolfe’s relatively new involvement with active protesting is inspired by his descendants when they question how his generation dealt with controversial issues. “I always say, ‘Don’t just sit there, do something,’” Wolfe said. “Now when they ask me, ‘Grandpa, why didn’t you do something?’ I can honestly say ‘I did.’”

And it’s this dialogue between the generations that serves as an inspiration for many of the older activists. Karen Starr feels there is an opportunity to bridge the gaps when people of all ages converge to represent a common belief. “We have a very strange society these days,” she said, referring to what she sees as an artificial separation by age. And yet both ends of the generational curve are being admonished by some sectors of society for participating in protests. “It’s lovely that we’ve found each other,” Starr said referring to the grandparents and 20-somethings. “They’re being told that [the activism] is a stage and they’ll grow out of it, and we’re being told we should act our age!”

As for growing out of social activism, it seems for these folks it was more a matter of growing into it. Nina Swaim, 77, of Sharon, credited her mother with introducing her to the power of demonstrations in the 1970s. “My mother was very active in the Vermont Yankee protests,” Swaim said. “She got to know the police very well.”

Swaim was also quick to point out that the local law enforcement have always been understanding and respectful of the protesters, while still enforcing the laws. When reflecting on how Swaim felt about her own arrest record, most recently during the pipeline protest in Williston, she said she was not afraid of being arrested. “I didn’t do this for fun,” Swaim said. “It was pretty scary. But Vermont police are very, very thoughtful people.”

Nina Swaim is arrested following a September protest in Williston.  Protesters said they have always found Vermont police to be thoughtful and caring.

Nina Swaim is arrested following a September protest in Williston. Protesters said they have always found Vermont police to be thoughtful and caring.

For her, participating in protests that articulate her strong beliefs on a variety of environmental issues helped her feel she was making a difference; “I want to keep Vermont a strong and courageous state.”

Strength and courage were not lacking among the grandparent activists that turned out among much younger supporters that September morning. Douglas Smith, Swaim’s husband, is legally blind. “We all have our ‘maturity issues,’” Smith joked. “But why should that stop us?”

Smith has been touting environmental protection since his time as a teaching fellow at Harvard University in 1968. In the early 70s, he started his shift into the world of international energy consulting. “I realized we need to do things sustainably,” Smith recalled. “And that term wasn’t as overused then.”

The protesters also credit each other with being sources of inspiration. Ulrike von Moltke found her way to activism when she met Nina Swaim at a rally for the recent Occupy movements. Swaim was giving a training on non-violent civil disobedience. “I have not been a protester for most of my life,” von Moltke said. “I was very depressed by what I was seeing and when Occupy came around it was my chance to join that movement. Nina trained me for civil disobedience, I got arrested and before I knew it I was an activist.”

Nina Swaim of Sharon credited her mother with introducing her to the power of demonstrations in the 1970s.

Nina Swaim of Sharon credited her mother with introducing her to the power of demonstrations in the 1970s.

So, at 71 years old, von Moltke and her five friends willingly chained themselves to a replica gas pipeline, which in turn was chained to the fence surrounding the worksite. Sitting in fold-up lawn chairs and covered in sleeping bags and parkas, the grandparents kept up their spirits and did what many had been doing for decades. And despite a variety of health concerns, the protesters held their ground. Fred Wolfe has problems with both rotator cuffs, which the police were made aware of. “They handcuffed me in the front instead of the back,” Wolfe said. “They were very caring.”

For all of these protesters, the thought of advancing age being a hindrance to activism was far from their minds. “With age comes wisdom,” Wolfe said. “We can all be involved. You can be in a wheelchair and still do your part.”

Editor’s Note: Nina Swaim passed away suddenly, a few days after she was interviewed for this article. Her family feels this is a fitting tribute to honor what Nina felt so passionately about.

Student tree planting

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FAP craft show

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“Our Brand is Crisis”

Dirty Politics, as Usual

1 & ½ popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


The inherent cynicism that detracts from the entertainment value of director David Gordon Green’s “Our Brand is Crisis” recalls the stark admonition blurted out by Jack Nicholson’s no-nonsense Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in “A Few Good Men” (1992). The gyrene points to the moral contradictions that oft define our species, assuring that we “can’t handle the truth.” This fictionalization inspired by Rachel Boynton’s documentary about political strategy in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election may be a little too true.

[Read more…]