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Rootless in Vermont

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09/13/2011

The sense of place derived from living on or near working landscapes, skiing on local hills, swimming in nearby lakes and rivers have long been part of the dominant narrative told in and about Vermont. The state's Department of Tourism has worked for years to attract more visitors by making Vermont not just a destination but rather an idea, a feeling, a story. Such a story often embodies the desires most sought after by people from elsewhere: bucolic landscapes dotted with red barns and covered bridges, nostalgia for the simpler time and year round recreational activities. Who else must be included in Vermont's narratives of farm and field? Who else is a character in this four-season recreational theme park and farming industry? Who else travels—or remains constrained— within this place?

Adelina first moved to the United States when she was 17, staying for just two years of farm work in Ohio before returning to Mexico. When her father became sick and the family needed money for his doctor's bills, she moved back to the US in search of work on a dairy farm in northern Vermont. To keep her family stable and rooted in Chiapas, Adelina has had to move far from her own home and the strength she derives from it. Here in Vermont, she seeks a sense of self in a place where she has no ties, of which she has little knowledge, and about which she can learn only so much from the vantage of a barn and a trailer. In the last three years, Adelina has moved four times, so that we—the tourists and the “natives”—can maintain our own sense of rootedness in this place.

Presenter bio:
Alisha Laramee is a 2010-2011 Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant recipient and currently writing a collection of essays pertaining to migration, movement and travel in Vermont. She also writes on food culture as it relates to migration, livelihoods, ethnicity and working landscapes. She currently teaches at the Community College of Vermont, works for the Vermont Migrant Education Program as an ELL teacher, and is co-principal investigator for a project entitled "Food, Culture and Belonging." She has published essays and poetry in the Christian Science Monitor, Witness, Harpur Palate, Witness, National Outdoor Leadership School's The Leader, has recently published "The Taste of Home: Migration, Food and Belonging in a Changing Vermont" in the Center for Rural Studies White Paper Series, and has essays forthcoming in Vermont Life and Berea College Magazine.

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