Here is the paradox, the extreme American dilemma: On every single one of those 21 days I experience the America I would like to believe in, a place where people with countless different lines of descent can live an create new lives as did my grandparents and great grandparents after they came from Sweden.
I get the chance to meet these people here at two distinctively American places, Speeder &; Earls and Muddy Waters. Here we are at S & E where I encounter a familiar scene, creative people at work, here two artists discussing layout using the acrylic work of the young artist to the right.
And here we are at Muddy Waters where just about everyone seems to be doing something creative, studying, painting, drawing, writing a book, maybe even closing a million dollar deal. Here my final-day barista question: Anybody here speak a 2d or 3d language was greeted with "Yes, Farsi or Persian, came here from Iran."
And every night up on Mount Philo I can enjoy the peace and the beauty provided by the changing scene before me, Champlain Valley, Lake Champlain, and the Adirondack Mountains. As a future geologist I first worked in the Vermont mountains while a geology major at Brown and then as a doctoral student at Yale I worked in the Adirondacks exactly in the center of the skyline.
What more could one ask for, to grow up in a place where the experience of nature mattered, where people of different lines of descent could get along and create music, art, science, literature?
And yet in this America I learn every day from Vermont Public Radio and the New York Times that the goal of the present government of the United States is to tear all this apart.
So as I drove down the road to Mount Philo last night, I thought about Gunnar Myrdal and his "An American Dilemma" the continued practice of segregation in a country that professed to have moved on beyond that. Up on Mount Philo I opened the only paper copy of the NYT I have read in my 21 days, and there saw the headline above Paul Krugman's column "Fall Of The American Empire"
and there in the text was Krugman having that same thought leading him to point back to one American Dilemma still with us, racism now as presented to us by our president.
Where to go next from that start? Very likely to compare some elements of the situtations faced in my two countries, the United States of America and Sweden.
Now I am leaving Speeder & Earl's to visit Somalibantuorganization.org in Winooski where I hope to find out where my friend Abdi Dhare has gone after his Banadir Market and Halal Store were gentrified into oblivion some time in the past two years.
I was successful at Somali Bantu and was able to talk with Ahmed who speaks English, Somali, Mai Mai and maybe more and he helped me to connect with Mohamed who went to Kenya last year.
Next stop was B & N Bookstore in South Burlington, also a great home for me, so many books (have bought some) and the usual nice people. So as always on my last visits I ask the baristas if any of them speak a second or third language after English and the quick answer was, "Yes, Russian and some Japanese" from the young woman who is almost always here. In the context of my post, I wonder what you know who would say if we told him how many helpful people I meet here who came from other countries or who are so-called 2d generation immigrants, born here.