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Take 5 | Bear Cieri

Written by Sky Barsch on . Posted in Q&A

Bear Cieri

Bear Cieri of Colchester photographed the piece “Endangered Species” that appears in our Autumn 2011 issue. See page 44 in the magazine for an explanation of how Bear came to take these photos from hunting camp. Here’s a little more about the recent Vermont transplant.

VL: You moved to Vermont a year ago. Aside from this being your wife’s home state, what was the draw?
BC: Proximity to outdoor recreation, the Vermont culture and simple clean living.

VL: To photograph “Endangered Species,” you accompanied your wife’s family to hunting camp. What was the biggest lesson you learned that day?
BC: The photos that appeared in that article are from an ongoing long-term project. Each time I go to camp, I learn something new about the guys who go there, hunting and my own sensibilities revolving around being a productive human in the modern world.

VL: Have you started hunting?
BC: I hunt with a camera.

VL: You enjoy a lot of outdoor activities —but do you prefer skiing or snowboarding?
BC: I grew up ski racing but switched to snowboarding when I realized I wasn’t good enough to go to the Olympics. So, I love both.

VL: What’s your favorite mountain?
BC: My favorite mountain is Colden, in the Adirondack High Peaks, but if you mean lift access, it would be Whiteface, also in the Adirondacks. It is where I’m from, after all.

Take 5 | Publisher Dave Hakins

Written by Sky Barsch on . Posted in Q&A

Dave Hakins

Dave Hakins of Essex is Vermont Life’s new director of advertising, partnerships and events. Hakins was vice president of corporate promotion for Chase Manhattan Bank and CEO of a major event-planning agency for Fortune 100 companies and major league sports organizations. He lives with his wife, Jane.

1. Welcome to the team Dave! You have quite an extensive background with major organizations. What makes you want to work with a smaller company like Vermont Life?
DH: Vermont Life was the first magazine I read on my Dad’s knee growing up in Rutland in the early ’50s. Jane and I own a copy of every issue published since 1946. I applied for the editorship in the mid-’70s, made the short list, but shocked the search committee with my recommendation to sell advertising.

2. You grew up in Rutland — what is your favorite thing about the Rutland region?
DH: Summers with family and friends at Chittenden Dam, Lake Bomoseen and Lake Dunmore; the Long Trail in Killington and off Route 103 south of
Rutland, The Rutland High-Mount St. Joseph sports rivalry; my Rutland High friends, the “10-of-9” whistle, incredible Rutland Free Library, Gill’s grinders, Roxy’s French Fries at Main Street Park, Wednesday night band concerts, Little League baseball at Rotary Field, Bill Bullock’s Teen Town at Rotary Field House.

3. Do you have a particular Vermont Life story, photo or issue that is your favorite?
DH: A feature on Gill’s Deli in the 1970s. The store framed it. It was fading and still hanging on the wall the last time I was there.

4. Who do you look to for inspiration?
DH: Ken Wild, [then] managing editor of The Rutland Herald, took me under his wing when I was age 15 and instilled my love of journalism, taught me writing skills, allowed me to work every job in the newsroom, and enabled me to learn the good and bad of life from a reporter’s perspective. I was too young to drive and walked to all of my assignments. My colleagues in the 1960s included Vermont Life editor Tom Slayton, Newsday editor Tony Marro, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor Tom Levins.

5. It’s summer fair season. What’s your favorite part of a Vermont summer fair?
DH: Young Vermont farmers’ exhibits and ribbons, the Essex Rotary Club corn booth, and oldies concerts.

Take 5 | Writer Kathryn Flagg

Written by Sky Barsch on . Posted in Q&A

Kathryn Flagg

Kathryn Flagg is a freelance writer from Shoreham and a 2010-2011 Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism. Her reporting has taken her from dairy farms in Vermont to cattle ranches in Wyoming to as far afield as China, where she spent part of this winter researching weather modification and water shortages.

1. How did you get the story idea for “The Trouble With Butchers”?
KF: I first started following agricultural issues in the state closely when I was working as a reporter at the Addison County Independent in Middlebury. At the time, I was especially interested in the economics of dairy farming, but I began hearing from farmers — especially farmers with small operations interested in selling to local markets — about some of the problems surrounding meat processing in the state. I made a few phone calls, and I was hooked. Incidentally, as I was knee-deep in reporting this story, my fiance and I decided to acquire a few cows of our own. We knew that we were interested in raising some of our own meat, so these issues were especially pertinent to me when I was working on this story. I even brought my partner, Colin, along for one of my interviews; he’s the brains and brawn behind our very tiny cattle operation, and he asked some very smart questions!

2. Did you sample any of the pork from Sugar Mountain Farm, and if so, how did it compare to grocery store pork?
KF: Sadly, I can’t say that I sampled any of the Sugar Mountain Farm pork. I did try a steak from Badger Brook Meats after my interview with Vince Foy and Deb Yonkers in Danville, and it was delicious. I’m a very strong believer in the quality of local foods, and can definitely taste a difference in the fresh vegetables I pick up at my farmers market or local meat I purchase from nearby farms. Setting aside the issue of taste, though, I think there are other benefits to investing in this kind of food. It feels good to know I’m supporting farmers in my community, and that I’m playing my part in keeping Vermont’s agricultural tradition alive and well.

3. You’re studying at the University of Wyoming — in another rural state. Does Wyoming have the same focus on agriculture that Vermont has?
KF: My time in Wyoming has been eye-opening, and I’m excited I’ve had a chance to see how agricultural issues play out in another part of the country. Comparing agriculture in Vermont and Wyoming is like comparing apples and oranges. The scale here is so vast: Even the small ranches often have hundreds of head of cattle. Wyoming’s agricultural scene also tends to be much less diverse than Vermont’s; the long winters (even longer than Vermont’s) and harsh terrain mean that cattle ranching can be profitable, but it’s much more difficult to grow local fruits and vegetables. I’m very much looking forward to hitting the Vermont farmers markets this summer.

4. What was your favorite statistic in “First, We’d Like to Say,” our story on Vermont’s claim to number ones?
KF: It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I loved some of the quirkier claims I dug up — like the idea perpetuated on Wikipedia that Vermont leads the nation in per capita consumption of cooked oatmeal. Who knew? More seriously, I was so inspired by the density of talent and creativity our state can boast: We have more writers and libraries, more artisan cheesemakers and more patents per capita than any other place in the country.

5. How did you find Vermont’s number ones?
KF: To be honest, I spent a lot of time on Google in the beginning! Substantiating some of those early claims I discovered turned out to be the most difficult part of the research. Then I began rooting around in slightly more obscure places. Census data gave me a few interesting leads. There were obvious connections to explore — like Vermont and maple production or Vermont and cheese — but others (like the number of tennis courts per capita, or number of Peace Corps volunteers) were more surprising.

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