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We're seeing unprecedented threats to our community: white supremacists in Bennington, a federal investigation of UVM antisemitism, and an ultra-right-wing militia camp in Pawlet. This is not normal. But we can do something about it.

There is an organized movement to get all 246 Vermont towns to confront the unprecedented mindset we are seeing. Already, 89 towns have adopted a formal "declaration of inclusion" to publicly and officially "condemn racism and welcome all persons, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, age, disability, or socioeconomic status, into the community." (see )

Several local townships have already adopted this resolution, including Bennington, Manchester, Dorset, Pownal and Pawlet. On Feb. 6, the Shaftsbury Select Board will consider officially endorsing the "declaration of inclusion" for inclusion in the town's website, employee manuals, newsletters, and economic development marketing materials.

This isn't just a "feel good" effort of empty words. The pandemic has made people think about moving to places like Vermont. Many are young, diverse, capable people who could bring jobs and new skills to our community for a more vibrant economy. They want to know that they will be welcomed. And this "Declaration of Inclusion" will emphasize that they would be welcomed into our community.

Shaftsbury should approve the Declaration of Inclusion. If disapproved, it becomes a de facto declaration of exclusion by the town. Either way, it sends a public message of the type of community we are.

Carl Korman



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