BURLINGTON – Vermont, said Paul Bruhn of the state's Preservation Trust, "is a great place for the most part — and for the moment. But will we increasingly become Anywhere, USA?" Gather 500 leaders for a Summit on the Future of Vermont and you might expect to get some answers. On Monday, Bruhn and a wide spectrum of experts instead planted more questions: Can we balance the environment and the economy? Spending for schools and seniors? The needs of natives and newcomers?
"We have a lot of difficult choices ahead of us," Gov. James Douglas told the crowd. "Our future depends on our ability to adapt and grow in a changing world. The goal is to come together and find common ground."
That's why the Republican governor joined socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders and what Bruhn fondly termed a "fairly bizarre collection of characters" from Brattleboro to Burlington at an unusual daylong summit at the University of Vermont.