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Balance point

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2009-08-12

A statewide discussion among Vermonters about the environment and the economy has shown that the quality of the environment — the rural landscape of woods, farms, lakes, rivers — is a value deeply embedded in the identity and hopes of Vermonters. Simultaneously, Vermonters remain worried about economic prospects, particularly during a recession, and the opportunities that may or may not be available for jobs and housing.

...What the study found instead was that there is no solution. Rather, there is a reality. Environmental consciousness inevitably creates tension, even within individual Vermonters. Thus, controversy about growth, water quality, pollution is not a problem; it is an inevitable consequence of who we are. It is evidence that we care about both our prosperity and our environment.

The council suggested that Vermonters may most usefully aspire to a balance point between our competing values. And we can find that balance point only through vigorous, open, continuing discussion. Those discussions take place in a variety of venues — on civic boards and in state government; on newspapers' op-ed pages; in every discussion that occurs over a cup of coffee at the local diner.

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