One of the consistent themes of my written work is about the environment that some students are raised in that’s actually prohibitive towards intellectual growth. Perfect example is the disproportionate career opportunities throughout regions of country.
For graphic designers, there are some parts of the country where there are more opportunities for us than we could ever imagine where there are some other parts of the country that are underserved but there aren’t enough job opportunities nor are there the economic resources to pay a graphic designer enough to make it worth their efforts to live and work there. (It’s not just graphic design; it’s almost everything. But since this is a blog about graphic design and being a graphic designer… there you go.)
I was shocked (Shocked, I tell you!) to read a new article that proclaimed that my home state has the highest drug use in the country.
“This trend is a consequence of factors including weather, politics, and proximity to big cities, according to Barbara Cimaglio, the Vermont Department of Health's deputy commissioner for alcohol and drug abuse programs.
"You have everything from the colder climate, which tends to be a reason some people give, to more liberal attitudes, to higher income levels, to people having more access, but I don't think anyone knows for sure," Barbara Cimaglio told Business Insider.
This is incredibly painful to read because people like Barbara Cimaglio know exactly why drug use is so rampant in Vermont and she doesn’t want to admit it. I’m actually embarrassed for Ms. Cimaglio.
The rampant drug use in Vermont is systematic to a much larger problem since there really aren’t a lot of career opportunities – too many young people the only work that’s available are in the tourism industry. Especially in Central Vermont like Rutland; if you can get a job working a chairlift at the Killington Ski Resort you’re “set for life” during the winter months. Northern Vermont has it even worse than southern Vermont since there isn’t a lot there.
Not only that, but the social folkways does more to push ambitious and intelligent kids out and causes what’s known as “brain drain.” From my experience – you’re not considered an “honest” person if you want to get an education and follow a career that doesn’t involve manual labor. An ‘honest’ job involves waking up before the crack of dawn, putting on your Carhartts, going to a job you hate with a boss you hate, doing work you can’t stand for money you can’t live on much less get ahead, to support a house or apartment you can’t stand with a spouse you can hardly tolerate any more and raise kids you don’t relate to anymore. That’s an “honest” Vermonter’s life.
If you love what you do and you’re good at your job that doesn’t involve you wearing your “Carhartt” outfit 6 days a week then you’re somehow dishonest. You’re not a “real man” in the social circle I was brought up in. ‘Working with computers’ or something that involves more brain power means you’re cheating. If you came from a lower economic or social class you were considered a “faggot” or “retarded” if you wanted to do something more than what was expected from you.
There was a genuine defeatist attitude. I started drinking heavily when I was 13 for a whole handful of reasons – mostly because my mother and her boyfriend where genuine assholes who left it around for me to abuse – but the other good reason was there was a sense of futility. What’s the point? What’s the point in doing well in school since the most we could hope for is a dishwashing job?
I was shocked at how un-shocked I was when I read that heroin is huge in Rutland. I lived there for two years and I can tell you that because the economy is so depressed with the “Keep Vermont Green” mentality there’s nothing to do and nothing to work towards beyond keeping the tourists fed and sheltered.
The question I’ve always asked is; who are we keeping Vermont “green” for? Not the generations who are growing up in that region. Are we keeping it “green” for the tourists? Keep in mind also that folks love the idea of renewable energy but will protest if anyone wants to put electric wind turbines on the side of any mountains where they could help to offset the demand for energy – I guess they would rather drink water laced with tritium from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant because that’s something the tourists from New York and Connecticut can’t see from the road side…
I remember sitting at the bar of one of the restaurants where I used to work and discussing with the bartender/fellow employee why I was leaving for better education and work opportunities. “I can’t say as though I blame you, what’s here for ya besides more dirty dishes?”
Is there a solution? Is it mine to offer? There are times when I get nostalgic for that region and the periods of time that I spent there and how I would love to start a business there. Each time I look into doing something like that I find out the hard way that it’s not an effective use of my time. Starting a business is almost impossible because of the prohibitive laws, rules and taxes.
It’s up to Vermont to fix Vermont’s problems; sadly they’re driving out too many of the people who might want to help.