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Last week, Vermonters gathered in municipalities across the state for Town Meeting Day. The annual event had the highest turnout of in-person town meetings this year since 2019. Meeting days primarily took place in a mailable ballot format the past two years due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The Lost Monarch Coffee Bar, located in the Stone Mill in downtown Middlebury, announced on Instagram in late January that it is closing permanently. Co-owners Matt and Alessandra Delia-Lôbo will continue to operate their other coffee shop, Royal Oak, located at 30 Seymour Street, with expanded hours.
Middlebury’s new staff compensation program — known as the “skill matrix” system — improved compensation for staff at the bottom of the pay scale, while 14% of staff did not receive a raise during the 2022–23 fiscal year.
Monique “Mo” Bonner ’92 is the owner of Addison West — a home and lifestyle store on Main Street in downtown Middlebury. The Campus spoke with Mo last week about Addison West, the store’s new location in Waitsfield and her experience at Middlebury.
Vermont holds the record for the most consecutive victories for governors seeking reelection. Over the past half-century, all 18 of the state’s governors who have made bids for reelection were successful.
For rural communities like Ripton, Bristol and Middlebury, Vt., town centers and more densely populated neighborhoods become a trick-or-treater’s paradise. Since many houses are farther apart, parents often direct their children to a central area where they can celebrate safely. Some rural communities have established different traditions altogether.
The 19th annual TAM — Trail Around Middlebury — Trek was held this past Sunday, Sept. 18.
Cindie Webb has been employed by the college as a custodian for over eleven years. Webb spent the 2021–22 academic year cleaning all of HMKL — Hadley, Milliken, Kelly and Lang Hall — a job meant for five custodians. Webb and a colleague bore the impacts of understaffing, covering all 49 public bathrooms, five sets of stairs, kitchens and lounges — just between the two of them.
A bronze statue celebrating a sport that supposedly began at Middlebury was reinstalled this past week outside of Forest Hall.
A mental health services provider for Addison County raised its pay rate for employees on April 4. In an effort to make wages more competitive with other jobs in the community, Counseling Services of Addison County (CSAC) increased its wages to $17 per hour for direct entry staff, and between $51,000 and $59,000 for clinicians annually.
A grant aimed at bringing vibrant businesses to Main Street has re-opened for a second round of applications, which will close on May 13.
A club that pairs Middlebury students with kids at Addison County schools has seen an uptick in participation as a result of increased mental and social struggles among local elementary schoolers, likely caused by the pandemic.
A motion urging the administration to raise faculty and staff wages by 10% across the board passed during the college’s monthly faculty meeting on Friday, April 8.
Forced to find second jobs in town to make ends meet, college staff members say that lack of opportunity for wage increase causes both motivation and morale to suffer.
A Middlebury student and owner of a local coffee-roasting company recently purchased another Middlebury-based coffee business.
A local juice shop recently moved locations from Route 7 South to the centrally located Merchant’s Row in downtown Middlebury. On Oct. 15, Juice Amour opened its doors at the new location. The Route 7 South location had been open since 2016.
For the past twelve years, The Knoll has been growing produce for a Middlebury-based nonprofit that aims to improve the lives of low-income Addison County residents. Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects, or HOPE, accepts donations from the Knoll and other local farms for their food shelf located at 282 Boardman St. in the town of Middlebury.
Molly Grazioso ’23.5 spent the final months of this past summer renovating a room in The Annex to become a makerspace for sewing and clothing upcycling projects. The space opened for the first time this past Saturday, Oct. 2.
Grazioso got the idea for The Studio, as she is calling the room, when she began taking classes in the art and architecture departments at Middlebury.
“I felt like I wasn’t getting exactly what I wanted, which was to study clothing,” she said.
In the fall of 2020, Grazioso applied for the Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship through the Innovation Hub.
“On my application [I] explained that I wanted to pursue sustainable fashion very generally,” Grazioso said. “[I wanted to create a space for] upcycling or other sustainable fashion projects.”
Later that fall, Grazioso, along with eight to 10 other sophomores and sophomore Febs, was awarded the $7,000 fellowship, to be used over the next three years. It was not until this past June, though, that Grazioso began serious conversations with the Innovation Hub about possible locations to house her makerspace.
The Innovation Hub’s Old Stone Mill Program is an initiative where Middlebury students can become tenants of The Annex (located across from the townhouses) or 82 Weybridge Street to pursue their projects. Grazioso was able to tour one of the upstairs rooms in The Annex this summer. “It was exactly what I was looking for,” she said.
After Grazioso had selected the room in The Annex for the upcycling studio, she set an ambitious opening goal: the beginning of the fall 2021 semester. In order to reach that goal, she began working extra hours around her CCE Privilege and Poverty Internship to clean up and paint the space. “When I came in, [the] space hadn’t been utilized for a long time, so there was a lot of work to do,” she said.
Along with preparing the space for students to sew and embroider in, Grazioso had to work on setting up the machines and placing fabric orders. Though she is still in the process of acquiring supplies, Grazioso said she has gotten most of her materials from second hand stores, estate sales and donations from Middlebury residents.
“The space is open, but I definitely wouldn’t consider it finished,” Grazioso added. “The easiest thing to work on right now is a ‘slow fashion project,’ like embroidering jeans you already have.”
In addition to the advice she received from staff members at the Innovation Hub, Grazioso was guided by the experiences of Kelly Hickey, a Middlebury resident and owner of Edie & Glo, a line of reused textiles and clothing.
“Molly approached me about her idea of opening a repurposing lab,” Hickey said. “I definitely supported it because I feel that people need to have hands-on experience to understand the problem [with the fast-fashion industry].”
Hickey advised Grazioso on the necessary supplies and best fabric sources for upcycling.
Grazioso also recently brought on seven student-volunteer monitors, who will supervise The Studio. Emma Barrett ’24.5 said they were drawn to being a monitor for the opportunity to both work on their own personal sewing projects and help other people with projects.
“I really like doing sewing-related projects,” Barrett said. “There’s not really a space for that here, so when I heard about the studio, I thought that was perfect.”
Megan Mahoney ’22.5, another monitor, said she is looking forward to meeting other students who also have an interest in sewing. “Molly has put so much work into [The Studio], and it’s such a cool space to have for students because there really isn’t anything like it,” Mahoney said.
One monitor will be present in The Studio at all times, and two students can work in the space at once. Students can book the space using the link in The Studio’s Instagram biography: @studioatmidd.
The space’s current hours are 7-9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 3-5 p.m. Friday; and 12-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Annex also houses the Tea Club and the ceramics studio, so The Studio is not open on Tuesdays because of the Tea Club’s meeting.
Grazioso said she was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive feedback she has received about the make space over the past few months since she announced its opening on Instagram at the end of June.
“My very long-term goal is that in the future I could get a new space, because I was kind of overwhelmed this summer by positive feedback and demand for this space,” she said. “I’m not sure if this space is effectively going to meet the needs or wants of so many students who are interested.”
Though it has been a demanding process to prepare the space for students, Grazioso said she feels a lot of excitement and relief now that it is open. “A lot of times it’s really easy to have an idea for something, but that follow-through is always really hard to achieve. It feels so real now that students can come into [the space],” she said.
While her enthusiasm and passion for a space on campus for students to pursue sewing and slow-fashion projects has not waned, Grazioso clarified that The Studio is not an all-encompassing solution to the issues with the fast-fashion industry.
“[The Studio is] a way to start the conversation about sustainability and fashion, but ultimately, I think that actual policy change and change within the fashion industry is necessary to combat the damaging effects of the fast-fashion industry,” she said.
A local restaurant served its final meal this past Saturday, September 18, and entered a period of indefinite closure.
The Arcadian, located at 7 Bakery Lane in Middlebury, announced via Facebook on Aug. 26 that it would be closing its doors due to a severe staffing shortage.
“Having successfully navigated the darkest days of Covid, we thought the hardest part was behind us,” the Facebook post read. “As it turns out, the staffing crisis that has gripped our industry on every level was ultimately an insurmountable challenge to our operational goals at night.”
According to Matt Corrente, co-owner of the Arcadian, it was initially a struggle to find enough staff to open the restaurant for normal hours during the summer.
“Heading into the summer, [we were] looking to staff up and replace some of the positions lost due to downsizing,” he said.
Matt Corrente said that the restaurant was ultimately able to put together a patchwork team of part-time employees, which mainly consisted of college students from Castleton University and the University of Vermont for the summer months. However, many of these employees had to move on toward the end of August as they graduated or returned to a full-time class schedule.
“The return to school season hit us pretty hard,” Matt Corrente said. “That was just too much of a loss to rebuild and expect to stay open.”
According to Matt Corrente, despite the reluctance of many to return to indoor dining during parts of the pandemic, the Arcadian did not struggle to attract customers this past summer. Rather, the limiting factor all summer was their dwindling number of staff members.
“We had a surplus of demand all summer,” he said. “[It was a] bummer not to be able to handle it head on with a robust team.”
During the first wave of the pandemic in March 2020, Matt Corrente had to furlough nearly his entire team, he said, downsizing from 30 employees to four. This summer, the Arcadian got back up to 21 employees, but the difference of nine staff members from pre-pandemic times put a lot of stress on the team.
“It is hard to hold up the same amount of weight in terms of the customer demand with a skeleton crew,” Matt Corrente said.
As a result of the smaller staff this summer, the restaurant had to switch to just serving dinner Wednesday through Saturday, rather than Tuesday through Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch, as they did in pre-pandemic times. In recent weeks, they were forced to reduce the hours further to just Friday and Saturday dinner.
Though the Arcadian is closing, the breakfast and lunch spot Haymaker Bun Company, which shares the same space, will remain open. Haymaker Buns opened at the same time as the Arcadian in November 2018 and is owned by Corrente’s wife, Caroline Corrente. Caroline Corrente is also a co-owner of the Arcadian.
Though Haymaker also experienced some struggles with finding employees over the summer, they have mostly been able to retain staff heading into the fall and maintain their pre-pandemic hours of operation.
Caroline Corrente said that she has noticed that now people are often shying away from working night jobs at restaurants. “My theory is that people in general are more apt to want to work during the day,” she said. “Our hours are a little more forgiving.”
Though the closure of the Arcadian dismays both Matt and Caroline Corrente, Caroline Corrente said she is looking forward to focusing all of her energy toward growing Haymaker.
According to Caroline Corrente, as a result of the closure of the Arcadian, Haymaker will no longer have to stop serving lunch at 3 p.m. In addition, Haymaker may add an extra day of service, lengthen hours of operations and expand into catering or the wholesale distribution of frozen products.
“[We are] listening to the customers and hearing what they want more of,” Caroline Corrente said.
After experiencing firsthand the impacts of labor shortages in the restaurant industry on the Arcadian, Corrente said she and her husband are urging the Middlebury community to support Haymaker in any way possible.
“We’ve hired a lot of excellent Middlebury students in the past, and it’s been a good place for people to learn,” she said. “[We are] encouraging students to come out and show their support both as employees and as patrons.”
A week into the semester, the excitement of being back on campus is still palpable. Dining halls have been buzzing with talk of summer plans as friends reconnect after the three-month break.
But time away from campus was far longer than three months for some students. While many Middlebury students chose to return to campus last fall in the midst of pandemic social distancing and quarantine requirements, a number of others elected to take a semester or full year off, pursuing other opportunities instead.
According to Brett Perlmutter ’24, fewer chances to socialize and meet new people deterred him from returning to campus for the fall semester.
“I love to interact with people,” Perlmutter said. “And with that taken away, [returning to campus] didn’t feel like the right choice, so I opted to do something that was slightly different.”
Julianna Haensly ’23.5 and Caroline Haggerty ’24.5, on the other hand, were on campus for the fall of 2020. However, after experiencing online classes, room capacity limits and close contacts, both Haensly and Haggerty elected to take the spring semester off.
“I wanted more out of my college experience,” Haensly said. “It wasn’t worth it to me to come back and feel like I wasn’t getting that whole college experience.”
After coming to the conclusion that taking time off was the best choice, these students were tasked with finding fulfilling ways to spend it.
“I had a lot of plans and goals, and it ended up being a lot of randomness,” said Haensly.
That “randomness” included interning with a Boulder-based nonprofit that provides cultural integration to immigrants, teaching a weekly remedial math class to middle schoolers via Zoom, coaching for a local swim club and volunteering at a food bank.
Through a farm work exchange program World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), Haggerty was able to split her three months between a farm in Hawaii and a farm in Wisconsin. While living on the farms, she was exposed to different political beliefs and lifestyles, did manual labor and learned about the value of the agricultural industry.
“I wouldn’t have done it without Covid, but I am so glad that I did it. I gained a different perspective on a lot of things, and I am definitely grateful that I was able to have that experience,” she said.
Scott Li ’23.5 had the choice between taking the fall semester off or studying remotely, as he could not travel to Vermont from his home in China. It was pretty clear to him, though, that the best option was to take the semester off.
“One of the most important things for college is the college experience,” Li said. “If you can’t see your friends — eat and hang out with them — go to classes, and see your professors face to face, there’s no point.”
Although he is a STEM student, Li ended up working on a film crew in Hengdian, China — a place well known for movie making, he said. Despite having no prior experience in the world of film, Li said he learned a lot in a short period of time, as he took on the role of directing the extras on when to enter a scene.
After his adventures on the movie crew, Li feels like a new person returning to campus. “To live this simple, pure kind of life after experiencing what I’ve experienced [on] the movie crew, it feels really good,” he said.
Like Li, Perlmutter found himself gaining real-world experiences different from anything he could have done at Middlebury on his year off. Perlmutter worked two internships — with a private equity firm and a podcast — while living on the island of Kauai, Hawaii with a friend from another college.
“Within a week, our two best friends on the island were two 31-year-old guys,” Perlmutter said. “We created this community [in Hawaii] that I didn’t want to walk away from.”
Perlmutter shared similar sentiments about the impact his time away had on his perspective of life at Middlebury. “I have a very different perspective of what my college experience is now going to look like in a great way,” he said. “Middlebury is a great place to teach you how to think.”
Zev York ’23.5 also spent his time off in places very different from rural Vermont. After working on a political campaign leading up to the November elections, he road-tripped across the country to Santa Fe and then worked as a beekeeper in the south of France.
“I found a lot of spiritual meaning in the experience of road tripping,” he said.
Though all five students found themselves bringing a new, refreshed outlook to life at Middlebury this fall, it was nerve-wracking to step back into the campus environment after taking time off.
“I was really nervous about having a disconnect, but it feels like I haven’t missed a beat,” Haensly said. “I’m getting back into my groove, and it feels right and normal.”
“It’s really cool to come back and have everyone be in the same place,” York said. “It feels like the chance of a lifetime to be around people I really care about.”