The opiate addiction issue is no longer someone else’s issue. This past July Vermont Public Radio came out with a survey, conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute, that had a broad spectrum of questions related to issues in Vermont. Opiate addiction was, of course, on that list.
Eighty-nine percent of respondents in the poll said that opiate addiction is a “major problem” in Vermont. No one responded that opiate addiction was not a problem for our state. Opiate addiction in such a small state came as a shock to many, and was even featured in Rolling Stone magazine alongside an image of a Vermonter doing heroin on a maple syrup bottle.
This past 2016 State of the State address focused largely on the opiate epidemic. Governor Shumlin spoke about daily drug related violence, and uncared for children due to drug addicted parents. He then discussed his plans to further battle the Vermont opiate addiction.
When respondents were asked if they or someone they know have been personally affected by opiate addiction, the state was almost evenly split, with those responding “yes” (53 percent) in a slim majority.
Of those who said yes, to knowing someone affected by opiate addiction, 94 percent said that they “personally” know someone who has struggled with opiate addiction. This shows that this issue reaches much farther than just the respondents.
Despite the high numbers of those who know someone struggling with addiction there is a light that is shining over the sad news. Groups throughout the state are working throughout communities to decrease the use of opiates, as well as other drugs. In Rutland County there is an organization called Project Vision. Project Vision is a leading example of organizations that are getting the community actively involved to fight drug addiction and build the community. It also has local law enforcement actively involved, which creates a positive relationship between them and the communities they serve. Although opiate addiction is an issue it is definitely being fought by different groups of people throughout Vermont.
In a recent Vermont Public Radio poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute, 54 percent of Republicans (a slim majority) said that they would oppose an effort to resettle refugees in their community, whereas nearly 80 percent of Democrats voiced support for the resettling of refugees in their community.
Consistent with the partisan split in the level of support, only 20 percent of Democrats, contrasted with 60 percent of Republicans, felt as though refugee resettlement would have a negative impact on Vermont. Independents were split in their opinions, with just over 33 percent believing resettlement to have a positive impact and just under 36 percent believing it to have a negative impact.
Of the 637 complete interviews only 8 respondents cited religion as the likely source of a negative impact. For those who see resettlement as a negative, the reasoning most frequently given is the cost of domestic aid and the over taxing of local resources. Those who see refugee resettlement in a positive light are generally more united on the topic; the most frequent opinion shared was that it would make Vermont a more culturally diverse area, and a better place to live.
President Obama has promised asylum in the United States to 10,000 refugees, so far Vermont has been promised 100. Although only a fraction of the whole, a small homogeneous state like Vermont is easily affected. Vermont is.23 of a percent of the total population, yet they are accepting one percent of refugees. For the country as a whole, 10,000 is a small splash in the ocean, but Vermont is only a small pond and 100 people can make a big splash. No one knows what will happen in the coming months, but as Rutland County opens its arms to refugees the impact will become clearer.
On February 9, 2016, Project 240 (a collaboration between the Paramount Theatre and Castleton University), hosted a Mock Primary designed to coincide with the New Hampshire primary. Those in attendance were treated to a showing of the 1960 documentary Primary, including commentary and discussion by Castleton faculty Michael Talbott and Rich Clark, a discussion by Senator Pollina about the date of Vermont’s primary, a presentation of student-collected data about the political process gathered by Assistant Professor Jennifer Turchi’s Sociology Research Methods class, and an opportunity for everyone in attendance to cast a ballot in the Project 240 Mock Primary.
Votes were tallied and presented during the event. Here is a summary of the Project 240 Mock Primary results:
A total of 89 votes were cast with 63 attendees selecting the Democratic ballot and 26 selecting the Republican ballot.
Bernie Sanders won the Democratic vote.
In a close race on the Republican side, John Kasich won the mock primary by one vote over Donald Trump.
The next Project 240 event will be on February 28th with a fantastic evening of music. Two more primary debates are on the Project 240 schedule on March 9th and 10th. (For more information go to: http://project240.org/) We hope you’ll join us for these great community events as we make our way through the election season!
On Wednesday, August 19, 2015, the Paramount Theater and Castleton University announced an exciting joint effort to involve the larger Rutland community in discourse throughout the entire 2016 election season. The goal is to provide a way for community members and students to come together and discuss, reflect, and engage about the issues explored during the election process. The non-partisan series will include over 17 events (14 of which will be free) from September 2015 to election night in November 2016. (For event details, please visit www.project240.org)
In an era of divisive politics, Project 240 aims to provide a positive space where the community can come together to explore election issues, instead of be divided. For its part of the project, the Castleton Polling Institute will provide insight on the sure to be dizzying array of public opinion data available in the media. Additionally, we’ll present our own polling data to help share Vermonters’ opinions about the election.
Project 240 is an unprecedented, ambitious community effort. Whether or not you are interested in politics, the events are sure to be an entertaining and fun way to connect with your neighbors and the Rutland community. The first event is on September 16, 2015–come out and join us!