The original home of the blog known as 802 Online

Monday, November 29, 2004

Alma Mater, Queen and Mother

I love the internet. Why? Because it has proved to me yet again that I am right to be guided by my faith and not by my fear, as the Unitarians say.

Growing up, I went to Catholic school, including Regina High School, an all-girls school in Harper Woods, Michigan, where I made friends with the nuns, won awards, and was voted "Most Likely to Become President." Then I came out as a lesbian in college, and suddenly, my Catholic high school, which was so proud of me when I was a student, and a graduate attending a private liberal arts college, ceased to print the updates I sent to the alumnae newsletter. Specifically they refused to print anything relating to my partner or to my work with gay groups like the R.U.1.2? Community Center.

A couple years ago, while helping to organize a reunion for my Catholic grade school, I found I posted an entry to the Regina High School bulletin board there entitled "Being Gay at RHS," in which I announced my civil union, and told interested classmates that the RHS administration refused to print an announcement in the alumnae newsletter.

Today I got yet another response to "Being Gay at RHS" post on the Regina High School bulletin board at The comment, left by an anonymous poster on my blog, reads: "I am a fellow RHS alum, I graduated with your sister, Karen in '95. I just want to say congrats on your union. I know it will be a cold day in H@ll before Regina would ever put that in the alumni newsletter, but I applaud you for having the guts to send it in to them anyways!"

It never ceases to amaze me when classmates from my Catholic high school write to tell me they support me. Last month, I got an email from a friend I haven't heard from in twelve years. She's married, has two sons, and teaches kindergarten in Warren. She's also a self-identified neo-conservative. And she wanted to congratulate me on my civil union. One woman who responded to my post on gradfinder wrote, "HEY...I'm a lesbian, too...he he he...I didn't think anyone was gay when I went to Regina."

So far there's been only one damning response to my coming out post, from someone I don't know who graduated Regina in 1983. "Homosexuality is a sin," she writes. "The day Regina accepts that lifestyle, is the day that the world is going to hell in a handbasket."

I think this is the minority opinion among RHS grads. Among recent ones, anyway. I firmly believe that there is support for glbt equality among Catholics, and to nurture that we should reach out to Catholics — and to all of our ideological opponants — rather than antagonize them.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

What you want for Christmas

I'm penning part of the Seven Days gift guide, and I'm wondering what kind of tech-related gizmos might be on a blogger's Christmas list. Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Bloggercon roundup

I apologize for not having posted sooner about the blogger meetup last month. I've been swamped. Here, at last, is my report.

A small crew gathered at VT Technical College in Randolph on Saturday Oct. 23. I was joined by librarian Jessamyn West, and the indefatigable gay gun nut Jeff Soyer. VTC prof Jeanne Eichs also stopped by to talk tech.

I was somewhat disappointed by the small turnout--what did I expect, you ask, organizing this event in only three weeks!--but the four of us ended up having a great conversation about technology, blogs, and the difficulties of getting broadband in VT. It was great to meet Jeff and Jeanne, and to see Jessamyn again. I really appreciated getting schooled on the finer points of web hosting.

As a reporter, I'm required to be a generalist. In the past few weeks, for example, I've written about defense contractors, Vermont secessionists, Ani DiFranco, a cello shop, Burlington's town-gown relations, and a 100 year-old pianist. This week I'm writing about the New England Culinary Institute. I'm constantly having to absorb massive amounts of information and regurgitate it in a way that outsiders can understand. That's my job, it's what I study and practice, and I enjoy it.

But in order to do it well, I rely on mavens, experts who can tell me what's going on in their field and why it's important. Ideally, I'd like to use this blog as a channel for mavens and the reading public to get in touch with me and tell me what I should be covering and why. That's one of the things I wanted to talk about at the Bloggercon. But I guess I'll just say it here on the blog. If there's a story you think I should write--about blogs, tech stuff, whatever--use this blog to let me know. I can't promise to cover everything, but I can promise to listen to your suggestions and incorporate them whenever possible into my work.

So if there's something you want to see in the news--at least in Seven Days, or the Winooski Eagle--this is a chance to suggest it.

From the Winooski Eagle

Last month, I took over as the editor of the Winooski Eagle, my community newspaper, circulation 4000. It's not yet available on-line, but here's my first editor's column. I see it as an extension of my mission, stated here, to bridge the partisan divide in this country and promote a culture of civility based on mutual respect and affection.

From the Editor
by Cathy Resmer

Ever heard that saying, “90 percent of life is showing up?” I thought of it often over the last month as I worked on this issue of the Winooski Eagle. It aptly describes how I ended up taking over as the paper’s new editor.

I’ve been an Eagle reader ever since my partner and I moved here from Burlington in January of 2003. Every month, we’d get the newspaper in our mailbox, and we’d flip through it eagerly, looking for the Papa Frank’s coupon and the latest “Thoughts From Grace.” Reading it made both of us feel connected to our new community.

But I was reluctant, at first, to get too connected. Like most people, I’m a busy person. I divide my time between family, friends, my work as a freelance writer and my volunteer commitment as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the R.U.1.2? Community Center. So each month, when I saw the announcement that the Eagle was looking for volunteers — to write stories, to take pictures — I thought, maybe I’ll do it next month. I naively assumed that, even without my help, there would always be a next month.

Then, in September, I realized at the last minute that I was free on the night of the Eagle’s community meeting. I grabbed a notebook, and walked over to the senior center, expecting to see a community-minded crowd gathered to brainstorm ideas for the upcoming issue.

You can imagine my surprise when I walked in and found the Eagle’s four board members about to shut down the paper for good. Two of them had already moved out of Winooski, and the other two weren’t far behind. They loved the paper, they told me, but they were burnt out. Board president Dick Galperin said later that just before I arrived at the meeting, he said, “Well, unless someone walks in that door, I guess we’re pretty much finished.” This was one of those times when showing up really counted for something.

As I walked home from the meeting that night, I decided that I couldn’t stand by and watch the Eagle crash and burn. If any community needs a newspaper, this one does.

Winooski, after all, is an amazing place. It’s a small city just over a square mile large, but per capita, it’s one of the most diverse communities in Vermont. Its residents are French Canadian, Italian, Somali, Congolese, Vietnamese, Bosnian, Irish, homeowners, renters, landlords, Catholic, Baptist, Jewish, Methodist, Muslim, gay, straight, transgender, white, black, Asian, Latino, and Abenaki.

Winooski is proud of its industrial heritage, and of the generation of men and women who built its civic infrastructure. But the city is changing. It now attracts a variety of bright, hard-working artists and professionals who want to live near Burlington but can’t afford to live in it. I suspect that many of these new residents would like to get involved in the community in some way, and secretly long to be asked.

It’s time we asked them. Winooski has plenty of problems in need of solutions. According to the 2003 Vermont Crime Report, last year in the Onion city, there were 230 reports of larceny, 88 burglaries, 11 cars stolen, and 241 incidents of vandalism. Our rate of Part II crimes — which include child abuse, drug offenses, vandalism, and the buying and selling of stolen property — was down slightly last year, but per capita, it’s still significantly higher than Burlington’s.

That needs to change. And the police department and city officials can’t do it alone — Winooski residents need to get to know each other and work together to make it happen.

There’s a saying that you need to be the change you want to see in the world. So I say, let’s get to it and start showing up. Introduce yourself to the new neighbors across the street. Stop by a zoning board meeting. Eat dinner in one of our downtown restaurants. Don’t wait for the city to put up all those new buildings — spend some time, and some money, to help keep our downtown alive.

And keep reading — and responding — to your community newspaper (yes, we’re still looking for writers, and photographers.) With your help, I hope to make it worth your while.

Finally, I’d like to thank the Eagle’s board of directors for all of their hard work. Thanks also to departing editor Rebecca Padula for all she did to keep the Eagle flying.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Maybe the Republicans are right

Here's a quote lifted from Rex Wockner's weekly Quote/Unquote report. This about sums up where I'm at right now.

"The gay and lesbian community needs to focus less on Washington, D.C., Hollywood and Manhattan and more on the American heartland and the South. Like it or not, Michael Moore, Bruce Springsteen, and Rosie O'Donnell will never convince the Iowa farmer, the South Carolina veteran, or the West Virginia coal miner to be on our side. Much more important than increasing attendance at all our organizations' expensive black-tie dinners is the work we should be doing hosting rural barbecues and town hall meetings for honest discussions with people who disagree with us."

--Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Patrick Guerriero

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Getting Started

scrabble club
Originally uploaded by cresmer.
This is a picture of my Vermont Scrabble friends (plus Marci and Kevin, from New York). This was taken after a Scrabble tournament at the Tiki Resort in Lake George.

My point in posting it is both to promote competitive tournament Scrabble, which is a blast, but also to urge everyone to find a hobby, find some pals who don't necessarily agree with you politically, and find something you can do together to have fun.

The thing I like most about this picture (apart from the fact that it was taken at the Tiki Resort!) is that some of the people in it voted for Bush (at least, I'm pretty sure...). And they're all my friends.

Definitely not proud of my 7-8 record at the tournament.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


I don't aim to be a political blogger, but I can't do much else this morning. So here's my take on the election, for what it's worth.

As a bona fide journalist, I'm not sure how much I should reveal about my political leanings, but yesterday I covered the election for the Associated Press, asking dozens of Vermonters in five separate towns how they voted so the AP could print their comments in newspapers around the state. Now I feel both a desire and a responsibility to reciprocate.

And ultimately, I believe the blogosphere calls for a new approach journalism, which I think we're pretty much making up as we go along, figuring out through trial and error what works and what doesn't. In that spirit, I share with you my post- election reflections.

Some of my friends and family--especially my Michigan and Red State relatives--might be surprised to find out that I am a ticket-splitter. I think of myself as an independent, though I often vote with liberal Democrats or Progressives. Yesterday, I voted for a melange of candidates ranging from Vermont Green Ben Clarke for State Senate (Ben's presence outside the polls changed my mind) to Republican State Senator Diane Snelling and Republican candidate for State Auditor Randy Brock, who defeated once-popular Democrat Liz Ready.

Why'd I pick Brock over Ready? Vermonters discovered, in the last few weeks of the campaign, that Ready had allowed false information in some of her official biographies to go unchallenged. Democratic supporter Cynthia Breton, whom I spoke with in Colchester, and who also told me she voted for Brock, summed it up--"“The beancounter should be aware of what’s going on in the most minute matters,” she said.

I voted for Democrats at the state and national level, and supported Bernie Sanders. And yes, I voted for John Kerry.

And so, this morning, I'm feeling sad. I'm not angry--I think it's clear that the majority of U.S. citizens chose Bush over Kerry in what seems to be a fair election (as fair as it's possible to have, anyway). And I don't hate George Bush. He and Karl Rove ran a smart, tough campaign, as did their fellow Republicans. They worked hard to turn out their base, and people came through for them. They won the vote the hard way, and for that I respect them.

But I am sad, mainly because I see this country is so bitterly divided over issues like religion, the war in Iraq, and gay marriage. And I don't yet see how we can cross that divide.

Here in Vermont, the Democrats lost races for governor, lt. governor, and auditor--not a bad thing, I think, if only because it keeps the Democrats from growing lazy and complacent. But they also solidified their control of the legislature. And the Progressives won a stunning upset in the Northeast Kingdom, stealing a seat, by a very slim margin, from conservative, anti-gay incumbent Nancy Sheltra. So I see Vermont becoming bluer and bluer (or greener and greener).

But as Vermont gets bluer, the South, Midwest, and Mountain States get redder. And redder. We're all hunkering down, talking amonst ourselves, and plotting to take over the country. Or, in the Republicans' case, scheming how to run it.

What we need to do, more than anything, is find a way to talk with each other. Let's start with pop culture, sports and celebrities if necessary. The bottom line is that, in order to have civil, rational, informed conversations with our ideological opponants, we first need to form relationships built on mutual affection and respect. And then, once we start having those conversations, we all need to let ourselves be convinced that, sometimes, the other person is right. Otherwise we'll end up angry, bitter, and disillusioned about democracy.

It might sound tempting to Rebublicans to see Democratic voters grow cynical and apathetic, but given the state of our nation--with our wars abroad, and our struggling economy at home--we can't afford any cynicism anywhere. We've got to work together to survive.

I just want somebody to someday govern us as a uniter, not a divider. I hope it's not too late for George Bush.

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