Welcome to Strides: Update 2. In these posts, I will update you on the real-life:
- steps I’ve taken,
- progress I’ve made,
- people I’ve connected with and
- golden takeaways
on this journey to find home in the country, on a budget, as a B.A.M.F.
STEPS TAKEN & PROGRESS MADE
I believe it’s been a minute, no?
Sureeee. If a minute equals 6 months!!
A lot has happened in the past six months. The riskiest step that I took in June of last year–making an offer on a plot of land and negotiating a price–was stepped back within days of transferring project blog posts from my poetry blog to this project-only site.
So what happened? Well, the turning of the tide began with the arrival of the July 4th holiday–summahtime escapes! Negotiations slowed as key players in the contract process took, what I can only imagine (impossible to definitively confirm) as, staggered summer vacations… Staggered for me, that is, for the purpose of considering and either accepting or rejecting my offer. I gleaned from communication with the real estate agent that multiple people needed to be in the office, on the clock, in order to agree on a response: “Yes!”, “No!” or a different asking price.
All that to say, by Wednesday, July 4th, I was on vacation, the bank was on vacation, the realtor and my real estate lawyer were on vacation. Everyone was on vacation! And I could do nothing but think, overthink, pray, fret and wait. The weekend approached, and I surely wouldn’t hear back until Monday at the earliest. I had been praying since the start of this project, and especially as I considered the financial commitment, “Lord, may You close doors that need to close, and open doors that You want to open.”
Well, a door was about to close. And thank the LORD it did when it did.
I am also thankful for federal vacation days and for people making the most of them by taking additional PTO. Why? Because I had time to withdraw my offer before anything set into legal stone, before a loan was borrowed, before my finances were tied to a land far far away, before the first week of July when I learned that I would need to both move AND address an important, though easily solvable, health issue.
I decided that it would be wisest to keep my savings as savings to cover any unforeseen costs of moving and/or addressing my health. My real estate agent, who was amazing throughout the entire process, let me know to keep in touch. I told her that I would! And I pray the land will still be available if that door re-opens when the time is ripe 😉.
So, if all that went down in July,
it still doesn’t fill in the details on the past 6 months.
Correct! In the past 6 months I have also:
- Decided, more or less definitively on the state where I would like to move should this whole thing realize: the “Brave Little State” of the Green Mountains: Vermont.
- Decided on not moving alone. If I am honest with myself, contrary my initial post, I do not desire to be a lone wolf, uprooting and moving to a new place, a new state, all by myself. The vision I have, the size and scope of it, the adversity it will assuredly bring (socially, financially, emotionally, physically–brrr, relationally, spiritually), it requires community. I need help, and I will need help. I look forward to building connections, even more-so relationships, with Vermonters as I learn more about their home. I look forward to building connections, even more-so relationships, with others whom I pray will be inspired to make a similar move from the bustling, booming, busy cosmopolitan to somewhere a little more like the countryside, perhaps and especially, along with me.
- Re-connected with the Rutland Area NAACP and asked follow-up questions about current events, racism in Vermont (racial discrimination and marginalization do not look the same everywhere), regional needs, economic opportunity, and what advocacy for persons of color looks like for them presently.
- Subscribed to multiple podcasts with a focus on Vermont news, rural America, and everyday concerns and events of the Northeastern United States as a region,
- Hoped to someday learn how to ski and visit Killington. I have only dreamed it. One day, one day…
CONNECTING with PEOPLE
As I mentioned in point #3 above, I had the opportunity to re-connect with the Rutland Area chapter of the NAACP. I had the opportunity to shared my site, this site, with its founder and president, Tabitha Pohl-Moore, and heard her assessment of circumstances surrounding, thoughts and insight about former Vermont State Representative Kiah Morris’ decision to withdraw her bid for re-election last fall. Not long after that conversation, Representative Morris, the only black female legislator in Vermont, resigned from her post altogether after ongoing racial threats.
I had the opportunity to speak with another NAACP member a, quickly- and voluntarily-disclosing, white male member. He was intentional at the start of our conversation about letting me know as much, that he is white male member of the NAACP. He underscored that could not adequately speak to the lived experience of being a person of color in Vermont; he did share that it can be difficult. He continued on to describe his role with the NAACP, and one of their focuses on dismantling systemic racism.
He also spoke about job vacancies for teachers, nurses, and doctors in the state. “Not even white people are moving to [Vermont],” he said. Perhaps openings for positions requiring a higher level education, might be opportunities for people of color, he suggested. And I agreed. “You sound educated!” he also added over the phone, referring to my manner of speech. I chuckled at his candor, and confirmed that yes, I did go to college. He restated that there are opportunities, needs, in his state that require a college education, that are not yet being filled.
His words would echo a theme of a need for overall population growth, period, in Vermont: for the influx of more young people, for more professionals in specialized fields, for EMTs and mental health specialists, and simply for young, reproducing families with children to populate schools and rejuvenate aging towns. I heard this theme echoed in several podcast episodes about Vermont specifically, as well as regarding rural America as whole.
He asked me what drew me to Vermont, as young, black, educated female, and I shared about this project. I shared about affordable housing, economic opportunity, black/minority homeownership and generational wealth, racial reconciliation, the outdoors and rural spaces, Vermont’s care for the environment and its culture of neighbors lending a hand to neighbors. I shared about exploring a less conventional alternative to ever-cramming into the increasingly unaffordable, income disparate city.
TAKEAWAYS & SUGGESTIONS
I close with links to episodes of some of the of the podcasts I have frequented these past 6 months. I have been itching to share them. Please take a listen.
Brave Little State, “What Does It Take to Start And Run A Successful Small Business in Vermont?“
Brave Little State, “Why Is Vermont So Overwhelmingly White?“
Marketplace Tech with Molly Wood, “How rural America is turning into a digital desert“
Rural America Round Table, “Children of the Incarcerated“
Rural Matters, “Myths with Kai Schafft“
Rural Matters, “Why Rural Schools Matter–Mara Casey Tieken“
The Vermont Conversation with David Goodman, “How to get 67c back from every 1$: The Power of Buying Local“
Vermont Edition, “Living in Vermont Without English“
Next up: ‘Uncertain and slightly dangerous’ • Motivations: Black Ownership & Generational Wealth’ 2/3
*If you are considering moving to the country and will be of a minority group in a location, consider reaching out to your local NAACP and state ACLU to get an idea of the racial climate in your area. Do this in addition to your research on other aspects of local life: government, economic opportunity, industry, leisure, transportation, etc. Speak with living people and do not limit yourself to articles speaking of the ‘nation’ as a whole. Though there may be some shared trends, not every pocket of the country-or Country-is the same.
Copyright © 2019 A.M. Wilsonne