In the Baltimore episode, we featured the story of Dayvon Love, and learned how the debate team changed his life. Here’s more of Dayvon’s story from SOTRU intern JP Davidson, who tells us about the new shift that’s spreading across the debate community.
Many small towns have lost their economic engines. This one re-invented itself. How did White River Junction do it?
A collaboration in cartoons and sound by State of the Re:Union production intern Katrina Roi and Center for Cartoon Studies artist Sophie Goldstein.
I went to college five miles up the road from White River Junction. I would take the train home several times a year, and WRJ was my station. I would arrive at the platform, tuckered out after 14 hours of clattering along outdated rails, and I’d spend a few minutes waiting for a friend or a taxi to pick me up. Then I’d leave. To me, like many others, White River Junction was just a waypoint.
Five years later, the editor at Seven Days newspaper in Burlington mentioned that White River Junction had seen a bit of a renaissance. When my boyfriend came to Vermont a month later, we decided to swing by and check out the town. We went to the Tip Top Café and enjoyed a delicious meal of duck and a flavorful salad. We stopped in at the Tuckerbox Café for a cup of coffee that rivaled the product of our favorite Seattle coffee shops. In the afternoon, we peeked into the Main Street Museum. The flood had ravaged the place, but many items had been returned to their cases. And we marveled at the unusual and wonderful displays that we saw.
Throughout, I kept thinking, when did this place get to be so cool?!
I returned to White River Junction to interview several of the people who helped turn the town around. Along the way, I found out about The Center for Cartoon Studies, America’s premier cartoon school. The school is located in a refurbished department store building right in downtown White River Junction, and it’s the place to go if you want to be a graphic artist. I asked Sophie Goldstein, a student at the school, to create a set of illustrations to accompany the audio I had collected.
Our goal was to marry cartoons and audio in a way that would draw the viewer into the world of White River Junction. I blended voices, music, train whistles and earthquake rumbles to create layers of sound. Sophie’s art brought to life the quirky, independent spirit of the town. Together, the images and sound created a richer, more playful portrait of White River Junction than we could have made with audio or pictures alone.
White River Junction has a lot of personality, and that kept this project invigorating and fun. Working with a cartoon artist made me excited to keep trying new ways to tell stories.
I know that next time I visit my college, I’ll be swinging through White River Junction for a great cup of coffee and a stop at the zany Main Street Museum!
Katrina graduated from Dartmouth College in 2008 with a degree in Geography and Healthcare. After college, she spent three years working as a consultant a health care cooperative. Then she decided to pursue her long-time desire to become a doctor. These days, Katrina is taking science classes in Baltimore and getting ready to apply to medical school. A few years ago, she also discovered a love for radio. She attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in 2011, and is currently working on another illustration/audio project (in between chemistry tests). She has a serious dose of wanderlust, and has worked/lived in France, Syria, Morocco and Ecuador.
Last year in a remote corner of Vermont, David Lawrence, a self-proclaimed mountain man, helped rescue an orphaned baby moose. He named the moose Pete. Little did he know that Pete would end up sparking a fierce debate, one that ignited the whole state of Vermont – from hunters to legislators to regular people who’d fallen for the gentle moose. State of the Re: Union production intern Nick Gunner tells this story of what we risk, lose and win when we decide to love wild animals.
Every episode of State of the Re:Union, we ask listeners to write a letter to their city. For our Vermont episode, we featured writer and musician Robin MacArthur’s love letter to her home state. The piece is scored by Red Heart the Ticker, the band Robin plays in with her husband Tyler Gibbons.
Photography and multimedia production by Sara Brooke Curtis, with help from Laura Starecheski.
Visit our Vermont page for more stories from this episode. And be sure to check out State of the Re:Union’s other videos on our YouTube Channel.