Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

A reporter looks for invisible poverty and finds intangible wealth.

To the ladies waiting for customers at the Lunenburg Methodist Church's rummage sale, it's "resilience." Deacon Bill Brown of St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Gilman calls it "Yankee ingenuity." To Reverend Gerry Piper it is being "good stewards of whatever you have." And to paper mill electrician Tony Ercole it's pure and simple "faith in God."

These are some of the reasons why — even when well-paying jobs have been lost as businesses close — people in this region of the United States don't seem inclined to think of themselves as unemployed or poor, even though they may be underemployed and short on cash reserves.

This corner of Vermont — known locally as the "Northeast Kingdom" — has been my home for seven years. I've been away this past year, commuting back for occasional weekends. I went back at the end of October for three days of reportorial prospecting — to listen to my neighbors. What are the resources of spirit and character that enable some people to get along fairly well in times of economic adversity?

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thanksgiving blessings
November 25, 2002

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