Audio and transcript of each “Great Thoughts of Vermont” commentary is available after broadcast.
Samuel Read Hall
Long before John Dewey, there was Samuel Read Hall. As VPR’s occasional exploration of the Great Thoughts of Vermont continues, commentator Edith Hunter introduces us to this innovative Vermont educator.
George Darrow’s plants
Commentator Vern Grubinger reflects on the practical methods and theories developed by plant breeder extraordinaire – George Darrow.
Ethan Allen on politics and religion
As VPR’s occasional exploration of the Great Thoughts of Vermont continues, commentator Nick Boke revisits the philosophy of Ethan Allen to examine his thoughts on religion and politics.
As we continue our occasional VPR series, Great Thoughts of Vermont, commentator Rebecca Coffey reflects on some of Vermont’s inventors
Ethics in government
Commentator Cyndy Bittinger reflects on Calvin Coolidge and his thoughts on ethical conduct in politics and government.
Norman Rockwell’s portrait of Vermont
VPR continues our Great Thoughts of Vermont series with a look at Norman Rockwell’s Vermont-flavored art. Rockwell lived in West Arlington at the height of his career and died in 1978. Here’s commentator Tom Slayton.
Ethan Allen and property rights
Commentator John McClaughry examines how Ethan Allen’s concept of land ownership shaped the state and continues to influence us today.
Merino sheep in Vermont’s economy and landscape
Commentator Edith Hunter tells of how one Vermonter’s entrepreneurial idea transformed not only early American agriculture, but industry as well.
Environmentally responsible tourism
Commentator Frank Bryan reflects on a single-minded Vermont visionary who became a pioneer in environmentally responsible tourism. (VPR)
Hemenway’s Gazetteer capures local history
Continuing with Great Thoughts of Vermont, commentator Philip Baruth reflects on how one woman’s idea became an obsession that in turn became a compelling legacy.
Alcoholics Anonymous grown from Vermont roots
Continuing our exploration of Great Thoughts of Vermont, commentator Mary Barrosse Schwartz examines a deceptively simple idea with the power to literally transform lives.Continuing our exploration of Great Thoughts of Vermont, commentator Mary Barrosse Schwartz examines a deceptively simple idea with the power to literally transform lives.
Frederick Billings and forest management
Commentator Tom Slayton joins us today with the story of a Vermonter whose Great Thought may have changed the state’s landscape.
Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church
While researching Great Thoughts of Vermont, commentator Willem Lange found himself also contemplating the reason Vermonters seem to come up with so many imaginative ideas. And he thinks he found the answer – along with a topic for his next commentary.
Marsh’s college curricula
James Perkins Marsh’s innovative thinking revolutionized the way our colleges and univerisities design curriculum. Commentator Ruth Page has his story.
Commentaries from the original Great Thoughts series, broadcast in Autumn 2002:
Wind turbines on Grandpa’s Knob
As VPR continues to explore Great Thoughts of Vermont, commentator Dan Reicher recalls a visionary project on a windy Vermont hillside that ushered in a new era of energy technology.
Reviving a Vermont farmhouse
Commentator C.B. Johnson reflects on the New England attraction to fixing up old houses.
Jake Burton and the snowboard
Commentator Mary McKhann tells about a great idea that quite literally “took off” in the Green Mountains.
The Long Trail
Commentator Bob Northrup tells the story of how Vermont created – almost destroyed – the Long Trail.
Nathan Smith and early medicine
Commentator Nils Daulaire reflects on the life and work of Nathan Smith, an early Vermont doctor who greatly influenced many of today’s progressive ideas about medical care.
Mathew Lyon and freedom of speech
Commentator Frank Bryan tell the story of Mathew Lyon and how he came to personify freedom of speech.
Statesman William Slade
Commentator Gregory Sanford looks at the ideas of early Vermont statesman, William Slade.
Electra Webb’s Shelburne Museum
Commentator Madeleine Kunin saysof Electra Havemeyer Webb’s interest in folk art has preserved past traditions and taught people new ways of defining art.
The first ski tow
Sometimes, great ideas emerge from collective inspiration. As VPR continues to explore Great Thoughts of Vermont, commentator Mary McKann tells the story of how Vermont got it’s first ski tow.
Vermont’s history book
Commentator Frank Bryan explores Earl Newton’s history of the state.
Vermont’s billboard law
Commentator Philip Baruth recalls Ted Riehle’s sponsorship of Vermont’s billboard law.
Philip Hoff and public service
As VPR continues to explore Great Thoughts of Vermont, commentator Allen Gilbert examines former Governor Phil Hoff’s philosophy of public service: his conviction that individuals can make a difference, and his belief that government can do good.
Great thoughts: Bread and Puppet Theater
Commentator Lois Eby reflects on how the ideas of Peter Schumann and the Bread and Puppet Theater have contributed to art and social conscience in Vermont and around the world, as VPR continues to explore Great Thoughts of Vermont.
Ethan Allen and the spirit of rebellion
Commentator Frank Bryan examines the intellectual legacy of Ethan Allen, and in particular, one especially enigmatic statement.
Ralph Flanders defies Joseph McCarthy
Commentator Gregory Sanford says that the ideas of Vermont Senator Ralph Flanders greatly influenced how we conduct public discourse, and our notion of what it means to be an American.
Calvin Coolidge and American business
The thoughts and philosophies of Calvin Coolidge helped shape the American business identity. Commentator Jeff Wennberg thinks they may be more relevant than ever.
Minnie Dole and the ski patrol
Commentator John Morton says that the founder of the National Ski Patrol was inspired with his “great thought” by difficulties he encountered while on a ski vacation in Vermont.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher and lifelong learning
Commentator Edith Hunter says that Vermont writer Dorothy Canfield Fisher greatly influenced our ideas about women, children and education during the first half of the 20th century – especially the value of learning by doing.
Deane Davis starts “Green Up” day
Commentator Philip Baruth says conservative governor Deane Davis left a legacy of environmental protection.
Tradition of equality
Commentator Olin Robison says that while many “Great Ideas” are expressed in words, others are embodied in symbols. And in some cases, they’re embodied in certain individuals, persons whose presence and work pointed the way for others to follow. He says three Vermonters are a case in point.
Robert Frost’s Vermont imagery
Commentator Willem Lange often thinks Great Thoughts about Vermont himself, but realizes when he does, that somebody else has already put them on paper.
Chief Justice Amestoy and marriage rights
One of the more recent ideas to shape our community is that of Civil Union. But commentator David Moats says that Chief Justice Jeffery Amestoy’s ruling was based on traditional Vermont notions of equality.
Senator Morrill and higher education
Commentator Libby Sternberg says that American colleges and universities owe a debt of gratitude to Justin Smith Morrill, a Vermont Senator whose great idea became the Land Grant College Act of 1862.
Wilson Bentley and snowflakes
Commentator Cheryl Hanna tells us that Vermonter Wilson Bentley had a big idea about a very small thing indeed. And his work has greatly influenced the vision of both the artistic and the scientific communities.
John Deere and the polished plow
One Vermonter had an idea for improving a simple but basic tool. Commentator Vern Grubinger says that John Deere’s inspiration ultimately transformed agriculture worldwide.
George Perkins Marsh and conservation
Great thoughts and philosophies from Vermonters have shaped our state and sometimes influenced the nation. The ideas of George Perkins Marsh influenced Vermonters and the nation to think differently about stewardship of the land. According to commentator Tom Slayton, Marsh is considered to be a founder of today’s environmental movement.
Clarina Nichols on voting rights
Great thoughts and philosophies from Vermonters have shaped our state and sometimes influenced the nation. Commentator Madeleine Kunin explores the legacy of suffragist Clarina Nichols.
George Aiken on the ideal community
Great thoughts and philosophies from Vermonters have shaped our state and sometimes influenced the nation. Commentator Frank Bryan explores George Aiken’s concept of the ideal community.
John Dewey on education
Great thoughts and philosophies from Vermonters have shaped our state and sometimes influenced the nation. Today, commentator Ruth Page explores John Dewey’s ideas about education.
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