October 23, 2011
October 15, 2011
By LINDA GOODSPEED
Freelancing -– whether it’s writing, photography, consulting, any kind of self employment — is a great career because it offers so much freedom. Freedom to work where you want, when you want. Freedom to do the kind of work you want, how you want. One of the upsides of the current recession is the number of people deciding to follow their passions and start businesses at home.
Thanks to the Internet, phones and email it is possible to be connected to the rest of the world from almost anywhere, even a small town in Vermont. It is truly seamless. Most people, including my editors, do not know where I live and work. I can work early in the morning, late at night. When my daughter was a baby, I could work during nap time in the afternoon. I can work on the weekend, Sunday afternoon or after Thanksgiving dinner (provided I’m not sleeping off all the turkey). My work schedule fits my personal living schedule, not the other way around.
But the very freedom that freelancing offers and that makes it so attractive, is also its curse. Just as the freedoms we enjoy in the free-est country in the world also make living in America so very challenging, the freedoms of freelancing come with burdens and responsibilities. Precisely because we do have so much freedom to work when we want and how we want, sometimes we put that work off. I’ll write that essay this afternoon, or later this evening. Evening comes and we’re tired, there’s a show on TV we want to watch. We wake up in the morning, intending to sit down and work , but it’s a beautiful blue sky day and we go skiing instead.
If you really want to enjoy and take advantage of all of the freedoms freelancing offers, best to treat it like a regular job. Keep regular hours. Don’t let yourself get distracted by something else. Set realistic goals of what you want and need to accomplish each day.
Freelancing is the best job on earth. And freedom the most precious of commodities. Treasure it. Respect it. Don’t let it overwhelm you. And don’t squander it.
October 10, 2011
Author Linda Goodspeed’s new book looks at the 1886 political move that led to the division of Rutland.
(Host) In 1880, Rutland was Vermont’s largest and most prosperous city. But a controversial political move in 1886 forever changed that.
As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, a new novel delves into the events and the man behind the division of Rutland.
(Keck) Writer Linda Goodspeed grew up in Rutland, but says she knew very little about Redfield Proctor – the founder of the Vermont Marble Company.
(Goodspeed) “When I was working on this book people would ask what are you working on, and I would say something about Redfield Proctor and the responses would almost always be, oh, yes, he’s the one who divided Rutland.”
(Keck) Goodspeed says she became interested in Proctor while doing research for a book on Pico Mountain, which Redfield Proctor had owned at one time. She soon found herself going through Proctor’s personal papers, state archives and old newspaper clippings.
(Goodspeed) “Redfield Proctor was a very extraordinary man. I was captivated by him.
(Keck) This summer, her book Redfield Proctor and the Division of Rutland was published by the History Press.
(Goodspeed) “I wrote it as a historical novel so it is a work of fiction based on the major events of Proctor’s life. But many of the words that come out of Proctor’s mouth are actually drawn right from his papers.”
(Keck) Goodspeed says she kept to the facts, but took liberties with character development and some dialog. She says Redfield Proctor’s charisma, accomplishments and ruthlessness needed no embellishing.
(Goodspeed) “In 1869 he took over a bankrupt marble mill. He was 38 years old at the time. And within a very few short years he had turned that marble mill into the largest marble operation in the world. “
(Keck) Proctor became one of the richest and most powerful men in Vermont, holding nearly every political office in the state, including Governor. Goodspeed says in the years after the Civil War, Vermont was staunchly republican. But the many ethnic marble workers in Rutland began to organize with other labor groups and they shocked many in Vermont when they elected a democrat to the statehouse.
(Goodspeed) “Proctor of course could not abide this. He also had his eye on the national election of 1888. I think he had his eye on national office. And so he really saw an opportunity to divide Rutland in 1886 and get it back into the Republican column.”
(Keck) At the time, each Vermont town had one vote in the statehouse. Proctor pushed to have Rutland carved into three smaller towns. The newly proposed towns of Proctor and West Rutland contained Proctor’s Marble quarries, carving facilities and most of his employees. Vermont historian Don Wickman says that allowed Proctor to exert enormous control over how the towns voted.
(Wickman) “He would control by having company stores and company housing. So they were more or less subservient to him. I think the other catch is that those people – the ethnic groups and the laborer did not have a lot of clout in the town.”
(Keck) And any clout they had begun to generate in the early 1880s was new and fragile. If Proctor got his way, one town’s democratic vote would be turned into two and possibly three republican votes.
(Goodspeed) “There was enormous opposition to this proposal.”
(Goodspeed) “In her novel, Linda Goodspeed includes testimony from public meetings and labor groups, letters and editorials by the Rutland Herald condemning Proctor’s plan.
(Goodspeed) “And he just rammed it through. He did what he had to do to get it through the house and senate. He actually hired every lawyer in the county on retainer just to keep them away form the opposition.”
(Keck) For Redfield Proctor and his fellow republicans the division was a success. The party gained two seats in Montpelier and Proctor went on to become Secretary of War and a U.S. Senator. Historian Don Wickman.
(Wickman) “I think it shows that local people did not have a lot of power at that time. Things were going to be debated up at the Statehouse. You can almost see the cigar smoking back rooms there. For Rutland I think it just changed the entire character of the community at that time. It lost probably some of its flavor back in 1886.
(Keck) Author Linda Goodspeed says Rutland lost a lot more than its flavor.
(Goodspeed) “All of the marble quarries were split off from Rutland so it’s tax base was diminished by about 4/5ths. We’ve never really recovered from this.”
(Keck) Goodspeed and other historians says what’s ironic is that local citizens at the time had no say or vote on the matter. Redfield Proctor clearly benefited as did his family. Both Proctor’s sons and his grandson served as governor. Redfield Proctor died in 1908 at the age of 76.
For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.