After listening to the Swanton village trustees meeting on July 13, 2020, regarding taking the wonderful community's open canvas art walls down, all of them, til January 2021 and then reading "Mr. LaBombard needs to apologize to Swanton,"' I am compelled to share some thoughts and views to consider. First of all, I commend The Swanton Art Council for bringing the community opportunity to create and share with expressive language that often says more than words can communicate. The knowledge of comprehending how creating with artistic expression works our brains (the artists, and the viewers) to expand our intellect, our compassion, empathy and our understanding of different ways to view what we often only understand through our narrowed experiential base, is a gift and often an educational opportunity. So the fact that the art walls are being dismantled because individuals did not have the mature adult communication skills to have conversations to help discuss issues of social and racial justice, police brutality, and what it means to be white privileged people and to admit white supremacy because these realities make some community members and local authorities uncomfortable will only keep us separated not united. The United States of America stands for justice and unity. Yet most all know that is the concept not the reality. Being a resident of Swanton, a rather new one, my husband and I would love to be part of supporting the Swanton community to become more diverse, tolerant, and considerate of different views, so the community doesn't continue with such disdain. I say this because the meeting on July 13, 2020 was one-sided and there wasn't more concern to hear or learn more from both sides, just make a motion and put the issues at hand under the rug until winter or "nip it in the bud", to gain power or because it may just go away. These issues are not going away until we learn how to respect and be just to one another. We need to listen carefully. I will continue to attend or listen to board meetings in Swanton so I can make informative decisions in how to be the best support I can be. It is the opinion of both my husband and I that the art walls must continue to be a great part of our community NOW not months from now. And with the current movement and issues in the forefronts of our country, we need ways to consider when there is conflict if the art is 'appropriate'. Sometimes that may take some research such as investigating the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency headed by a Trump appointee that clarifies Black Lives Matter is not "inherently political activity" and is not "a partisan political group". So when a black fist is put on a board or two interchanging hands of different skin color with a flag that represents our LGBTQ persons, we might want to consider we all have rights to express ourselves and this art offers us a way to unite not separate. My husband and I suggest each artist has a time limit after completing their mural, (it would be dated) before the next artist can begin their mural. There are resources to help our town to understand issues that we can all be more informed and educated on which may include the ACLU or The Vermont League of cities and towns . It would be so easy if all the art that was painted did not create expression that actually made us think and challenge our senses or our uncomfortable feelings with vulnerabilty but in the long run easy doesn't make us very evolved people. So Town of Swanton, let's find our way with respect and desire to be more evolved as great human beings, as one human race that we can stand proud for all. I am a new resident to Swanton but I have lived in Franklin county for 41 years and I'm here to stay. My husband and I are on The village green every Friday night at 8pm with others for a peaceful candlelight vigil protesting for social and racial justice for all, please join. It is a way to support unity for our town, our state and our country.

Priscilla Connelly


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