Women's History Month Event: Women of the Counterculture Movement in 1970s Vermont

The 1970s saw incredible advancements in public engagement with, and recognition of, women’s rights. This flowering of second-wave feminism had a far-reaching impact on American society. What was it like for women who participated in the counterculture during that time? What challenges did they face, and what opportunities did they find? How was women’s experience in Vermont unique, and what did it share with the rest of the country?  How does it relate to the current generation of young women?  In our annual partnership with the Vermont Historical Society (VHS) to honor Women's History Month (March),  we presented this free evening roundtable discussion, "Women of the Counterculture Movement in 1970s Vermont" at the Vermont History Center in Barre.  Rescheduled (due to winter storm) to Wednesday, March 22nd at 6:00.  This event was moderated by Amanda Gustin, Vermont Historical Society's Public Program Coordinator, and featured Euan Bear, Bridget Downey-Meyer, Louise Andrews, Melinda Moulton and Verandah Porche, reflecting on what brought them into this movement, what their experience was like, and what lasting impact it’s had on their own lives and on Vermont society.  A truly engaging and provocative discussion!

Watch the video of this event, thanks to Central Vermont Community Television.

Link here to watch the event recorded on VT Historical Soceity's Facebook Stream

Event Speaker Bios:
Euan Bear -  was born in New Hampshire, moved to Vermont in 1977 to work with the lesbian collective Redbird, and has been here ever since. Over the last 40 years, she has been part of the editorial committee of CommonWomon, Vermont’s first women’s newspaper; wrote and edited for the Vermont Vanguard Press, and for Out in the Mountains, Vermont’s lgbt newspaper; and editor and author for the Safer Society Program and Press, among other jobs (factory worker, dishwasher, food service cook, housecleaner…). She has been a stalwart activist for women’s and lesbians’ rights, most recently at the January March and Rally in Montpelier.  Listen to Euan's story here, via Digital Vermont, a project of the Vermont Historical Society.

Bridget Downey-Meyer – was a member of the Mount Philo Inn from 1969 to 1973, a collective in Charlotte, VT.  Her experience includes working with draft resisters to cross into Canada, the establishment of the People's Free Clinic, and alternative schooling with an emphasis on experiential learning for children.  Listen to Bridget's story here, via Digital Vermont, a project of the Vermont Historical Society.

Louise Andrews – was a member of Earthworks, a commune in Franklin, VT and worked on their alternative newspaper.  She participated in women’s conferences and consciousness-raising during this time, and grew as a feminist.  She learned about working with animals and growing, producing and eating healthy food while at Earthworks, as well as participating in Unity Players, a political street theatre group. Listen to Louise's story here, via Digital Vermont, a project of the Vermont Historical Society.

Melinda Moulton – while working at Harvard with Dr. James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA helix and father of the Human Genome Project, Melinda joined in the antiwar and civil rights protests of the time.  She met her future husband and eventually moved into a tent in Huntington, Vermont in 1972, and lived with her infant and partner with no running water, no phone, no TV until they built their own stone house, inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing.  She collected 36 truckloads of stone with a baby on her back.  Fast forward to the early 80s:  She provided the leadership to produce a 25-year incremental redevelopment project for Burlington’s waterfront and pioneered new concepts in environmental and socially conscious redevelopment.  Listen to Melinda's story here on VPR's No Make Up podcast.

Verandah Porche - with a group of friends from Boston in 1968 she founded a commune in Guilford Vermont called Total Loss Farm, a haven for artists and writers, where she still lives. The farm evolved into a nonprofit, the Monteverdi Artists Collaborative, which hosts residencies, readings, exhibition, and seasonal community events. She’s published three books of poetry, The Body's Symmetry, Glancing Off, and Sudden Eden, and works as a poet in residence, performer, and a writing partner. She was among the founders of the Brattleboro Women's Crisis Center and served on the board for 15 years.  Listen to Veranda's VPR commentary here, addressing the national social media firestorm resulting ifrom her question to veteran journalist Gay Talese.

Along with the Vermont Historical Society, our women's history month event collaborative partner for many years, we're honored to work with Vermont Public Radio which has offered a corresponding themed commentary series for many years. 
Cyndy Bittinger: Counterculture Women In Vermont

Find other women's history month celebrations and themes here.  More event details on our Facebook event page here.