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Old 12-12-2011, 08:41 PM
 
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Considering relocating to Brattleboro. I'm used to university towns (former professor and PhD) and wondering what the intellectual life is like in Brattleboro. Is there contact with the Northampton area group of colleges? Are the artists "thinkers" as well, or are they sort of flaky? I'm super-liberal, but in a progressive, activist way, and prefer to be around people who read rather than people who smoke pot. Thanks for any thoughts!
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Vermont
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There is plenty to do in Brattleboro, although on a smaller scale than in the Amherst area. There are a few colleges in town, such as the Marlboro College Graduate Center, the Community College of Vermont and the Union Institute. I do know that the Marlboro Graduate Center offers seminars and certificate programs for people who are not taking a degree.

The next town, going west, is Marlboro, home of Marlboro College and the renouned Marlboro Music Festival.

Nearby Keene, NH, has Keene State College, which offers courses to the public and has a special program for seniors.

Dartmouth College is in Hanover, NH, an hour north of Brattleboro.

Our town library offers a lot of interesting intellectual fare. Here is its website:

http://www.brooks.lib.vt.us/

Brattleboro is known for the arts, and also for civil and intellectual engagement. People read. There are five bookstores in town. There used to be six, but one had to close (not sure if temporarily or permanently) due to a fire. There are book groups. There are writers' groups. There are photographers' groups, at least three that I know of. There is plenty of instruction available in all sorts of music, in visual arts, in crafts and in other pursuits.

But there is more to do in the Amherst/Northampton area. I've heard Amherst described as like Brattleboro, only bigger. And there is a major university in Amherst (UMass) in addition to other, often prestigious, colleges. So it is only natural to expect more intellectual activity there.

Amherst is about an hour's drive from Brattleboro, along I-91.

Brattleboro is intellectually alive, but probably not as intellectually intense as the Amherst area. This is probably due to the much lower concentration of working academics.

But I have discovered that many people in Brattleboro - enough to affect the culture of the town - are of a high intellectual caliber.

Local artists, at least the ones I know, seem to be thinkers and often activists. But, like any area, Brattleboro has its share of flaky people. Unfortunately, there are also many people in economic stress. Homeless shelters are full. But local agencies and the interfaith community are doing their best to assist them.

Last edited by arel; 12-13-2011 at 11:41 AM..
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:52 PM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
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Based on your self-description I'd say there are few places more ideal than Brattleboro for you.
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Old 12-14-2011, 08:03 PM
 
Location: Vermont
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You asked about contact with the Amherst colleges, and I forgot to address that in my post.

I am not aware of formal contact, but I am sure there is informal contact. I would think there is some cross-fertilization.

Amherst is just an hour away. I know of one person who commutes there from Brattleboro. I also knew a circus performer, who taught both in Easthampton and in Brattleboro.

Oops, I just realized I made a mistake in my last post. I was told that Northampton (not Amherst) was like Brattleboro, only bigger.

If you wanted to get involved in some program at one of the colleges, your only real issue would be the travel time.

The Pioneer Valley, where Amherst is, is a wonderful place. Brattleboro has some of that vibe, but Brattleboro has its Vermont culture, which I think is different from a Massachusetts culture. Brattleboro also has some aspects of an intentional community. That's because so many people come from somewhere else.
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:14 PM
 
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Thanks for the replies. Great information! Arel, when you say Vermont and Massachusetts have different cultures, what do you mean? We are considering Western Massachusetts, also. We have two kids, so schools are a consideration.
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Austin
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Northampton is more influenced by Boston, New York and the "intellectual elite" Northeastern culture. Brattleboro is more insular, but there are a lot of book readers there and people seem to be just as aware of the world. The town and the people are a bit more unkempt and "granola". More earthy and less ivory tower. Northampton seems like a tiny city and Brattleboro seems like a urban small town. You could say Northampton is San Francisco and Brattleboro is Portland (Oregon), to simplify it.

People read AND smoke pot in both places, but I'd say Brattleboro is more aromatic in that regard.

Last edited by brattpowered; 12-15-2011 at 12:34 PM..
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:42 PM
 
Location: Vermont
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I agree with Brattpowered. Brattleboro can be somewhat unkempt. I have never been to Portland or to San Francisco, so I can't make the comparisons.

Regarding the differences between Vermont and Massachusetts culture: I wrote about that elsewhere on the forum, but I did some searching and could not find it. So I'll write what I remember, and what I think of now.

Massachusetts culture is more contained, reserved and career-minded. Vermont culture is more freewheeling, open and and artsy, and people may do survival jobs. Brattleboro, maybe Vermont in general, is intellectual and artsy, but less stuffy. One of the first impressions I got was that there were lots of ageing hippies around. Another was that the town sometimes felt like a throwback to the 1960's. There is lots of activism and idealism, as well as funky jewelry!

People do not broadcast how smart they are. I would think that someone who did would lose status, due to elitism, arrogance and/or pompousity, rather than gain it. The consequences of appearing Very Smart might be different in the Amherst area. But this is only an inference I am making. It is not definitive.

You can wear whatever you want in Brattleboro. You don't have to worry about hostle, judgmental looks or the fashion police. I suspect that is not the case in Amherst, although I could be wrong about that.

Several caveats:

1. I am writing about the Brattleboro area. The culture in other parts of Vermont may be different. In Brattleboro there are lots of people from somewhere else, which affects the character of the town. This is probably true of many other towns and cities in Vermont. But not all.
2. There are lots of native Vermonters who are conservative and much different from the liberal, activist, artsy stereotype. I've read that multi-generational Vermonters often resent the out-of-staters who moved in and changed the culture.

3. These comments are only the impressions I've gotten over time. They are not definitive. So take them with a grain of salt.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by arel; 12-15-2011 at 02:54 PM..
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:51 AM
 
Location: Vermont
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arel View Post
People do not broadcast how smart they are. I would think that someone who did would lose status, due to elitism, arrogance and/or pompousity, rather than gain it. The consequences of appearing Very Smart might be different in the Amherst area. But this is only an inference I am making. It is not definitive.

I meant pomposity.

I guess my spelling wasn't definitive, either.
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Old 12-20-2011, 07:59 PM
 
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Thank you, thank you! I'm wondering why there are so many transplants in Brattleboro? What has drawn them there?

Any input about schools (my kids are in elementary school now, but obviously we are interested in hearing about middle and high schools as well)?
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Old 12-21-2011, 05:47 AM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cm2703 View Post
Thank you, thank you! I'm wondering why there are so many transplants in Brattleboro? What has drawn them there?
Well it's beautiful, friendly, a place you can walk around, near great outdoor activities, convenient to major cities, and in a state whose unqiue politics are a draw from many who are sick of being brow-beaten by ignorance in the rest of the U.S. (and world).

What's not to like?
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