Reflections from creative writer helping asylum seekers in Chittenden

By | April 7, 2023

CASCAN is the Chittenden Asylum Seekers Assistance Network. Its mission is to assist people in Chittenden County who are in the legal process of seeking asylum. CASAN’s main funding drive for 2023 will be an April event ~ Arts for Asylum Seekers ~ that brings together the arts and social justice to assist people who are seeking asylum in our community by recruiting artists to share their creative work in April (

I signed up to receive essays from a creative writer, Katherine Maynard. She is currently traveling in Memphis TN and I have, with her permission, provided an excerpt as it helped me reflect and understand what “exile,” whether forced removal from a country or banishment within it, means:

…this week, other momentous events caught my attention, both in Tennessee:

  • Tuesday, April 4 – 55 years ago the Rev. Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis
  • Yesterday, April 6, the Tennessee Legislature shamefully expelled two young black members, Justin Pearson and Justin Jones, for taking a vocal stance against gun violence. Significantly they did NOT expel the sole white woman, Gloria Johnson for the same “offense.” She rightly explained the reason she “survived” the ouster was due to her skin color, calling out the blatant racism of her colleagues.

Following the thread of “exile” for this CASAN creative project, prompted by the juxtaposition of these events, past and present, I revisited the meaning of the word “exile”. The etymology of the world goes back to c. 1300, meaning “forced removal from one’s country,” from Old French exilessil (12c.), from Latin exilium “banishment; place of exile”. *

“Forced Removal from One’s Country”.

Usually when I’ve considered exile, I’ve pictured people forced to flee their country’s borders, expelled by tragedy, violence, persecution, war, political unrest, or environmental disaster, i.e. External exile.

However, clearly there are ways to forcibly remove someone from their country from within a nations’ borders. When people are removed from their lives, homes, deprived of civil liberties and due process within their country, whenever citizens are barred from full and free participation in their nation’s life: this is Internal exile. It is frequently done through nefarious means, especially through the passing of unjust laws, or the systematic failure to enforce the laws that exist. The goal of authorities is always to silence people’s voices, to marginalize their concerns, to dilute their influence. They also often seek to avail themselves of coveted resources which the targeted population possess or seek to share. The purpose is also to warn there’s a price to pay for speaking up against injustice, corruption, and social evil. Internal exile can be equally brutal – and is actually more common. It can, of course, mean shipping dissidents to harsh faraway places within a country, such as sending them to the Siberian Gulag, or crowding people into inhumane “camps”, such as has been done to the Rohingya in Myanmar, and the Uyghurs in China.

But other methods can be just as effective. Besides assassination, here’s how this has occurred in the US:

  • We imprisoned and exploited millions of enslaved African Americans for over 250 years, robbing them of liberty, dignity, rights, and legal recourse from abuse. We trapped them in our cotton fields, hounded them with slave catchers if they tried to break free, brutalized their bodies through beatings, rape. We refused/refuse them citizenship and its protections, subjecting them to the ongoing violence of lynching and the terror of Jim Crow codes, segregation, and police brutality.
  • We enslaved and massacred indigenous communities, stole their lands, sent pestilence among them, forced them on death marches such as the Trail of Tears, stole their children who we abused and murdered in “re-education” Boarding Schools, and – as recently as 1973 – slaughtered hundreds of Lakota at Wounded Knee. The Dakota Access Pipeline protests in recent years shows our assaults on Native Americans have not abated.
  • During World War II we incarcerated around 120,000 Japanese Americans solely for their ethnicity. They lost livelihoods, homes, and dignity – with minimal reparations or apology offered afterwards.
  • Meanwhile attorneys Michelle Alexander and Bryan Stevenson have painstakingly documented the millions of BIPOC citizens we have essentially “removed” from this country through mass incarceration and the so called “War on Drugs” which disproportionately target minorities.

The human tragedy of “exile” – external or internal – just goes on and on and on….

Next RRE Large Group Meeting: Wednesday, May 17 at 7p via Zoom

By | April 7, 2023

Please join the next RRE Large Group Meeting via Zoom on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at 7p. We will be sharing updates from our three workgroups (Education, Reparations, and Policy & Policing) as well as planning administrative support (Zoom, website, others) and future events. Zoom details – note that there is a passcode:

Meeting ID: 822 4849 9929

Passcode: 049918

One tap mobile

+13126266799,,82248499929#,,,,*049918# US (Chicago)

+16465588656,,82248499929#,,,,*049918# US (New York)

Dial by your location

+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)

+1 646 931 3860 US

Meeting ID: 822 4849 9929

Passcode: 049918

See you there… Connie

March 2023 RRE Large Group Meeting cancelled

By | March 10, 2023

The work of RRE continues in the small group “wings” of our organization: Education, Policy & Policing, and Reparations. We are not meeting as a large group this month and continue to stay in touch via email. If you have a topic to discuss in our large group setting, please let Patty Brushett know at And thank you for your continued support!

RRE Large Group Meeting this Wednesday, November 16, 6:30-7:30 via Zoom – VOTE WARNING

By | November 13, 2022

Please join us at our RRE Large Group meeting this Wednesday, November 16, 2022 from 6:30-7:30 via Zoom, at which time we will be voting on the mission statement (Official Warning).

Our agenda:

Connie- Welcome and Land Acknowledgment

Patty-Shall we revise our Mission Statement? Vote/ mDo we need more time?

Current:” Engaging our community in opposing racism – and advancing equity for Indigenous, Black, and people of color – through education, policy change, and reparations.”

Possible revision suggestions from the last meeting: “Engaging our community in rejecting racism and fostering inclusion by advancing equity for Indigenous, Black, and People of Color – through education, policy change, and reparations.”

Patty-Who will represent your committee when questions come up that your committee is best able to respond to and who will be your committee’s social Media person to post what your group is up to?

Next Large Group meeting January 18th?

Committee reports-


Emily- preliminary discussions of Richmond signage- Town Center and Entering Richmond

Jana- Preliminary exploration into Vermont Reads project- The Most Costly Journey and Anti Racism book sharing for Black history month in February.

Policy and Policing

Ann-P&P is meeting with the Town Manager and Interim Police Chief to work on the first step of the plan approved by the Selectboard Board to provide community oversight of and engagement with the police: improve data collection and share policing activities and outcomes. We have met several times and are currently working on updating the RPD website.


Alexis-We are in conversation with Abenaki scholar, artist and teacherJudy Dow to set up a date for her presentation on Lank Acknowledgement to RRE. Would like to set up this date at Wednesday’s meeting.

Zoom link:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 850 9908 9981

Passcode: 130365

One tap mobile

+16469313860,,85099089981#,,,,*130365# US

+13017158592,,85099089981#,,,,*130365# US (Washington DC)

Vermont Racial Justice Housing Jam Nov 3 4:30-6p

By | October 20, 2022

Increasing Racial Justice in Vermont Housing
Abundant Sun is working in partnership with Champlain Housing Trust, Downstreet Housing & Community Development, NeighborWorks America, RuralEdge, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Housing Finance Agency and Windham & Windsor Housing Trust to launch a yearlong Statewide initiative to examine how racial inequities impact Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Vermonters’ access to housing.

The content of this speaker and roundtable series takes a deep and creatively disruptive dive into systemic racism within Vermont housing. It examines how racial inequities in housing impact Vermonters. This work is a collective effort of community members and a consortium of housing organizations in Vermont. This group, the “Racial Justice Housing Jam” has generously provided their time and insights in designing this program.

Schedule: Thursdays, November 3, December 1, January 12, February 2. 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. To book a reservation, go to:

Vermont Racial Justice Housing Jam

Richmond Democratic Candidates at RFL Sun, Oct 23 2022, 3:30 – 5p

By | October 20, 2022

Richmond Dems are sponsoring a local and statewide candidate meet and greet at the Richmond Library this Sunday 10/23 from 3:30-5PM. Come for conversation, cider, and donuts! Kids are welcome too. Sponsored by the Richmond Dems but all are welcome. Jana Brown will be there along with two of the senate candidates from our new senate district: Thomas Chittenden and Ginny Lyons. Kesha will not be present; she is traveling out of town. We will be joined by nearly all our statewide candidates: Sarah Copeland-Hanzas for Secretary of State, Charity Clark for Attorney General, Mike Pieciak for Treasurer, and Brenda Siegel for Governor. David Zuckerman is a possibility as well. It is really exciting to have all these statewide folks coming to Richmond and even if folks have already voted this is a great chance to meet our next statewide officer holders and ask questions and share thoughts on the issues. The meet and greet format is a great chance to meet these folks for one on one or small group conversations.

Large Group RRE Meeting this Wed, Oct 19 6-7p *** see Warning for two group votes ***

By | October 17, 2022

Reminder: the next RRE monthly meeting is this coming Wednesday, October 19 @ 6:00. It will be followed by a Planning Commission public hearing on amending regulations on Village Residential/Commercial District.

This RRE meeting will be a Zoom meeting; see link below.

Planned agenda:

  1. Land Acknowledgement
  2. Revisit mission statement – Alexis
    1. Engaging our community in opposing racism – and advancing equity for Indigenous, Black, and people of color – through education, policy change, and reparations
    2. Does this need to be revised? Warning: this will be a group vote
  3. Finish with approval of process work – item 4 on the attached – Connie
    1. Includes discussion of requests to make public statements related to racial equity
    2. Warning: this will be a group vote
  4. Managing social media – Gretchen
  5. Confirm next meeting date


Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 875 4047 4651

Passcode: 372074

One tap mobile

+16469313860,,87540474651#,,,,*372074# US

+13017158592,,87540474651#,,,,*372074# US (Washington DC)


RRE Large Group Meeting: Wed, Oct 19 6-7p on Zoom

By | September 28, 2022

At September’s meeting, RRE Large Group agreed that it would meet monthly for the foreseeable future as it continues to work on organizational structure and process, as well as some current topics and projects. Based on a survey of frequent attendees, the best time to meet continues to be Wednesday evenings, 6:30 – 7:30, excluding first Wednesdays of the month. Everyone is welcome to attend.

On October 19, we will be starting a half hour earlier: 6:00 – 7:00 using the link below See you in 3 weeks…


Richmond Racial Equity is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: RRE Large Group Meeting for October

Time: Oct 19, 2022 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 875 4047 4651

Passcode: 372074

One tap mobile

+16469313860,,87540474651#,,,,*372074# US

+13017158592,,87540474651#,,,,*372074# US (Washington DC)


Dial by your location

+1 646 931 3860 US

+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

+1 309 205 3325 US

+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)

+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

+1 386 347 5053 US

+1 564 217 2000 US

+1 669 444 9171 US

+1 719 359 4580 US

+1 720 707 2699 US (Denver)

Meeting ID: 875 4047 4651

Passcode: 372074

Switch to Zoom meeting for RRE Large Group Meeting 9/21/22 @ 6:30

By | September 19, 2022

For both health and weather related considerations, we are moving the RRE Large Group Meeting for September to Zoom only.

It will still be this Wednesday, September 21 at 6:30, but from the comfort of your own home/office/car/space. Please click:

Meeting ID: 865 2502 9299

Passcode: 105936

One tap mobile

+13092053325,,86525029299#,,,,*105936# US

+13126266799,,86525029299#,,,,*105936# US (Chicago)

Thank you for understanding. Someday we will meet in person again but not this month. Looking forward to seeing you soon, even if virtually. Connie

RRE monthly meeting Wednesday, September 21 @ 6:30 , Patty’s Barn, 2899 Hinesburg Rd, Richmond

By | September 16, 2022

Reminder: the next RRE monthly meeting is Wednesday, September 21 @ 6:30

at Patty’s Barn

2899 Hinesburg Rd, Richmond

This is a well ventilated space with no heat, so please check the weather forecast and dress as warmly as needed. Your presence is not only welcome but the most important aspect of this meeting!

Planned agenda:

  1. Land Acknowledgement – Ann
  2. Organizational process: warning that we will be voting on approval of attached or the parts we like (see attached) and how often we will meet as a large group
  3. Purpose: review of mission – Alexis
    1. “Engaging our community in opposing racism – and advancing equity for Indigenous, Black, and people of color – through education, policy change, and reparations.
  4. Equity related issues/requests from our community – discussion – Connie
  5. Social medial management – discussion – Gretchen
  6. Confirm next meeting date

Thanks, once again, to Patty and Jeff for the use of their barn.