1. Kirby, VT - A large painted mural of Bernie Sanders is seen on a barn in the rural Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont. The mural is the work of Venice, CA based street artist Jules Muck. (October 15th)
2. Middlesex, VT - Shirley Laplant at home on Shady Rill Road a few doors down from Bernie Sanders' first home in the state. "Bernie's a pretty smart guy. We knew him very well when we was runnin' the dairy farm up here. Once in a while he'd come and take some milk...he used to walk down. He didn't have a car. Everybody liked him around here. He was funny in lots of ways," she recalls. Her husband James adds, "We hope he wins." (October 4th)
3. Middlesex, VT - A currently abandoned home in the woods near Shady Rill Road. According to public record it was owned by Bernie Sanders and his first wife in the 1960's after Sanders first relocated to Vermont from Brooklyn, NY. (October 4th)
4. Stannard, VT - Tom Gilbert, a local farmer and compost producer, cleans chickens with the help of friend Jean Miller in the backyard of his farmhouse in Stannard, a tiny town where Bernie Sanders lived in the late 1960's.
Gilbert explains, "An important cultural value of Vermont is every person on this earth getting to live out their own story...and being authentic, accountable and transparent, and I think that's why Bernie's been successful here, because that's just sort of naturally his M.O. Vermont isn't a spectator culture whether you're a progressive or not. This is a community that's engaged in their own lives, so there's not a lot of room for the rockstar thing, and I get that the media wants to make Bernie into that."
Gilbert adds,"There's not a lot of local lore about him, but there is a plaque in the town hall for Bernie, and people are definitely proud, we're proud to see Bernie out there."
Jean says, "His old house in Stannard is nearby, but the closest I ever came to living near him was in Burlington when some good friends of mine lived across the street from him and his wife. His wife is a super super nice person and a huge advocate of the arts and children. I dig her. I'm a musician and met her through that." (October 15th)
5. Dummerstone, VT - Peter Diamondstone and wife Doris outside their home. Peter is co-founder of the anti-war and socialist Liberty Union Party, on whose ticket Bernie Sanders campaigned for US Senate in 1971 along with Doris who ran for a seat in the US House. "What held this party together until 1976 was the war in Vietnam, the anti-war movement. This was the beginning of the split between Sanders and myself on deep levels. We had brotherly arguments for many years...he and I differed on the blockade. On Israel. And we disagreed on the most petty things. We couldn't talk to each other without having an argument. A lot like a brother. And it went on long after he left our party in 1977. We remained pretty good friends until 1984 when Bernie became a Democrat and stumped around the state for Walter 'Fritz' Mondale," says Diamondstone.
"Sanders doesn't call himself a socialist anymore. He calls himself a social democrat. He's not running away from the word, but he uses Sweden as an example. They're as capitalistic as the US, just a better safety net. When he talks about protecting the middle class. That's the class that protects the ruling class from the working class. The bourgeoisie." (October 6th)
6. Winooski, VT - Steve Goodkind, former Public Works Director for the City of Burlington, in front of his son's motorcycle repair shop where he spends much of his retirement. Bernie Sanders declared his candidacy for mayor in Goodkind's living room in 1981, and Goodkind was Sanders first appointee after winning a close election.
"I mean look, there's a record: he works hard for veterans, he works hard for the environment, he works hard for healthcare. There's thousands of these community healthcare centers around the country now. This is Bernie Sanders! When they passed the Obamacare bill, he insisted there be billions of dollars for these centers...he fought for them."
"I think it's great what he's doing. I think people are attracted to what he stands for...it was like that when he was mayor, and you're seeing it now on a level that I'm even a bit surprised at...but people hear what he stands for, and that he's committed. He's not in it for himself. You want to be part of it. Go with your heart. Go with him. And if it goes anything like it's gone in Vermont, people are really gonna be surprised. And so far that's what it's shaped up to be."
Goodkind adds, "I think he actually met Jane (Bernie's wife) at my house, at one of the celebratory parties after he got elected mayor."
7. Westfield, VT - Lyle "Spud" Edwards on the organic dairy farm he runs with his wife Kitty in the rural Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont, one of over 200 organic dairy farms in the state. His family roots go back to 1799 in the state. (October 4th)
"Don't underestimate him. Bernie is no fool. He knows how to win. And he's unorthodox too," says Edwards. "What he's doing win or lose will change the debates. And change America in time...if you care about your children or grandchildren then you have to care about politics."
"It's surprising the number of conservatives that are gonna back Bernie, because he's a straight shooter. There's a reason he gets 70% of the vote here. Yeah, Vermont is a liberal state but it's not 70% liberal. Vermont historically has been fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Of course Vermont was its own country before it joined the Union. We were the first state to join the union. We abolished slavery before we entered the Union...so the state's been independent. The backbone of the state is hard work. We didn't hire slaves to cut the trees, and burn the stumps and clear the land. We did it," he says.
8. Burlington, VT - Emmet Helrich, former Burlington police Lieutenant and detective and adviser to writer Gillian Flynn, author of 'Gone Girl'. Emmet began on the police force in 1981, the same year Bernie Sanders started as mayor for the city. The Burlington police union backed Bernie's run for mayor because of his pro-union stance, which proved to be a pivotal endorsement for his election.
"When Bernie came in, one of the first things he did was meet with the PD, he would come to roll calls and talk to us, and let them know that he wasn't going to abandon them...the Union board met with him frequently. He saw that we got a better quality pistol for carrying, we went to a .357 and then a 9mm, which for police officers is a big deal. So knowing at the time he was not a gun guy, but was willing to assist. And all through his career he was always a strong supporter of the police. The working relationship with Bernie Sanders and his office was excellent. Later I was secretary for the union and our meetings were always efficient," he says.
"There was a Friday or Saturday night here...this is a college town and there's one intersection on Church street that's mayhem, and it can get hairy sometimes, and I remember one night when a huge melee broke out on the corner of Church & Main and I sort of waded into the crowd to calm things down. There were no arrests but when I turned around and looked up at a balcony in City Hall and I saw the mayor, Bernie, up there on his perch, looking down, and the next day received a letter from him, that he had never seen anything like that before where one person was able to calm things down, and he thought it was exemplary."
"The mayor is always accessible. You'd always see him downtown. He'd be at every function. Pretty much an open door policy at his office. If you had an issue there wasn't much lag time. And he always seemed to know everybody's name, which was a pretty cool thing. I mean he was a busy guy, but you felt that when you talked to him, he got your point, and if there was an aide next to him, he always made sure they took a note to follow up." (October 13th)
9. Troy, Vermont - Dexter Randall, organic dairy farmer for Organic Valley and former Progressive Party member of the Vermont House of Representatives, who hosts annual pig roasts on his farm that Bernie frequently attends.
"In the mid-80's when our friend Ronald Reagan dropped the support price for milk and then interest rates went through the roof, I was buried in debt so got it from both corners. That's where Bernie came along into the picture...we had a protest in 1990, there used to be a milk plant in Troy, there was about a hundred tractors, we surrounded the place, of course people thought we were gonna blow the place up or whatever and I could care less. Bernie was there and stood right beside me when I made a pitiful speech," he laughs.
"It was an emotional time because I was on the brink of losing everything. That was when my own real activism started taking place. I met Bernie before that but that's what set off the whole thing. And if you know how activism works it depends on what's going on and how mad you get."
"1986 is when I started getting to know Bernie, during the family farm crisis, when Willie Nelson had his first Farm-Aid. So Bernie started coming on the scene. I met Bernie at a fundraiser."
"If there was anything on the side of the people who were getting walked on, Bernie was always there, I don't care if there were 10 people or thousands."
"I won't be totally shocked if in the end, if Bernie can get through all the crooked bullshit, he can win. Because I think it's the will of the people, not the will of the money."
"He told me probably 10 years ago on the farm, he said to me, 'Dexter if you think Montpelier is bad, that's nothing, Washington is just so corrupt."
"Every time they try to do some damned thing to get him to say something bad about Hillary, he won't take the bait. It does no good to throw dirt about the other guy, tell 'em what you're gonna do! Not what that fool is about. And that's what Bernie does perfect! Couldn't be any better." (October 4th)
10. Montpelier, VT - Bill Doyle, 89, Republican member of Vermont State Senate and Professor of Government at Johnson State College, where he taught Bernie Sanders for a semester in the early 70's. "I think his attitude was...'I want this college to work for me', so he instituted radio stations and did a lot of innovative things to his credit. He made contributions as a student that most students would never make, because they didn't know how to do it, or lacked enthusiasm or leadership. I obviously have great respect for students like that; it makes no difference what their ideology is," says Doyle.
"If anybody asks me should Bernard Sanders run for the President, anybody that runs for an office like that, the odds are so great that I can't necessarily encourage it, but I do think it's good for the process that he runs, if a person has different points of view, lay 'em out on the table. I think most Americans agree and that's why he's doing well...I hope he wins the nomination of his party...it's such a long shot, but most people are for the underdogs anyway."
On politics in the state, he adds, "The Republican party in Vermont is not a monolith and we can think for ourselves in Vermont and still call ourselves Republicans." (October 5th)
11. Burlington, VT - Dylan, 12, and her mother's boyfriend Matt, relax on their porch in the Northgate Housing complex. In the late 1980's, the property owners were planning to redevelop the complex into luxury or commercial housing which would have displaced 336 families. Bernie Sanders, then Mayor, led an effort for the city to acquire the property and ensure it remained affordable to low and moderate income families. Dylan is organizing a "children's board" for the community to raise issues like installing new security cameras as the skatepark to prevent vandalism.
Of Northgate Housing, Dylan's mother Sarah, who has lived at Northgate since she was Dylan's age, currently works at a non-profit, says, "I honestly can say that I don't know where we'd be if we couldn't live here." (October 11th)
13. Burlington, VT - A tourist snaps a selfie aboard a Lake Champlain ferry docking at the Burlington Waterfront Park, where Bernie Sanders announced his 2016 campaign for President on May 26th, 2015. As Mayor, Sanders led efforts to revitalize the waterfront from an unused rail yard into a people-oriented space with a community boathouse and public amenities. His office helped win a major 1989 lawsuit based on the public trust doctrine that went to the Vermont Supreme Court which paved the way for the city to acquire more 60+ acres of waterfront land from the Central Vermont Railway. (October 11th)
14. Burlington, VT- Yeshua Hill, Ian Burton, and Gavin Greenewalt of the Vermont based psychedelic stoner rock band Acid Roach play dice before their show at 242 Main in Burlington. The 30 year old venue was created in a vacant water meter building with the help of the Mayor's Youth Office while Bernie Sanders was Mayor. The all-ages venue was intended to be a safe place for teenagers to see and perform music. The Youth Office was overseen at the time by Jane O'Meara Driscoll, who later married Bernie in 1988.
"I identify as an anarchist, but if Bernie can make life better for people, then I support that. But I tend to be weary of this diehard 'Bernie will save the country' attitude because I think that's impossible. He's only one person and it's a giant system that's totally fucked. And you know, our country is founded on racism and we're living on stolen land. It's such a bigger thing," says one of the band members. (October 11th)
16. Rochester, VT - Ray Gendron (left) and Winston Shaw (right) of Mom & Pops Maple Syrup sell their goods to passerby's from their roadside stand.
Ray says of Bernie's socialist leanings, "I don't agree with handouts. Except for veterans. People have to work for what they get. Veterans can get whatever they want, but that's all I'll give. Those other buggers can all starve. They don't want to work they shouldn't get free money. Or free anything."
Winston is a Vietnam vet who strong supports Sanders for his support of war veterans. He suffers from diabetes and frequently visits the White River VA, which received additional funding in 2014 from the $16.3 bipartisan billion bill crafted by Bernie Sanders - who is Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee chair - and Jeff Miller of Florida.
17. Brattleboro, VT - Curtiss Reed, Jr. discusses scheduling conflicts on the phone with Phil Fiermonte, the Campaign Field Director for Bernie Sanders. Curtis runs a non-profit called the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity that works to strengthen inclusive practices to eliminate discrimination in the state.
"Our vision is Vermont being recognized as the epicenter of inclusive thought and practice in the US...we're a non-profit and can't endorse any candidate, however, when Bernie after Seattle (when Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted his speech) had this 'epiphany' that he needed help in understanding how you dismantle structural racism, etc and solicited ideas, we looked around and said, what better organization to do that than ours, to offer him some observations and advice. And that critical incident in Seattle brought him to an understanding of being consciously unskillful, so the question was, how do I get more skilful at this endeavor. So we offered him some suggestions...and the first piece of that is Bernie needs to acknowledge that there are black and brown people in the state of Vermont, that the Vermont narrative, which has largely been Vermont being the whitest state in the nation, marginalizes the fact that we've been here since at least 1640 and helped bring the territory into statehood, and have a number of firsts in the nation around racial and social justice. But when Bernie doesn't acknowledge that it's part of his blind spot that could be addressed if he met with leaders of color around the state and would enrich his own narrative on the national scene...and the way of addressing Black Lives Matter starting first with black lives in Vermont. And so we're still waiting for his outreach. He and I have not yet had a one on one conversation."
On the issues themselves, Reed Jr. said, "Bernie has been doing all the right things so far...he's on the same page with us. His giving voice to criminal justice reform is where he needs to be, and where all candidates need to be. Certainly Income inequality affects everyone, but criminal justice reform also has an impact on everyone although it's disproportionate for people of color and the devastating effects it has on . We're happy in the way he has made a transition in his platform to address the issues that are so vitally important." (October 7th)
20. Barnard, VT - Anna Lewis stands in front of pumpkins for sale outside her family's home. She works as a bookkeeper for the family's farm and expressed concern about Bernie Sander's becoming President. "Well, I'm not happy with healthcare in Vermont. It's a welfare state. The working class doesn't get a lot of breaks. You know we're practically working just to pay our taxes. Why would you want to bring a child into this world? Just more and more taxes. You either have to quit to get assistance or you make too much to get a break," she said. "I don't think Bernie's been overly successful in Vermont so I don't have confidence he'd do better as President." (October 5th)
22. Cabot, VT - Mike Covey, machinist and lifelong hunting enthusiast, sits with his hunting rifle in a friend's lodge decorated with taxidermy.
Regarding Bernie Sanders' current rise in national awareness, he said, "There's no pride for me at all (as a Vermonter) in having Bernie Sanders run for President. I'd much rather see somebody like Ben Carson...Conservatives, we tend to just want to do our thing and be left alone. I can't say that about the upper echelon political conservatives, but every candidate out there, regardless of their proclaimed intent, is pandering to a base. Bernie's doing it as well...we'll see as this campaign develops, but I think that Vermont has been traditionally very straightforward about our opinion on gun rights. We recently had a two term incumbent lose a race immediately after trying to promote some gun control stuff in the state, in a relatively urban and progressive area.
"I don't think either Bernie or Hillary would be necessarily a boon to the security of the individual right to bear arms. I would hate to see either of them win, but given the choice between two evils as it were, I would choose Senator Sanders." (October 16th)
23. Montpelier, VT - Dave Ross discusses agenda items with Richard Czaplinski at a chapter meeting of the Green Mountain Veteran's for Peace organization. The group is made up of veteran's committed to serving the cause of world peace.
"It hasn't become evident as far as I've seen in his campaign about his bipartisan activity for veteran support. He was in charge of course of the Senate Committee and they finally saw the light to pass more funding. I don't know if the others don't dare bring it up because they know they'll be toast if they start to bust his chops because if they bring up anything to do with the military (he's done more for veterans than any of them)."
"The dark side of course is Bernie's support of the F35 fighter jet basing in Burlington."
Says Dave Ross, "To cut to the case. Bernie's very good on veteran's issues, working class issues and wanting to keep jobs in America, against abuse of corporate power and corruption in congress and those types of domestic things. He is absolutely not a socialist and certainly not an internationalist. He absolutely rubber stamps everything Israel asks for against the Palestinians. He has done some token mouthing but basically has funded these wars that we got. He has been for the F35. Burlington's not where they wanted to base it. Pat Leahy made 3 phone calls and said 'Get me that god damn airplane' - that's how powerful he is. It's not gonna add a lot of jobs because most of that stuff will go to depots somewhere else. The F35 is 5-7 times louder than the F16...it's a conversation stopper, it's gonna put most of Winooski which it flies over in a zone that will require people to disclose on real estate forms that their home is in an area designated not suitable for human habitation . It will permanently affect the hearing of small children, causes increased blood pressure which may be lethal for older people with health issues. The composites it's made out of cannot be put out by normal firefighting equipment. It's a lousy airplane...I mean Volvo makes a better jet than this. It's useless as a dogfighter, but Bernie's like all for it."
"There isn't a congressional district in the country that doesn't have some defense related spending. The F35 it's the stealth coating that's the dangerous chemical on it."
Says Richard Czaplinski, "We try to foster peace. There are a lot of different ways to do it. First it starts right here. Starts with yourself. We sometimes struggle for peace in our own meetings."
24. East Dorset, VT - Michael Murray waits outside a gas station in for his ride to work. He lives in a tent on the property of a friend who also provides him with steady carpentry work building wine racks.
"I smoke like a chimney and drink like a fish. I just started doing some woodworking. I got to the point where I couldn't keep a job for 10 days. My spinal cord is shot. I can't stand up for 4 hours. Everything's fucked up (from a construction accident years ago). So I went over to Social Security and they of course rejected me. A person I'd been helping who distributes wine and beer built himself a wine rack for his house he called me and for the last couple months have helped him build wine racks.
"I have state health insurance. I had to go meet with someone from SEVCA (South Eastern Vermont Community Action), they hooked me into the Medicare system because I have medication I need to take because I've had heart attacks. They cover my medication which is nice, only costs me a couple dollars on co-pay, it's very helpful, because it would cost me all the money I'm capable of making to get my heart pills. I have to take like 9 pills everyday for my heart," he said.
"One thing Bernie said that I like, is the country should be run by the people that live in it, not by a handful of billionaires, and I thought that was pretty insightful. But I haven't decided yet who I'm going to vote for," he said.
25. Berlin, VT - Mira Hill, a 26 year old stay at home parent, waits for a bus into town. She is disillusioned with politics and says, "I don't vote and don't know anything about Bernie Sanders. I think all elections are rigged and decided like a year beforehand who will win." (October 5th)
26. Burlington, VT - A composite image showing cars with different bumper stickers. A 4x4 is seen with a Pro-Bernie sticker and a Prius is seen with Pro-Ben Carson and conservative stickers. (October 13th)
27. North Hero, VT - Benches with political party labels of "Democrats", "Republicans" and "Sandernistas" in front of a General Store and gas station on North Hero island. The middle chair labeled "Sandernistas" references supporters of Bernie Sanders, an Independent traditionally caucusing with Democrats who has drawn support across traditional party lines during his career in Vermont. (October 12th)
28. Waterbury, VT - Solar panels are seen in fall foliage at the Energy Mill, Vermont's largest carbon net-zero office building. Bernie Sanders is a strong advocate for addressing man-made climate change and has introduced various bills to improve access to renewable energy such as the Residential Energy Savings Act, the Low Income Solar Act, the Green Jobs Act, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. (October 14th)
A visual biography of US Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders' history in Vermont which documents people, places and political accomplishments from his 30+ years in the state.
The piece also illustrates the current mood across different regions of Vermont during early primary season at a time when Bernie's national awareness and campaign are gaining major steam and grabbing headlines - told through environmental portraits and interviews with folks from his past and everyday Vermonters across the idealogical spectrum.