Writing and Karma

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I just released the above children’s book, beautifully illustrated and now available at Amazon and www.northshire.com. Publishing a new book in my Lady Lucy series is always exciting and invigorating.

Lady Lucy’s Ghost Quest is the title.

But, this time, something unexpected happened as the book was published. Let me explain. The explanation is not short.

Recognize this as a starter premise: I have been a skeptical believer in karma but I strongly suspect, and have for years, that what goes around comes around. I think, at the end of the proverbial day, the bad guys generally get caught. If someone lies and cheats, it eventually catches up with him/her. If one is a leader and fails through false premises and untruths and deception and a silent changing of mission, that will haunt that person and someday come back to bite. Yes. I believe that.

Back to the story. Southern Vermont College (SVC) closed for reasons that still don’t make sense to me. In the interest of full disclosure, I was its president from 2006 — 2014. SVC just fell into impossibly difficult financial distress and leadership could not save it. Plenty of misinformation abounded. The decision in Spring 2019 left most folks in a state of shock. Truly. I read about it in the newspaper. Really.

Ask: why, not to be immodest, did no one reach out to me a year before? I would have helped as would other previous presidents and our sources. Dead silence. Shameful really. The place could have been saved. Some thought that throwing more money at the problem was the solution but it just masked the problem — poor leadership. “We gave and gave” signals something is amiss; giving was going to a sinking ship. When enrollment is down for several years running, you know something is up. When gifts (other than from trustees) are down or not forthcoming, you know something is up. When you lose faculty, something is up. When people quit, something is up. When esprit de corps is down, you know something is up. If folks in power had listened to faculty and staff, they would have shared problems they saw but alas, they were not consulted and their ideas were not forwarded to trustees as I understand it. When you isolate trustees, something is deeply amiss.

I know deep in my bones that the college did not have to vanish. I remain saddened and angry. I lost friends who believed they were doing right by the college through closing it. Yup. Lost. Short answer: I disagree and disagreed with how the whole thing was handled from beginning to now almost the end. I tried over several months to save it. A handful of trustees were game. I tried hard but at the end of the day, my efforts were unsuccessful; it was too late, even with alum help and support. Time and leadership were not on my side.

I needed a way to deal with my sadness and anger. So I turned lemons into lemonade through a children’s story about the home of the college. That home — the Everett Mansion — had been inhabited by ghosts or so folks believed. These beliefs were true. There are adult books on the subject. There was a television show. Students, alums and some faculty and staff would attest to the presence of ghosts. Ghost stories abounded.

So the Lady Lucy story is about saving the Mansion and Lady Lucy and her friends find gold and decide the Mansion should become a place for education. I leave the details out so readers can enjoy the actual story. The book is dedicated to phoenixes rising from the ashes. That was and is a reference to my hope that SVC could live again.

In short, the book was and is my obituary to SVC and my hope that a school will be reborn there. SVC died too soon, way way way too soon. The story pictures a future for education at the Everett Mansion.

Then, the Lady Lucy book was released on October 30th and two days later, on Nov. 1st, the local newspaper, the Bennington Banner, posted an article that there was a proposed buyer for the SVC campus and the Everett Mansion — it is a boarding school that shares many of SVC’s values: personalized education; small classes; supportive surroundings; and a commitment to the power of the possible.

In short, the quasi fictional children’s book might just become a reality. Call that karma. Education will continue, if the sale proceeds, at the Everett Mansion! Remarkable. Stunning. A children’s quasi fictional tale could become real.

I hope the sale proceeds. I hope the new school will think about adding “Southern Vermont” to its name. And perhaps SVC can find a new home in Bennington, maybe partnering with the new potential buyer.

Karma. Can’t beat it. Best to join it. Everett Mansion needed to be the home of an educational institution. SVC could have been that place, yes. But there will be a new school, and education may continue at the institution on the hill. And the E in Everett Mansion could once again stand proudly for Education.

Karma. Plain and simple. and now, I believe.

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