Fish: A collaborative effort is a stronger effort

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I moved to Brattleboro from Wilmington, Vermont in the mid-nineties. I moved to B-town for a few reason's: my future wife lived here, I could cut down on my commute to work, and the One and Only had a little more to offer someone in their late 20s / early 30s. But make no bones about it, it was still a quiet community with more people and closer to the highway. At least that's what we thought. But those of you with better memories can probably recall Brattleboro being called the tip of the triangle. Drug dealers would take the short drive up from places like Springfield and Holyoke, Mass. and they would do what they do, deal drugs. I can remember seeing what I believed to be drug transactions going down from cars with Massachusetts plates. So yeah it was happening some 20-plus years ago.

But now, the problem has been amplified. The drugs aren't just marijuana, cocaine, and pills. The drugs now are worse, and drugs that are worse create bigger problems. Drugs that are worse become more wide spread and cover a larger footprint and show up more regularly. The common everyday citizen is more likely to hit social media to complain about it rather than to do something actionable. Do I know what I mean when I say actionable? Not really, I know what it means for me, but I have no idea what it means for you. I think if we use social media to amplify the issue, I think that's a good thing. But if we're trying to solve the issue with a Facebook status, we're not. If a song comes on the radio that you don't like, you most likely don't turn up the radio to resolve that issue. You likely turn to another station or shut it off all together. But you see, neither of those resolves the issue either.

So, what can you do? Here in Brattleboro and around the surrounding towns you can call the police when you see things going down. Keep in mind, however, they have laws that they need to follow, they can't just search a bag or a person without some sort of justification. They can't simply walk up to someone, profile them and begin to search them; you don't want them to have that sort of power. And the police have said over and over again, "we're not going to arrest our way out of this." Sadly, that is true. I'm not convinced that we can compassion our way out of this either. I think we've got to walk a line that is somewhere down the middle, a line that exhibits a brutal compassion. But for that to work we have to do so collectively. A collaborative effort is a stronger effort. It's reaches a wider swath of people in a more uniformed way and has a broader effect than, say, a single entity.

About three weeks ago a bunch of us gathered in the Central Fire Station to discuss this issue. There were 10 people sitting at a table who deal with this issue on a day-to-day basis, some of whom were paid directly to deal with it, others had vocations that were forced to deal with it. The one thing they had was each other, a collaborative effort. But more are needed than just these 10 people and their organizations. But it can't stop there, we have to inject ourselves in this fight. It is a disease; I know that could be a hard thing to wrap your head around. Largely it's not like cancer, but if your lifestyle caused your cancer, then it's exactly the same. Yet we can all band together and fight cancer and help those people.

I bring it up again because we can't afford to forget. If we can successfully eradicate this issue we'll be a better community. If we can successfully eradicate half this issue, we'll be a better community. Community is what matters. We live here for a better way of life, so let's get in the fight and keep it that way, shall we?

Peter "Fish" Case is a man with an opinion. He offers up a weekly podcast discussion that can be heard at theearspoon.com. Questions, compliments and complaints can be sent to him at fish@theearspoon.com. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.

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