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For those of you not on the edge of your seat after reading my title, I encourage you to read my diary about renaming Jew Pond in Mont Vernon NH.

Jew Pond - It's Personal

I have come here to give you an update on what has happened since my diary and the outcome of our vote.

March 13th - Town Meeting.  I had no expectations and did not know if the Jew Pond name change would be welcomed or denied.  With the help of a friend, I had a few sentences to say if I chose, but didn't know if I would.  My husband and I came with our dear friend from town who was there for support.  

When we arrived, the parking lot was full and parking overflowed into the street.  There were three television news trucks ready to broadcast our decision.  We entered the building and lined up, giving our names to verify residency and collect our blue tickets to be held up for each vote.  Looking around the room, it was interesting putting faces to the names I had seen from our local Facebook group.  

The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer led by Pastor Dave.  For over two hours we discussed and voted on regular town business.  We were about to consider the Jew Pond warrant article when the fire alarm sounded.  Was this comic relief? Everyone filed out and regrouped in the parking lot for a much needed break.  

There was no fire, so we all returned and the discussion of renaming Jew Pond began. The warrant article stated that Jew Pond would be renamed to “Grand Hill Pond”.  An amendment was proposed to remove “Grand Hill Pond” and decide on a new name at a later date. In addition, the amendment requested a secret ballot.  I voted against this amendment because it gave anonymity to those opposed to changing the name - an anonymity they vehemently advocated for on Facebook.  It is unfortunate that the news cameras would not capture those hands raised for a "no" vote, but this is what many wanted.  The vote to rename Jew Pond would be done in secret, exhibiting a lack of transparency.  This amendment passed.    

Discussion began.  Of the six who presented, I was the only Jewish person.  All six spoke in favor of changing the name.  All were heartfelt and well spoken with each speaker receiving resounding applause.  Even though many with objections were in the room, no one spoke against changing the name.  My turn at the microphone came.

Because the name "Jew Pond" is a remnant from a discriminatory period in the history of our town, and because it is clear that some residents and visitors find it offensive, I support changing the name of the pond as an outward demonstration of Mont Vernon's commitment to being a welcoming and INCLUSIVE community. I hope my fellow citizens will stand alongside me in support. Let's send a message of peace and harmony to all who are watching.
It was time to vote.  We lined up to put either a “yes” or “no” in the ballot box.  The vote result was 104-33 in favor of changing the name.   Mont Vernon, NH will rename Jew Pond. Victory!

After the meeting, we came home to find many on line news articles already submitted. We watched the 11:00 news on TV and there I was!  

WMUR TV News clip, March 13, 2012

This issue has caused a rift in my town which I hope will soon be healed.  It was interesting to see that those who weighed in negatively on Facebook were not brave enough to either speak at our meeting or confront me in person.  Unfortunately, some in town continued to post vitriol against me for writing my Daily Kos diary and accused me of putting the town in a negative light.

Personally, this whole controversy has been both good and bad.  I have seen the true colors of my town brought to light. I have made new friends and benefited from their support.  I have been vilified on Facebook only to see brave people stand up and defend me.  What I have learned is that a very vocal group of people can indeed be a minority. People at town meeting were genuinely warm and, overall, sincere in wanting to do what was right. Many approached and greeted me after I spoke.  What I greatly appreciated, too, was the comfort from my community here on Daily Kos.

The following is my most recent posting on our town's Facebook group wall:

Thank you to Katelyn Ann Dobbs for producing a well done and beautiful documentary of Jew Pond.
Thank you to Rich Masters for all the work he has done and continues to do on this project.
Thank you to each and every one of you who spoke at the meeting on Tuesday.  All were genuine and heartfelt.
Thank you to the 104 Mont Vernon residents who left their homes in the midst of a power failure, stood in the parking lot patiently waiting during the fire evacuation, returned and voted in favor of renaming Jew Pond.
As for the future, life will go on.   Planning for the Easter egg hunt and Spring Gala are already under way.  We will rename Jew Pond.  There is a proposal to put up a kiosk at the site explaining its history.  I was happy to see that most of us recognized the significance of this issue to the local Jewish community and did the right thing.

Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 6:33 AM PT: Jew Pond made the Daily Show.  http://www.thedailyshow.com/...

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Comment Preferences

    •  NH is provincial, but changing for the better (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, GrumpyOldGeek, Smoh

      I lived in Cheshire County for two years.  I was always amused how the people that lived in my crummy little town  looked down their noses at the people living the crummier, littler town three miles away.  

      Everyone is crying out for peace; no one's crying out for justice...

      by mojave mike on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 03:56:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I live in a town in Cheshire County (0+ / 0-)

        I assume you're not talking about the town where I live.

        I don't look down on any little town in Cheshire County. I haven't met anyone who does.

        "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

        by GrumpyOldGeek on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 04:46:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I guess if they need to pay for new signage (5+ / 0-)

      ...the Mt Vernon police will step up their infamous speed trap at the bottom of the hill by Purgatory Road.  That is the only time I was ever pulled over despite having had my foot riding the break for more than half a mile.

      Revenge is a dish best served on White House china.

      by RickBoston on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 04:18:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There wasn't any sign at the pond (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RickBoston, HeyMikey

        The land was conservation donation to the town and the park surrounding the pond was named for the family, Carleton Park (Carleton Recreation and Conservation Area). There is a sign identifying the park.

        The pond was often called Carleton Pond because it was within the park, but that name was never made official.

        In fact, if you search for Carleton Pond in Google Maps, the search terms automatically change to Jew Pond even though the marker is still labeled Carleton Pond.

        "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

        by GrumpyOldGeek on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:00:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Congrats ;-) (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mets102, Tonedevil, Smoh, Chinton

    I heard you on NHPR this morning.

    Give a Republican a fish and he'll think he learned how to fish. Teach him to fish and he'll call you socialist.

    by Roiling Snake Ball on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 03:53:27 PM PDT

  •  score one for the good guys/gals! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, Smoh, HeyMikey

    Though, had it gone the other way, I was prepared to suggest "reclaiming the name" the way rap artists have famously done with the N-word by transforming it to "Nigga" and using it as a word for solidarity among peers.  (Note, white folks, don't use this with your black friends, that's still pretty touchy.)

    Having a history pavillon there is a good idea.  

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 03:55:11 PM PDT

  •  Open ballot is a double-edge sword (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    molunkusmol, Smoh, HeyMikey

    My town meeting just went to what is effectively a secret ballot.  Many argued that people should be willing to stand up and be counted, but we have seen in the votes since secret ballot, issues promoted by one of the strongest lobby groups are not nearly so lopsided as in the past.

    Peer-pressure and outright bullying left many unwilling to vote their consciences once their neighbors let them know they would be watching.  It is sad, it is wrong, but it is a fact of life.

    In the past when controversial spendthrift measures came up (the platinum-coated bidet for the superintendent's 3rd secretary's assistent), only a few stragglers would vote no once the shouted yes vote thundered out.  This would later be reported as "unanimous."  Today that same vote might still carry, but it is 203 to 158.

    Revenge is a dish best served on White House china.

    by RickBoston on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 04:14:47 PM PDT

    •  This was the only secret ballot measure (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RickBoston

      of the night and the motion was put forward by an outspoken opponent to renaming the pond.  I can understand your point about intimidation and bullying, but I don't believe that was the issue here.  No one spoke for keeping the name, and they didn't want to be identified as opposing the change in public.

      •  It sounds like the momentum was on your side (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NancyK

        That notwithstanding, I can well imagine a situation where a vocal minority pushes the "oh why are they trying to make such a big deal/ this is political correctness gone wild" meme, and trying to shame others into doing nothing.  

        You will find that it is far easier to convince most people to do nothing than to do something.

        Revenge is a dish best served on White House china.

        by RickBoston on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 06:42:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  So (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, sofia

    What's the new name?

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 04:17:29 PM PDT

  •  I'm glad.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevenaxelrod, angry marmot

    ..you prevailed, molunkusmolFollow.    Thanks for the update!

  •  Mazel, tov, neighbor... n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chinton, stevenaxelrod

    "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

    by The Poet Deploreate on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 06:28:04 PM PDT

  •  Healing, Amen. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    molunkusmol

    You just don't get it, do you? I have nothing against you. I was not there looking for a fight or a confrontation. I was not even there to advocate a position or change anybody's mind about Article 12.

    From the very beginning, I was shocked to hear that the word "Jew" was derogatory. Yes, that's how the argument was first framed when the subject of changing the pond's name first came up. Still I hear people saying "Jewish people" as if it's wrong to use the noun "Jew" to refer to a person. I just don't get it.

    Then I was accused of being intolerant because of my opposition to changing the pond's name. And no, not by the "yes" response -- the accusations had already begun by that point. And then there was publication of content from a closed Facebook group that in and of itself upset a lot of people. The fact that this whole issue was completely mishandled is something most of us agree on.

    You know, I'm surprised that you don't understand the value of the secret ballot. Don't you see how important that was to us moving forward all together as a town? Do you think there were only thirty-three people planning to vote against the name change? In the end, everybody was free to vote their conscience, whichever position they had previously held, no matter what they had said publicly, without the glare of the TV cameras, without the worry of being judged in any way at all for expressing their right to vote.

    In the end, I think we can all agree that we will move on from this. And I know that we will heal our town's wounds. Amen.

    •  Thank you for posting here. (0+ / 0-)

      dldnh – First, I would like to thank you for posting here.  I have rec'ed your entry.

      I am glad to hear that you have nothing against me personally.  This issue should never have become personal.

      If you do not understand how the word Jew can be used offensively, I suggest you read the 200 comments from my previous diary where that is explained in many of the responses and in great detail.

      As for any accusations having begun before your question, “Am I to understand that not wanting to change the name means I'm somehow guilty of intolerance?”, that is just untrue.  I just went back and checked all the posts.  I found no mention before February 16th, when you asked that question, of you being intolerant.  It was right after my husband's “yes” response that my husband – called out by name – was accused of name calling.

      Publication of content from a closed Facebook forum?  Yes, I did do that.  This was after posts had been published in our local newspaper – with which I had nothing to do.  The precedent had been set.

      The dialogue on the town's forum got way out of hand weeks before I posted my diary.  There were many posts which were untrue and inflammatory.  I felt that my husband and I were unfairly alienated and bullied. The atmosphere on Facebook became caustic, so I went to a format that was more open to constructive and varied views. I did nothing illegal.  And furthermore, I did nothing wrong.

      Had the posts on our Facebook group been respectful – as yours is here today – I would not have been forced to come to Daily Kos.  I would have been happy to continue the discussion locally.

      The secret ballot was a major point.  I believe that more people voted against the rename of Jew Pond because they were able to hide behind their anonymity.  Why should they be able to hide from an issue such as this?

      Yes, I agree that it is time to move on.

      Let me speak with your supervisor!

      by molunkusmol on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 09:08:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh Snap, Jon Stewart last night (0+ / 0-)

    Fourth segment in BruinKid's diary today is on Jew Pond:

    Holy crap!! Daily Show does REAL journalism on U.S. cutting UNESCO funding!

    Give a Republican a fish and he'll think he learned how to fish. Teach him to fish and he'll call you socialist.

    by Roiling Snake Ball on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 07:08:52 AM PDT

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