After 43 years as an English instructor, Karl Decker might have looked forward to a relaxing retirement.
Instead, the former Staples icon spent 6 years traveling around his beloved Vermont, photographing and writing stories on 35 small towns for Vermont Magazine.
Now a new project beckons. Decker and his magazine collaborator Nancy Levine are writing a book. The Tour Buses Don’t Stop Here Anymore will use 1st-person narrative, experienced commentary and engaging photos to describe — bluntly, honestly, lovingly — some of the social and economic problems confronting small towns in that special state.
Tour Buses will also show how each community recognized, faced and tried to solve its problems.
“Rural Vermont communities tend to have a strong sense of community, and a keen, beloved sense of place,” Levine says.
Yet, Decker adds, “infrastructure woes, rising property values and taxes, generational poverty, crime, substance abuse, school closings, job loss, aging populations, poor medical care, agricultural failures, socioeconomic disparities, environmental disasters and land use issues all conspire to undermine life in the Green Mountain State.”
Many Westporters know Vermont only through ski slopes and summer vacations. Tour Buses‘s stories and photos are sure to open eyes to this diverse, lovely and often misunderstood state.
(One more local connection: When Decker and Levine presented a talk and slide show about their work to a local club recently, Westporter Jon Gailmor — a 1966 Staples graduate who moved to Vermont in 1977 and is now a statewide treasure as a singer/songwriter/educator — provided the introduction and closing.)