What brought you to the State and the region?
The journey to Vermont is different for everyone that enters the Green Mountain state. For me and my family, it was for education and business. It all began in August of 1994, with the decision for my spouse to attend graduate school at the University of Vermont. Two years later, with a small daughter, I fulfilled a dream to open a salon that catered to the growing multicultural community in Vermont. Horizon Salon was born on July 1, 1996.
What are the best things about living in this state and region?
I truly enjoy the fall and winter season. The evidence was clear when I lived in Florida when I always purchased winter clothing. And, I never knew why I gravitated toward warm clothing but I guess the universe knew. The snowflakes, wood burning stoves, maple syrup, and the crisp air are just a few things that I am fond of living in the state of Vermont. My adjustment from sunny warm Florida to the winter wonderland of Vermont has been easy.
What are the challenges of living here?
One of the major challenges of living in Burlington for me is the cost of heating. When I first moved to Vermont, I would call Vermont Gas on occasion and ask, based on the amount of my bill, if I was “heating the whole neighborhood or just my house.” I have a unique voice, so they knew it was me. They would just laugh about my crazy question. I think there are challenges to living anywhere in the world, the key is how you look at where you are and what your goals are for living there.
In your experience, what is it like for a person of color to live and work here?
I grew up in the South. I feel the majority of people who live here have a conscience and are mindful of the things they do. This was a different experience for me, because where I was born and raised, people would not care about cultural norms or sensitivities, discrimination, blatant unfairness, or doing the right thing. I come from a culture of segregated neighborhoods in Florida, based on race. Since I moved to Vermont, I have lived and seen neighborhoods that are based on economics, and not the color of your skin. I feel there are no segregated neighborhoods in Burlington because the differences where people live are truly based on individual/personal economics
Do you experience change? Are things here getting better, staying the same, or growing worse?
There have been several changes to Burlington and the Greater Champlain Valley since I moved here in 1994. The culture has changed with a steady increase in people of color. And, the level of education within those groups has increased as well. In Vermont, it is very common now to meet and interact with people of color who have a bachelor’s, master’s or PhD, as compared to other places where you may not find as many based on similar population sizes.
I have experienced change in the diversity of the clients I serve, which is a good thing. It helps me stay grounded in knowing that Burlington and the Champlain Valley is an inclusive region where people from different cultural, socioeconomic, and professional background can work together for a common cause. For many people here, Burlington is a place where their dreams have come true for their careers, families, and economic goals. I have known people who once lived here and moved away and came back because of the opportunities here, which were greater
than what they found elsewhere.