NATASHA DEL TORO: Rutland, Vermont.
A blue-collar city fighting hard against the opioid crisis.
And now a new battle erupts when the city decides to welcome Syrian refugees.
DON CHIOFFI: We've been told "Oh, they're nice families."
Nobody knows who they are.
STACIE GRIFFIN: I couldn't imagine packing up my family just to try to stay alive.
DEL TORO: "For the Love of Rutland," a special edition of America ReFramed with Vermont Public Media's Made Here.
♪ PEOPLE: Four, three, two, one!
♪ (cheering) (man speaking on P.A.)
(engine revving) ANNOUNCER: All right, fans, one of the things that we do for our events here is the Reilly Auto Parts Most Aggressive Driver award.
STACIE: Yeah, good job.
Good job, good job-- it's starting.
(announcer talking indistinctly) CROWD: Four, three, two, one!
(air horn honking) STACIE: Oh, snap, snap.
Heads up, heads up!
(engines roaring) (Stacie exclaims) (bleep) SKYLER: Hey, I heard that!
(cheering) SKYLER: He won?
SKYLER: I knew it.
STACIE: You did, didn't you?
SKYLER: Yeah, it's the pink one.
STACIE: Take these.
Oh, boy, here.
We look like drug dealers-- put those in there.
All right, come on, Skyler.
I've never done this.
(announcer talking indistinctly) ♪ BOY: Mom, you said you can't come.
(laughs) WOMAN: Well, he told me I could.
(woman laughing) STACIE: Yeah, I know.
I love it, I love it.
(laughs) ♪ (engine revving) (passengers shrieking) (shrieking, laughing) (laughing) STACIE: Whooo!
(audio distorting) ♪ (band playing "Chattanooga Choo Choo") (children playing) CHRIS LOURAS: There are people who say, "Rutland is an absolute crap (beep)."
(band continues) But it's home.
It's where I grew up.
It's where I chose to return after I finished up my gig in the military, because I didn't want to live anywhere else.
(song ends, audience applauds) MAN: Thank you.
LOURAS: That's what's neat about this community, is that sense of tradition and... ...that sense of old-homeness.
But at the same time, that's what bad about this community, is that sense of tradition that we can't get out of our own way.
That we are so, so resistant to change.
And we better get on board now, or we'll continue to slide.
JENNIFER MAYTORENA TAYLOR: Okay, all right, I'm going get something called...
I'm just going to get a few seconds of, of... LOURAS: White noise?
(whispering): I'm going to get that tattoo shop.
LOURAS: Stop it!
No, no, no.
(Taylor laughs) You go out that window and get the picture "I love Rutland, Vermont!"
TAYLOR: Okay, let's see.
(blinds open) You want a shot?
Get that shot.
BOY: Get out of the road!
(metal clanking) (children talking, dog barking) (stereo bass booming) (engine humming, bass booming) STACIE: You need to find a way to practice?
What time do you have to be there?
TYLER: Right after school.
- (whispers) TYLER: I get like a-- you know what I get?
I get a wrap, I get pizza, and I get a burger.
That's what I get.
STACIE: What's going on?
TYLER: Not in this room.
I'll go out there, not in the room.
- She's already seen it.
- I don't want the whole world seeing it.
- It's real.
- What's real?
- (laughing): How we're living.
- All the way up and around.
You can see all my pimples.
STACIE: Let's see.
- (chuckles) - Not too bad.
STACIE: And, uh, guess what?
Chalk one up for yourself.
He's counting it as a suspension.
That's... - How?
- Listen, that's what I said, too.
- No, Mom, he told me it was okay to leave.
He's, like, "I'm going to let you leave because I know you're pissed off."
- Call the school right now, because that's (bleep).
- (quietly): Yeah.
STACIE: I don't think I could afford to be an alcoholic today.
And I can't drink beer, so I'd be an expensive one.
Liquor hits you quicker.
TIM: Lookie there, ooh.
STACIE: That's an eight- milligram sublingual suboxone.
TIM: It should be over the counter.
Instead of using a bag of dope, I take the suboxone.
It helps with the cravings and that's why I take it.
It's because of the cravings.
I have been clean for 13 years.
But if I didn't have the suboxone, I feel that at this point, I would use.
(children playing) HANNAH ROGERS: Do we wanna head up this way?
JOHN: Yeah, let's do that.
HANNAH: Now, the other routes are a little hilly and probably tick-infested.
I've already had Lyme once this year, so how many more times can I get it without really going down?
Probably three, right?
(laughs) - I wouldn't bank on that math, that doesn't...
I mean, I'm not a doctor, but... (both laugh) - Over here is where we were last time.
We've got some water and a hygiene kit.
We don't want to invade your space.
Can you put a card in there, John?
- That's a new shopping cart.
- That's new.
- It hasn't been used for a grill yet.
Okay, we got human feces, you can begin to smell.
- Is anybody home?
HANNAH: My family was homeless, and we lived in campgrounds, and I know the ways that we made it through, and my mother used to not be able to afford formula.
So she would get cream with her coffee and ask for extra cream.
And then she'd take the coffee, share it with my dad, and my sister would get a bottle of cream.
And that was her formula.
So as much as I want to pick that blackberry, I'm not going to take it away from somebody.
(wildlife chittering) So we found a place down under the bridge that had, like, 40 needles and caps under there.
(water flowing) (engine humming) WOMAN: I can keep dreaming.
(laughing): This is Don's dream.
(laughs) PRIEST: We want to welcome you all to our Kiwanis and Holy Name Blessing of the Bikes.
May the Lord bless you, Dennis, and bless this bike.
May He keep you safe, keep the enemy away.
CHIOFFI: When I grew up in Rutland, it was a manufacturing town.
The Irish and the Italians and the Polish immigrants, they were the labor force in the region.
"Well, here's what we do," he says.
We've got the bottle of Chianti.
He says, "We have a little for the sauce and we have a little for the cooks."
And he pours it in a glass... (choir singing on recording) CHIOFFI: My grandparents wanted to assimilate so badly that they learned the English language on their own.
And we were brought up that you could have anything that you wanted as long as you worked hard for it.
This is the real Rutland, what's behind the scenes.
- Yeah, yeah.
- The guts of it.
- That goes, yeah, yeah.
- What keeps this place going, you know?
- See him?
See his hand in his pocket?
That's what keep it going, man.
- The whole... Actually, actually it's this pocket.
- (laughs) - This is the one that keeps it going.
- (laughing) - Everybody wonders why we don't have industry coming in here.
90% of it's marketing.
♪ LOURAS: I don't make my decisions with an eye towards getting re-elected.
I want to make those decisions based on what's right for the community.
And if it doesn't align with the community, they can show me the door.
♪ Our population has been declining since 1970.
What we've been trying for 40 years hasn't been working.
Are we going to continue in a death spiral?
Are we going to define ourselves as being backwater, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, or are we going to define ourselves as being welcoming, forward-thinking, and smart?
(crossing bell clanging) SAMANTHA POWER: If you come here and want to make the community better, they will welcome you with open arms.
The small Vermont town of Rutland has committed to taking in 100 Syrian refugees.
The mayor, whose grandfather came to the U.S. after fleeing war in his native Greece, said of the decision, "As much as I want to say it's for compassionate reasons, "I realized that there is not a vibrant, growing, "successful community in the country right now that is not embracing new Americans."
LOURAS: Now, how do you think Samantha Power picked that up?
AMILA MERDZANOVIC: I'm sure she has people who follow everything.
So a year from now, people who are... ...who have "questions" today will be thanking you.
- And that's a good problem to have.
(chuckles) LOURAS: So the Northwest neighborhood, there's three streets that go north-south, Cleveland... MERDZANOVIC: West.
- ...Baxter, and the next one up is Pine.
So you can see clearly on the other side of that grass, that's where the river is.
- So Mr. Bedard still has his little corner store here, and he's blind.
I could really see refugees that want to start their own businesses, a little corner grocery store.
- Oh, yeah.
Hey, it's a "Rutland Welcome" sign.
Rutland is very odd that as you walk down these streets in this, you know, in a neighborhood like this that a lot of people think is sketchy, which I don't think it is... WOMAN: What are you taking pictures up to?
MERDZANOVIC: Doing a walk with the mayor.
WOMAN: Oh, (bleep) the mayor, man.
Him and his refugees.
Have the refugees live with him.
(thunder booming, rain pelting) JOHN: Well, welcome, everybody.
It is wonderful to have you out as the thunderstorms rage outside.
We are warm and dry and full of love inside, and so that's a blessing.
Tonight is about, how do we continue to organize to welcome a bunch of refugees into our community?
We're going to overwhelm them, at the first, with love.
(people talking in background) WOMAN: Hey, how you doing?
MARSHA CASSEL: As I understood, someone meets the plane... - Mm-hmm.
- And gets them to the apartment, goes in, says, "You know, this is how you turn on your lights, this is how you flush the toilet."
But we're supposed to have everything, like, for the first few days there for them.
- So people could make their own falafel mix?
Like, I don't really know enough about what lentils would be better.
Canned chickpeas and dried chickpeas.
Like, personally, I want both, you know.
DORIS: The Food Shelf always has excess supply of that stuff.
CASSEL: Yeah, but we don't want to get into trouble with taking things from other sources...
In terms of feminine hygiene, no tampons.
DEENA: Yeah, yeah.
- Just pads.
DEENA: Well, I think this is too much.
Very personal stuff, you know?
- I'm thinking just the first week it's going to be hard for food to get at store.
But they would get this stuff by themself, I think.
CASSEL: Get a lotion by themselves.
- Oh, yeah, yeah.
- Okay, okay.
(cans clattering) STACIE: (bleep) (cans clattering) GINA: Whoa!
So you've probably got about $60.
- Oh, there's probably almost $200 here, honey.
- Are you serious?
- Oh, yeah.
MAN: ♪ Movin' on up - ♪ To the... (engine starts) MAN: Only have a, only have two doors, and a... rear.
(man laughing) STACIE: Whoops, sorry, honey.
I'm telling you, there's about $200 here.
You guys don't trust me, but I'm telling you, I know.
(cans clattering) - Okay, $93... $93.60.
- Thank you, Roger.
- $20, $40, $60, $80, $90.
One, two, three.
- Thank you.
- Thank you, have a nice day.
- You, too.
(cans clattering) ♪ STACIE: The working poor, we live it every day.
Especially in the Northwest neighborhood.
All right, and here, you've got to sign here.
TIM: Every time I, like, signs on, I get screwed.
- Well, that's life.
STACIE: My husband, who is a construction worker doing stucco, he gets laid off at the end of the year, and we have to live off from unemployment.
♪ We rob Peter to pay Paul.
While one bill's getting paid, the next is going to be overdue.
Listen, this is not the slum.
We work just as hard as anyone else.
With the whole refugee thing...
It's hard to say, you know, because nobody has connected with us.
And from what I understand, the majority of them are coming to this neighborhood because of the affordable housing.
♪ What we're feeling and expressing is what any neighborhood would.
You know, why are they taking care of these refugees and not somebody else in the area who's been here their whole life?
(car horn honking) (honking, bell ringing) MAN: Heave-ho, the mayor must go.
MAN (over bullhorn): Heave-ho!
The mayor must go.
(horn squeaking) - Does his sign say what I think it says?
(man speaking softly) We've been told, "Oh, they're nice families."
Nobody knows who they are.
(car horn honking) MAN: If you were on the side of the people that are really hurting, then you can maybe do something.
But you're doing is, you're spreading hate around, when if you were... (group starts talking) WOMAN: We are not spreading hate.
ERIC: I don't want to start an argument.
I don't have anything to say to you.
MAN: Well, then what are you here for if you're not trying to... - Because I have the right to peaceably assemble.
- You can figure out bigger ways to deal with this than, than betting on 100 people are going to ruin your life.
CHIOFFI: How long have you lived here for?
- Since 1972, all right?
- Well, try 1944.
- Well, I don't give a crap.
- You want to shake my hand?
- I don't care.
- Let me ask you this question.
- You don't want to shake my hand?
How come you're such a welcoming person, you won't shake my hand?
- All right, I'll shake your hand.
- Thank you very much.
(group laughs) - Now, listen, if we had jobs for them here, then all those people that are coming into the Bloomer building right now would be in those jobs, right?
And not on the dole where I'm paying my tax dollars.
- You're grouping the people on welfare with the, now with the refugees?
- I'm not comparing anybody.
- What did you just say?
- I'm saying that if you have poverty, you don't import more poverty.
- Ignorance is bliss, isn't it, buddy?
- (bleep) - Ignorance is bliss.
MAN: You must be a happy camper, then.
MAN: Hey, you, go back to New York.
Go back to New York.
(people talking in background) (gavel banging) (people talking in background) WOMAN: Is there room, can we squish?
(people talking in background) CASSEL: There is an urgency for the people that we're talking about.
DEENA: Why is it worth it?
I will tell you exactly why is it worth it.
Because there are floating children in the Mediterranean.
(applauding) TIMOTHY COOK: My name's Cook, Timothy Cook.
I'm a primary care doctor in Rutland.
I'm a Rutland native.
Somebody needs to convince the rest of the city that, A, there is no risk.
And if there is a risk, why is it worth the risk?
(applauding) DAVE TRAPENI: Well, it's not 100, it's hundreds of refugees are coming.
The mayor is going to leave us holding the bag for this refugee thing in the wrong way.
WOMAN: I am not against the little drowning children in the river, but do we really want them to be heroin addicts next week?
(applauding) - My name is Reverend Hannah Rogers.
I live in Rutland city, just a couple of footsteps over in this direction, in the Northwest neighborhood.
The Bloomberg News published today an article talking about a small town in Vermont debating refugee resettlement.
You individuals are on the world stage.
I've pastored people on "both sides" who are human beings, good and decent, loving, caring Rutlanders.
But guess what?
The national stage does not see this debate about process or about our heroin problem.
They see the deep-seated problems of racism and phobias in our community and state.
We are a place that does not want to talk about xenophobia.
(applauding) (water splashing) (children playing) - Say, "Hi, Mama!"
You want to swim to Mama?
(growling playfully) Whoo.
- I said don't drink the water.
(girl coughing) Do not drink the water.
(children playing) LISA RYAN: Growing up in a 96% white state wasn't always easy.
I think I was one of four or five people of color in my high school, maybe.
You know, I still will get followed around in stores that I've shopped at for 25 years.
(talking in background) In Vermont, we're slowly getting people of different religions and ethnicities, but there's still a lot of hate and a lot of injustice.
I'm not bashing Rutland by any means.
I really have a love for Rutland, it being my hometown and not wanting it to become a statistic, or, you know, another dot on the map that nobody comes and visits.
(talking softly) STACIE: Mom, where are the cups?
- They're over the microwave.
(coffee maker burbling) - Usually-- Mom, I'm a pro at making coffee.
You know that.
- No, that's for single brew.
PENNY WEBSTER-BURCH: I've been in Stacie's life since she was 15 years old.
She, when she first came to me with her first child, and I've been in her life ever since.
Her youngest son lived with me and I raised him up.
But as you can see, I have a family.
(laughing): Many family members.
That's our first foster child, Abigail.
This is Ella's gavel for when she was adopted.
(knocks) - Hey, Mom, you know, where would I be without you?
- Stacie, there were days when I wanted to find you and slap the hell right out of you.
- Not me, Mom.
- Yeah, right.
- I have a halo over my head.
(Cassy grunting) (kissing): Hi, babies.
(gate squeaking) PENNY: I saw this sign going up Killington Avenue.
It said "No unchecked refugees."
And I saw this... CASSY: I go by it every day.
- And I'm thinking to myself... - It's up on Killington Ave. - "What kind of an ignorant idiot would put that up?"
- They're just, they're just ignorant.
- Yeah, they're ignorant.
I call it the white syndrome.
"I'm white, you're not, so you don't belong here."
And I mean, it's just not the refugees that suffer from this white syndrome.
Your gays, your Blacks.
Anybody that just wants to live their life and be left the hell alone suffers when the white syndrome steps in.
- I won't argue with you there, but I do not like the white syndrome.
- I don't like it, either.
- You have never, ever, Mom... - If it wouldn't cause me to go to jail, because damn, I look terrible in orange... (Cassy laughs) - ...I'd walk up and slap people... CASSY: You're gonna, you're gonna... - Mom.
PENNY: Because of that syndrome.
- Um, hello, here.
Let's go back to the, what did you say?
White... - White supremacy?
CASSY: No, white, white, the white thing that you just, the comment.
PENNY: White syndrome?
STACIE: When I look at people, I do not see color, I do not see race.
PENNY: Stacie, it is not an insult.
CASSY: No, not, she's not saying... - It's the way people think.
- I take it as an insult.
- "I don't have to accept you."
- I'm white.
(laughing) - Blondie, come down to Earth here and listen to me.
Everybody should be able to live however they choose or however they were born.
You ain't got no right to tell other people how to live.
You especially do not have a right to tell people that are coming from a war-torn country that they ain't got a right to be here.
"No unchecked refugees"?
Bring your mother out here so I can slap her for not teaching you any better.
(car horns honking) (people talking in background) (talking in background) - He rolls down, powered wheelchair is coming...
In fact, I had two of them.
(people talking in background) MAN (chuckling): 11:00 news?
WOMAN: Color guard, advance to the altar with guests and post the colors.
We will light candles in honor of those that suffered and are still suffering in America by terrorism of September 11 and the war in Iraq.
This candle is lit in honor of those who aided the victims.
(whispering): Thank you.
LOURAS: I'm here with veterans, I'm here with fellow veterans.
Four words ring true when we commemorate what happened on September 11.
And those four words are, "We will never forget."
Thank you for this today.
(people talking in background) ♪ ♪ CHIOFFI: ...what's available there, and I want you to consider this, you know.
When you hear the word "welcoming," we're all welcoming people.
Most of us have welcome mats at our door.
We also have our doors locked at night.
(crowd talking in background) ♪ MAN (in video): Our side is for transparency.
Our side is for knowledge and information.
MAN: Heave-ho, the mayor must go.
- (laughs) MAN: We're number one for drug crime in the whole state.... CHIOFFI: There are a lot of people like me out there.
I was a Democrat.
I served two terms in the legislature of Vermont as a Democrat.
I came to my senses and got conservative when I got older because I had to be.
(laughing): I didn't, you know, I don't have enough money to be a liberal.
(laughing) I guess I am selfish.
I want America to be for Americans.
And then, of course, there's a lot of guilt.
You know, I've got a lot here, and there's so many people that just, they don't.
I just get heartsick over it.
I really get heartsick over it.
You need to do what you can do, but when I see so much abuse of the welfare system in this country, it just alienates me from having that guilt trip.
(piano playing "Morning Has Broken") (birds twittering) (piano continues) CONGREGATION: ♪ Morning has broken ♪ Like the first morning ♪ Blackbird has spoken like the first word ♪ ♪ Praise for the singing ♪ Praise for the morning ♪ Praise for them springing ♪ Fresh from the Word - Good morning.
CONGREGATION: Good morning.
HANNAH: We as a community have individuals who will be coming to live here soon, whom we struggle to know how we're supposed to respond.
And the truth of the matter, it's because we're scared most of the time.
Jesus said some really hard things.
He laid down some real difficult challenges.
"You mean, I have to love the person who hates me?"
And for those who had been neglected, and abused, and looked down upon by society, "You mean, I have to walk into "a space of uncertainty, and pain, "and offer myself as part of the justice-making solution?"
STACIE: So this is what Uncle Paul sent you.
(Brenda exhales) - I just opened your card, and it is so sweet, Mom.
Look at what it says.
"Be merry and bright."
- I told him not to get me nothing.
- I know, you know Uncle Paul, though.
"May the joy of the season shine brightly "throughout the years.
"Merry Christmas, Paul and Jim.
Hugs and kisses."
- (chuckling): Yeah.
- Isn't that sweet?
- (sniffs) - And then this sits down in there so that we can... - It's snowy out.
- I know, but it's so pretty, though, isn't it?
- Okay, and put the top in there...
Okay, what is this?
I have to open her mail.
I have to read her what it says.
Any paperwork she gets, I have to go over with her.
Ah, when it came to the lease for her apartment, I had to be there, present, to read it with her with the landlord before she signed.
She has a severe learning disability.
She had scarlet fever when she was a baby.
She had a temp of 106, so it literally started to fry her brain.
And that's where her learning disability came from.
Wake up, Tyler.
Okay, I'll get it for you now.
- Hi, Tyler.
- Nanny brought you cereal.
Nanny brought you cereal.
Cap... Oh, Berry... (slowly): Colossal Crunch-- now, what do you call that?
- Uh... Colossal.
- Colossal Crunch.
- Berry Colossal Crunch, yep.
Good job, Mom.
That's your People's bill.
(object bangs in other room) That's... Why are you... TYLER: I know.... - ...putting another hole in the wall?
Why do you have a late fee?
♪ ♪ ♪ CASSEL: Whew.
So, this is, this is the beginning.
We've got plates, and pots, and pans, and cooking utensils, and ironing boards.
This is all going to be laundered.
Oh, these are precious.
All brand-new, hand-knit custom wool hats with notes.
"Welcome to Vermont," from total strangers.
(inhales deeply): Um... "We knitted these hats with love and hope they help your heads and hearts feel warm."
It's, like, "Whew," makes you, makes you weepy.
We are geographically very fortunate.
It could be any of us just born to the wrong place.
We are just so overjoyed that Rutland is going to be on the map for something really cool and really positive.
Okay, here we are.
You've got to get rid of things?
WOMAN: Yes, I have a lot of stuff.
So-- oh, my gosh.
WOMAN: This is only a part of it, because all those buildings up in the back are full.
All those dishes, all these dishes, glassware.
The Last Supper is going to a priest of mine, a friend of mine, but otherwise... - (laughing): I think that would probably be more appropriate.
WOMAN: I found all these little things that my mother would save through the years, you know.
We just aren't able to take those.
WOMAN: I know, I know.
Do you know when people are coming, or... - We're expecting at least two families in January.
- Oh-- do they have places to live?
- I know that they've put a lot of feelers out.
- And there are people who are willing to take a risk on somebody who has no savings, no job... - I know, I know.
- And no references, but they're willing to do it.
- (chuckling): Yeah.
CASSEL: You all right?
CASSEL: You ready to move on?
WOMAN: I'm ready, yeah.
(owl hooting) RENEE: I can understand.
WOMAN: All right.
RENEE: I brought up to believe that colored people were no good.
It's where I grew up that, it's so common for the N word.
And, for me, moving to Winooski and being with all the refugees that were there, it was...
I'll be honest, it was scary for me, because I knew nothing about refugees or anything else, other than they were a different color.
STACIE: Did... - And... - Was it scary for you because of being told something your whole life... - Yup, they were no good.
- ...and then experiencing it... - No good.
- ...differently once you were in that situation?
- Yeah, yeah.
And hearing my coworkers, when the whole refugee thing came out, just going crazy.
You know, "They're going to take all the homes, all the jobs, and everything else."
It's, like, "No, they're not."
- I mean, if somebody would like to come to our neighborhood, and sit, and have an open discussion where questions are welcome, oh, please.
♪ ♪ (cellphone ringing) Louras.
Doing okay, sorry it took me so long to get back to you.
The first family has arrived.
They rolled in last night and I was fortunate enough to be able to meet them, greet them, and welcome them to their new home.
(inhales) The mother is fluent in French.
She's got a degree in French literature.
She writes children's books.
Right now, no, no cameras and no, no press meeting them.
Hey, Brian, Christopher Louras returning your call.
I'm just coming up for air.
Election time is coming, and there is a potential that I could be de-elected on March 7.
I do not want to even hazard a guess at what's going to happen under the new administration.
And I don't want to get into Donald J.
's brain, because really, I, I really think that's the eighth Horcrux.
I think that that's where Voldemort put the, put the last soul.
(sighs) 200 executive orders to be signed by the end of Monday.
What do you think's in that?
(animals chittering) (television playing) STACIE: Wow.
I don't think I was prepared for this.
Okay, so one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight of these ten people I know.
(sighs) And then you have... ...the Syrian story.
(phone ringing) A lot of people in Turkey are not getting services and they don't have the right to even work.
I couldn't, I couldn't imagine.
♪ Christopher Louras.
♪ WOMAN: Please join me in welcoming Mayor Chris Louras.
(crowd cheering) LOURAS: We've revitalized, reinvented, and redefined who we are as a community.
And now is the time to keep our foot on the gas.
(crowd cheering) LOURAS: I'm not ready to say it yet on the record, but I'm telling you, I've met the families.
If I get de-elected... MAN: Yeah.
LOURAS: ...over five kids?
Does it look like I hate this (bleep)?
Because I really hate this (bleep).
♪ MAN: We're at the mayoral forum live tonight, thanks so much for tuning in.
DAVE ALLAIRE: In Tuesday's Rutland Herald, my opponent, the mayor, is quoted as saying, "I think it's a referendum on my leadership", unquote.
I believe it's a referendum on his lack of leadership.
It's a time to get back to basics.
♪ My vision of an ideal town is a safe city, a city where people can be out in the neighborhoods, their kids can walk to school.
♪ ♪ MAN: We have a new mayor, Mr. David Allaire.
ALLAIRE: Here we go Rutland, here we go!
(audience applauding) I'm really pleased, and I think there was an awakening tonight.
I think people understood that, that the way things were going was not acceptable, and they wanted change.
LOURAS: Okay, if everybody could just stay quiet for just one sec while I call Super Dave.
Hey, David, Christopher.
Just calling to say congratulations and good luck.
Have an enjoyable evening, bye-bye.
NEWS ANCHOR (on TV): David Allaire, it does appear, will actually unseat the Rutland city mayor, Chris Louras... (people talking in background) (footsteps tapping) CHIOFFI: Hello, I'm Don Chioffi, and this is Straight Talk, unfiltered commentary on the news and events of the day.
Make no mistake about it, the election that we just had is a microcosm of our country.
The people who pay the bills, the people that dig the ditches, the people that have to worry about where they're going to come up with the money for their children's education-- thousands and thousands of dollars, you know, so that they can go and learn how to knit pussy hats?
(laughing): I don't know what they're doing there, but...
In any case, the proud little Rutland First group actually preserved democracy in this region.
(water trickling) (sighs): (bleep), I can't believe you're taking my frickin' picture.
(car horn honking) Somebody's honking at us.
Who's honking at us?
Do I know you?
Lick my (bleep), whoever the hell you are.
You like that, Jim?
Ain't that great?
JAMES (laughs): That's great.
- (bleep) skippy.
I don't care no more.
You know what the best part about not being mayor anymore is?
- What's that?
- You really want to know?
- The best part about not being mayor anymore is, I can jaywalk like a (bleep).
I don't even know what you want to talk about, frankly.
I haven't talked about this crap for so many weeks that I don't even know what's going to come out of my mouth anymore.
It's hard walking down the street and saying, "Okay, now, two out of three of these people didn't want me to have this job."
But I've stopped trying to figure out who those two out of three are.
It doesn't matter.
But a new stress will be cropping up in three or four short weeks if I don't get another job.
CROWD: ...of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
- I'd like to see if I can get the newly elected aldermen to come gather right around here and we'll go ahead and swear you in, okay.
I. ALDERMEN: I.
- Do solemnly swear.
- Do solemnly swear.
- That I will faithfully execute the office of alderman.
- That I will faithfully execute the office of alderman.
- For the City of Rutland.
- For the City of Rutland.
RYAN: People don't want change, and they are very protective and territorial of what they've brought here, and how long they've been here.
ALLAIRE: I'm extremely humbled to be speaking to you at this podium as your mayor.
This is an exciting time for the city of Rutland.
It's a time for a reset.
RYAN: For me, it goes back to, like, in any place where there's a real lack of diversity.
The majority is comfortable, usually.
But what about those people who aren't?
(engine idling) (chicken clucking) Whoo!
(crowd cheering) (music playing) (crickets chirping, geese honking) ♪ REPORTER: It has taken months, but another Syrian refugee family has finally arrived in Rutland.
After the first two families arrived in January, the resettlement process was thrown into chaos by President Trump's orders to stop it.
VPR's Nina Keck has more.
KECK: Rutland Mayor David Allaire says he was notified prior to the family's arrival, and says communication with the resettlement agency has been good.
Members of Rutland Welcomes say they worked quickly to set up an apartment for the new family.
None of the three refugee families wanted to be interviewed for this story.
HANNAH: ...has to be part of how you rebuild a city from its decline.
PASTOR: How do we get people through the fear?
That's really, I think, the major question.
JOHN: I'm just as disturbed by the people who are so desperate to get some, anybody from not Vermont into here, so that we can, you know, check off our checklist of, "Well, now we're diverse, now we have people of color, and now we have falafel," you know?
And that to me smacks just as much of racial check-boxing as anything else.
We all have people on both sides, but if there was more ways of making a decent living here, then people wouldn't be fighting over the crumbs.
HANNAH: I don't disagree with you, Doug.
DOUG: I know you more directly deal with them than I do.
HANNAH: But I think that's a different issue than who they are right now is anchored in a place that doesn't exist anymore.
What I think people are really saying is, "There is a piece of who I am, or who my family is, "that has been lost, "and I didn't have a chance to mourn that.
"Somebody took it away, or it got lost, and I didn't get to say goodbye."
We haven't addressed those things as a city.
We have to talk about these things.
♪ STACIE: You go to the doctor, you have that backache or pain in your wrist, or, mine was a broken arm.
The pharmaceutical industry, they said that side effects didn't exist, that they weren't addicting.
It wasn't going to take over your life, and I'm living proof that it actually did.
♪ Rutland has such a shortage of providers.
You call a doctor to get in and there's a waiting list, or you've got to go through this hoop and that hoop.
- Oh, (bleep) A.
♪ STACIE: It's caused a community of street suboxone users.
(phone ringing) - Tim, Tim.
(bleep) (phone ringing) Hello?
Honey, I'm sorry.
Just text him and tell him you need some.
CHILD: How're you doing?
- Good, how are you?
- Love you, too, baby.
Well, I'm going to do something I probably shouldn't do, but... Can you do me a favor?
Tim's sitting at work with nothing.
He hasn't had anything since yesterday morning.
Well, it's reality, dude.
That's what I have to do every day.
I don't have a doctor, it's a (bleep) waiting list.
(bleep) Let me see here, okay.
The only reason I am taking it the way I am is because I don't have a whole eight-milligram strip to stick under my tongue.
If I did, I wouldn't be doing it this way.
This way, it lasts longer.
TIM: Snort it up.
- (sniffing) And then I take the underneath of my tongue.
And any residue that's left will sit under my tongue and soak in like the suboxone (bleep).
Honestly, I would rather withdrawal from heroin 100 times than withdrawal once from suboxone.
That's how bad the withdrawal is.
♪ It's almost like this drug that has been put out there to help you is the one thing that could make you feel the worst.
♪ (people talking in background) RYAN: They wanna work and then they have some kind of barrier.
So when my client just got out of jail after 18 years... (people talking in background) HEALTH COMMISSIONER: This crisis is ubiquitous.
When the drug czar came from the White House, and he spent a few hours with us finding out what we've been doing, we were one of three states that had actually met the needs of its community to at least try to offer medically assisted treatment.
One of three states.
(audience applauding) JOE: Is there anybody who has a good story they'd like to share to close out today's meeting?
For those of you that haven't been here when I have before, my name is Pam.
I've spent a little over a year working with people who live in the Northwest neighborhood as they build community there.
And the feel-good story I want to tell is that beautiful little girl.
Her name is Ella.
Ella was born opiate-addicted.
If you've never heard the screams of an opiate-addicted newborn, I hope you never do.
Ella was immediately taken into DCF custody.
And Penny and Cassy opened their doors to that little baby.
It was not an easy ride.
Last fall, they legally adopted Ella.
(audience applauding) - (laughs) PAM: It's really easy for us to see the Northwest neighborhood as the heart of Rutland's opiate problem.
I think it's really important to remember that it's also the heart of the solution to the problem.
(audience applauding) ♪ STACIE: It's intimidating.
You're stepping into a place with professionals that have been in their field for a very long time.
You know and feel you don't belong.
♪ Um, uh, Discount Foods of Rutland... ♪ STACIE: I started up kind of in the ruts.
- You got your school stuff yet, Dylan?
Oh, Mama gets paid Friday?
♪ STACIE: I don't want anyone feeling the way I felt growing up.
Shameful, and just...
Sad, all the time.
- I don't even shoot properly.
Never have and I never will.
BOY: Ever-- oh!
♪ STACIE: Not having a lot of the resources is what makes me want to get involved in the community.
WOMAN: All right, Stacie, do you want to go next?
- Sure, I'm Stacie, I'm from this neighborhood.
I live right here in the white house upstairs.
- Helping us launch a community center.
- That's a great idea.
PAM: It's a great neighborhood.
WOMAN: It is.
PAM: People really care.
STACIE: Through my volunteering work, I am getting a part-time position supervising a group of youth.
I don't even know where to put it.
I'm not used to having a phone.
I'm getting a phone next week with my check.
I'm going to buy my own.
Are you ready, loves?
(people talking in background) (singing) STACIE: It's new.
It's a grant-funded youth employment initiative.
STACIE: And I'm the supervisor of the youth.
And we're kind of just down here today getting an idea of, you know, different things that are being sold.
Eventually, we're hoping to be selling warm doughnuts.
- Oh, cool.
- So you'll have to stop by and see us.
- Yeah, that sounds like... - That would be awesome.
BOY: Wait, do you have money so we can get something?
STACIE: Well, I do, but if I do that, Tyler's not going to have the ten dollars for homecoming.
TYLER: That's all we have is ten bucks?
STACIE: I'm sorry, Tyler, it's the way it is.
♪ (sheep bleating) (chainsaw revving) ♪ (people talking in background) ♪ BOY: We should put on some, uh, music.
GIRL: Christmas music.
STACIE: You will get paid for working on Christmas.
Great teamwork, by the way.
(people talking in background) STACIE: Hi.
- Hi, how are you?
- Not bad, and yourself?
TY: What's your name?
STACIE: I'm Stacie.
- I'm Ty.
- Nice to meet you.
- Nice to meet you, too.
STACIE: We're filming a documentary on Rutland.
It started out being about the refugees, and then we, you know, kind of picked me up along the way, and now we're filming the good, the bad, the ugly, the indifference, all of it.
WOMAN: NeighborWorks Northwest Rutland youth employment initiative.
We are inviting all of you to help support and promote that effort.
STACIE: "You are invited.
"This meet-and-greet opportunity "is for Northwest neighborhood residents to talk "with one another about their hopes and dreams for our neighborhood."
ALICIA AYLES: Hi, Olivia!
OLIVIA: Hi, nice to meet you.
AYLES: Great to meet you.
STACIE: Olivia is going to be the youth spokesperson.
- Oh, tomorrow?
- For Sunday.
BOY: Those look so good.
TYLER: No, I wasn't, I had anger management.
DEVIN: You had what?
TYLER: Anger management.
DEVIN: Oh, how's that going?
TYLER: Good, I'm getting better.
STACIE: Oh, they are beautiful!
♪ STACIE: Come in!
Make yourself comfortable, please.
My home is your home.
So my favorite show in the whole entire world is "Golden Girls."
Oh, I love that theme song.
AYLES: ♪ Thank you ♪ For being a friend - Absolutely.
- ♪ Traveled round the world and back again ♪ TYLER: I cannot aim.
STACIE: I feel that if you want your actions to change, your thought process needs to change.
Look at the refugee families.
A lot of what they are coming from might not necessarily be drugs or alcohol, but it's war.
- Yes, that was our, remember, it was our theme of displacement, - Disorganization.
- Very good word.
And I just feel there is a lot of common ground here, and I feel that it would've been a great way to tackle both issues head-on.
- I guess I just don't understand how we can't do both.
- So in my opinion... - Is that too large of a thing?
- In my opinion, is, we can't care for Rutland if we don't do both.
- Well, there it is.
(train approaching) (train horn blaring) (people talking in background) MERDZANOVIC: Welcome, it's so good to see you.
(people talking in background) Tomorrow is exactly a year since Hussam and Huzar and Ahmed and Mohassen arrived.
They love Rutland.
They see Rutland as their home.
Um... You know, there's no easy way to get into what I'm about to share with you.
A total of 33 Syrians, three-three Syrians, arrived in October, at the beginning of October.
And then the Muslim ban 3.0 went into effect, so... MORGAN: And that was to the entire U.S. MERDZANOVIC: Right, nationally.
- The whole country.
33 for the whole country.
The language that they're using is, "We are zeroing you out as a site."
So, it's not great news.
HUNTER: Well, is there anything that we can do?
We're still playing the waiting game, it sounds like.
We're just gonna try to wait for things to change.
I mean, I'd like to feel that there's something positive... (chuckling): ...and proactive and... ...that we can do.
I think, as Rutland Welcomes, we got to figure out what we're going to do with the donations at some point.
You know, I think that's a practical thing.
WOMAN: We'll think about that as a group.
♪ (water trickling) STACIE: It's one of them days.
Hi, so I think Tyler's having a rough day.
Well, I know, I don't blame him, you know.
There's no food in the house, you know, and it's trashed, and, you know, it's hard times.
(voice trembling): And you know, like I told him, it's us as a family, it's not anybody individual.
And that's exactly how we're going to get through it, is us as a whole, as a family.
♪ I was raised in the system.
I'm trying to break that cycle.
(crossing signal clanging) But there's always going to be that fear.
I (bleep) hate answering machines.
(phone ringing) Hello?
Okay, so what does that mean?
I have no idea, like, what any of this means or anything.
WOMAN (over phone): I will tell you, so, if there is still money owed, then the landlord will probably ask the court for a judgment.
So do you still owe more money beyond... - No, we just owe the $910.
So, so what you're telling me is, I need to get that $910 paid before the 11th.
WOMAN: Plus the cost of the landlord for filing the case, which is $295.
- Are you serious?
WOMAN: Yeah, I am.
- For a month.
(laughing): Is there any laws protecting tenants in this state?
WOMAN: Uh, I mean, yes, but you know that...
They're also going to want to, you know, look for their attorney's fees, but you can push back on that because (inaudible), you don't have to pay attorney's fees to resolve the case.
By paying what you owe, in other words, sort of like paying, pay the money and then stay, which is what you're hoping to do.
So paying and staying unfortunately does include cost, but it does not include lawyers' fees.
- No, no.
There's so much other stuff going on that right now, you know, I just want to get the $1,205 together before we go.
And that's the best I can do at this point.
(sighs) (shovel scraping) All right, so now I'm intimidated.
Somebody's got to tell this story, right?
(people talking in background) Are you kidding me?
(laughing): Are you kidding me?
I can't find my outline.
MAN: Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to Project Vision.
All right, Stacie.
- Hi, thank you.
I just wanted to start by saying thank you for the time.
I kind of want to change gears a little bit.
I want to talk about an eviction process that I'm having a personal experience with.
So what happened was, we, we got behind a month in rent, and we received an eviction notice to show up in court.
What I'm trying to understand is, why a month?
Most of the time, it's several months behind before an eviction process starts, from my understanding.
- It sounds like it was a complete surprise to you that in one month... - Yes.
- ...things could unravel so quickly, especially around housing.
- I am shocked to hear that myself.
- Yes, I agree and that's why I'm standing here.
Thank you very much.
What I would like to see happen is them bridges get built.
- That personal experience... RYAN: You know my place of employment, we work with people who are in poverty every single day.
We see homelessness, homeless kids, people living out of their car.
Yet they're the same people that would do anything for anybody.
STACIE: Thank you.
Thank you, I appreciate that, thank you, guys.
(audience applauding) - I'm Lisa Ryan.
- Hi, I'm a Rutland city alderwoman on the board of aldermen, and I also work at BROC.
- And I wanted to give you my card, because I really appreciate you sharing your story and... - Thank you.
- You can contact me for any resources that we do, and I'd be happy to help you.
- Oh, thank you so much.
- So thanks so much for sharing your story.
- Thank you, nice meeting you.
RYAN: When I actually first heard Stacie's story, I was, like, really upset because I was, like, "We could've done that in half a day, got her what she needed and her family."
But these folks who are living in poverty and don't easily get all the basic needs that some of us are fortunate to have, it's hard to ask for help when you don't have people supporting you from the beginning.
I just wonder, like, how many more Stacies are there, and how do we get them to show up, and how do we meet their needs, and how do we make people feel welcome, really.
I haven't figured it out.
(train horn blaring in distance) (dog barking) (people talking in background) STACIE: Okay, so I'm very nervous.
- Because I don't, I've never been in a situation with the difference in culture like this.
- You won't feel that way.
- And I don't want to disrespect them in any way, shape, or form, you know what I mean?
Like, that's my biggest fear.
- They are so grateful just to have people come, and sit, and visit with them, and be in their home.
- Oh, yes.
My only thing would say is, just be yourself, and listen.
And they'll, and they, she wouldn't have invited us if she didn't want us to just sit, and enjoy her home, and enjoy her baklava, and... - Oh, okay.
- So truly, they're very, very down to Earth.
- Okay, cool.
- And you love children.
- Their children will be very wonderfully active.
Just be yourself.
(kids calling) Fatema, you look so beautiful.
♪ STACIE: I didn't think I'd make it to 30.
I didn't think I'd make it to 20.
(cheers and applause) But I couldn't imagine packing up my family and leaving just to try to stay alive.
I don't want to imagine that.
Just the courage, it gives me hope.
(fireworks exploding) If they can do this, and make it through this in a place they don't know anything about, I sure the hell can.
♪ (sighs) Why?
I have to keep my wrapper.
What's hard is having it in my hand and not being able to do anything with it.
JAMES: You got this.
- For now.
I feel so nauseous.
- So I'm gonna let you hold this.
- I want it at me, right?
- You can just film out the window.
You don't have to put it on yourself.
- Oh, thank you.
- Most places, it's three days they make you withdraw.
They want to make sure you're at the proper dose.
Oh, my goodness, this sucks so bad.
- Bye, Stace.
- See you at 1:00?
- Yeah, call me.
- Thank you, I will.
♪ STACIE: I'm very grateful to start working a program again and not have to get suboxone off the street.
It might not be a medication that I'm ever able to get off.
But I understand that it's something I need.
♪ I'm not broken.
And a lot of us addicts are not broken.
We're doing what we can.
HANNAH: Everything is in here.
Come on in.
STACIE: Wow, look at all this, this is amazing.
- Yes, and there's more upstairs.
- Winter coats.
If folks in the community had need, I didn't hesitate to pull from.
- That's amazing.
- Well, it's there.
It's silly for them to sit someplace.
- Right, right, right.
- I will never let a child go without the clothes they need or the food they need.
♪ We'll get you off the floor to begin with, because you're very beautiful, and someone will really appreciate you.
- What a team!
This is great.
WOMAN: How are you?
STACIE: I do have a few people in the community that are desperately in need of a few things, such as, like, curtains, you know, and things like that.
I have one woman who for the longest time could not even have knives in her home because of her eldest son.
All right, here you go, ladies.
Here's a few to get you started.
Hi, I'm Stacie.
WOMAN: Hi, how are you?
STACIE: Nice to meet you.
♪ (talking quietly) STACIE: Wow, this is huge, this is amazing.
- Look at that, light work with a lot of hands, right?
- That was an hour.
STACIE: That's it?
- It does, it's wonderful.
- This is the real Rutland.
- This is it... ♪ (kids laughing and calling) ♪ STACIE: Get Shami!
Go get Shami!
Ah, Shami wants you to get her, uh-oh, you got her now!
Oh, thank you, that's so sweet.
Sham, Sham is sharing with Emma.
That's so sweet!
- No, you're going to be next!
(kids playing) STACIE: That's your name!
Yeah, I can give you another push.
(kids playing) LOURAS: So, Val, where's the cigars that are on deal?
VAL: In there-- don't you see my sign?
LOURAS: Judy didn't know you had cigar, wooden cigar boxes to give away.
VAL: She didn't?
(Val laughing) LOURAS: You like that picture, Jim?
About 20 years ago, there was an earthquake in Greece.
My father takes that picture, puts it out front on the counter here, and says, "Please help the victims of the earthquake in Greece," with a bucket.
And people just start putting frickin' money in that.
Well, you know it's us.
It's me, Val, Niko, and our next-door neighbor.
And my dad put it out there to get donations for the kids in... And my mother... VAL: My mother lost her mind.
- She lost her (bleep).
- Lost her mind.
(laughing) (dolly wheels rattling) You said milk and almond?
LOURAS: Change is hard.
But we can't keep going on the path of economic stagnation, cultural stagnation, without some really bad things happening and without losing our sense of community.
Use it or lose it, baby.
- That's right.
And I'm using it-- all right, see you.
- Be safe.
(sighs) LOURAS: In ten years, we could become one of those communities that I saw when I was in the military, where everything in the downtown is closed up.
- Oh, golly, no, I don't know.
Let me put you back up to Valerie.
(phone beeps) (calls out): Did you forget you had her on hold?
LOURAS: We've been in the trough.
And hopefully, the community will come out of that trough, but we don't know.
Only time will tell that one.
♪ (people talking in background) ♪ (people talking in background) (tuba playing "Imperial March" from Star Wars) (drums playing) (whistle blows) (drums and percussion pounding) ♪ (talking excitedly) (crowd cheering) Are we famous?
(drums pounding) (crowd cheering) (cheers and applause) ♪ ♪ ♪