Governor George Aiken first coined the term “Northeast Kingdom” in a speech given in 1949 when he briefly renamed the area to express frustration about the opposition to improved east-west transportation.   It stuck and bears the name “Northeast Kingdom” to this day.

While the Northeast Kingdom is one of the most appealing places to live in the State of Vermont it is also one of the hardest places to live because its three county region is the most isolated and sparsely populated area of the State.  It has consistently had the highest unemployment rate and the lowest wage average.  In spite of all of this there is a strong sense of community and a strong sense of place and the people who live there want to be in that place.  They are attached to their land and appreciate its wide open beauty.  They are a hard working people who appreciate the rural privacy, and can rely on their neighbors when needed.

The Kingdom’s history and its future is very interesting and I will be covering this later.

The Northeast Kingdom is home to a host of artists – poets, painters, photographers, writers, musicians and crafters working in all mediums.  It is not difficult to understand what draws them to this place of tranquility and beauty.  Not having been blessed with more than a modicum of artistic ability I have to wonder…  Does one move to the Northeast Kingdom to pursue their passion for art, or does one just go to the Northeast Kingdom and become moved to pursue art because of the serenity and beauty of their surroundings.  Just wondering — maybe if I lived in such a setting I would find I had more than just a sliver of talent!  The corn fields just aren’t doing it for me!


Camilla Mead – Artist and Doll Maker

“In 1995, after years of raising a family, directing church choral and Handbell choirs on Cape Cod, I “discovered” the art of making porcelain dolls.”  Today her reproduction antique dolls and others are sold coast to coast.  She continues to make dolls in her small studio in North Troy, pouring the molds and carefully recreating new dolls from start to the last stitch in the clothing.

She also enjoys the challenge of restoring an antique doll to her true glory, and, helping a client to know what to look for when searching for an antique doll from the 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Oh and did I mention that she is the Best Big Sister ever!


Gustav Woelfl Verderber – Photographer and Author

Gustav Woelfl Verderber, also lives in the Northeast Kingdom.  He is a naturalist, author, professional nature photographer, and adjunct professor of environmental science.  He is a phenomenal photographer and while the Vermont Magazine recognizes him as one of the Vermont’s foremost nature photographers I’d have to change that to one of  “America’s foremost nature photographers”.  I go to many, many juried art festivals and art shows and I’ve seen a lot of nature photos, and Gustav’s are certainly among the best of the best.  You can see his work and that of a fellow photographer at

In addition to photography Verderber is a writer. a wonderful writer who draws you in and takes you with him on his journey.   It’s the same with his photography, when viewing his pictures you get the sense that you are there seeing what he is seeing.  Be sure and check out his essays at  You won’t be disappointed.


Jim Maas – Woodcarver

Introduced to art as a high school freshman, Jim Maas’ hobby through college and medical school was expressing his creative side through watercolor, pen and ink, photography and clay sculpture.  He has always been an art enthusiast, but it wasn’t until he’d been a practicing Orthopedic Surgeon in Newport VT for 25 years that he realized he really wanted to pursue his passion for art as a wood carver.  Today he is well known, coast to coast, for his bird carvings and has received several prestigious awards.

For  my Rochester, MN wood carving friends his Canvasback rendition was selected for inclusion in the 34th Annual Wild Wings Fall Festival Original Art Show and Sale in Lake City , MN in 2007.

To learn more about Jim Maas and see his amazing bird carvings visit his website:


Emily Nyman and Lynn Berry

The “hills” really are alive with the sound of music and Emily Nyman and Lynn Berry are making beautiful music in “The Kingdom”.   Emily, a musician, was interning as a guidance counselor in Vermont when she met Lynn Berry, a guidance counselor and an artist and published poet.   What  a match – Emily shared her music and Lynn shared her poems and they have been a team ever since.

In addition to performing throughout New England, they have incorporated their music into education.  Emily heads up a guitar club  and coaches beginning songwriters at North Country Union Jr High in Newport.  Emily and Lynn conduct songwriting workshops in area schools and held a workshop at the National Teacher’s Association Convention.

I have their CD “Peace Offering” which I love.  I particularly  like their original songs “Give Me A Dream” and “Shadow Time”.  “Shadow Time” is the most wonderful lullaby.

I have taken the liberty to pull an excerpt from the “Peace Offering” CD jacket that gives insight into Emily and Lynn’s interest in songs and themes that were popular during the Peace Movement and are still meaningful today.

“Many folks have asked us, “When did you first get the idea for a Peace Album?”
Emily:It began at age 12 when I bought my first guitar, a Takamine nylon 6 string, and borrowed my dad’s “Great Songs of the 60’s volume I” songbook. By age 17, I had a steady gig jamming with “old” thirty something’s who still remembered the unrest of the 60’s and the music that described it so well. “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “Imagine” were regulars on the set list at the Pub in Buzzard’s Bay, MA. and they are still requested by audience members today.
Lynn: I was coming of age in the 60’s, and these songs were the soundtrack of my life. The Vietnam War was in full swing, there were race riots in our city streets, and our most promising leaders were being assassinated. I continue to play the same songs years later while wrestling with the “why” of it all. “When will we ever learn?” The goal remains the same, “Oh to be in a peaceful world of certainty.” Our true enemies are not people, but ideology, ignorance, and hatred.
Our mutual interest in songs of the Peace Movement has been rekindled in recent years with world events and audience requests for Songs of Peace.”e

“Our Vermont” was written by Emily and Lynn and it really “takes you to Vermont”.  It truly describes the amazing place that Vermont is.

It is on the CD “Outside the Lines”, and you can also hear “Our Vermont” on You Tube.  The slide show that accompanies the You Tube video was created by Jerry Johnson and most of the photos were taken by Lynn.  It is beautifully produced.  You’ll want to watch it more than once!

Get to know Emily and Lynn better by visiting their website:



Landscape artist Phyllis J Hammond lives on the Canadian Border in Newport, Vermont, but you might find her anywhere there are stunning landscapes or wildflowers.  Phyllis works primarily in acrylics and watercolor and her paintings are displayed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Alaska appears to be a favorite spot as  evidenced by her five trips to the Last Frontier.  Many of her paintings reflect that area.

Her love of wildflowers inspired her book “Traveling with Wildflowers from Newfoundland to  Alaska” in 1998.  There are six Vermont Wildflower lithographs contained in the book.  After the book’s publication she was invited to speak at Denali National Park, Alaska, St Johns, Newfoundland among other places.

Phyllis has just had a new book released “Through the Eyes of the Children – Traveling with the Artist”.  The book is a collaborative effort including her landscape sketches and the poetry and prose of local elementary school children from the Northeast Kingdom.  What a wonderful way to engage our children in a meaningful project.  To quote the author:  “Their originality has just blown me away!”  This is one book that will soon be on my bookshelf!

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