In this issue we revive a column the News ran for a time in the late 90s called Neighbor to Neighbor. As the title implies, it’s a way for us to come to know the answer to the question the late, great Fred Rogers posed: who are the people in your neighborhood? We begin this month by introducing Genevieve Trono, who, with this issue, also becomes a Charlotte News contributing writer.
Give us a bit about your background. Where did you grow up? Go to school? What dreams did you have for yourself when you were a kid?
I was born in Connecticut and moved to Bristol, Vermont, at the age of one when my mom moved her business to Vermont. She owned a publishing company that made summaries of business books. In addition, she later opened a small bookstore called Deerleap Books, and that is where a lot of my happy childhood memories are from. I spent many days after school reading books in between the bookshelves. I loved the idea that books were a whole other world you could escape into, and I found so much comfort in books as a child. I was always very interested in people and in jobs that helped others.
How did you end up in Charlotte?
We lived in Richmond, Vermont, for seven years before moving to Charlotte in 2015. My father-in-law has lived in Charlotte for 30-plus years, and in 2011 he started Fat Cow Farm. We visited the farm all the time with our two young children, who were just fascinated with the animals (and tractors), and so in 2014 we made the decision that we might like to live there, too. We sold our first home in Richmond and built a house at Fat Cow Farm that we moved into in the spring of 2015.
What do you find most challenging about life in Vermont?
You never know what to expect weather-wise when you live here, so you need to be prepared for anything! We are Vermonters for life, as our family owns a small local business, Trono Fuels, so I have really tried to embrace our life here. There is no bad weather, only the wrong clothing! Winter can feel really long here so you have to have hobbies that get you outside to enjoy it. We love swimming and boating on the lake in the summer, hiking on local trails in the fall, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating and playing in the snow in the winter and exploring and playing in the mud in the spring. Having something we enjoy doing outside every season of the year has really helped us enjoy our life here so much.
What’s one of your favorite things about Charlotte?
I love so many things about our town. Although everyone is spread out, there is such a tight-knit community feeling. We are so lucky to live in a town that still feels like the Vermont I grew up in, with farms and pastures and lots of preserved areas to hike and explore. I love going to our town library and seeing a friend or neighbor just about every time. I feel so grateful that our kids can go sledding behind their amazing school and play outside making forts in the woods in our backyard. It is a wonderful place to raise a family, and I can see why people don’t want to leave, even when their kids are grown up.
Lucas and I have been married for 10 years and we have two sons, Parker, age 8, and Flynn, age 6. Lucas manages Trono Fuels and also pitches in at Fat Cow Farm, delivering meat or helping wrangle a cow back into the pasture.
Tell us about the work you do and how you got to there.
I stayed in Vermont for college and graduated from Saint Michael’s College with a degree in psychology. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my degree, but I knew I wasn’t ready to go back for more schooling. After college, I worked as a substance abuse case manager at the Lund Family Center. I worked there for a few years before moving into the marketing field at a home health agency.
We welcomed our first child in 2010, and I took time off to care for him and later our second child who arrived in 2012. When our first son was born I became very interested in photography and learned how to use a DSLR camera, mostly by trial and error. I then went on to take online classes and eventually started working as a second shooter for a local photographer and friend. I enjoyed the work I did before kids but also recognized how helpful it would be to have a job that could be flexible, especially with a partner that doesn’t have a lot of that with his work. Photography allowed me the opportunity to have an identity outside of motherhood, which was so important to me.
In 2014 my photographer friend Kristy and I wrote an introduction to a DSLR photography course. We both had accessed many online resources for our learning but had dreams of offering a local hands-on course that could help hobbyist photographers learn how to use their cameras off of automatic mode in a supportive and accessible way.
We taught our first course five years ago this spring, and we have learned and grown so much since then. We now offer beginner, intermediate and advanced classes and have an active online alumni community.
Over time I was able to build up what I was doing as our children began preschool and now are both in grade school. In addition to teaching, I edit photos for Kristy, who is a local portrait photographer, and also for some local wedding photographers. This part of photography allows me to use my creative side while still having the flexibility to be available for the inconsistent schedules of our young children.
In my free time, I review books for publishing companies by reading advanced reader copies of soon-to-be-released books. I also share these reviews and discussions on my website and social media accounts. I love helping generate buzz for books and making book recommendations based on genre or specific interests. One of my favorite parts of this is being able to interact with authors on social media. It still gives me a thrill when they comment on something I have shared. There are many downsides of social media, but it also can help bring people together from all over the world in such a positive way.
What do you love about what you do?
I love being able to teach about something that brings people so much joy, and we have met so many amazing people along the way. I also enjoy doing behind-the-scenes work, like editing, because it allows me to be a part of the artistic process while also getting to support the incredibly talented photographers I work with. I love being a part of a team, and this is a great balance for me.
Is there any particular dream of vision you have for the future of Charlotte?
I think Charlotte is well on its way, but I would love to increase the idea of having a community space. There are so many wonderful people in our community, many of whom I didn’t meet until our family was a part of the town school system. I would love there to be other opportunities for places to gather and connect.
What’s something most people don’t know about you? Any secret talents?
Oh gosh, I don’t have a lot of secrets because I love to talk and share. I am an excellent rollerblader, does that count?
Dream vacation destination?
This is a fun question to answer as we continue through the dog-days of winter! My mom’s job required that she travel occasionally, and I was lucky to tag along sometimes, but I haven’t done a lot of international traveling as an adult. As our children have gotten older, we’ve dreamed of a trip to Italy. My husband and I both have Italian heritage, and Italy is a place that we’ve always wanted to visit. Now that our kids are 8 and 6, we’re hoping that they can handle a trans-Atlantic flight at some point in the not too distant future. Fingers crossed!
What do you think we need to do, each of us, what are we singularly responsible for when it comes to making the world a better place?
This sure seems more appropriate now than ever. Everyone has a story, and one of the people I admire who researches and writes about this is Brene Brown. I have learned so much from her writing that has really changed the way I interact with the world around me. When we stop and listen to the people around us, we really can realize how much we have in common compared to our differences. There is so much power in meeting people with a little more kindness and less judgment.
“Compassion is not a virtue—it is a commitment. It’s not something we have or don’t have—it’s something we choose to practice.”
~ Brene Brown