OUR STORIES: The Griffins + Ben Hewitt

 At home.

At home.


Dylan and Nina Griffin

The Vermont of my childhood is a memory of ski trips beginning in the minivan, long drives past diners and flashy car dealerships, and finally onto the winding roads of this billboard-free state. There was snow, so much of it, capping the barns, farmhouses and mountains; there was early a.m. ski school and scary chair lifts, alpine air and the promise of hot chocolate in the lodge.

I came back at age seventeen for Bread and Puppet and at eighteen for college. I studied English at the University of Vermont, had a freshman interlude with veganism and dreadlocks, and a senior fascination for Buddhism and early British novels. Those were the years I traded in skis for a snowboard, made friendships for life and confirmed my love for a place.

Fast-forward nearly a decade later to Houston Street, where I met Dylan. I had moved to New York City to attend graduate school years prior; Dylan had spent ten years in the city working in photography and all that time we’d lived within a couple blocks from one another and never met. When I learned more about his southeast Texas roots, wandering the pine forests, fishing and hunting with his grandfather, I thought Vermont might speak to him as it had to me – or at least I hoped it would. So, in the summer of 2008 we took our first road trip north, and sure enough, he loved it, too. By the time the leaves started falling in October, Dylan was the owner of a plot of land in the Champlain Valley. He proposed to me there, and next came the rapid succession of life events: marriage, the birth of our two children, building a house, and all the while still living and running our photography business out of New York City.

Before too long we came up against having to make a real choice. Do we move where we want to be, or stay where we think we should? I guess the answer we chose is pretty clear. 

We, Dylan and Carolinne (call me Nina) Griffin, are the husband and wife team behind State 14, an idea born out of our love for the place we live and by the remarkable people we call neighbors and friends.


Ben Hewitt

When I was a young boy, I lived with my parents in a cabin at the top of a sloped field in northwestern Vermont. The cabin was situated at the juncture of field and forest; it had two rooms and a loft-ish sort of upstairs, where my parents slept. I slept downstairs, in what could be loosely termed the “living room,” on a bed my mother made, beneath a window that opened to the deep, shadowed forest behind the cabin. 

My father had bought the property – 165 acres and an old farmhouse – for $15,000. We lived in the farmhouse for a short time, then moved into the cabin. My father had a writing shack in the woods. My mother rode her bike to milk cows at a farm up the road. My father edited poetry anthologies and wrote a book. I remember when he used to cut the lawn, which wasn’t really a lawn at all, but more a carved-out piece of the field, how I used to follow behind the mower swath on my Big Wheel. I remember how pleased he was that he was able to siphon water uphill from a stream across the road. I bet it was a half-mile away. I remember cooking outdoors, my father sitting in his chair in the crude kitchen area, smoking a Lucky Strike and reading. I remember the smell of the smoke. I remember less than I don’t remember.

With the exception of a couple of six-month forays into other states, I have lived in Vermont my entire life. I currently live with my family in a town with fewer than 200 residents, at the foot of a small mountain in the Northeast Kingdom. I am a storyteller by trade, though many of my waking hours are devoted to working with this piece of land in ways that support the land, my family, and our livestock.

I am drawn to the Vermont people and places that do not necessarily fit the bucolic ideal of our state, and I have an enduring respect and affection for those who work hard to serve their families and communities, without expectation or desire for broader recognition. 

We'd like to offer a special thanks to the following individuals for offering their time and talents in getting State 14 off the ground:

Nathanael Asaro, Sarah and Sharon Beal, Daniel Cardon, Jay Dubberly, Marie-Michelle Gaudreau, Elizabeth Graham, Megan M. Hard, Michael Laviolette, Chris Little, Shem Roose, Geoff Strawbridge, Kelsey Stetson,  and Daphne Cybele VanSchaick. and in particular Keith Morrill for his editing prowess and John Siddle for his keen eye for design.