The Bully Project

Tomas Rogel, Bully Project visionary and creator and Julia Hancock-Song co-producer, stand in front of Bully Project photos posted downtown.

Tomas Rogel, Bully Project visionary and creator and Julia Hancock-Song co-producer, stand in
front of Bully Project photos posted downtown.

“For the last two months, a group of teens, with the support of the Basement Teen Center and Folk Life Center, have been interviewing and photographing  people of all ages around downtown Montpelier to record the public’s thoughts on bullying.  Interviewees were photographed and asked questions such as: “What does bullying mean to you?”  “Why do you think it happens?”  “What would you say to a bully?”

This project aims to put a familiar face on how we, as a community, approach the issue of bullying.

The creators of this project hope that it will encourage the community to have conversations about bullying and consider the impact of how we treat each other.”

—The Bully Project Team


edited and compiled by Amy Brooks Thornton

Below are excerpts from audio clips that can be heard via cell phone and accompany the portraits appearing on a wall downtown (top right photo) and on a defunct train car behind Guy’s Farm & Yard (bottom right photo). 


The Bully Project’s team was comprised of visionary producer Tomas Rogel, coproducers Nathan Burton and Julia Hancock-Song and all Montpelier High School students. They were assisted by Nick Connor, director of prevention programs at Washington County Youth Services Bureau, and Sarah August, Teen Basement AmeriCorps volunteer. Ned Castle mentored the team in photography. The project was funded by the Basement Teen Center.


Tomas Rogel, 16 – Visionary and Creator

“Bullying is an important issue because it affects people mentally and physically and I don’t believe that people should have to suffer through that.”

“People bully when they feel insecure about themselves or have had something happen in their lives that makes such insecure feelings they turn it into anger against other people.”


Julia Hancock-Song, 16 – Co-producer

“It’s really hard to see the line between joking around, people pushing each other around for fun, for laughs, and when it actually becomes actual bullying and not a game. If you’re feeling harassed or depressed because of it, then it’s a serious issue.”

“If you see people being bullied, step up and say like, this doesn’t look very nice.”


Jen Zimberg, 26

“Bullying is very often subtle. It definitely takes the form of physical violence. More often it’s emotional and psychological. That matters because it’s really hard to point out that someone is doing something to you. It’s really easy for a bully to say, ‘No I wasn’t doing anything to you, or I’m just kidding.’ That’s a big one. ‘I’m just joking. Can’t you take a joke?’”

“In high school, the last thing you want do is admit that you’re vulnerable and sensitive and your feelings can get hurt. Sometimes even your closest friends are not always that kind. I wonder if they know the effect of their actions?”


Ashley Portman, 29

“For me bullying is like a cry for help.  It’s a cry for attention. The perpetrator is looking for someone to bully, but in a lot of ways I see the perpetrator as someone who is looking for love.”

“I was bullied a lot in school. I was pretty shy. I grew up outside of NYC. There were times when I would skip school for a week. I would go and hide in the bathroom. It was really, really scary. It affected me not only socially but academically because I didn’t want to go to school.”

“It can feel really scary to want to reach out and ask for help from other people because there’s this sense of embarrassment. Search and seek out a community. Don’t be afraid to use your voice”


Andrea Cohen, 49 

“Everybody has the right to be respected and move through life in a way where their talents and their skills are appreciated.”

“Seek out those who respect you and love you. And respect and love yourself. Because the people who are doing the bullying are a bunch of fools. You just need to ignore them and seek out the support and love from people who get you for how beautiful and amazing you are.”


Miles Rappaport, 14

“I’ll see people getting picked on at school. I don’t really like it. More often than not I don’t do something and I probably should. I know that is just as bad. I don’t like seeing people upset because it makes me upset too.”

“I might ask them ‘Why are you doing that to someone?’ Because finding out why they’re upset could also be the reason they’re doing it, and that could help them realize that it’s bad.”


Bob Watson, 59 

“People who bully are probably insecure in some way. They want to feel good about themselves. The only way they can feel good about themselves is by being above somebody else and intimidating.”

“If I saw somebody bullying someone else, I would say, ‘Hey, knock it off.’ I don’t like seeing somebody intimidated. There’s no reason for it.”


Ian Quinlan, 40

“I pretty much spent my entire high school being bullied. I was 98 pounds until my senior year. I was an easy target. I was bullied by pretty much everyone. So, of course instead of picking on the toughest kids in school, the bullies pick on the smallest kid in school to prove they’re tough.”

“There’s a lot of pressure on kids to be popular. They want to feel accepted in a group or a crowd so they do things they might have not otherwise done.”

“Just telling someone’s parents ‘Oh, your kid’s bullying someone’ isn’t always going to be effective because the parents are part of the reason the kid is a bully. There needs to be outside intervention.”

“You can’t just say stop bullying. We need to explain why. They have to understand not only what happens with them for being a bully, but that the self-confidence they are trying to build is a fake self-confidence, and it’s not going to do them any good in the real world.”


Nathan Burton, 15 Co-producer

“Tell someone about it, your parents or friends, or an official adult, or all of them. There’s no reason for them to continue.”

“Bullies are taking their pain and kind of spreading it.”

Julia Hancock-Song and Tomas Rogel conduct interviews downtown.

Julia Hancock-Song and Tomas Rogel conduct interviews downtown.


Bully Project members paste a photo on the defunct train car on Stone Cutters Way. Above photos courtesy of the Bully Project.


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