How interesting it is that the momentum of the community is climbing to a peak during the ‘dead’ of winter! In a season where Vitamin D and serotonin levels are on the low end, the community is really getting to work! Thank you, 2015! Elizabeth said in our meeting this week “it’s going to be a good year.”
I want to take a moment to offer our applause and support to some community members whose passions for critical issues have been running high and finding their ease in action!
The LED Lighting Project
One thing that really caught my ear at this past community meetup presentation by Joe Chenier from the city is that if this proposition moves through the council Poughkeepsie will become the first Hudson Valley city to be lit entirely by LED energy-efficient lighting. In every issue that is presented to the Common Council there is also an opportunity to claim an identity, or to make gradual motions towards the identity of the City of Poughkeepsie, but I personally feel that some of the issues stand out as being more significant opportunities for this than some others. The applause that the Common Council members may receive if they deem this plan fit for the City will encourage the identity of ‘sustainable’ which could have a ripple effect on the opportunities the council is in favor of down the line.
Hearing the support and excitement from Captain Pape and a Police Officer at the community meetup was also very encouraging. If community members can continue to support the project and its success once presented to the public and common council then it can help our police officers and our several informal neighborhood watch contributors to do their job for the residents and businesses in the City.
Thank you for your advocacy and leadership for this program, Jeff Aman and Doug Nobiletti!!
The Wheaton Park Project
This issue is in the process of development and critique, however it is another area where passions are finding their ease in collective action. The general structure of the issue is that a developer fulfilled the request for proposal with a plan for 36 living spaces to be built on the Wheaton Park property and many townspeople feel that this would highly unfortunate, an unsustainable form of income to the city, and out of line with various environmental regulations. This issue is also, again in my humble opinion, another significant area where Poughkeepsie might claim its identity depending on the outcome. Some of the proposed alternative ideas include an art park with interactive sculpture, seasonal events including performances, and the presence of one or more local organizations working to enhance quality of life in the area. Due to its location between Waryas Park, the Walkway Over the Hudson, Little Italy, and the Business District of Poughkeepsie it could serve as a point of interest that would act as a linkage between these attraction, rather than a seemingly exclusive and higher end condominium. The energy of this group is from a level-headed ‘all things considered’ place. Feel free to contact us if you would like more information.
Queen City Saturday and Main Street Happenings
POKLIT and Laughing Earth Lit, lead by Cathy Schmitz, have officially reinstated Queen City Saturday with author reading events at the Mid-Hudson Heritage Center on the third Saturday afternoons. Cathy has lined up a full schedule of authors and events through the year!! This is a great opportunity for more events to organize on Main Street, and to create a linkage so that people who come out for one might be intrigued to pop into another. If we can generate some foot traffic flow it would encouraging others to take an interest in the area, and then everyone could see what greatness lies just beneath the surface!
Art Centro also makes this effort, holding community clay days and nights that are open to the public for hand building clay play the third Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, as well as their quarterly open houses that will be held on four third Friday evenings in the year!
Combined with potential open mic and storytelling nights, the reinstatement and growth of Queen City Saturdays allow for expanded public offerings that provide a deeper engagement with the community. We SO appreciate all who are making this happen!
One of my favorite fun ideas is to work with the Poughkeepsie Grand to use their vintage trolleys as Queen City Saturday modes of transport from different bars and restaurant areas including Middle Main, Arlington, Arts Mid-Hudson, and possibly some outdoor spaces of activity in the warmer months! First it will be our job to make sure that there is consistently plenty to come out and do, and then we may go for the ask!
Other things on Main Street that may not fall on Queen City Saturday (or weekend) but come from a similar motivation to offer more public offerings that provide a deeper engagement with the community are some upcoming workshops and fundraisers! The ones that have nailed down a date on the calendar are centered at My Place Pizza, a local pizza shop that offers tons of music and opportunities for a jam or a dance/mosh/headbang, as well as progressive community ideals and influences. They are hosting a pizza making workshop this Thursday at 5 where both the children and the childish may make personal pan pizzas and then enjoy them together (we’re also holding a ribbon tying to officially acknowledge My Place and welcome them to the Made in Middle Main Campaign). My Place is also holding an amazing Valentine’s Day fundraiser for the local organization Grace Smith House in conjunction with One Million Rising. We hope that we can create a ripple effect of workshops and similar activity throughout the neighborhood-if you have a craft or skill that you would like to share or present about, or a suggestion of a workshop that you would like to see here in Poughkeepsie, give us a ring!
Poughkeepsie Multi-Cultural Council
A sense of division of cultures is something that all major cities battle with. It's the idea of the “barrio”. We all have them, and we could draw endless references of them from pop-culture and the media that reinforce them as a norm. The word barrio, even for a non-Spanish speaker, brings up feelings of comfort, security, identity, and belonging-which are almost all of the things that the human needs according to Abraham Maslow.
I have been fortunate to be in the midst of the interesting conversation about the issue of being a first-generation immigrant, or a second-generation immigrant, and the challenge of raising children to know who they are and where they come from in our society. I have experienced these conversations as they occur cross-culturally and watched our community members find common ground on these major questions and challenges, and have been able to offer them a careful ear and heartfelt support.
Poughkeepsie seems to understand the value of these differing cultures unifying on as many occasions as possible. However, as with anywhere, feeling closely connected to one’s culture is also very important to our community members. We want to encourage these identities to remain strong and rich which often means for them to come together for the sake of tradition. We also want to encourage instances such as these interesting conversations about issues that are shared by many people of different backgrounds, and with that the support and education about one another’s traditions. The result of that support may be that we become more knowledgeable and aware of each other's cultures and perhaps more empathetic towards the occasional need for ‘banding’ together for the purpose of re-grounding in identity, comfort, security, and belonging that we all seek out in different ways.
We applaud and appreciate Herbert Bullock for organizing a Multicultural Council under the City of Poughkeepsie that encourages collaboration and a close connection to the cultural identities that is then supported and celebrated cross-culturally in our city. Middle Main wishes to work very closely with this council to ensure complete inclusivity as we steer towards a vibrant future for Main Street.
There will be much in store for the upcoming Black History Month, including free film screenings every Wednesday evening at the Mid-Hudson Heritage Center. With the help of the Multicultural Council we should expect and encourage friends of all backgrounds to come together at these events to continue to gain a shared understanding, and support one another in the celebration and re-connection to traditions, just as we will at the Dominican Independence Day event that is just around the bend.
To close I would like to note that while I have mentioned some names of people in this blog who's work has been prominent in the specific areas that I have noted. It should be recognized that there are MANY community members who have not been mentioned that are working towards the greater good for this community both in the issues above and in other areas, whether it may be under their job roles or in their own personal interests. I welcome and encourage all to give mention to these other community members and their current efforts in a comment below. As we may now recognize and support those who have been mentioned we would also really like to recognize and support others. Please help to make us aware of as many as possible! Thank you!