It was a lovely evening at Mainstay CoWorking on Friday night! Jamie Rusek, owner of the business at 356 Main Street, held an evening of Cider and Fall Sweets paired with casual community conversation. Folks from Middle Main, the Mid-Hudson Heritage Center, The City of Poughkeepsie, The WEDC, Sustainable Hudson Valley, and several more marked the finish of the week by joining around tables filled with homemade pumpkin cranberry walnut bread, plum cake, caramel corn, cider, and tea.
Many of these active community members are likely to cross paths during the week at meetings such as the Common Council Meetings, board or committee meetings, BAT meetings, the recent Public Outreach Session on the Main Street Revitalization Plan, and Middle Main's Community Meet-Ups. In all of these contexts we join in critical conversations about how we can put action to problems in the neighborhood, such as vacancy and crime. We should be proud of the success of creating this community in Poughkeepsie, where numerous community members take it upon themselves to strategize and explore solutions to it’s issues. What we may do now to further this success is nurture this community that we have fostered.
One idea of how we might do this is by holding gatherings without any purpose in particular, other than to simply enjoy each other’s company. I know what you’re thinking, ‘more meetings?!’ It is already difficult for many of us to attend each one, since they are often held in the evening and take away from time spent with family and taking care of the home. On top of this, weighing the options in an attempt to choose which meetings to attend in a given week can be a very stressful experience. But how about this...IF we can slightly shift the tone of the gatherings that we have control over towards ones which nurture the community, we just might be able to have our homemade pumpkin cranberry walnut bread and eat it too.
An initial thought of how this ‘shift’ might occur is by blending family time in with community time. The benefits of this are numerous: it would allow for a break from taking care of the home, while providing the children with a broader social circle, which translates to entertainment. It would set the right example for the children, and exhibit a variety of potential role models. It would heighten the sense of purpose of the collective community because as the young ones become comfortable in these settings, the community would have the opportunity to know the children, care for them, and watch them grow. The community would be rearing it's children as it reared it's city! One of my mom’s favorite phrases during my upbringing was “it takes a village” (also an interesting book by Hillary Clinton). We've got the village, why not use it?
Another way that the casual meeting times could be aligned more efficiently with general life responsibilities is by SHARING STUFF! The sharing economy, also described as ‘collective consumption’ has recently become popular in urban areas. The general idea of this is to share commonly used items with one another on a temporary basis, with the exchange of either trust, another item, or a very small fee. It is a way to spend less, more efficiently utilize space, connect with others, and be mindful of household waste and the environment. Wouldn't we all love to decrease our rates of errands per week (ie time and money)?! All it takes is the ask..”do you have a spare rake?”...garden hose, Halloween costume, pumpkin carving kit, lawn mower, swiffer quicker picker upper, cardamon spice, paint roller,... the list is as endless as the fulfillment.
These are just a few things that we could do to make our work in this community less of a balancing act and more of a sustainable lifestyle. I can even think of more (outings, crafting sessions, bike trips) but I would love to hear what ideas you have, or comments about the ideas I've offered here!
If you agree yet have no further comment, be sure to look out for Mainstay CoWorking’s upcoming community event and perhaps engage your families to blend community time with family time, ask a friend if you could borrow something to avoid having to fetch it yourself, invite a couple of people on the next rail trail or walkway ride you plan to go on, or simply take a moment to relax and recuperate. And be sure to bring your families to the Day of the Dead celebrations coming up in Middle Main!