As we count down the final days of 2012, I want to give you an update on our work and call on your support for the Middle Main Initiative. It has been a busy year, with a lot of activity taking place as we begin turning the foundation of knowledge we have built over the past years into action.
Just last night, we had our “Partridge in a Pear Tree Lighting” at 517 Main Street. This formerly asphalt, garbage strewn lot has been converted into a public green space and entryway to our centerpiece project – the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory. The reclamation of this vacant lot is a clear sign of the tangible progress we are beginning to make in Middle Main. The evening was supported by Spicy Mexican Grill, which gave out free hot chocolate and cookies to those in attendance and all passersby, who hung Middle Main partridge ornaments on the newly planted pear trees. Ryan Palmer of Clearwater joined us to talk about our joint green infrastructure demonstration project at the Underwear Factory site, and Linda Marston-Reid brought the arts community to Middle Main to partake in the festivities. New faces appeared, many learning about the initiative for the first time – including an immigrant family with “lots of ideas,” a rowdy group of high school students, and the business owner from next door. This type of collaboration - linking residents, small business, and our nonprofit community - is what has sustained us from the very beginning, and we continue to feel encouraged and heartened by this support.
Last night we also talked about our plans for the White Cherry Rose redevelopment project, which is such an exciting landmark venture for Poughkeepsie. Our vision is the development of a hub for local, sustainable living that links our urban city center and the wealth of natural and cultural resources in the Hudson Valley – a place where Poughkeepsie's history meets the future. Historic preservation, the best of green and energy-efficient building, an innovative co-housing model, environmental stewardship, sustainable local food production and Hudson Valley artists will all be linked in one concentrated location. This is an innovative model that is truly on the cutting edge of best practices in sustainable, community development. But what most excites me about this project is that we are doing everything we can to make it part of and benefit this neighborhood – that will be the purpose at its core that sustains everything else that happens there.
We have taken significant steps this year – formerly acquiring the Underwear Factory property; developing a board committee to guide the project’s implementation; building our staff capacity; and starting intensive discussions on design. We have received two small NeighborWorks America grants to support our efforts – one a national pilot program focused on neighborhood marketing, and one providing support for resident engagement efforts. We are also so pleased to be working with Clearwater and eDesign Dynamics to design a demonstration green infrastructure project, including a constructed wetland and bioswale, an exciting project taking place right now that will be educational for the community. And our Working Group and the Mid Hudson Heritage Center (our home away from home!) has been a lifesaver, helping pull together community events such as our “Snapshot of a Better Block,” our resident survey, and our second Day of the Dead event.
I want to thank everyone that has been involved in the Middle Main Initiative, whether in a small or large way, for your support. It is only knowing that there is a community out there that believes along with us that gives us the will to push forward. And we will need that support, vision and energy even more over the next years to turn this vision into a reality.
I ask you now, as we reach year’s end, to consider making a donation designated to Middle Main to support us as we move into 2013. Please consider giving today, and help us show that our community supports this work: http://www.nycharities.org/donate/c_donate.asp?CharityCode=2441
Thank you for your time, energy, vision and support, and Happy Holidays!