Being Local

My brother and his family came up to visit this weekend from Long Island. Over lunch, I asked them how the recession was affecting their lives, and their community.

They said recent gas price declines have put more money in their pockets, and echoed the headlines we’ve been reading up here of retailers and other businesses closing their doors.

I also asked them about the “shopping and buying local” trend that is sweeping many communities across the country. It seems that Long Island is insulated against this trend. They said except for the Eastern end of the island, local produce and goods are rare.

That’s when I realized how lucky I am to live in Kingston and the Hudson Valley. This is one of the few places in the country where I can find local produce in a supermarket — at Adams Fairacre Farms — or can buy directly from the farmers themselves. How wonderful is that?

I also realized that “buying local” is only one element of a larger, more important equation. The other important part is “being local.” This means being a part of the community you live in.

I’m not just talking about belonging to a local church or a sports organization. These are critical to community building. But “being local” means connecting with your neighbors in a meaningful way. Connections can start small, such as inviting your neighbors over for a cup of coffee.

I’m all for respecting one’s space and privacy — this is needed to live in a civilized society. But I somehow think we’ve all drifted apart and have locked ourselves in our homes, and in front of our TVs.

Given the tough economic times now and ahead, we’re going to need each other more than ever. So, perhaps we can learn how to start “being local” and break down some of those barriers.

Hey…I’ve got the tea kettle on the stove, and some Monkey Joe coffee ready for the making too. Stop on by… 38 Brewster Street.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Green Art and Composting

The Arts Society of Kingston (ASK) has a call for entries for its biennial sculpture show in the city. And this year, the theme is “Go Green & Keep the Hudson Clean.” According to its website, ASK is looking for entries that feature “natural, recycled or recyclable materials.” The deadline for entries is March 28.

Speaking of recycled items, the Times Herald-Record reports that the market for recycled trash has dwindled as a global slowdown impacts demand. Jeremiah Horrigan writes that “metals that recycling agencies were selling to brokers in July for $500 a ton are selling for $20 a ton today.”

Regarding total tonnage, the waste heading to our landfills is down about 15 percent year to date, according to the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency here in Kingston.

Short term, that’s a good thing. Less trash in the wastestream means less trash filling our landfills. But if the recycling materials market does not recover, these items may end up heading for the landfill.

But there are things consumers can do to reduce the total amount of trash they put curbside. Composting, for example, is a great way to lower your trash output. There are many types of composters that you can buy or build. In my household, we bought one three years ago and fill it every other day with compostable food stuff, clippings, and shredded newspaper. It has produced a wonderfully rich soil that we can add to plants or the veggie garden.

How to Compost.org is a great resource if you want to learn more.

– Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Bundle Up and Meet Some Friends

Here's the store front on Lower Broadway in the Rondout.
Here's the store front on Lower Broadway in the Rondout.

Did you see Jennifer McKinley’s recent post on the Kingston Food & Gardens site? You can join the group by following the buying club link on the left side of this page.

Jennifer is opening up the buying club, located next to the toy store on lower Broadway, downtown, for the art walk this Saturday, January 3. If you haven’t been to the space, stop by. It’s a terrific gift to the city and residents. As you enter the store, on the left, there’s a huge mural with art work from children.

If you stop by during the art walk on Saturday, you can see their work and may even catch the artists themselves at work.

“We have some children’s artwork up now on our walls, but would love to have more,” Jennifer said. “I would like to invite you to bring yourself and your CHILDREN down to our space at around 4:30 on Saturday. We’ll put a tarp down and spread out on the floor to do some painting and coloring. You are also welcome to bring in completed paintings for us to hang up on our wall — no frame required.”

How cool is that?

Welcome to KingstonCitizens.org!

Welcome to KingstonCitizens.org. Here you will find news, Q&As with community leaders and stories about people and things of interest. There will be profiles of businesses and residents — people who are making Kingston, N.Y. a better place to live. You will also find analysis of the news, current trends, cultural happenings and much more. As a blog there will be links to relevant news items from local, regional and national media. And there will be links to community discussions as well.

Over the next few months, you will see links to Kingston-related websites. There will be guest columnists, personal essays, and regular contributions by me, Rebecca Martin and others. Above all, the KingstonCitizens.org blog will offer readers insights to help you make better decisions as a resident of this historic and dynamic city.

Welcome!

Arthur Zaczkiewicz

aka The Kingston Navigator