Shiver Me Timbers, Arggghhh Mate!

Recent moves by the city and local developers to kick start the waterfront walkway project along the Rondout is timely.

As consumers pass on taking long, expensive vacations in faraway lands, local places of interest are attractive. Therefore, the waterfront in Kingston is an asset that should be carefully managed and thoughtfully marketed.

In Rhode Island, The New York Times reports that city and state officials are leveraging the area’s maritime history to attract tourists and business. Tall Ships Rhode Island has joined the effort by launching a project that includes building a full-size replica of an 1812 ship.

For Kingston, what assets on the waterfront can be leveraged in a similar way? The Maritime Museum and Trolley Museum come to mind. And these sites can surely step-up marketing efforts to draw people in. But what else can be done?

Perhaps the city can launch a marketing campaign that spotlights the Rondout as an historical destination. To make it fun, maybe there’s a one-day event that features maritime-themed music, arts and crafts. Perhaps there could be a pirate parade for kids, and a folk rock concert in the evening.

What are your thoughts?

Now is the Time to Unite

When Martin Luther King, Jr. made a famous speech at a certain march on D.C. in 1963, he told those in attendance that, “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”

He was referring to the Civil Rights Movement, but this thought is relevent now, here in Kingston.

As president-elect Obama takes the helm of the country, local folks here in Kingston need to step up to the plate. We need to help one another at this critical time. We need to create unity.

On that last point, our most recent survey showed as of today that most people — 46 percent — in the city say “unity” is what Kingston needs the most.

The first step, of course, would be to work toward changing your own mindset. Look at Kingston not as a place with three distinct sections (uptown, downtown and midtown) and nine separate wards, but as one city with many different neighborhoods.

When people ask where you live, just say “Kingston” instead of midtown or uptown or where ever.

While you are thinking Kingston to be one, look at your own block the same way. Look at it not as a bunch of separate houses, but a single neighborhood where people have one amazing thing in common: they are all neighbors.

These are the seeds of community.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

RAC and Roll

The Resident Advisory Committee had its first meeting yesterday at the Muddy Cup. There was a great turnout as we discussed the progress being made in the lower Ward 9 area, particularly in regard to the high school, parking and disruptions caused by parades.

We’re in the process of developing some creative ways to educate high schoolers and children in the neighborhood to respect our property and each other, among other things. As this unfolds, the RAC will keep everyone informed about our progress.

It was also suggested that a block party would help foster better “neighborhoodship” — so the RAC is exploring this as well. If you are interested in participating in the RAC, please send me an email.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

A Vision for Kingston

I just finished reading “The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience” and must say that there are some bright and creative minds out there who are creating viable solutions for climate change and toward creating sustainable communities.

This means creating communities that can generate its own power, feed itself and thrive in the next century and beyond.

The author, Rob Hopkins, tackles critical issues with humor and positivity despite the fact that the clock is ticking. Since this is a handbook, Hopkins supplies us with steps for change and includes insights from thought leaders on a variety of topics to help communities make a transition from oil dependency to sustainability.

Of note is an essay on the psychology of change, which asserts that change occurs in steps, in small incremental ways.

The cover of the book illustrates a before and after view of a city block, very much looking like Kingston, I might add. In the before image, there are fuel-eating cars, vans and SUVs as well as a “Superstore.”

In the after image, all of that is replaced with wind generators, greenhouses, bicycles, gardens and people interacting in a local market. It’s a vision of positive change, and worth considering.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

A Lesson From Catskill

In this month’s issue of New York House magazine, there’s a story on the Village of Catskill — penned by yours truly — titled: Catskill Rebounds.

In it, I interviewed Linda Overbaugh, who serves as executive director of the “Heart of the Catskill Association,” which is an arm of the local chamber of commerce. I had Linda walk me through the revitalization of Catskill. The steps were small, she said. And there were tough moments, but there were a dedicated few who made things happen.

As many locals know, this sleepy hamlet on the Hudson was almost comatose. But Linda and other dedicated business leaders rolled up their sleeves and got to work bringing life back to Catskill.

Of course it took time — all good things do. The results are stunning. Once nearly deserted, Main Street in Catskill is thriving again. To get people back, Linda and others lobbied for cleaner, safer streets. They hired a consultant to bring grants in. Shoppers came back and businesses moved in.

The village hosts art nights and shopping nights that draw people to Main Street. It’s challenging to maintain, and Linda is the first to say that this “is a work in progress.”

Still…Catskill is inspirational. And there’s much that Kingston can learn; the first being to band together talented and creative folks.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

New Citizens Circa 1970

Google has a huge collection of images from Life magazine that includes some of the magazine’s most famous photos — of celebrities (Marilyn Monroe), presidents (JFK) and other notables.

But for giggles, I typed in “Kingston” and found photos taken by Bill Eppridge of a naturalization ceremony in the county courthouse here in Kingston back in 1970.

The images included immigrants holding American flags, which were donated by the D.A.R. members, who were in attendance. They were joined by the ladies auxiliary of the V.F.W. Kingston high school students were also on hand to sing “a cappella.”

What a welcome for these new citizens! Does anyone know if the V.F.W. or the D.A.R. or the high school still participates?

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Members of the D.A.R. attend naturalization ceremony in Kingston.
Members of the D.A.R. attend naturalization ceremony in Kingston.

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?