Thank you Rebecca and Jessica for the feedback on this issue of mowing and wildflowers. I can’t help but think that there are lots of good ideas out there that can be employed, which can save money and help the environment.
Digging around last night, I found an initiative from the U.S. Forest Service — “Celebrating Wildflowers” — that encourages wildflower growth. It’s a great website with some interesting ideas.
I know spring is far off, but thinking and dreaming about gardening and such is what you do in the winter, right?
This week’s story in the Kingston Times about the City of Kingston’s budget offered a sober view of what department heads face in the coming year.
Reporter Jesse Smith quoted parks and recreation head Kevin Gilfeather as saying his department will “still be able to pick up the trash and do all of the regularly-scheduled maintenance, it’s the extras we won’t be able to do anymore.” Gilfeather went on to say that his department be might resort to cutting “the grass [in city parks] every eight or 10 days instead of every five or six.”
On the Ward 9 website, Bill Berardi speculated that “city trash will be left” curbside on the weekends and the grass will be “unmowed — nice attraction to tourists,” he wrote.
Bill’s got a point. Unmowed grass in a park is not a pretty sight. I wonder if the city could get a little bit creative here.
Maybe certain, street-adjacent areas of our parks can be mowed while letting larger swaths grow out with some planted wildflower seeds? Imagine a variety of wildflowers growing in the parks, adding color and beauty. Doing so would not only save money on mowing, but would be better for the soil and would attract wildlife.
Just a thought.
— Arthur Zaczkiewicz
As a former newspaper reporter who covered a variety of beats such as law enforcement, the courts, government, education and social issues, obtaining accurate information was an essential part of my job.
Being a reporter opened many “doors” on my beat. But as a citizen, these doors tend to be shut – tightly. It doesn’t have to be this way, and a good government demands open doors.
Municipalities should be as transparent as possible to its constituencies. This, though, is only half of what is needed. Elected officials need to garner opinions of their taxpayers before laws are set. This means going beyond posting agendas or encouraging residents to attend meetings.
There should be a clear line of communication with citizens, which is one of the goals of KingstonCitizens.org. For example, before an agenda item is discussed in caucus, feedback from citizens – not special interest groups, developers, friends of lawmakers or other power brokers – should be sought. This “beta” testing with citizens will result in much-saved grief between taxpayers and its government.
So let’s urge our lawmakers to chat with citizens on all issues of importance. Let’s work toward clarity, transparency and mutual trust. Only good things can result.
— Arthur Zaczkiewicz
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