Without an Ounce of Gas

After getting rid of my car today, and getting around for the first time FULLY by the power of my bicycle, I was pleased to read this story in The New York Times about communities that are going carless as part of a smart planning process.

Check out the story here.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

The Invention in Your Kitchen

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. And when it comes to these current economic times, necessity has taken on a new meaning. The good news is that we’ve been here before, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Or the freezer.

Yes, there’s a great story in today’s The New York Times, which explains how to use your freezer to save money, food and time. Read it here.

In Support of Journalism

As newspapers  falter (the latest possible candidate being the Boston Globe, a victim of poor revenue and a labor contract dispute), the need for content remains strong. People want and need to be informed, which is why the KingstonCitizens.org Yahoo! discussion groups as well as this blog are so important.

Just in the past few weeks, we’ve seen how KingstonCitizens.org has gathered volunteers to work in community and school gardens, and identify and plan a meeting on quality of life issues such as motorcycle noise in the Rondout. Great stuff that builds community.

In Kingston, there are some great news sources such as the Kingston Times and the Daily Freeman as well as several radio stations and websites (and blogs) that break news. Of course there are many people who complain about Kingston’s news sources. Still, the Freeman and Times can’t be everything to everyone. And I for one, don’t want them to be. Variety of voice and perspective is important. I read them all.

I shudder to imagine a democracy without newspapers, their websites and relevent content. How would lawmakers manage and create laws without a checks and balances, and the voice and input of the people?

So, we’ve said it before and will say it again: support your local newspaper (or website or radio station). Our democracy depends on their success.

What Benefits Us

Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill

Earlier this week, I stole away some time for a hike up on the Gunks near New Paltz. The ridge was mine alone, and it was great to stretch my wintered legs and warm them up for spring (photo here is on the Beacon Hill trail).

On Tuesday, after spending time helping kids learn about the benefits of gardening and open space (thank you Kristen Wilson of the Cornell Co-operative 4-H program for the opportunity!), I made another quick hike at Onteora Lake, just outside Kingston. It was steamy hot, but wonderful.

Read more…

Out to Trash

moneytrashAn often-cited study by the University of Arizona reveals that the average person in the U.S. tosses out about $600 worth of food each year. That’s about $12 each week.

How much is that? Well, with $12 you could buy four pounds of organic, dried chick peas and three pounds of organic, brown, long-grain rice at the Kingston Natural Foods Buying Club. Cooked, this would be enough food to serve two adults one meal each day for one week. Just add salt and pepper to taste.

One way to insure you’re not wasting food is to make a shopping list (with more accurate portion sizes) and stick to it. Buying smaller quantities of local foods when available is also more efficient. You could also invite friends over once a week for a meal to help “empty the fridge.”

Better yet, since you likely haven’t noticed that $12 each week, how about work to not waste food while also giving $12 a week to a local food pantry?

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Time to Help Out

helping_handsAs this Kingston Daily Freeman article says, the recession is taking a big toll on the arts community — many of whom work as non-profits.

At issue is a double whammy on the revenue-generating ability of non-profits: consumers are tapped out and not spending as much on the arts while the larger foundations — stressed by a steep erosion in the stock market — have less money to give.

At a recent bring-your-own lunch meeting with several non-profits in the environmental conservation sector, the topic of fundraising is a sensitive topic. There’s simply less of it. And by some forecasts, the percentage of non-profits in the U.S. that are expected to fail in the next two years is 20 percent. This includes non-profits that serve in the environmental conservation, arts, health services and social service sectors.

What can you do? Whatever you can. A little bit can go a long way. And it doesn’t have to be giving money. Give your time. Lend a hand.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Local Wisdom

Kudos too Ulster County Legislature Majority Leader Brian Cahill for proposing a “use what we make” initiative that would require area businesses to be notified when Ulster County government seeks services or goods.

According to the Kingston Daily Freeman, Cahill “drafted a resolution requesting the county Purchasing Department [to] create a database of Ulster County-based businesses by category and notify those business when the county is seeking bids for goods or services the businesses offer.”

From the perspective of local businesses and a responsible government, such as policy makes good business sense.

The move comes as our neighbors in Orange County urges local businesses there to bid on products, goods and services. Read that story, here.

Area businesses have much to offer, and taxes used for operating costs should go back into the local business pool. What do you think?

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Landing Lands, But What is Mixed Use?

AVR’s Hudson Landing project cleared its final environmental review hurdle last night. The Kingston Freeman reports that the Kingston planning board “unanimously adopted a findings statement, a document that outlines what developer AVR Acquisition Corp. of Yonkers needs to do to mitigate potential environmental impacts from the proposed 1,750-unit project.” Read the story here.

Read more…

Trash Fee for Non-profits? What Do You Think?

As the City of Kingston contemplates a trash fee for non-profits, see story in today’s Freeman here, it’s important to discuss this issue as a community. The Freeman story notes that residents and commercial property owners carry the financial burden left over from non-profits who don’t pay for trash pick-up. The story also notes that putting in place a fee would also force non-profits to recycle more of their waste.

Read more…

What Worries Us

According to this article today, the Kingston Planning Board is set to vote on April 13 on the environmental findings statement for AVR’s Hudson Landing project, which is on the site of the Tilcon property. This would be the last step for the project to move forward. This project has been years in the making, and involved many reviews and hearings.

Read more…

Library Funding

The Kingston Library website has a large “call to action” asking visiting to sign a petition to keep funding for public libraries. See the petition here.

According the the petition, funding to libraries is threatened by the state’s executive budget. In support of libraries, the petition cites recent trends that show usage for public libraries are up, and that in many communities, a large majority of users have Internet access solely through their libraries.

On that last point, the work of Ev Mann and Mark Greene (with his KingstonDigitalCorridor.org initiative) seek to bridge the digital divide via programs, workshops and internships. And libraries certainly have a role in doing the same.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz