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10 Questions For Sally Taylor

Photo: Heidi Legg

Sally Taylor is the daughter of James Taylor and Carly Simon, and not surprisingly, a singer-songwriter. But she is also an arts entrepreneur and founder of Consenses, a program that brings artists together to interpret and express one another’s artwork, each in their own medium, in the vein of a game of “Telephone.” Consenses has developed a multidisciplinary arts curriculum for the classroom setting in which students focus on a different medium as a catalyst for their own creations. Taylor has collaborated with MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass. on a year-long exhibit, in the Kidspace gallery, which features local fifth-grade students whose art inspired the music of Carly Simon, Natasha Bedingfield, James Taylor, Chris Stills and 62 artists from around the world.

“Come To Your Senses: Art To See, Smell, Hear, Taste And Touch” will launch with “An Evening With Sally Taylor and Friends,” an intimate concert on June 23 featuring acoustic performances by Carly Simon, Ben Taylor and others. We spoke with Sally about the Berkshires, Consenses, and her thoughts about art and life.

1. What is your first memory of the Berkshires?
I traveled to the Berkshires in my mind, years before I actually set foot here, through my father’s song “Sweet Baby James” in which he sang: ‘Oh the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frostin’ with 10 miles behind me and 10,000 more to go.’ I pictured a man in the cab of a tan pickup truck, steam on his breath, steam from the coffee in a Styrofoam cup in his lap. I’m looking out the front window from just behind his ear. The landscape is covered with the most breathtaking, untouched white snow that sparkles like a billion paparazzi in the early morning sun. I feel the resolve the man feels, setting out on the first leg of a long journey, his radio and his coffee his copilots. I’ve felt that feeling many times in my life since my introduction to that lyric, the excited dauntingness of a long drive, cross country, alone. Excited but nervous, lonely but free. That feeling, that bold, brave, courageous first step into my future is my relationship to the Berkshires.

2. How often do you come here, and what do you like to do — when you’re not working on the Consenses exhibit and concert for MASS MoCA?
I come up about twice a year to visit my dad, his wife Kim and my half-brothers Rufus and Henry. I wish I could make it up more.

3. Why did you stop touring, and how involved are you in making music these days?
I stopped touring in 2003 right after my husband, Dean [Bragonier], and I got engaged. The road is a hard place to have a relationship from, I think. I still write a little here and there, just because it’s part of my mind and soul’s digestive process, but Consenses is currently where my creativity meets the road.

4. Has your son inherited any of your family’s musical talents?
Man, he loves to sing and dance. He’s got some killer rhythm, and he’s constantly making up little songs with me about our everyday activities just like I did/do with my mom and dad.

5. How familiar were you with MASS MoCA prior to this project, and what has your experience been like to work on the installation and concert there?
I LOVE MASS MOCA. I’d been up only twice before meeting up with Joe Thompson and Laura Thompson, and since the first time I walked into that space I thought, ‘Man, I hope one day my work can live here!’

6. How will the concert on June 23 illustrate the Interpretive Chain process?
We’ve got all the artists from one of the chains: the student artist whose painting started the chain (which is called “Monster Finally Gets a Date”), the musician, the dancers, the poet, the visual artist, the perfumer and the set designer. Our plan is to reenact that chain, in the vein of a game of “Telephone” where the painting is projected on a screen, then a song begins, soon after the dancers appear, next the poem is read followed by a projection of the visual art, the perfume will be provided in the performance brochure and finally the set design will be projected on the screen. If you’re thinking ‘That’s going to be quite a lot of production for 1 song!’ I’d say, ‘You got that right, sister/brother!’

7. What’s been the most moving interpretation you’ve witnessed in the interpretive chains you’ve seen, and why did it affect you so deeply?
One of the students from Clarksburg Elementary who reacted to the word “Fear” painted a very dark black and navy-blue image [right]. There were black and grey figures with red and white eyes. He said, ‘If “Fear” were a color it would be cold black darkness. It would be heavy and bitter and smell like smoke. This painting is of what lurks in the dark.’

I gave this painting to Natasha Bedingfield, never mentioning it was a painting from a fifth grader or that it was in reaction to the word “Fear.” Her interpretation ended up being this amazing song. In the painting, she saw the universe. She said, ‘In this painting, I saw the night sky with people representing the stars. The message was that we’re all the same and yet all different and we’re desperately trying to get our light to shine through… to mean something to someone. When we see starlight, we’re seeing light that left a star millions of years ago. It takes so long for the light to travel to us. That light has to be so brave to leave that star and go out into the cold dark space, never knowing if anyone ever will see it. If anyone millions of billions of years in the future will ever receive it or love or even appreciate it. People are like stars, we’re doing all that work to grow up and to shine our light outward and who knows if anyone will ever see it or appreciate it. Every artist… every person, we all have to put out there what’s in our hearts and it takes a lot of courage because it can take a lot of time to be seen, to be taken seriously and there might be so many clouds in the way that we are only ever getting negative feedback, but we have to spread our light and have faith that it will make it through the darkness and make a difference to someone.’

She equated starlight to the light in children’s eyes, acknowledging the extreme bravery it takes to shine our light out as we journey through childhood into adolescence, hoping that we make a difference and find connection. I was moved to tears by this interpretation and how it fit so beautifully with the student’s version of fear. The message in both is that the dark/the future/that which we cannot see or understand is scary. The song reminds us that in the face of our fear, we can reach out with faith and curiosity instead of shutting down. We ended up naming this chain of art “Courage.” 

8. With all of the work you’ve done on Consenses — developing curriculum, working with kids, your TED talk — you have emerged as a very inspiring educator. What has that been like, considering your personal history as a dyslexic student who was labeled “learning disabled?”
My mom never gave me the “disabled” language to see myself through that so many dyslexic young people get today. That language does a hundred times more damage to the dyslexic than having a unique processing ability. The message my mom gave me was, ‘If you’re dyslexic then you’re definitely our daughter!’ and ‘You think differently, like us!’ So, I felt confident that, like my parents, I’d find a way to my own success and that like my parents, I’d have to make some of it up as I went because there wasn’t going to be a clear path through school. I think having someone to identify with, whether it’s a parent, a teacher or a role model, is vital. My husband, like me, is dyslexic and so is our son and we couldn’t be more delighted! Dean has set up an organization called NoticeAbility that creates strength-based learning curricula for dyslexic students and Consenses Curriculum has become one of his four platforms for helping the next generation see their super powers as dyslexics. 

9. The last line in your TED Talk is “When we fall and see there is no ground, we are flying.” How does that relate to Consenses?
Trungpa Rimpoche has a quote that goes “The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.” — Chögyam Trungpa

This is a metaphor for life. We’re born falling, having no idea where we came from or where we’re going or why. This is frankly terrifying. In our panic, in midair, I believe we try to build our own metaphoric parachutes out of thoughts and stories and belief systems and feelings and whatever narratives our families happened to pass down. We patch and repatch these parachutes throughout life, never thinking to look down at what might be coming up to hit us. But if we do, and there is no ground, then we can reconsider our falling and reimagine it as flying. Experienced through the lens of ‘there is no ground and therefore I’m flying,’ we can see our stories, our truths, our beliefs for what they truly are: ART.

10. What’s next, for you and for Consenses, after the MASS MoCA exhibit and concert?
I don’t know, but whatever it is, it’s gonna be good!

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/11/18 at 10:51 AM • Permalink

Kent’s Hot Dog Man Serves Ketchup, Mustard And Good Cheer

By CB Wismar

Chris Dalla Riva was all of 12 when his father set him up with a hot dog cart in the town of Kent, Conn. Four decades later, he’s still there.

“He wanted my brother and me to learn business,” says Chris, as he deftly extracts a pair of Sabrett skinless hot dogs from the steaming water tank, places them on two fresh buns, applies the requested ketchup, mustard and relish and offers them up — without missing a beat. “The first thing we had to do was learn how to make change. Once we got that down, then serving our customers was easy.” 

Dalla Riva is still at his post, the silver wagon with the yellow and blue Sabrett umbrella positioned just south of the Kent War Memorial at the intersection of Routes 7 and 241. Judging from the steady flow of customers who form an informal parking configuration near his cart and three picnic tables, the appetite for great “street dogs” hasn’t diminished in 41 years. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on any given sunny day from late April to late October, the cart is a welcome destination for those desiring a quick lunch — no frills, just “dogs and chips and drinks.”

The menu is clearly posted on paper plates clipped to a wire frame. “By far, the most popular item is the skinless hot dog,” says Dalla Riva, “but we’ve got several other suggestions. It’s interesting how tastes have developed over the years.”

The expanded menu offers a range of bun-based sausages — from hot-link kielbasa and Johnsonville Andouille sausage or smoked bratwurst to an intriguing Amylu mango and jalapeno chicken sausage.

“I started offering chicken sausages several years ago when customers asked for them,” Dalla Riva says. “Sometimes the selection varies, but I generally have a caramelized onion and white cheddar cheese chicken sausage and a Cajun chicken sausage.”

Dalla Riva’s early partner was his younger brother, Craig, who went into broadcasting. The legacy of the “Kent Hot Dog Man” has continued unabated for Dalla Riva, who has become deeply involved in the community as his cart has become a local fixture. Directions, local insight, music trivia, community events, the local art scene — those are all topics for which Chris is a trusted expert.

“I meet a lot of people every day,” he says with an easy smile. “I love talking to them and they seem to enjoy the food. What more could you ask?”

Twin coolers are part of the pop-up restaurant, each filled with a wide selection of beverages. Next to the menu, fluttering in the breeze, are several rows of chips. The toppings offered for the customer’s sausage of choice are the welcome additions of chili, cheddar cheese and onion sauce, along with a wide variety of mustards, hot sauce, ketchup and relish. “I have potato knishes most days. There are some folks who stop in who just want something different.”

Those who stop in are a veritable cross section of the general public. At one table, gentlemen in suits and ties sit across from ladies in smart dresses and high heels. Behind them, a work crew from a local tree service takes a lunch break. They may be joined by someone motoring a sports car up toward Lime Rock Park or, on weekends, a parade of leisure motorcyclists out to enjoy a ride in the country.

“Everything I serve is fully cooked, which is a health department requirement,” comments Dalla Riva. “I shop and replenish several times a week, so everything is really fresh.”

Alas, hot dog carting, even one catering to a faithful and growing clientele, is not enough to carry one through the long winter months. From November to April, Dalla Riva can be found plying his other skill — being an electrician in the local community

And the future? “I’m only 53,” he says, with the customary twinkle in his eye. “I’ll keep going as long as I can.” 

Then, in the same breath, as a local saunters up to the cart, he says “Hey, good afternoon. What can I get you?”

 

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/28/18 at 11:55 AM • Permalink

10 Questions For Restaurateur Danny Meyer

Photo: Melissa Hom

By Joseph Montebello

RI-region readers will be pleased to know that they can call Danny Meyer, the consummate restaurateur, one of their own. For over 30 years he has operated some of the most successful restaurants in Manhattan, including Union Square Café, which he opened in 1985; Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, The Modern and the cafés at MOMA; Jazz Standard, and Maialino. There are all (or have been) successful — a testament to his expertise and his ability to find the right space, the right food, and the right staff. In addition to fine dining, Danny also started the super successful Shake Shack franchise. We met up Danny, who has a home in Washington, Conn., and discussed what makes it all work for him.

1. What path were you on before you got into the food business?
I went to Trinity College and majored in Political Science. I always loved the news and current events, and volunteered on several political campaigns as early as the age of ten. I worked in a professional capacity as a Cook County field coordinator for John Anderson’s 1980 presidential campaign. I became increasingly interested in public policy. Because I didn’t have any imagination I decided the only thing I could do is go and get a law degree, which happily I did not do.

2. What prompted the interest in food?
My dad taught me about gastronomy and my mother about hospitality. My passion for both things began at local restaurants in St. Louis. Because of my dad’s travel business I got to spend time in Rome, which only added to my burgeoning love of food. When I was working as a tour guide and when I went to school in Rome studying international politics, I found that those two activities always played second fiddle to going out to restaurants. It didn’t dawn on me then that I would have a career in creating culinary pleasures for other people.

3. You opened Union Square Café in 1985 on East 16th Street, which was not a great area at the time. Why there?
The mother of a college friend who was in the real estate business advised me to focus on the area around Union Square. Many companies, especially publishers, were moving there and they entertain a lot. The greenmarket was there, and most importantly, the rents were low.

4. How many restaurants does the Union Square Hospitality Group run now?
What is a restaurant and what’s not? We have five different places to eat at CitiFields alone. We serve food at the Delacorte in Central Park. In terms, of full service, fine dining restaurants, I think it’s fair to say there are ten full service restaurants in New York.

5. In your book Setting the Table, you write that service and hospitality are essential for a successful restaurant. Do you feel that they can overcome mediocre food?
Absolutely. If the food is mediocre I won’t go back a third time. If hospitality and service are mediocre I won’t go back a second time.

6. What’s changed in the food industry since you started out?
I’ll start by saying what hasn’t changed: human beings like to be with other human beings and don’t always like to shop and cook and do the dishes. Restaurants continue to be places where people can come together across the table. What has changed is the myriad ways you can eat food. Punch in your smartphone and have something delivered wherever you are. People’s interest in food has only grown and technology has added new ways to provide it.

7. What advice would you give someone wanting to enter the food or hospitality industry?
Ask yourself these three questions: Am I obsessed with food and drink? Do I get a huge psychic payoff for sharing my passion with other people? Do I have an amazing work ethic and stamina? If the answers are affirmative, then you need to do it.

8. Who inspires you and what keeps you going?
My colleagues and our guests. They inspire me to keep reaching further and higher.

9. How much time do you get to spend in Litchfield County, and when you are here, what do you like to do?
We don’t get here nearly enough. Out of 52 weekends, we get in 10 to 12. But when we’re here, we cook a lot, especially outside in the summer. We have a wonderful vegetable garden and we run every day we are here. We hike at Steep Rock and the Appalachian Trail. I love to take in that gorgeous nature.

10. Do you have any thoughts about the restaurant scene in Litchfield County?
I’m very happy about Joel Viehland’s new restaurants and that a new restaurant is opening in his former place, Community Table.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/13/18 at 04:19 PM • Permalink

The RuraList: 4 Venues Contributing To Tivoli’s Art Scene

By Jamie Larson

For a village of little more than a thousand residents, Tivoli, New York is positively saturated with arts and culture. With the addition of the new Listening Room Music Series at the Sanctuary at Murray’s Café, the village center has it arts bases covered.

“Tivoli is a little bit of heaven,” said Listening Room organizer Deborah Lopez. “It’s really special. We’ve only been up here four years but we are just constantly meeting people who are so inspiring.”

Along with this latest venue, there’s also theater from the Tangent Theatre Company, dance at the world-renowned Kaatsbaan International Arts Center, and visual art of all kinds at the Tivoli Artists Gallery. Many individual artists call the Tivoli area home as well, including Mary Stuart Masterson and Jeremy Davidson, who helm the always-evocative Storyhorse Theater documentary theater project.

1. The Listening Room held its first performance last Friday in Murray’s. The former church was a lovely and relaxed setting for an evening with Irish songwriters, The Storymen. Created by Lopez and her husband, established singer/songwriter Mick Lynch, the series is designed to allow people to really focus on the music in an intimate setting.

“You get to really hear the person, and connect with the through-line of someone’s life,” Lopez said.

The Listening Room will be held roughly every eight weeks. The next event in the series, which we’re happy to announce here, will be Jenna Nichols on July 14. There’s a $10 cover at the door and beer and wine are served.

“We hope to bring our community together by sharing what we are so passionate about. Music is a huge part of our lives and we have a great network of artists to help build this special series,” Lopez said. “We say, put down the phones, sit back and relax, and support new music. It’s old school and comfortable, and we love that idea.”

If you can’t wait for The Listening Room’s next show and need a reason to head over to Tivoli, here’s what else is going on down the street:

2. Kaatsbaan may be a big deal in the dance world these days, but it started in 1990 just like any other Tivoli venue — a community coming together to carve out a place for their art. It was founded by professional dancers who couldn’t find affordable studio space in New York City. Now, along with all the amenities it offers to its dancers, Kaatsbaan also has a 160-seat black box theater with a stage the same size as the one at the Metropolitan Opera.   

The theater’s schedule is full of exciting upcoming performances including this weekend’s lively Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, one of the nation’s most prominent flamenco and Spanish dance companies, Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 13 at 2:30 p.m.

The natural setting and views at Kaatsbaan are worth the trip itself.

3. Tivoli Artists Gallery continues the theme of community-organized artistic endeavors. A group of about 40 Hudson Valley artists maintains the gallery. Membership includes painters, sculptors, jewelers, photographers, potters, illustrators, performance artists, digital artists and animators.

The Gallery began in 1989 as a holiday craft fair in Rhinebeck, but settled into a year-round organization in 1993 in Tivoli. The two big gallery rooms lend themselves to the exhibit of large works as well as provide room for performances. The exhibition calendar of shows is a mix of group and solo exhibits, and it often includes annual shows such as the popular Erotica Show in February and the annual Holiday Show in November/December.

4. Tangent Theatre Company is leaving us on tenterhooks as we wait for the release of its next season schedule. The theater is a great venue for the (you guessed it) community of playwrights and performers to showcase new works. Previous performances have been very well received and they are always open to trying new things. For example, at their Pub Theater series, they held dramatic readings at the Traghaven Whiskey Pub down the block.

Tangent also rents out its Carpenter Shop Theater in between performances for use by other groups. 

“We feel so lucky to live in a place like this,” said Lopez, adding that living around other artists makes you feel more comfortable creating your own art. “There’s nowhere else like Tivoli.”

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/08/18 at 11:13 AM • Permalink

Bathtime Buddies: Zogics Launches A Line For Our Best Friends

S’bu, resting between reps, I’m sure.

By Amy Krzanik

Paul LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Zogics, a Lenox, Massachusetts-based one-stop online shop that caters to the health, fitness, spa and hospitality industries (offering everything from gym wipes to weight benches). But he’s not the only face of the company; LeBlanc shares the spotlight with his dog, S’bu. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a fixture at the company’s headquarters and even has his own Facebook page.

Zogics, which supplies more than 5,000 different products to more than 20,000 fitness facilities throughout the United States, has been a dog-friendly company since it launched in 2006. “More than half of the staff bring their dogs to work every day,” says LeBlanc, “and dogs attend almost all of our meetings.” When scouting locations for a larger headquarters last year, LeBlanc considered the needs of both the humans and the canines on his staff. “The new building was purchased, in part, because of the trails and yard, where the dogs can be let out to play and frolic.”

Zogics CEO and founder Paul LeBlanc

Zogics, which is known locally as a company with some amazing employee perks (an on-site gym and fitness classes, subsidized CSA shares, and $500 per year in “culture cash” just to name a few) recently added a Pawternity Policy to the list. If you add a new puppy to your family, you can enjoy an additional paid week off to spend with your new best friend, plus a $200 pet store gift card.

So, it was a natural expansion for a company who loves dogs and whose catalog already includes high-quality body products for humans, to launch a line of similar products for pets. “As is often the case when people start businesses, it’s about fulfilling our own needs first,” says LeBlanc. “We thought about what we’d want to use on our own pets.”

A typical Zogics team meeting.

The company set out to develop the best pet care products available. “It sounds like a lofty goal,” admits LeBlanc, “but we spent time researching the market, seeing what worked and what didn’t, what the optimal ingredients were, and what should be kept out.” The result is Zogics Pet, a line that includes shampoo, conditioner/detangler, waterless shampoo and grooming wipes, made with plant-based organic ingredients. The products can be pre-ordered online now, and are slated to begin shipping in mid-May.

The line is made with soothing oatmeal, aloe and argan oil, but will likely become just as well known for the ingredients it doesn’t include, namely parabens, phthalates, dyes, soaps and common carcinogens present in many other products. All of the ingredients used are biodegradable, making them safe for your pet and the environment, a consideration that hits close to home for LeBlanc.

The Boston native moved to the Berkshires 18 years ago in part because of the quality of life such a naturally beautiful place affords. A former member of the U.S. Cycling Team and a three-time Junior National Champion and U.S. Record Holder, LeBlanc mentions the county’s open spaces, trails, rivers and lakes, and abundance of places to walk dogs as playing a large part in his decision to relocate here. And the entrepreneur is not all talk: LeBlanc recently finished a three-year term as a board member of The Trustees of Reservations, which is the largest private landowner in Massachusetts. Since Zogics launched, the company has donated a portion of its sales (tens of thousands of dollars yearly) to local land preservation groups such as The Trustees and the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.

Who knew you could protect the land around you by giving your dog a bath? Put these products down on your list of things to fetch.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/01/18 at 03:41 PM • Permalink

Art @ The Dump Kicks Off Cornwall’s Social Season

By Lisa Green

To those who are considering moving to the Rural Intelligence area, be advised that “town dump” is not a place to be avoided. In many towns, it’s where you meet your neighbors, get the gossip and, on occasion, pick up some one-of-a-kind artwork.

In fact, the town dump (more formally known as the transfer station) in Cornwall, Conn. is the site of “the beginning of the social season of Cornwall,” says Gail Jacobson, referring to the town’s annual Art @ The Dump event, this year happening April 21-22. It’s an art “show” sponsored by the Cornwall Association that the whole town gets behind, even those who insist “I’m not really an artist.” There are no rules or regulations. The only caveat: your work has to be made from recycled items.

In the past, people have created (and sold) a bubble wrap alligator, a Tyvek wedding dress and garden art made from metal castoffs.

“We’ve done themes like a trash-en show, a shoe re-do and recycled instruments,” Jacobson says. “One year, the historical society donated old mannequins and people made lamps out of them.” In recent years, a fair amount of entries have come from young men who are welding garden ornaments. This year’s jumpstart is “Books Reimagined,” but that’s only a suggestion.

Art @ the Dump is open to anyone from anywhere — information and entry forms are available on the website. Artists get there early on Saturday and hang or otherwise display the work and set their own prices.

Now in its 18th year, Art @ The Dump is a fundraiser for the art department of the Cornwall Consolidated School. Over the years, the event has funded digital cameras, artist-in-residence programs and supplies.

“It was my idea,” admits Jacobson, an artist herself, whose exhibit “All Over the Map” is currently on display at Souterrain Gallery. “Before I moved to Cornwall, I was president of the Ridgefield, Conn. Guild of Artists. A man called Art Green ran the dump. I thought, hmm, ‘Art, at the dump.’” When I saw that in Cornwall the dump was kind of a social scene, I thought of an art show, and the recycling officer offered to help.”

Earth Day was only six days away, so the event was put together in a hurry without standard art show rules and regulations. “We had so much fun and it worked great without any rules, so we’ve continued that way,” she says.

Cornwall’s transfer station is on Route 4, and, says Jacobson, it’s a little hard to find, so balloons and old refrigerator doors will be signs directing trash takers and art buyers to the site. The actual “show” is sited just opposite the transfer station, where a sand shed, cleaned up by the road crew, serves as a gallery.
       
Each year, there’s a People’s Choice award. The good news, says Jacobson, is whoever wins first prize is, well, the winner. The bad news? The winner has to make three prizes for the next year. Recycled, of course.

Art @ The Dump
Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday, April 22, 10 a.m. – noon
Route 4, approximately 6 miles west of Goshen, CT

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/14/18 at 02:39 PM • Permalink

ONE Fair: Steps To Sustainability Start At Basilica Hudson

It’s nearly impossible to live in or visit the Rural Intelligence region and not feel the importance of cultivating a sustainable environment. The area’s scenic beauty, the farms, the food — all of these elements contribute to the reasons why we live here. Most of us do what we can, in our own ways, to be good stewards of the environment. But we can always do more. Or do it in new ways.

On Saturday, April 7, Basilica Hudson and Virago Futures present ONE (Our New Energy) Fair, a new community event designed to connect local sustainability organizations with residents. The mission: to equip residents with affordable tools for environmentally sustainable living. ONE Fair will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is free to attend.

The location seems especially fitting: Basilica Hudson itself is a solar-powered, reclaimed 1880s industrial factory.

“There is an increased urgency to address issues around climate change and the disconnect between the way we live and the life of the planet,” says Melissa Auf der Maur, Basilica Hudson co-founder and director. “The investment and engagement of local organizations gives us hope for the future.”

The fair will follow the pattern of old home shows, minus the bad popcorn and suspect hotdogs. A broad range of local environmental organizations are participating, with representatives from Catskill Mountainkeeper, Hudson Solar, Riverkeeper, Seeding Sovereignty, New Yorkers for Clean Power, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Citizen Advocates for Sustainable Energy and others. Bread Alone, the Chatham, New York bakery, will be offering bread baked in solar-powered ovens.

ONE Fair will also screen “Seeds of Hope,” the latest film from Oceans 8 Films’ Hudson River Stories produced by Hudson Valley resident Jon Bowermaster. The writer, filmmaker and six-time National Geographic Expeditions Council grantee has produced a body of films including “Hudson River at Risk, “Restoring the Clearwater” and “City on the Water.” In “Seeds of Hope,” the documentary follows the Akwesasne Tribe of northern New York as they honor Native American seeds that are at risk of disappearing.

The fair aims to show how it’s possible for people to run their homes with renewable energy. Some of us may prefer to take baby steps toward that goal, but ONE Fair is a good way to get started on that path.

ONE Fair
Saturday, April 7, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Free admission.
Basilica Hudson
110 S. Front St., Hudson, NY

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/24/18 at 04:32 PM • Permalink

Try Something Ewe: BGHV’s Baby Goat Weekend

By Amy Krzanik

There are many reasons why you may be interested in Big Gay Hudson Valley’s Baby Goat Weekend at Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie, New York: You never got to attend summer camp; you did attend summer camp and you loved it; you hated summer camp and you’re looking for a do-over; you want to snuggle baby animals; you’d like to own your own farm someday; you’ll do anything once.

Any reason is a good one, but you’ll need to register soon if you want a bunk at the farm’s 4-season camp, because at last count, there were only 11 spots left. From Saturday, March 10 to Sunday, March 11, BGHV’s new Upstate Gay Adventures is presenting its debut event — and it doesn’t use the term “adventure” loosely. Packed into your overnight stay is baby goat yoga, a hands-on tour and tasting of the Farm’s on-site cheese-making facility, evening entertainment from Trixie Starr and Farmer John, and a chance to interact with and care for the farm’s many animals (cows, sheep, pigs and more), and that includes bottle-feeding newborn goats.

“Baby goat weekend is designed to be an opportunity that people wouldn’t otherwise be able to have — helping to deliver the kids on a working farm,” says BGHV co-founder Stephan Hengst. “It’s the farm’s biggest kidding weekend, and they’re expecting between 50 and 100 babies to be born that weekend.”

You’ll no doubt work up an appetite at your new farmhand job, but luckily your excursion includes meals prepared by Sprout Creek’s own executive director, CIA-trained chef Mark Fredette. After a hard day’s work and a meal, you’ll want to kick back and relax with a live show by queer magician Mr. John and Hudson’s own Trixie Starr, who’ll host her own Match Game.

If you can’t make it up to Poughkeepsie for the event, Hengst says not to worry because BGHV has more adventures planned for 2018, including at least two more events at Sprout Creek. The organization is also teaming up with the National Parks Service to plan an outing at the Vanderbilt mansion this summer.

Upcoming indoor events include dramatic chanteuse Varla Jean Merman’s “Wonder Merman” show on Saturday, May 5 at the Rosendale Theatre. For the fall and winter months, BGHV has plans for an Etta James trivia show with Michael Cunio and a 5-piece band at the Rosendale, its popular Hung with Care cabaret slated for Thanksgiving weekend, and a brand-new show in December with Big Red & The Boys, a performance troupe based out of Chicago made up of five gay men and buxom red-headed singer.

BGHV, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, has long served as an aggregator of info about LGBTQ+ community happings and gay-friendly local businesses. It also produces its own unique events. As Hengst and his partner travel between Philadelphia, New York and Provincetown, they make it a point to take in shows and bring their favorite acts to the Hudson Valley.

In an area like the Hudson Valley, says Hengst, there are some gay-friendly bars, but there hasn’t been a gay bar — a central gathering point — for some time. “It’s been a challenge to find your tribe,” he says, “so we created BGHV to give people an opportunity to gather and meet one another, and that may not necessarily be at a bar or nightclub.”

It might be in a barn.

Big Gay Hudson Valley’s Upstate Gay Adventure:
Baby Goat Weekend at Sprout Creek Farm 
34 Lauer Rd., Poughkeepsie, NY
Saturday, March 10 & Sunday, March 11

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 02/26/18 at 01:52 PM • Permalink

10 Things To Love About Litchfield, Conn.

By Joseph Montebello

The bucolic town of Litchfield, Conn. brings to life one’s image of the perfect New England town. In actuality the town encompasses the boroughs of Litchfield, Bantam, Milton and Northfield, all with their own unique offerings. Litchfield is the largest village and offers an array of activities and places to eat, shop and stimulate the senses.

1. The Green The strip of businesses on West Street (and in Cobble Court) worth checking out includes fashionable boutiques for men and women, R. Derwin Clothiers, Workshop; accessories shops Oliphant and Blueprint Ct; Lawrence Jeffrey Estate Jewelers and Jeffrey Tillou Antiques. It also offers restaurants at every price point: West Street Grill, Ollie’s, DiFranco’s, The Village and @The Corner. In the summer months concerts are offered on the Green, inviting everyone to spread their blankets, eat and enjoy a variety of free music.

2. Midcentury Marvels Thanks to Rufus Stillman, a local manufacturer who revered modernist Marcel Breuer, Litchfield boasts Breuer Houses of varying sizes. All have been painstakingly restored and are immaculate in detail. In addition, Breuer designed two Litchfield public schools as well as the Bantam town hall — all worth a visit. The town also has houses built by Breuer contemporaries John M. Johansen and Eliot Noyes. Have a look at the Oliver Wolcott Library as well where Eliot Noyes masterfully designed a modern addition onto an 18th-century historic house.

3. Movie Mania The Bantam Cinema began life as The Rivoli in 1927 and is said to be Connecticut’s oldest continuously operated movie house. In 1990 it was renamed, and over the years, through various owners, the cinema has survived and now has two screens. In 2013, the Cinema completely modernized the projection and sound systems, replacing 35mm film projectors with a state-of-the-art digital system. Still reminiscent of the iconic art cinemas in New York City, it continues to show first-run movies and selected HBO documentaries.

4. Communing with Nature White Memorial Conservation Center and the Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy are but two of the popular nature resources Litchfield has to offer. LRWC houses one of the largest and most diverse collections of waterfowl in North America and maintains a flock of more than 80 species totaling 500-plus birds. LRWC is open during the spring through fall, providing visitors the chance to learn about waterfowl, wetlands and the efforts to conserve them. The White Memorial Foundation has 40 miles of trails that cover various habitats. They are open to the public and free of charge for various recreations including hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The White Memorial Boardwalk is a 1.9-mile moderately trafficked loop trail that features beautiful wildflowers and is a favorite spot for pet owners to walk their dogs or for anyone who enjoys hiking, walking, nature trips or birding.

5. Litchfield History Museum & Reeve House & Law School Located just off The Green, these two buildings house the history of Litchfield. The museum presents the evolution of a small New England town through exhibitions of clothing, household objects and paintings from the earliest European settlement to present time. Across the street is the original building in which Tapping Reeve, an American lawyer and law educator, established a legal practice in 1744 and started the first law school in America.

6. Epicurean Delights Foodies will delight in discovering the Dutch Epicure Shop and sampling the array of treats including imported cheeses and products not found anywhere else. The homemade cakes, pastries and prepared foods are irresistible. The Litchfield Candy Company has something to please everyone’s sweet tooth, including chocolate-dipped cherries, chocolate-covered pretzels and every other chocolate item you can imagine. Brightly colored confections abound, and the shop offers gift baskets. Peaches ‘n’ Cream has been serving up the most extraordinary ice cream at its small shop for more than 35 years. It’s made on the premises from natural ingredients and stuffed into yummy handmade waffle cones. 

7. Everything Arethusa Even if you don’t drink milk, you’ll want to visit Arethusa Farm and see the prize-winning cows that supply some of the most delicious milk in this part of the country, and witness the fastidious and impeccable environs in which they live. From there, stop at Arethusa Farm Dairy in Bantam and sample their delicious ice creams, yogurt and cheeses. For a quick snack or breakfast, walk across to Arethusa a Mano and treat yourself to homemade salads, and freshly made breads and bagels. End your day by having dinner at the epitome of fine dining, Arethusa al Tavolo, with offers both impeccable food and service.

8. Artisans Abound Guy Wolff and his son Ben are both renowned potters, with their own artistry and style. Both are favorites of Martha Stewart and their studios are chock full of things to admire and to purchase. No matter what you want in the way of tiles, it can be found at Bantam Tileworks. Designers Travis Messinger and Darin Ronning create amazing tiles for every use from shower walls to backsplashes and floors. They also make beautiful vases, cups and other decorative pieces.

9. In Bloom For over 60 years White Flower Farm has been offering a wide range of ornamental plant varieties. Explore the many rows of horticulture treasures and garden accessories. A well-educated staff is there to answer questions and make suggestions.

10. Small Batchers The Baker Brothers started Litchfield Distillery with a commitment to distill the finest spirits in small batches, making use of the best ingredients offered by local farmers. From the initial bourbon offerings, they now offer several vodkas as well as other spirits. Take a tour of their pristine facilities and sample some for yourself.



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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/10/18 at 10:56 AM • Permalink

Handbags For Habitat Auction: Caring Is Always In Fashion

By Amy Krzanik

Two of the guiding principles of Habitat for Humanity International, which was founded on a farm outside Americus, Georgia in 1976, are community and partnership. Habitat for Humanity of Columbia County (HFHCC) are tapping into both as they gear up for the group’s first fundraising auction. On Thursday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m., the organization will partner with Meissner’s Auction House in New Lebanon, New York for a handbag auction to benefit HFHCC’s WomenBuild New Lebanon program.

The program, in which the leadership and volunteer work is done by women, will begin rehabbing an existing structure on County Route 13 at the end of January. A construction skills course will be held this Friday, Jan. 12 for those who wish to be trained as crew leaders. Since the project is a rehab and not a new build, weather is not an issue as the site will be enclosed. If you’re interested, the project is still looking for crew leaders and other volunteers.

As for the purses, Sara McWilliams, HFHCC board member and one of three co-chairs of WomenBuild New Lebanon, says the fundraiser follows another of Habitat for Humanity’s principles — sustainability. You’ve witnessed this principle first hand if you’ve visited one of HFH’s ReStore shops, where you can find everything from gently used furniture and appliances to surplus building materials and paint. McWilliams, who participated in the first WomenBuild New Lebanon project in 2008 (this month’s will be the group’s second project), says handbag donations have come from all over the country, having been solicited by the group’s large steering committee of primarily of New Lebanon women.

“We have carefully curated, primarily name brand bags,” says McWilliams, “as well as a few quite beautiful bags that were made in Italy. Brands include Kate Spade, Coach, Valentino, Prada, Bottega and Dooney & Bourke, and we have a great assortment of primarily vintage evening bags. The selection includes a mix of style and price, but we think every bag is one someone would want.”

In the Habitat spirit, auctioneer Dolores Meissner is donating her space, her auctioneering skills and the services of her staff for the special event. Admission is $10 admission, and for that you’ll be able to enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres, a receive a $5 coupon that can be used toward the purchase of a bag.

McWilliams says there also will be a table of $15 handbags, a sort of grab-and-go in case you’d like to support the event, but are pressed for time and can’t stay for the auction. You can purchase tickets in advance online or by calling the Columbia County Habitat office at (518) 828-0892. Tickets will also be available at the door. 

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 01/09/18 at 03:49 PM • Permalink