A year ago a group of dedicated, enthusiastic individuals planned a new venture for the residents of Saugerties and the surrounding communities. Our inaugural year last fall (2009) and this spring (2010) were a success. Four courses last fall expanded to eight in the spring! This coming September and October, Lifespring will offer twelve courses. Who would have expected the community to show up with such enthusiasm and curiosity? Marie Curie put it aptly: “Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.”
Enthusiasm in fact coupled with intellectual interest and curiosity has given our band of volunteers a major boost. To view the attendees who came in with their life experiences adding to the quality of the programs lifted all our spirits: planners and attendees. In fact, we even had special events once a month during the winter months due to the response to our program.
Currently we are in the process of registering for the upcoming fall program. All are welcome to join the program for the coming year. Registration closes on Tuesday, August 10. Your cost for the entire year which now includes three courses in the fall and three in the spring (six weeks in length) plus special events is $60 for the year. A bargain for curiosity!
Start on a voyage of discovery if this program is new for you: welcome aboard. For those of you continuing on to a second year: welcome back!
Albert Einstein proclaimed: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.”
See www.lifespringsaugerties.com/lifespringsaugerties for more information.
Matt Ostoyich, Lifespring Board Member
WHERE’S THE DOCUMENTATION? Conspicuously missing from Woodstock Times’ report on the resignation of Guild director Peter Nesbett was any actual investigation of the Guild’s financial records. Has Woodstock Times filed Freedom of Information requests for documents that would prove or disprove Nesbett’s allegations? Without any true investigation, all we are left with is creepy speculation about Nesbett’s so-called “deep well of anger.” Can we get beyond the personalities to what’s really happening? I hope last week’s article was not the end of your efforts on this important matter.
WHAT’S FIVE WEEKS? One wonders what kind of person takes a job of a truly important arts and cultural organization, stays just five measly weeks, resigns, and makes wild charges against the former director and board? Personally this sounds like someone who was way over his head in running an arts and cultural organization with over a $500,000 budget, with a long history of bringing music, art exhibitions and an extremely vital artist residence program.
Five weeks is just a spit in the eye, not any time to make any judgment of anyone. The former new director and wife were here only part time. Carla Smith, the former director of Woodstock Byrcliffe Guild was in her office for twelve years, often more than five days a week, putting in long hours, getting grants, running and starting many inspiring programs, such as the Gala and the 5x7, which attracts well known artists from all over Ulster County.
Instead of throwing bricks, we should thank Carla Smith for putting in those hard working years to bring Woodstock and Ulster County the many unique programs which were part of the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild.
KEEPING THE RICH RICH
We must all applaud the bravery of Governor Paterson in trying to save the state from financial meltdown. The easy way would have been to tax millionaires, big banks, and Wall Street a little more. But that would have been picking on a very small, unpopular minority. Nobody likes that one percent of the population that owns everything and continues to make million dollar salaries during this prolonged recession. In fact, about 90% of U.S. citizens want to tax the rich and big corporations more.
So you have to hand it to Paterson, going against the popular sentiment to do the right thing. How noble his purpose as he cuts budget spending for public schools, healthcare, retirees and the handicapped.
Paterson’s selfless crusade seems to be spreading. Candidate Cuomo has stated flatly that no matter what gets cut, the salaries and profits of billionaires won’t be touched. Even President Obama is getting into the act. After giving a trillion to Wall Street, and several trillion to the corporations involved in the invasions and occupations of the Middle East, the federal government is just about broke.
It would be so easy demanding that the bankers give the money back and that our soldiers return home from any number of military adventures abroad. But Obama, with his audacity of hope, is going to take the knife to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, education, etc. Bush tax cuts for the very rich will almost certainly be extended. What courage!
The ‘JSS’ seems to run very, very high in Woodstock — irrespective of education, innate talent or socio-economic specificities. The sad result of which the general joie de vivre is poisoned.
THANKS TO OLIVER KITA AND SUNFLOWER
It all started innocently enough last January with a small food raiser at Sunflower. Oliver Kita had given the Good Neighbor Food Pantry some of his famous chocolate bars. Volunteers from the food pantry gave out the chocolate bars at Sunflower in return for donations of money and/or food.
Well, the chocolate bars are long gone…just a memory that people mention every month as they continue to drop by the Sunflower to buy groceries and donate money and/or food to the Good Neighbor Food Pantry. It’s been a good run; an excellent run, actually. This is now July and we are hoping to keep returning monthly.
This month members of the Reflexology Association of the Hudson Valley donated reflexology sessions and Reiki sessions. Ann King, Maryanne Wrolsen, and Lisa Calcagno sat under an umbrella brought by fellow member Arlene Spool and collected donations and offered sessions.
A steady stream of people passed by the table from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. They dropped money in the collection jar and paid for sessions even though the heat was incredible.
Your generosity has kept a steady supply of good quality nutritious food available to the 600 or so people who visit the pantry every month.
We offer a special “thank you” to Oliver Kita for starting the ball rolling. We offer a special “thank you” to Sunflower for hosting our group every month. We offer a special “thank you” to everyone who has donated food and/or money. It all goes. None of the donated items are wasted. We are always in need of toothpaste, canned milk, bars of soap, deodorant, razors, cereal, bread, crackers, jelly, sugar, salt, oil, vinegar, mustard, catsup, mayonnaise, and on and on and on. We are in need of all the things that are found in kitchens everywhere. Thank you for all you have given and will give in the future.
If you were unable to participate in this food raiser today and want to send a check, please mail it to Good Neighbor Food Pantry, c/o Woodstock Reformed Church, 16 Tinker St., Woodstock, NY 12498.
Why is it that people like to have “Conjugal Visits” with the facts? For instance, I heard that at the last Town Board meeting someone said that unleashed dogs are allowed in Prospect Park from “before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.,” intimating a twelve hour period, when in reality there are only eight hours allotted; where for more than half of this time, it is too dangerous to go into the park. He also gave those listening the impression that unleashed dogs are allowed anywhere in the park when in fact the areas the unleashed dogs are allowed are restricted. Is it that stating the actual facts might lead to an antithesis of an agenda?
STEWARDSHIP FOR ALL
I believe The Town Board should look broadly in their search for those community members who have a great stake in the Comeau Property and who support the Comeau Easement as they search for people to serve on The Stewardship Committee .
In Woodstock, there are folks who have expertise in water and wetlands management, recreation, folks who know the land and are familiar with it, those who are good leaders and organizers, many who are diligent with projects and all who love the property and would like to see it cared for. I’m certain the Town Board could glean from all of the people who supported the easement a wonderful representation who would do the job.
The Easement was passed by a wide majority of residents and it is logical and wise to think that the Stewardship Committee would be comprised of those who are most interested. In good faith, the Town Board should appoint a committee that comprises these valuable people and soon. They would serve as a liaison between the Town Board and The Land Conservancy. Any proposal could be addressed first by the Stewardship Committee. I believe this is what the Comeau Advisory Committee had in mind when it suggested a permanent “Comeau Committee.” We know the Town Board has the fiscal responsibility to the community, but advisory groups and committees are needed to streamline processes and afford a more efficient function of Town Government, to say nothing of the expanded thinking that they bring. Nine members might be a reasonable number.
My hope is that the process of working with the Land Conservancy will be facilitated by the immediate initiative of the Town Board in seeking out and appointing the most qualified and willing residents who wholeheartedly support the easement, to become The Stewardship Committee. The Committee will then be charged with the forming of a Stewardship Plan. I’m sure this can be done and the deadline of next May reached…if the Town Board acts in good faith now.
Jean E. White
OFF COURSE I want to thank Leo Treitler for his succinct letter last week in this column, informing us that Woodstock police cruisers are now being equipped with surveillance cameras capable of running instant checks through the NYS traffic and crime computer system by entering a vehicle plate number. This chilling fact prompts my letter.
More and more often I notice semi-hidden police cruisers on Route 212. I, probably like many, have heart palpitations when I even glimpse those red and blue flashing lights in my rear view mirror. Surveillance on the four lane Route 28 is regularly scheduled to nab weekend visitors on Friday and Saturday...people who could not know the seriousness of the 45 mph speed limit on that commercial stretch. The speed limit signs are amongst a jumble of billboards, business signs, entrances and parking lots. I pass two or three out of town vehicles with state troopers looming over drivers’ windows every time I drive that route.
Last month we all watched the spectacle of a brand new police chief, backed by the town supervisor, trying to invoke a curfew on young people in Woodstock. If enacted it would have taken away basic human rights that everyone reading this letter enjoyed while growing up.
I am watching American change, from the Supreme Court down to small town cops and I think it is a direction we will regret. I understand the “benefits” reaped by towns and cities through parking and traffic tickets, but I also understand that great and civil societies must maintain a balance between the “protectors” and the protected. Right now we are veering off course.
ST. JOHN’S ANNIVERSARY GALA
I am pleased to let everyone know that St. John’s Roman Catholic Church of Woodstock/West Hurley is please to announce a Gala Dinner to be held October 10 (10/10/10) 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. at the Wiltwyck Country Club, Kingston. The cost is $55 per person and includes cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres and cash bar; full dinner with a choice of four entrees; coffee/tea and dessert; dancing to the Kingston Lion’s Club Roarin’ Pride Swing Band. Ticket reservations can be made by contacting Dolores Kelly at 679-9924. Ticket info is available after each Mass for the next few weeks. This event is part of the year long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of our parish. For more information call Colleen Mountford at 594-5913. Hope to see you there.
Although we have almost reached the halfway point in the 18 months allotted for creating a stewardship plan for the Comeau easement, the town board had not, until last Tuesday, publicly addressed the formation of the legally required committee to formulate that plan. Now we are told that that the stewardship committee will consist of the town board itself — several of whose members opposed the easement — the town clerk and the highway superintendent. Despite the strong recommendations of the Woodstock Land Conservancy (outlined in a public meeting on July 24) the committee does not include representatives of user groups or experts in conservation issues.
The proffered justification for the town board itself serving as the stewardship committee seems to be financial responsibility, although the stewardship committee would have no more financial power than the Zoning Board of Appeals or even the dog park committee. Unfortunately, this current plan for the stewardship committee seems destined, if not calculated, to keep the easement in limbo.
If the board is sincerely interested in supporting the Comeau easement, voted in by the majority of Woodstock’s citizens, it should immediately request interested individuals and groups to volunteer for stewardship committee membership and participate in a truly representative working group. This stewardship committee, with the time, expertise and commitment to do the job well, would surely be the best way to fulfill both the letter and spirit of the easement agreement.
ALL THE STAKEHOLDERS NOT REPRESENTED
I want to thank the Woodstock Land Conservancy (WLC) for its public information session at the Colony Café on Saturday, July 24. It was informative as to the responsibilities and limitations of the WLC as they pertain to the Comeau Easement and the Stewardship Plan. Unfortunately, when the Stewardship Amendment was written in 2009, they neglected to emphasize that it should be comprised of citizen stakeholders as the original Comeau Committee suggested in 2003.
Councilperson Rosenblum’s creation of a Stewardship committee that is comprised of only elected officials with her as the chair is like putting the foxes in charge of the hen house. One only has to review the videos of the Town Board meetings that relate to the easement. In every one Supervisor Moran and Councilwoman Rosenblum have done everything possible to prevent the signing of the easement from coming to fruition by obstructing, obfuscating and just voting no. If it wasn’t for the tenacity and fortitude of ex-Councilman Collins with assistance from ex-Councilwoman Simonson and Councilman Wenk, it is doubtful that the easement would have ever been signed. And in spite of their machinations, when it was finally signed, Supervisor Moran insulted all those Woodstockers who voted for and those who worked on the Comeau Committee by paying special tribute to the person who took legal action to prevent the easement. That action kept the easement in court for several years and cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Clearly the Stewardship Committee should be comprised of all citizen stakeholders not just elected officials.
Astrophysics is interesting because we know so little about the biggest thing there is: the universe. It seems the more we learn about the universe the bigger it gets, always expanding beyond our grasp. Bob Berman states that “we can only observe 1.6% of the universe at best since the light from 98.4% of all galaxies will never reach us.” He thinks the cosmos may well be infinite so it will never be understood by us finite beings. “There are too many unknowns” he writes “And who can honestly grasp these various infinities of matter, density, space and time?”
There are two possibilities: The universe is finite and we may eventually solve its mysteries. Or the universe is infinite and ultimately unknowable. The data and theories point more and more to an infinite universe, but I think it is far too early in the game to say whether the universe is finite or infinite.
This is an exciting time in astrophysics precisely because we know so little. We are just beginning to explore outer space, the solar system, let alone the universe. There is still much to discover about the cosmos, about 98.4% would be my best guess.
NO FOSSIL FUELS IN CHURCH SUNDAY Christ’s Lutheran Church in Woodstock, Atonement Lutheran Church in Saugerties and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in West Camp (about to turn 300 years old, by the way), will be observing “No Fossil Fuel Sunday” on August 1.
Our churches will be using as little electricity as possible for worship, which means no lights in our sanctuaries, no fans, no air conditioning, no use of organs (you know what I mean), no refreshments at coffee hours following worship using electricity (and Lutherans consider coffee hours to be something nearly sacramental), and whoever is not able to walk to our churches is urged to car pool, so that at least three people are in each vehicle arriving at our churches.
Why are we doing this? To call attention to the destruction of our environment due to dirty fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas; to inform BP, Halliburton, Transocean and other dirty fossil fuel and drilling companies that we really do “mean business” (and thank you, Jill Paperno of Glenford, for your letter about fracking and Halliburton!); to start an expression of repentance for what we, as consumers, have done to contribute to the oil eruption in the Gulf of Mexico; to challenge our national churches, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to stand up for our social statements and claims about wanting to protect God’s creation; to challenge our government to “come clean” on energy reform because of global climate change. Have you noticed, by the way, how warm it has been this summer so far? Welcome to global climate change.
We have invited Lutheran churches in Kingston to participate in “No Fossil Fuel Sunday,” and we now invite all local faith communities in Saugerties to observe an equivalent Sabbath, either this Sunday, August 1 or some other Sabbath. We all need to repent and do what we can to heal the earth. Will you join us?
I will be walking to Atonement for worship and home from Atonement after worship, a distance of 15 miles. So motorists out and about early Sunday morning, please don’t hit me. I’ll be walking Route 32 from East Kingston into Saugerties, starting at about 5:15 a.m. Sunday. Honk if you see me! And let all of God’s people say Amen!
The Rev. Edward R. Schreiber, Atonement Lutheran Church
HOT DAYS IN THE LIBRARY During these sultry summer days, why not seek refuge in the cool comfort of the Woodstock Library. In the reading room you’ll find a generous offering of magazines and newspapers. Did you know the Library is the sole repository of all printed copies of Woodstock Times? There too, you can view Mary Anna Goetz’s fine painting of the Library. She recently donated it to the Friends of the Library who gifted it to the Library.
And if you are interested in other artists’ work, browse the collection of art books: Our library is renowned for its art book collection. The Library now has a wonderful collection of compact discs which were donated by classical music writer Leslie Gerber during DJ’s tenure. Amy Raff, the library director, is eager to expand this music collection and to bring other exciting innovations to the Library.
There is something for everyone at the Woodstock Library where all are welcome to enter “An open door to knowledge and enjoyment for the whole community.”
Margo McLoone, Library Trustee
WAR AND THE PEACE IN BETWEEN I originally had volunteered to play a show on Friday night at the Colony Cafe to aid in supplying food, clothing and medicine to those in need in Palestine. I have been troubled with this issue for some time and felt that nobody, whatever race, creed or religion should ever be denied these basics in this day and age. Not two days after offering to doing the show I found my name on a poster stating that: “On May 31 of this year Israeli commandos attacked the Free Gaza Flotilla, killing nine humanitarian aid activists and kidnapping more than 500 others.” I questioned this statement since it has not been proven in any court of law in the USA, Israel or Palestine for that matter that this is factual and why Israel acted in the manner that they did. I also felt that rather than focus the poster around peace and the reason that we were doing the benefit, the people behind the poster, or person wanted to perpetuate hate and ill feelings towards Israel. Why concentrate on the negative? This only breeds more hate and clouds the issue. A very close friend of mine summed it up for me, somebody who I respect a great deal and is pretty damned open minded. I could not have said it better so I will quote my friend here,
“the people running this event seem to be very one sided on this. Israel is all bad and the Gazans are all good. There’s no room for enough blame to go around, there’s no nuanced approach to political issues, no pragmatism, no sense of what can be done to actually alleviate what is clearly a tragic situation. Like you, I want people everywhere to have food, clothing and medicine, but I have doubts that actions like sending another boat to defy the blockade is any more than aiming for a grandiose statement...and I don’t think participation in this event does any more to open up the arguments. Rather it backs its participants into a coalition that thinks only one way.”
So I apologize to anyone that expected to see me play at the Colony on Friday night. I do a lot of benefits but I could not get myself to follow through.
I was told once that on the issue between Israel and Palestine there is no middle ground. If that is the case I can only pray for Peace and that both sides really work towards a mutual understanding that we are all human beings.
After feeding the hungry, responding to emergencies at all hours of the day and night, performing necessary town work and maintaining the arts, our volunteers deserve to be treated as the “Guests of Honor.” Come; help us make the town picnic be a wonderful day for our generous neighbors.
While we have every confidence that our community will come through as it has in the past, hundreds have been very generous as we prepare to take the volunteers to lunch. At Please step up and help for a few hours on Saturday, August 21. Bring your children; they too can be a part of honoring our volunteers.
Please choose one of the following three phases in which to help: 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for set up, noon-3 p.m. for supervision and maintenance, 3 p.m.-5:30 p.m. for clean up and take down.
Contact the Woodstock Volunteers’ Day Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845-679-2713 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 845-679-2713 end_of_the_skype_highlighting ext 3.
Many hands make light work. Join us in this pleasant community event. Besides helping, you will enjoy being a part of this heartfelt community project. There will be good dance music, activities for the children and good food. Help make the 6th Annual Woodstock Volunteers Day a great day. “Please, show up for the volunteers. They always show up for us.”
Also — these two good neighbors were omitted from the list of those who helped with the float. Were it not for these two men and others, the float would not have been entered in the Woodstock Memorial and Saugerties 4th of July parades: Marcel Nagel and Tom Pacheco. If you see them, thank them for helping.
Sam Magarelli, Woodstock
Volunteers’ Day Committee
SOUP KITCHEN THANKS ULSTER CORPS
The Daily Bread Soup Kitchen at Christ’s Lutheran Church in Woodstock would like to offer sincere thanks for their incredible generosity to artiste’ extraordinaire Richard Segalman, Alice Hoffman and the Woodstock Framing Gallery and to the remarkable new ‘connecting’ agency — Ulster Corps.
Richard Segalman, Alice Hoffman and the Woodstock Framing Gallery graciously contributed an absolutely lovely piece, ‘Lavender’, along with a signed book of Richard’s recent work for the inaugural ‘Arts for Ulster’ fundraising auction.
Ulster Corps coordinated the ‘Arts for Ulster’ fundraiser at WAAM (Woodstock Artist’s Association and Museum) which featured 50 works by 50 artists to benefit 50 Ulster County agencies! Beneficiaries were groups that serve our community, including advocates for emergency food and shelter, local farms, arts and music, autism, physical and emotional disabilities, land conservancy, wildlife rehabilitation, history, literacy, health care, affordable housing and more.
What an amazing effort Ulster Corps put forward, coordinating the agencies, art and artists, entertainment and the auction. Kudos to Beth MacLendon, Rik Flynn, Nancy Pompeo, Rochelle Julian, Ilene Cutler, Josephine Bloodgood, Laraine Mai and the entire Ulster Corps team.
Thank you Lauri Andretta and Empire Merchants North for always coming through for me! Thank you to Richard, Alice and the WFG for their generosity and kindness. We appreciate your support as we continue in our 18th year of providing a hot meal for our friends and neighbors.
The Daily Bread Soup Kitchen invites all to gather at our community table and share stories and cameraderie, along with fresh soup from our area’s premier restaurants; Bistro To Go, Bread Alone, Catskill Mountain Pizza, Hickory Smokehouse BBQ, The Hurley Ridge Market, The Little Bear, Lori’s Creative Cafe’, The Mountainview Market, New World Home Cooking Company, Oriole 9 and the Reservoir Inn.
The Hurley Ridge Market provides bread and baked goods, while Catskill Mountain Organic Coffee offers us complimentary, free-trade, organic coffee.
Our ‘Bread Board’ volunteers their time to oversee the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen. Many thanks to The Reverend Sonja Maclary, Renee Englander (site supervisor and ‘Arts for Ulster’ contributor for Ulster Literacy Association!), Susan Cocozza (supply supervisor) and Bruce Parker (treasurer).
Support and staffing come from Christ’s Lutheran Church (our host congregation), St. John’s Catholic Church, Overlook United Methodist Church, St Gregory’s Episcopal Church, the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, the Onteora Teacher’s Association, Jake Goodman, and friends and neighbors in the Woodstock community.
Our deepest appreciation and thanks for ongoing support for Daily Bread Soup Kitchen and the people that we feed.
Co-Founder & (Volunteer) Executive Director
Daily Bread Soup Kitchen
SEE SAM COOKE PLAY
For those of you have not yet seen the play about Sam Cooke’s life, Where You Been Baby, do yourself a favor and see it this weekend (July 30 and July 31) at the Woodstock Community Center at 8 p.m. It is a great theater experience — soul stirring, foot tapping, hand clapping fabulous evening of theater. A very talented cast gives a great performance. The play’s got it all — drama, passion, politics and of course, great music.
GREEN GARDENS ARE LOVELY Although it is necessary for a newspaper to focus on local problems that need correction, it is also worthwhile to make public mention of public works projects that benefit the town as a whole — especially when those public projects are the result of the efforts of a few dedicated volunteers and are not completely subsidize by public funds.
The flowers at the Green and the Triangle are amazingly beautiful, even when viewed from afar. If Woodstock did not already have its own legacy to draw visitors, then these lovely gardens could become a tourist attraction on their own merit.
Those of us who are lucky enough to live here full-time or part-time, who see these lovely gardens on our way into town, may want to make a small donation to help defray expenses incurred by the volunteers who provide their labor of love. Donations could also offset the cost of extra water. Perhaps we can add an artisan-designed “pushke” for the Green, so admirers can toss in some coins or dollar bills as they pass by.
In the meantime, I want to thank Town Beautification Task Force, the Woodstock Garden Club, and the Green Gardeners for their efforts and their achievements. Bravo!
CHALLENGING U.S. FOREIGN POLICY
Last week both The New York Times and the Washington Post blogs carried articles about the campaign to fund and outfit a U.S. boat to sail with the next l Free Gaza flotilla to break through Israel’s illegal blockade. On May 31 Israel used massive lethal force and the threat of lethal force on unarmed civilians to enforce the blockade. It seems as if Israel will continue its complete control of what goes into and out of Gaza as long as it wants.
But that’s also what segregation in the South looked like, as if it would never change, until people, both black and white, confronted it directly. How many lunch counters were people thrown out of, beaten up and arrested at? How many were beaten, killed and jailed during the civil rights movement? It took a lot of struggle but eventually the segregationists were defeated — for there own good as well, we might add.
In the U.S. there are citizens directly challenging U.S. foreign policy supporting Israel’s blockade of Gaza by purchasing and outfitting a boat, called “The Audacity of Hope” to sail with the next international flotilla.
For the vast majority of the world community, there is only one right course of action for Israel and its U.S. enabler and that is to end the blockade and let the boats through. Anything other further tarnishes an already deeply tarnished and crumbling image.
The blockade will end, the occupation will end. The suffering of 1.4 million people in Gaza will end. It will end because decent people will stand up and not be silent and because direct resistance to these policies will continue until there is justice both in Palestine and Israel.
Please come to the Colony this Friday, July 30 at 7 p.m. and support this effort. Cornell PhD student Max Ajl, who just returned from six months in Gaza, will be there to tell us his experiences. There will be other knowledgeable speakers, including our own Jeff Cohen on media complicity, a question and answer period and good music.
WAKE UP CALL Sophie Strand’s article, “The Grand Parent Scam” was a wake up call for all of us. There are some heinous, evil people out there who take advantage of grandparents and their relationship with their grandchildren.
True, we were robbed of out life savings. However, we were compensated by the genuine concern from our family and strangers who heard and read about our financial misfortune.
My daughter, Susan Roth and her siblings held a fundraising garage sale this past weekend, and as a result a significant portion of our loss was recouped.
I would like to thank the good citizens of Woodstock and to Susan’s Petwatch clients and friends for their support and generosity. Without this, we would have remained devastated. Thank you all, so very much.
Irving and Doris Chipkin
Bayside, New York
In as much as the town of Woodstock is still discussing various options as to how to house its various departments, I though I might throw a few words around that hopefully will stir the ferment a little.
1. Sell the Town Hall and associated buildings. Use the income for further changes. Get out of the bad parking situation. Make taxable income property. All of the recent efforts have shown that money spent on these properties will result in unsatisfactory results.
2. Move the recreation and youth programs to the current facilities on upper Comeau. Do the necessary development to include a swimming pool and well as any other needed changes. This use of the Comeau is, I think, more in line with all Woodstocker’s vision for use of the estate than any of the other current thoughts and ideas. I hope that the WLC would go along with this, if properly done. Youth produced noise would be generated fairly far from any hearers.
3. Move the police department and dispatch to the current youth building at Andy Lee field. That building should have enough space and parking to give them the elbow room that they need. Their access to the streets of Woodstock would be about the same as now, and the parking would be much easier. Changes to the building probably would not be too extensive
4. Leave things with the Historical Society and the lower Comeau as it now is. (Maybe pave the parking lot and provide a paved walkway.)
5. Continue the current discussions about the Community Center, its updating and uses.
6. Build a new building on Andy Lee field for the major functions not already discussed, including all the departments that are now on upper Comeau. Include a courtroom. Include a meeting room that might also be used as a theater. Include adequate facilities for record storage, computer facilities, parking, etc. ADA accessability.
7. Money and taxes. I don’t like paying taxes any more than any of you; I would rather spend it on my own desires. But even more I don’t like seeing the taxes I do pay wasted, particularly on projects that result in only partly satisfactory results. A clean start on new facilities would mean something useful that lasts for a long time; money worth spending. And by the time plans can be put into place, the current lousy economy should have recovered a lot and funding would not be so difficult.
8. Pride. Look at what others have been able to do, even with tax rates higher than ours. We are a comparatively rich town — I think we are on our way to being the Scarsdale of Ulster County despite the ‘poor crying’ going on. Look at what the Town of Kingston and Port Even have done — they make our current facilities and thoughts look shabby.
Thanks for listening to my thoughts. I know there would be a long way to go and many issues to be solved in doing this, but I think we would be better off if we consider doing a major change rather a lot of half baked/cheap ones.
IS ISRAEL AN APARTHEID STATE? Is it fair to call Israel an apartheid state? Does Israel rise to the level of South Africa? Would we recognize apartheid if it wasn’t exactly like South Africa’s?
Apartheid in South Africa rested on three main pillars:
1. The state codifies into law a preferred identity. It then enacts laws that grant preferential legal status and privileges to the preferred group on the basis of their identity while discriminating against the non-preferred group on the basis of the inferior status given them. In the case of Israel, it is different rights for Jews and for non-Jews. The law of return of 1950 says Jews can return to Israel and be given citizenship even if they have no links to the country other than mythical biblical ones; whereas Palestinians cannot return even if their parents or grandparents lived there. Israeli domestic laws apply to Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, while Israeli military law applies to Palestinians. Jewish children are treated as minors under Israeli law until they are 18, but Palestinian children are treated as adults at age 12.
2. Separation of so called racial groups into separate areas. In South Africa there were Bantustans. Blacks had to have passes to travel to white areas. In Israel, Palestinians are not allowed to live on Jewish lands…93% of the land of Israel is owned by the Jewish National Fund and reserved solely for Jews. The Wall separates Jews from Palestinians and there are separate and unequal roads for Palestinians. Movement by Palestinians is severely restricted and controlled by checkpoints. In Gaza, Palestinians cannot leave nor enter and Israel controls the flow of goods and water.
3. Security and repression under a matrix of laws. There was serious repression in the black townships of South Africa, but there were never tanks or planes buzzing overhead like there is in West Bank. Israeli military violence against Palestinian communities is far worse than anything suffered by blacks in South Africa during apartheid. Israel invokes “security” to justify sweeping restrictions on Palestinian freedom of expression, assembly, association and movement.
Doesn’t this describe Israel’s treatment of Palestinians? Is this simply not acceptable under any circumstances? Can we sit by and allow this to continue? For me, the answer is No! Let’s join together to oppose Israeli policy and the United States’ complicity and support. Join us at the Colony on Friday night at 7 p.m. for an evening of politics and music.
SCHEME AND CONTROL
Thanks to Kevin Smith and John Winter, Woodstock Land Conservancy (WLC) Executives, for their presentation on Saturday, July 24. They clarified several process issues regarding the Stewardship Plan for the Comeau Easement. For example, Smith dedicated one chart that described the make-up of the Stewardship Committee.
In summary, the WLC recommends that stewardship committee members should consist of ‘Comeau Users.” That is, members of the community and representatives from organizations and groups across the various interests and activities that use the Comeau. There are numerous such stakeholders waiting in the wings who represent soccer, dog walkers, hikers, and especially the spirit of the Comeau referendum. They are skilled individuals ready and able to participate. Yet, the Town’s current members consist only of elected officials, many who opposed the easement and definitely not representative of current “users’ of the Comeau or the intent of the referendum.
Furthermore, an example of a Stewardship Plan that the WLC had on hand for the town to use as a template clearly distinguished between the “Landowner” and the “Stewards” as separate entities. Yet, Woodstock contrived a process whereby the Landowner and Stewards are one and the same eliminating crucial checks and balances within the process. The Town Board is both the Landowner and the Steward. Even Terri Rosenblum describes this as “rare and unique.”
Have no doubt, that unless the Town Board forms a committee consisting of members of the community who represent various user groups, the Town Board is again demonstrating their desire to scheme and control in defiance of the WLC’s recommendations.
GASLANDS — BOTH POINTS OF VIEW? I wish to thank the Woodstock Film Festival for its showing of Gasland last Sunday, attended by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY). It brought to us a subject of vital importance — how to handle the abundant energy reservoirs from New York state’s portion of the Marcellus Shale formation.
I think I was the only one in the audience sympathetic to the oil & natural gas industry, with whom I have been associated for over 30 years.
Even though it was a “private screening,” promoted by the Woodstock Film Festival, it morphed into a rally against the development of homegrown natural gas. I approached Josh Fox — the film’s director — prior to the screening about distributing some information based on documented facts about hydraulic fracturing. He dismissed my request, and then asked for a copy of the information.
When I first saw Gasland on Public Television I was, like the audience that evening, appalled. I called several close friends, who have extensive experience in Texas’ Barnett Shale. They had not experienced these problems. They did mention that methane seepage was a natural occurrence unrelated to natural gas production.
I could not believe that the more than 35,000 oil and natural gas wells drilled over the last 15 years were creating such problems, especially with the extensive state and federal regulations in place.
Still not convinced, I contacted the Marcellus Shale Coation (www.marcelluscoaltion.org), Range Resources (www.rangeresources.com) and Energy In Depth (www.energyindepth.org) to get their perspective.
They touched on a few points:
- Far from being “pushed through Congress by Dick Cheney,” the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was supported by three-quarters of the U.S. Senate including the top Democrat on the Energy Committee and Senator Barack Obama. In the U.S. House, 75 Democrats joined 200 Republicans in supporting the final bill.
- Despite the film’s assertion, the oil and natural gas industry is regulated under the Clean Water Act, the Safe Water Drinking Act, etc.
- Fracturing fluids — made up of more than 99.5 percent water and sand — are not secret. They are available on the state government sites in Pennsylvania, New York West Virginia, etc. I understand that less than 12 components are usually used in the fracking fluid — not 596 mentioned in the film.
A good part of the film focused on natural occurring methane gas. The industry says that fracturing has nothing to do with methane in water wells, which is the product of natural “migration” or “seepage.” The methane in Markham’s faucet came from bacteria contamination in his water well, per Colorado state investigators.
What I could not understand was how natural gas and/or its fluids (after fracturing) could affect the water aquifer which was 30-800 ft below the surface? How could the fracturing fluids rise through the layers of overlying shale, which act as a series of confining layers 1.5 miles below the surface? Shale is a natural barrier to the vertical migration of fluids. That was my question for Josh Fox, which I was unable to ask during the Q & A period, as this series of questions was short and dominated by politically-motivated statements against drilling.
To his credit, Congressman Hinchey accepted at the end of the Q & A period, the file of articles I had prepared, showing another point of view.
I am in favor of strict regulations in natural gas production, especially in the New York Watershed. New York State should ensure that comprehensive and commonsense standards are in place, and that environmental regulatory staff is trained to adequately oversee this production.
Tragically, Pennsylvania is the only state that has no regulation of drinking water wells. A Center for Rural Progress (an arm of Penn State) survey found that 43% of all water wells do not meet safe drinking water standards. Maybe these are the reasons why Pennsylvania is having drinking water problems, and not the Marcellus Shale gas drilling.
I know in Woodstock we listen to both points of view. Is this the case with the proposed gas drilling in New York?
SUFFERERS OF COMEAU-FATIGUE GET A BOOSTER SHOT
Before you see the word “Comeau” and stop reading, please consider this: Even if you never have nor ever will take any interest in what takes place there, like hiking, sledding, dog walking, Easter egg hunting, soccer playing, nature studying, splashing in the Sawkill, visiting the Historical Society, or taking part in or simply observing the incredible dramatic performances played out in the Great Room and its adjacent outdoor stage, the Comeau remains the single most important “Woodstock place” for all of us. Why? Because in the long run, i.e., for the foreseeable “perpetuity,” it will continue to have the greatest impact and influence not only on our taxes, but on the fundamental image and culture of our Town.
Thus it was something of a watershed week for followers of the Comeau soap opera. Suspense had been mounting for months amid a veritable flood of ever-increasing clashes between Town “leaders” and residents over concerns for the future of the Town’s crown jewel. So with great relief this past week we witnessed not one, but two “coming out” parties for the WLC, as one highly respected resident put it.
Anyone who expected the WLC to ride in like a white knight and slay the four-headed dragon lurking on the forested hill was no doubt disappointed. But while full clarity remains beyond us all, the WLC’s forums did serve some important goals. First, they provided an exhausted and angry citizenry a renewed hope that at long last we had the attention of an important new set of listeners — folks who even felt obliged, whether by honor or duty, to actually respond to our concerns. That itself was a refreshing treat to an electorate that has increasingly felt supremely duped by an administration that swept into office on slick promises to uphold the conservation values of the easement only to then instantly unleash a breathtakingly arrogant array of paternalistic measures unquestionably tailored to advance a very different agenda.
Second, the WLC succeeded in clarifying to some degree the relative roles of the Town and itself during this crucial time for the Comeau. That is not to say that such clarification was satisfying. As the WLC’s Kevin Smith said (claiming to be paraphrasing Town Attorney Steven Barshov), insofar as the language of the easement goes, like it or not “that ship has sailed.”
However, now is the time, a crucial time, to bring into the mix all of the knowledge and talent of the countless individuals who for so many years have made the Comeau so special. We are faced with a situation not too unlike the crisis faced by our Founding Fathers in the similarly-heated climate of Summer 1787, when for four sweltering months, “delegates from the several states met to frame a Constitution for a federal republic that would last into ‘remote futurity.’” If our Comeau Easement is the Constitution — quite literally the “law of the land” — then what is happening this summer is the drafting of the Bill of Rights. If the conservation easement is to have any hope of achieving the long-lasting place of natural beauty with educational and recreational opportunities of many types as it was intended by the resident voters to be, then now is the time for those same resident voters to demand their right to participation. We are obliged to formulate Baseline Documentation that is absolutely the best it can possibly be, and to prepare a Stewardship Plan that demands the involvement of those folks who care the most about the longevity of this land in form and function as close to “just the way it is” as it can possibly remain. It defies reason, then, to cut out of the process those people without whose knowledge and expertise the fulfillment of that obligation is impossible.
While Woodstockers have plenty to be outraged about in looking at the way our elected officials have respected and given meaning to their 2003 directive, it is not too late to turn that rage into action that will ultimately, finally, get us there. We owe it to ourselves and to all those who worked so hard before us, to use and enjoy this land of course, but also to preserve it for all those who will come after us. We ought to do whatever it takes at this critical juncture to absolutely demand to be heard and be allowed to participate with our fellow residents in creating and implementing a strong and workable plan for the everlasting use, enjoyment and conservation of this magnificent piece of Woodstock.
NESBETT VIOLATED CONFIDENTIALITY
Recent events at the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild and an article in Woodstock Times motivate me to write this letter in support of the Guild. My name and my family’s gift to the Guild for acquisition of the Alf Evers Collection were inappropriately made public by Peter Nesbett during his very short tenure as the Director of the Guild. The terms of our gift specified it was not to be publicly announced. It was due to Nesbett’s actions in widely circulating his resignation letter that the confidentiality was violated.
I never told Peter Nesbett he needs to provide me immediately with a full accounting of the funds my family donated for the Alf Evers Collection. Furthermore, I do not believe those funds were “wrongly spent for what appears to have been operating expenses,” as he charged. I did say that there was time to fulfill plans for its future at the Guild, once the cataloging now underway was complete. At that time I expected a full accounting of how the funds were used and the future intent for the preservation, storage, usage and display of the materials. I also said that the collection should not be disbursed.
I pointed out to Mr. Nesbett that the Alf Evers Collection was too valuable to the history and culture of the Woodstock community, the local art community and the general Byrdcliffe community to be dispersed via sales to book dealers. I have a high regard for Alf Evers and his work. I see it as a documentation of the entire history of Woodstock as an artistic and intellectual center which has great significance for us all. It also makes clear the key role that Byrdcliffe played in transmitting ideas from Europe to the U.S. — ideas such as Ruskin’s aesthetic theories as well as political and social theories.
The institutional values of the WB Guild are deep and the relationship to the Woodstock community strong. These should be built upon, rather than thrown to the wind for the development of a questionable project of Mr. Nesbett.
A. J. Lederman
Point of View: More on why I left
By Peter Nesbett
Does Woodstock have an ethics problem? This is the question I am left with following my brief tenure as the executive director of the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild (WBG), and the story of my resignation in Woodstock Times last week. I cannot understand how a town so storied and mythic can be so myopic and self-protecting.
I resigned not out of anger but of disappointment. The WBG hired me through a unanimous vote at a board meeting on June 6. So far, so good. Two days later, I emailed my predecessor, Carla Smith, for the login information on her WSG email account. Her response was the first sign that there was trouble ahead: she had deleted them.
“She did a lot of unethical things,” the bookkeeper later told me, “but I’m pretty sure she didn’t do anything illegal.” Within a few days, I learned about her misuse of two donor-restricted funds and that Smith [reportedly] regularly asked the bookkeeper to reclassify funds after the annual audit was complete. Naively, I thought that because Smith had retired these problems they were largely behind us. I was wrong. The board, it turned out, had re-hired Smith on a ten-month contract that reported directly to them. The WBG, on the brink of insolvency, had rewarded her with further employment.
The board asks why I left so quickly. I ask myself why I stayed so long.
The WBG, it is worth remembering, is a non-profit public charity. What that means is that all its assets — including its substantial real-estate holdings and its endowment — are held in trust for the people of New York, so technically, the WBG itself doesn’t own them, it is merely their custodian. The WBG’s board, like that of any nonprofit, has two primary responsibilities. One is fiduciary, the other strategic. Both are ethical. The executive director runs the organization, overseeing all aspects of its operations, administration and programs. S/he is responsible for ensuring that the organization uses its resources efficiently and wisely, and that it operates according to the highest ethical standards.
When I found out that Smith had deleted years of company correspondence, I notified Frances Halsband, the board’s president, [and] then raised the issue at an executive committee meeting. When I intercepted a panicked email from Smith to our bookkeeper noting that the donor to the Alf Evers Trust wanted an accounting (Smith wrote, “see what you can come up [with]”), I contacted Halsband. In both instances, neither Halsband nor the board did anything.
How did I end up in this situation, I thought to myself.
I was one of four final candidates from an initially large pool. One withdrew. Of the remaining three, the search committee decided to select the candidate who was most “out of the box,” which I assumed meant someone from outside the region who would look at the WBG with fresh eyes and a national perspective. I was hired, unbelievably now it seems, as a change agent.
Shortly thereafter I realized how ironic that was. I had absolutely no authority. I was little more than an executive secretary to the board, its many ad-hoc committees, and dozens of volunteers. Silly as it sounds, moving a potted plant out in front of the Kleinert/James Arts Center required approval from the property committee. Unethical behavior did not.
Remarkably, I did get some things done while I was there. I conducted an informal audit of the whole organization (the results of which resulted in my resignation, attended meetings of all the committees (an enormous waste of time), repaired damaged relationships with local contractors whose invoices had gone unpaid (most were paid when I left), drafted a crisis management plan and presented it to the board (it was rejected), articulated an exciting new vision for the Byrdcliffe Colony (we didn’t have time to get beyond the sketch), reconceptualized the annual gala as a more welcoming, festive event called the Byrdcliffe Barn Bash, with a new logo by Milton Glaser (whom I enjoyed meeting tremendously), and presided over a series of concerts and talks. I’d like to think that I had a positive influence on the staff, which was cynical and caustic when I arrived but verging on upbeat by mid-July.
While the staff appeared increasingly ready to embrace change, the board remained tethered to its past. Last week’s article (“Dropping Bombs: Guild Board Reacts to Director’s Sudden Resignation,” by Paul Smart), in which the WBG rebutted point by point the issues raised in my letter of resignation, shows you how little the board’s attitude had altered since my hire. Writing in response to my accusations about my predecessor, Halsband and [the] board secretary boldly declared that “the WBG board strongly affirms Carla Smith’s fiscal integrity.”
The article shined a light not only on the WBG’s problems, but on the Woodstock Times’ as well, showing how little the paper is concerned with the ethical standards established within its own industry, such as those promoted by the Society of Professional Journalists (www.spj.org). The article contained factual errors, deliberate distortions, and omissions, many of which I will address here. The writer’s own conflicts of interest (i.e., a curatorial proposal pending with WBG) should have been enough to bar him from writing the story. More troubling to me is the fact that he did not hold those with power accountable. I believe that both he and the Times provided favorable treatment to the WBG as one of the paper’s advertisers, allowing them to influence the paper’s coverage of an important local event.
Most of the errors and mischaracterizations were courtesy the WBG, which has a vested interest in spinning the truth to avoid a public outcry. The most noteworthy of them were regarding the misspent trusts. “The trust mentioned by Nesbett,” wrote Halsband and Matthew Leaycraft, referring, I assume, to the Vincent Wagner Trust, “had been set up for a program no longer being run.” True, but I would add that the real reason the program is not being run is because the funds no longer exist. (The board has promised the donor that when the funds are repaid, the program will be relaunched.)
Regarding the Alf Evers Trust, Halsband and Leaycraft wrote that it “was used per the terms of the gift to purchase, catalogue, and preserve the Evers Collection.” This is not true. Doug James provided the purchase funds; a senior-service agency provides funds for retirees to do the cataloguing. When I last looked in the WBG’s books at the fund balance, it was only 25% of the amount the donor claimed to have given. The balance had been reclassified for other uses.
Halsband, speaking to the Times, attributed my limited authority to what she called a “probationary” period. Neither my contract nor my correspondence with the board makes any mention of a “probationary period” or limitations on my authority during the first months of employment. Perhaps this after-the-fact characterization was in response to me learning too much too quickly.
Moreover, in an effort to discredit both myself and Shelly Bancroft, who is acknowledged in my employment contract as my professional partner and a future member of the staff, the article significantly downplayed our credentials, reducing them to little more than a degree and small gallery. The truth is that each of us has more than 20 years experience with art-related businesses of varying degrees of size and complexity. I’ve founded and managed organizations with geographically diverse boards of trustees and advisers (e.g. Jacob Lawrence Project in Seattle, Boston and New York). I’ve run museum-affiliated volunteer committees (e.g. Contemporary Art Council and the Henry Contemporaries, both in Seattle). I’ve sat — in an ex-officio capacity — on the boards of large organizations (e.g. Seattle Art Museum). Six years ago, Shelly and I rescued artonpaper, an international art magazine, from bankruptcy and led it in a mere three months to profitability. Ten years ago, Shelly started a nonprofit alternative space in Harlem called Triple Candie — the first such space to be founded in the neighborhood in thirty years and one that is still in existence. (The space has garnered 26 reviews in The New York Times.) Prior to that, she was the director of exhibitions at the Boston Center for the Arts — a model multi-arts complex not dissimilar, in some ways, from the WBG. Listings these accomplishments here may sound self-congratulatory. My point is that the writer knew all of it but chose to ignore it.
Finally, in the article, the WBG’s president emeritus criticizes me for refusing to work full time and for not giving up my New York City apartment. For the record, the WBG hired me as a part-time (80%) employee because, in their fragile financial condition, they couldn’t afford me at full-time. Moreover, they required me to keep my New York apartment so they would have a fundraising base in New York, and my contract notes the WBG’s responsibility to provide me free, long-term housing in Woodstock in exchange, much as it provides the same for the property manager. They never did.
Regarding that “stack” of undeposited checks mentioned so mysteriously at the beginning of the article: the three or so checks were made payable to the “Carla Smith History Fund,” an organization that does not exist. The bank rejected them.
So, after all this, I am left to wonder, “What is it about the WBG that promulgates such odd behavior?” Has the board been drinking too much from the town’s streams, or smoking too much of its own falsified history? Here’s a theory. The Byrdcliffe Colony failed in its first decade. Those “three days of peace, love, and music” happened somewhere else. Trying for decades to convince outsiders to come visit anyway has created, perhaps, a high tolerance for embellishment and deceit. The Times article showed how when an outsider like me brushes back the dainty veil, just how quickly this small town will circle its wagons. ++
Editor’s note: The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild will have an opportunity to respond in next week’s issue.