When I think back over the 35 years that I have been working at The River Reporter, what strikes me most profoundly is the multitude of lives that this relatively small newspaper has touched. From its staff and contributors to its readers and advertisers, we have traveled a journey that started in 1975, when a group of Narrowsburg residents including Dorothy Lehr, John Pavese, Beth Peck and Bob Rasmussen joined with Tom DeGaetani and Elaine Giguere to found this publication after the loss of the Delaware Valley News. At the time, the valley, while always vibrant—providing natural resources and recreational opportunities since recorded history—had entered a relatively low point, following the demise of passenger rail from New York City a decade before.
But through the efforts of these people and many others, who recognized the valley’s and the river’s significance for its clean water and a pristine landscape, changes began to happen, including the river’s designation as part of the Wild and Scenic River System, the presence of the National Park Service and the development of the River Management Plan. In the more than 37 years since that low point and the paper’s beginnings, the Upper Delaware area has redefined itself and developed a newfound sense of identity and strength. We continue to revive our main streets and to re-claim our region as a vibrant tourist destination with a natural playground that mirrors the valley’s historic legacy. We are an important source of clean water and a growing source of natural and wholesome foods.
That being said, I imagine that you share the uncertainty of the future in light of the current fiscal contraction, global uncertainty, philosophical rifts and the technological revolution that tends to leave rural areas in arrears. However, what we have is priceless, intrinsically unique and authentically irreplaceable. And with all that, we have the opportunity to flourish. But how?
My vision is that we flourish together. We flourish by keeping our conversations and commitment to the valley’s wellbeing alive. We flourish by offering our unique perspective as a gift to the communal whole. We flourish by choosing, when faced with our own judgment and resistance to another’s ideas, values or position, we remain open to hearing more. We flourish by investing ourselves in the outcome we seek for our community.
This investment starts with being informed and understanding that we are all interconnected and that all of our actions and decisions have an effect. Subscribing to and reading the local newspaper is one way to be invested, by staying abreast of the issues that face our community and by entering into dialogue with thoughtful and informed opinions. We invest by supporting the local businesses that provide our area with goods and services. We invest by being a part of the cultural and communal landscape, actively participating in community life, attending local events, shopping locally, or becoming a volunteer.
We invest by entering into the dialogue of what we want the future to bring us, and we take action, like the group that founded TRR, to create the mechanisms and organizations that have the capacity to define and enhance our vibrant and precious valley.
And with this investment of our authentic and unique selves, we all flourish. We make real the inherent truth that we are indeed all in this. Together.
What do you say?
Let’s do it. Together.