An Emerging Landscape

I, like many others I am sure, go to fairs and festivals to experience the food. So you can imagine that I was all in when my husband Stephen suggested that we attend the Sullivan County Latin Festival on Sunday afternoon, July 29.

The festival was in the parking lot behind the Ted Stroebel Community Center, across from the Sullivan County Government Center on North Street in Monticello. (I hear there could be good news forthcoming about the Ted Stroebel Center. Stay tuned.)

We were able to park on North Street and could see the food tents and hear the band as we approached the lot.

All around an open space for dancing, for sitting and for enjoying the band community organizations staffed information booths. Residents mingled; NYS Democratic Senate candidates Pramilla Malick and Jen Metzger were among them.

The food did not disappoint: There was rice and beans, beef sticks, fried tamales, sweet plantains, tacos and empanadas…  Good stuff.  The only thing that was missing was shade!  (Not much shade in those kinds of parking lots.  When redoing these spaces in the years to come, solar shades and trees are definitely going to be beneficial! I digress. And I show my bias toward environmentally sound practices. Know thyself!)

So… back to the Latin Festival.

I enjoy ethnic festivals. I enjoy seeing a variety of people expressing their culture which is different than mine. While the values and basic fundamentals of being human are there, the energy is different.

Different cultures express energy differently. I like it!

And that’s what I like about the opportunity that we have as our area becomes, perhaps, a bit more populated with people who are coming from different backgrounds and locations.

We have the opportunity of regeneration!

An example of this can be found in all of the communities that are thriving, as new people with different energy come in. Kauneonga Lake is a good example with its restaurant row! Jeffersonville has been revived with community spirit and business pride. Narrowsburg has become exclusive and trendy. Callicoon hovers in the middle; Cochecton and Lake Huntington wait in the wings. Hancock, Long Eddy, Barryville, Glen Spey and Port Jervis are all coming alive with new community energy.

And with all that energy, I wonder how we will combine our communities of the past with this emerging trend. I wonder how it will be accomplished that the old and the new blend together. (How will we remember that Peck’s Market started on Main Street in Narrowsburg? How it was a grocery store, started by Art and Beth Peck that was born out of Oelrich and Behling, the general store that inhabited the corner of Main and Bridge.)

And somehow, I see that coming back to the paper.

Beyond covering the news, newspapers reflect the community over time. They, through their news archives and institutional memory, hold the space that tells the multiple stories of the foundation in our community lives.

Pike County Historian George Fluhr told me after the Great Shohola Train Wreck Memorial Service, that communities are more resilient when their stories are blended. He remarked how wonderful it was that 50 people had come to the event. How people new to the area appreciate the history of this region and how we are strengthened when we blend that history with emerging technologies and culture.

And I also see that there is much conversation needed for this blending to occur. If change is anything, it is scary because it disrupts what we have always known. And for many, what they have known for all of their lives is disappearing, some of it because of this new energy.

So what do we do?

I think, quite simply, what is to be done right now is for us all to show up: at community suppers, at festivals, on main streets, at cultural events, and, even if you don’t have children, school events.

It’s time to talk about and more importantly live, with a blended history and a vibrant future of cultural differences and experiences set in the beautiful landscape of the Upper Delaware River Valley.

And the food, you ask?

The food is always good!


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