Introducing: The River Roundtable Project

Posted 1/11/23

Welcome to 2023! May the new year bring you health, wealth and wisdom. 

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Introducing: The River Roundtable Project


Welcome to 2023! May the new year bring you health, wealth and wisdom. 

It’s almost a platitude to say that times are changing for the Upper Delaware. Both sides of the river have seen rising property values and an influx of new residents over the past couple of years. Many of the past year’s biggest stories played out against the backdrop of that change,and 2023 will likely be little different.

The River Reporter followed those stories throughout 2022, and we did our best to keep you informed about the changes that were happening in your community. For 2023, we’re trying to do more.

Communication between neighbors is never more important than during periods of transformative change. If we can’t talk with our neighbors, especially when we disagree, how can we hope to navigate the complex conversations that come with an area experiencing growth?

This year, we’re launching the River Roundtable Project, a series of conversations about the changes that are affecting the Upper Delaware in the present day. Through a purposeful neutral stance, we will examine the changes, the challenges and the opportunities that a changing demographic brings. We’ll be looking at other areas that have gone through the changes that we are experiencing and report out on our findings, as well as the conversations that we host.

The River Reporter has a long history of engaging the public in dialogues that have proven results. Through the Visioning the Upper Delaware Committee in 1998, we identified two specific areas of lack: a local farmers market and public hiking possibilities. From that exploration and action, the Callicoon Farmers’ Market was born, and the Boy Scouts of America Yellow Dot trail in the Town of Tusten was opened to the public.

We hosted training sessions for area planning boards through the Pace Land Use Center, and were instrumental in the creation of a regional GIS committee, sparking coordination between the planning departments in Sullivan County, Wayne County, Pike County and the National Park Service. These regional dialogues—identifying the connections as well as the disconnections—also made it possible for river towns to coordinate in the development of a Ridgeline Overlay District, funded through the Upper Delaware Council’s Technical Assistance Grant program.

In 2010, the Upper Delaware River Roundtable was chosen to vet the Marcellus Shale Best Management Practices for the Washington, D.C.-based Pinchot Institute for Conservation. For 10 months, oil and gas officials met in the basement of the Tusten Town Hall with political leaders, interested stakeholders and anti-fracking activists. What came out of those discussions were regional dialogues with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Delaware River Basin Commission. Through thoughtful and respectful dialogue, we were able to identify the need to coordinate those entities around smaller pipeline transmission lines and health implications.

Which is all to say that when people with diverse viewpoints and ideologies work together, rounded solutions to complex challenges can be found. Relationships and connections can be forged.

With decades of experience holding these types of conversations, and from a pair of prototype sessions we held in 2022—a session for the area’s youth held in partnership with the Tusten Youth Commission, and a session for people nearing retirement age in partnership with Growing Older Together—we’re bolstered by the power of a community engaged in civic and civil dialogue.

We’re excited about the possibilities of this new initiative. While we’re still working on some of the details, we’ll be calling on you to participate in this important work of examining and identifying the changes that we’re experiencing, and creating connections between newcomers and long-time residents.

We also need your financial support in order to make this conversations happen. All contributions to the River Roundtable Project are tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsorship with the Local Media Foundation. You can make an online donation at For check donations, donors should make checks payable to Local Media Foundation and include River Roundtable Project in the memo field. Checks should be mailed to Local Media Foundation, PO Box 85015, Chicago, IL 60689-5033. 

We thank you in advance for your support in this new endeavor. We hope 2023 will be filled with productive conversations for all.

The River Reporter’s River Roundtable Project will facilitate public conversations about important community issues. Donations to the Local Media Foundation for this project are tax-deductible to the extent of the law. No goods or services are provided in exchange for contributions. Please consult a tax advisor for details. The program is administered by Local Media Foundation, tax ID #36-4427750, a Section 501(c)(3) charitable trust affiliated with the Local Media Association.

community, launching, project, river reporter, communication, dialogue, roundtable


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