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Positive News Brief

Dec 06, 2017 CWN

Research shows that we start to become what we focus on in life. Check out the wonderful things our neighbors are up to.

Anchor Party Boosts Current Visibility in Kingston

    Country Wisdom News’ parent organization, the Hudson Valley Current, held a mixer on a Monday night in mid-November to introduce the local currency’s new app for exchanging Currents, and introduce their membership to the business people and creators of their first Anchor Community in Kingston. The event took place, appropriately, at Anchor Bar on Broadway, with about a hundred people in attendance and 62 registering their emails for further contact. Seven new members of the Current signed up, a total of 65 Currents were exchanged over the length of the evening, and members new and old earned 172 Currents from participating in a networking game that demonstrated just how easy and fun it is to move beyond fiat economics into the bright, community-oriented world of local currency. More such events, including new Satisfy Hunger dinners, will be taking place throughout the coming winter. Stay tuned, stay local, stay Current!

Happening On The Mountain

    Now that the temperature’s dropped and snow’s been seen in the Catskills, the region’s ski enthusiasts are wondering how the millions in state funding for Belleayre upgrades are being spent. Slopes opened right after Thanksgiving, and the big news in Highmount is that Belleayre’s new “Catskill Thunder” gondola, made up of 60 cars able to hold eight skiers each, moving 2,000 an hour in ADA compliance according to Mountain Manager Tim Maxwell, will be open by mid-December. Other changes at the state’s oldest ski resort have also included shifts in the ski area’s lodge seating, food/beverage locations, and general systems upgrades, plus a new ski trail and snowmaking enhancements. As for that huge Belleayre Resort everyone’s had their eyes on, for good and bad, over the past two decades—its principal backer, Kenneth Pasternak, recently noted that legal efforts to stop the long permitting process that resulted in DEC and then local planning and zoning board approvals for the proposed resort were in their “last appeal stage,” and HVS Global Hospitality Services, a consulting and banking firm, has been hired to pursue a joint venture partner to develop and build the planned resort. “They’re preparing offering materials now,” Pasternak said from his New Jersey offices, where he’s also been fielding questions about his investment ties to the Kushner family of late. “They’re already getting quite a bit of interest.”

Learning About How Our Food Gets Produced

    Nutrition? Botany? Insect life cycles? Farm stands? Not part of the expected curriculum for grades 1-3, right? Julie Cash, a Montessori teacher at Kingston’s George Washington School, has other ideas and has been working with the Kingston YMCA Farm Project and other local entities to spend a $3,000 Explore Award through Teaching the Hudson Valley for an elaborate year-long program integrating field experiences with science, mathematics, language activities, and visual and performing arts. Over the course of the school year, Cash’s multi-age, multi-lingual classroom will pick apples at Montgomery Place, develop communication skills with storyteller Jill Olesker, work with a printmaker, and have multiple farm-based educational programs at the Kingston YMCA Farm Project. George Washington is a Title1 school meaning many of the students come from families who struggle economically, and Cash is intent on building up her students’ many strengths while providing opportunities they might not otherwise have. THV is a program of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Greenway Conservancy, Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites, the Hudson River Estuary Program of the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation, and the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College. Talk about education that matters.

New Tourism Challenges

    The Ulster County Lodging Coalition looked into a variety of tourism industry related topics at their annual general meeting last month, including the effects the coming of Norwegian Air flights to Europe might have on Hudson Valley tourism, a perceived shortage of qualified hospitality and tourism related job applicants in the area and ways in which local colleges can help meet that challenge, and such growing phenomenon as app tourism aids and short term rentals. The gathering was held at Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa in Milton. Next year: driverless cars as the latest local frontier? Similarly, the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce recently hosted Ulster County Board of Realtors President Harris Safier and Hudson Valley Catskill Region Multiple Listing Service (MLS) President Tim Sweeney at their November breakfast meeting to talk about how the Hudson Valley’s drawing new imports, but only for certain types of housing, and not all. The new market, both men added, is more about lifestyle changes than old second-home stand-bys.

Helping People Work Through Driving Aid

    The Dutchess County Department of Community & Family Services and Dutchess County BOCES presented five local families with pre-owned vehicles as part of their Community Solutions to Transportation “Wheels to Work” program, which was started in 2001 to help low-income residents get and keep a job, providing them reliable transportation to and from work. Qualified participants must come from a family that receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or whose family income is less than 200 percent of the poverty level, and show a penchant for new education. “Wheels to Work” provides vehicles from local used car dealers to eligible individuals and provides participants training—such as car care and defensive driving—as well as assistance in obtaining a learner’s permit or driver’s license. The CST program also offers driver experience training, car maintenance instruction, and auto repairs. For every family that receives a car and avoids temporary assistance, Dutchess County says it saves $1,614 a month and within a year, that savings equals the cost of a new car. Dutchess County Community Solutions for Transportation has benefited more than 3,000 families since 2001, providing 864 cars, helping 300 get their New York State learner’s permit, and helping 460 pass their state road test and get driver’s licenses; 740 vehicle repairs were approved on behalf of program participants.

Conscious Culture In Our Business Worlds

    This autumn, the Darlene L. Pfeiffer Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at SUNY Ulster shifted its sights somewhat by presenting a speech by Noel Boyland, a pioneer of the Conscious Culture movement and an avid advocate for compensation programs, talent management, organization effectiveness, governance, leadership, and employee health and well-being improvement, on the topic, “Conscious Capitalism Movement – A New Way to Do Business.” The noted co-chair of the New York City Chapter of Conscious Capitalism talked about the growing movements towards conscious capitalism, greater business ethics, and sustainability. Seems the Hudson Valley’s becoming epicenter of the new ways of doing business; talk about change that matters!

Honored with HV Family Service Awards

    Each year two local families are honored by Family Services—which has been providing programs and services in the Hudson Valley such as youth services, family programs, prevention, victim services, community safety, and the Family Partnership Center in Poughkeepsie since 1879 to help families and individuals help themselves through direct services, collaboration, and advocacy—at the annual Family of the Year Awards.  On April 26, 2018 Jeff and Rona Feldman will receive the Quality of Life Award for their community enrichment activities, and Joseph and Maria Lepore will receive the Good Neighbor Award, presented to a family or individual who does tremendous work for the community as an “unsung” hero. The awards dinner not only recognizes the strong commitment of the honorees, but also raises significant funds to support Family Services work in the local community. For more information contact Whitney Humphrey, Director of Development at Family Services at 845-452-1110 x3192 or visit familyservicesny.org.

Weisure Time Takes Its Toll

    New research released this autumn shows a link between increased smartphone usage and falling productivity in developed countries and ponders whether a growing onslaught of digital media, scientifically designed to grab and hold our attention, is draining a scarce resource—our ability to pay attention to what is in front of us. People typically spend one hour of their workday on social media, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Amazing as that figure is, and it’s been surmised that office workers require around 25 minutes to recover from interruptions before returning to the task at hand. Meanwhile, complaints center on how smartphones have extended our working days, creating what some are calling “weisure time,” a term that was invented to describe the mix of work and leisure that now fills many evenings and weekends. Yet not only is productivity now slacking. A recent Bank of England study found that all the distractions and online time is actually making us dumber, reducing the average IQ by 10 points—equivalent to losing a night’s sleep. Worse, trend-watchers are saying that our inability to concentrate is only going to get worse as online developers gain insight into how to make smartphone apps and websites even more addictive, including bottomless scrolling news feeds. The answer? Mindfulness, if you can find the time to wrap your head around such a concept, and limiting the time one spends looking at that thing in your hand.