Small Businesses Are the Heart of the Local Economy
Time To Apply For Some Heating Help
It’s home heating assistance season throughout New York State, when the Home Energy Assistance Program will be making $327 million in federal funding available to eligible older New Yorkers and low- and moderate-income New Yorkers to help cover heating costs. The Mid-Hudson region is third in the state for use of the program, accounting for 102,531 households served (out of 1,479,803 statewide). Households that are eligible can receive assistance of up to $726, depending on income, household size, and how the home is heated. A family of four can earn up to $53,482 per year and still qualify for help. The program is overseen by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and applications are accepted at local departments of social services; plus anyone living outside of New York City can apply for a regular Home Energy Assistance benefit online at myBenefits.ny.gov. Additionally, households may qualify for an emergency benefit if they are at risk of getting their heat shut off or running out of fuel. Applications for emergency benefits will be accepted beginning Tuesday, January 2, 2018. Anyone in need of emergency assistance should contact their local department of social services. And don’t forget to ask about new weatherization funds available for most homeowners, and renters, as well. Why go cold?
The Thruway Gets Its Own App?
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced the launch of the New York State Thruway Authority mobile app, available to download for free on iPhone and Android devices. The new app provides motorists direct access to real-time traffic and navigation assistance while on the go, along with detailed Thruway services information for New York’s 570-mile superhighway. “New York continues to meet the needs of 21st century travelers, and ahead of the busy holiday season, the launch of this new app will provide reliable, advanced technology to keep motorists informed and safe,” the Governor said. “By connecting travelers with real-time information, this new app will help ease travel along the Thruway, promote responsible driving habits, and support an easier, less congested holiday commute for all.” The app also provides links to the I Love NY tourism app, New York State Department of Transportation, New York Department of Motor Vehicles, New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, as well as the Thruway Authority website.
Celebrating Our State’s Green Businesses
The new New York Green Business program is designed to formally recognize New York businesses operating sustainably and celebrate businesses that are implementing projects that go above and beyond relevant state laws and regulations to preserve and enhance New York’s environment. NYGB members will benefit from the ability to market themselves as environmental leaders, receiving formal recognition for their achievements, priority access to technical assistance and experts at the Pollution Prevention Institute, and access to a vast network of sustainability leaders. To become a member of the NYGB a business must have a good record of compliance with environmental laws and regulations; make commitments to projects that will lower their environmental footprint; and communicate their commitment to sustainability to their customers and employees. Sustainable business practices include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and water use, decreasing the use of toxic chemicals, procuring green products and local products, incorporating zero emissions vehicles into their fleets, installing EV chargers and renewables, and more. Managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, NYGB is open to businesses, and other entities, in all sectors with special entry requirements for breweries, restaurants, and garment cleaners to address their unique environmental impacts. The program is accepting applications for membership through December 15; for more information on the program, including how to download an application, visit dec.ny.gov/chemical/939.html.
The Future is All About Communities!
A new Hudson Valley Co-housing & Farm Collectives Meetup series of monthly meetings through the winter of 2017-2018 will kick off from 1 to 4pm on Sunday, December 10 in a Kingston location yet to be announced. Among the presenters will be architectural designer and builder Martin Tomczyk, speaking about cohousing groups and ecovillages in the New England region that he has visited and researched; members of the Deer Creek Collective, a newly budding intentional homestead community and herb farm in Accord who will speak about an intentional community meet and greet gathering they hosted last year (format, findings etc.) and share their current visions and goals; and long standing communitarian Dagen Julty, who not only believes in but has experienced the power of Group Mind to heal all of our problems. Julty will lead the participants in a group talking circle, enabling all to become familiar with a working model for co-creating solutions. Hot cider and ample networking will be on hand; bring your own mugs! To stay informed and find out more about that first and all subsequent meetings, visit meetup.com/Hudson-Valley-Collectives-Co-housing-Meetup/.
Employing Our Youth with Green Jobs
New York State recently announced that Green Jobs for Youth grants have been awarded to 10 organizations across the state to serve communities that face environmental justice and unemployment challenges. Simultaneously, the Department of Environmental Conservation has released a request for applications for $1 million in new grant funding to support an initiative to promote environmental education through the development of Urban Environmental Education Centers. Among the ten grants was $100,000 for the Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s Poughkeepsie Urban Farming Initiative providing training in urban agriculture, and the upper Hudson area’s innovative (and growing) Social Enterprise and Training Center, which will receive $100,000 for their SEAT Center Green Initiative providing training in green infrastructure and energy efficiency. The grants were administered by DEC with funds from New York’s Environmental Protection Fund, which in 2017, includes a record $8 million for environmental justice programs and projects. Applications for the new funds just announced are due by February 2, 2018 through the New York State Grants Gateway or at dec.ny.gov/public/333.html.
Trade and Handmade Bazaar
Looking for a guilt-free Christmas? The annual Fair Trade & Handmade Bazaar will take place at the Hellenic Center, 54 Park Avenue in Poughkeepsie, from 1am to 5pm on Saturday, December 2, and 11am to 3pm on Sunday, December 3. Cosponsored by the Dutchess County Interfaith Council and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie, the annual event is based on belief in the connection between shopping choices in the United States, and poverty and environmental damage throughout the world. The Fair Trade and Handmade Bazaar offers Hudson Valley shoppers a wide array of high-quality, unique, and multicultural fair trade items that are reasonably-priced and options that allow the buyer to feel a sense of alignment with the principles of the holidays. Shoppers can browse through fair trade coffee and chocolate, fine jewelry, carved wooden bowls, woven baskets, pottery, hand-knitted clothing, or one-of-a-kind dolls. Importers include Equal Exchange, SERRV, Vision of Tibet, and Vassar Haiti Project. Local artisans and artists will be present, as well as local nonprofits such as Relay for Life and the Sierra Club. For more information, contact Pat Lamanna at 845-309-3853 or visit the Hudson Valley Fair Trade and Handmade Bazaar Facebook page.
After-School Expansions in Mid Hudson Region
New York recently announced $7.8 million in new Empire State After-School Program funding to two high-need school districts in the Mid-Hudson Valley, supporting the addition of 4,860 new slots, bringing the total number to 6,795, a 251 percent increase over last year. Research has shown that after-school programs are associated with lower school dropout rates and a reduction in juvenile crime. School districts receiving funding are in communities with high rates of child poverty and many are in communities designated under the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative. Additional research has shown that children enrolled in high-quality after-school programs have better peer relations, emotional adjustment, conflict-resolution skills, and overall conduct in school, as well as higher scores on standardized tests in math, reading, and language arts. Quality after-school programs have also been found to have a $3 return on investment for every dollar spent. Newburgh and Poughkeepsie schools will be able to utilize their funding for various academies, magnet schools, and outside projects including Burn Bright International, the Hudson Valley Writing Project, Newburgh Performing Arts Academy, the Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh, The Leadership Program, Inc., Mill Street Loft, Inc., the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, R.E.A.L. Skills Network, Inc., C.O.L.O.R.S. Foundation, Family Services, Project Thunder, MPOWER Financing, and Spark Media Project.
Workshop Winter Market Hits Its Fifth!
Workshop Winter Market is returning to Beacon for their 5th year December 9 and 10 at Wickham Solid Wood Studio, 578 Main Street in Beacon. The two day event features museum-store-quality, locally made gift items and a good dose of holiday community cheer, running 10am to 6pm on Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday. Twenty artisans will participate in the sale, featuring hand-crafted small goods in wool, glass, clay, paper, linen, silk, wood, metal, and beeswax all on view at a loft-like woodworking workshop in a factory building on the banks of Fishkill Creek, a prime example of the new creative economy taking hold up and down the Hudson Valley. Among this year’s features will be a shopper’s cafe run by local charcuterie maven Beacon Pantry and spirits tastings conducted by Denning’s Point Distillery. For details, see workshopwintermarket.com.