Thursday, November 3, 2011

Public Spaces Promote Growth

Last night, Barb Schmitt attended the Sullivan Renaissance Workshop, entitled “CREATING PUBLIC SPACES” at the CVI Center in Ferndale. The seminar presenters were Challey Comer, Farm to Market Manager at the Watershed Agricultural Council, and Nancy Proyect, President of the Orange County Citizens Foundation. The purpose of “Greening and Gathering” is to create public spaces where people naturally want to congregate and is a critical component of improving any community. Nancy Proyect, specifically addressed the concept of “placemaking” and the benefits of creating attractive and vibrant public spaces. Her powerpoint presentation showed photos of various places that have been on the Orange County Citizens Foundation’s “placemaking” tour and gave some background on the projects. The images offered an interesting perspective of many things that are working correctly in these communities, as well as their pitfalls to avoid. Said Barb, “I was very pleased to see all of the things that we are already doing in Mountaindale that matched Nancy’s advice.” Mountaindale has lovely pocket parks, public spaces and community activities. The speaker encouraged ‘Triangulation,’ which is evident in Mountaindale’s efforts to promote synergy between our various Main Street businesses.

Thanks to our local landscaper, yoga instructor and Slow Foods advocate, Janet Gula, we also have a community garden. This was the focus of the second presenter, Challey Comer, who spoke about community gardens and farmers markets. She oversees the Pure Catskills campaign, a regional buy local initiative that serves nearly 300 farm and food businesses in six counties. Market-based farmer education, regional advocacy and market connections are also components of the economic viability efforts at the council. We would still love to be able to host a regular Peoples' Market in Mountaindale where produce & crafts could be bought and sold as an expansion of the CSA produce (Community Supported Agriculture) that Janet facilitates each week on Thursdays at Radiant Yoga for the past several years.

Fostering quality of life were key for both speakers. Mountaindale has already accomplished much with charming architecture, public art, nature trails and our Rails to Trails, as well as Mountaindale Park. Comfort was also stressed as being conducive to interaction, and Barb was glad to know that our hamlet has so many convenient benches and excellent sidewalks to encourage walkability in our community.