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October 25, 2016
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It isn’t easy being green

Photographer Nyssa Calkin, with son William, pose with her photo of his dog Mahkia at “Two Friends and Their Photographs” exhibit currently showing at Domesticities & the Cutting Garden in Youngsville, NY.
TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox

That was my thought process last week as I headed out the door to check in at the 2014 Green Tourism conference in Callicoon, NY (www.DelawareHighlands.org/greentourism), but in fact, it’s easier than one might think. That was one of the topics of conversation that came up when I stopped to chat briefly with working group coordinator Adrienne Picciano. Even though it was still early in the day, the conference was already being heralded as a success. “It all came about from a conversation with friends and folks at the Delaware Highlands Conservancy (DHC),” Picciano told me. “We thought the time was right to invite people and businesses from both sides of the river to get together. A lot of small, independent businesses don’t have the time or resources to reach out to others, and this conference gives us all the opportunity to convene, share ideas and band together as a unified group. Tourists don’t stop at the river; they cross the bridge.”

With more than 40 vendors offering “green” products and services, 12 workshops and four green certificate trainings, over 200 registered attendees milled about the halls of the Villa Roma Conference Center, participating in a “Taste of the Region” reception, showcasing locally produced food and beverages and a farm-to-table luncheon featuring keynote speaker Laury Poland, president of the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association (www.fingerlakeswinecountry.com). I spotted Sustainable Solutions’ Stephen Stuart bobbing and weaving through the crowd and flagged him down, curious to know if he was leading a focus group. “No, I’m pretty busy making sure everyone is complying with our Memorandum of Understanding,” Stuart told me. Seeing the confusion on my face, he explained. “We just want to make sure that the conference as a whole is as green as possible,” he explained. “There are no Styrofoam cups here,” he continued, “you know, containers for cream and sugar, cloth napkins, recycling taking place… It’s the little things. Environmental responsibility has gotten a bad rap,” Stuart continued. “People are afraid of ‘Greenies,’ thinking it’s difficult to achieve sustainability and that we’re all fanatics. We want to dispel that myth.” Noting that there is already a “save the date” in place for next year (April 14, 2015), I made a mental note, whistled for the pooch and sallied forth.

Glancing at the pup’s Blackberry, I saw that she had an art show scheduled, featuring photographs of dogs, so we steered towards Youngsville and Anne Hart’s “Domesticies” (www.thecuttinggarden.org), where she was presenting “Two Friends and Their Photographs” with Nyssa Calkin (the dogs) and Brad Walrod’s nature studies. Admonishing Dharma (the wonder dog) for not informing me about Walrod’s contribution to the show, I observed her indifference as we strolled in and perused the small gallery located in the back of Anne’s smart shop. While I cornered Walrod for a moment to discuss his beautiful landscape shots, I couldn’t help but notice Calkin chatting with Dharma. “I’m a little bit of a dog fanatic,” I overheard Nyssa say, “and my son William is the same way. But I’m also in the process of forming the Upper Delaware Film Fellowship.” When Dharma cocked her head in confusion, Calkin clarified. “It’s going to be a social networking group for photography enthusiasts in the region. I want it to be inviting to everyone, amateur or professional, regardless of their skill set,” she explained. “I’m hoping that as a group, we can share our passion for various aspects of the art form and grow together, contributing tips on how to capture images and our favorite locations.”

Alerting Dharma that she had another engagement, she growled but acquiesced, understanding that she had another commitment as a judge for a talent show, benefitting the I.O.U. Thrift Shop in Callicoon, held each year at the Presbyterian Church in Hortonville, NY. Now in its 28th year, the show (and MC Richard Ross) have become fixtures in the community, drawing a dizzying array of local talent that cannot be seen (or heard) anywhere else. I was hoping someone would sing the Menken/Ashman tune “Somewhere That’s Green” from “Little Shop of Horrors,” but that’s about the only performance that didn’t take place that night. With 18 acts comprised of musicians, storytellers, comedy sketches, spirituals, folk songs and four-part harmonies, there was something for everyone and every act took home an award. “Look! There’s the dog!” I heard (more than a few times) as Dharma took her seat, joining fellow judge Carol Montana and sniffing a “bribe” from one of the contestants. “You created this monster,” Ross laughed. “Just accept it; she’s better looking anyhow.”

To see photos of all of the acts from the Hortonville Talent Show, visit www.Facebook.com/theriverreporter.