ELDRED, NY — “The idea that we all have a different perspective strengthens us all, and when we all apply ourselves to our local landscape, then things go better,” said Laurie …
ELDRED, NY — “The idea that we all have a different perspective strengthens us all, and when we all apply ourselves to our local landscape, then things go better,” said Laurie Stuart, publisher of the River Reporter.
Stuart was introducing the inaugural event of the River Roundtable Project, a meeting at the Highland Senior Center on March 18 to discuss change in the community. Approximately 30 people attended, mostly from the Highland area.
Greg Triggs, a member of the Tusten Town Board, led the room in an exercise to define change.
Change was inevitable, said participants. It could bring growth; it could bring challenge. The pace of change alters how it’s experienced. So too does the transparency of those in government who oversee it.
After discussing change in the abstract, participants broke into small groups to discuss specific changes they experience, led by facilitators Triggs, Leanna Ballester, Emily Herrick and Eva Bednar.
Each group found rapport, with conversations that continued well into the session’s break. Each group also focused on different changes happening in the community. One group focused on the increase in the cost of living, how development happening in Sullivan County didn’t necessarily benefit the towns in which it happened, and on the lack of volunteers in the area. Another focused on Highland-centric changes—the Camp FIMFO development project, the loss of local law enforcement—and changes that threatened the area’s natural resources. The third named changes like the compressor station in Highland, the presence of new businesses and the troubling possibilities of pollution. The fourth highlighted the anonymity brought about by new, unknown people who are becoming part of the community, on the loss of a local doctor and the revitalization brought about by new businesses.
Some of the changes seemed promising, including the resources new residents and businesses could bring to the area. More inspired fear.
The event left participants with a question, posed by Ballester; “How do you think you’ll leave this room and engage with some of the change that we all know is happening and that we named today?”
Participants suggested ways to engage including listening, supporting local businesses, attending meetings and being active in the community.
The River Reporter’s River Roundtable Project will facilitate public conversations about important community issues. Look for future conversations happening in a community near you, and email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more information about the project or about ways you can get involved.
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