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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Beacon Bits -- Virtual Community

It's been a full year of blogging about my experiences and sense of community life in Beacon and now, 30 posts later, I find myself even more enthralled and passionate about what has been developing and what the future holds.

Community life is not just what brings visitors to Beacon, like the new venues to eat, such as the Roundhouse, Hop, the soon-to-arrive Dim Sum Vault, and old stand-bys like Sukothai, Cafe Amarcord, Isamu, and Beacon Falls Cafe.

Community life is not just about the artists and creativity that Second Saturday gallery hopping (Bau, Fovea, Gallery 508, Marion Royael) and Open Studio events reveal.

Community life is not just the music at the Howland, performances at the Beacon Theatre, parades like Beacon Barks and Spirit of Beacon, and riverfront events like RIverfest and the Beacon Sloop Club seasonal festivals.

But community life is about the chance to run erands locally and personally greet the shopkeepers. It's about the chance encounters with new friends or the feeling that "everyone knows your name." It's about the long chats. informative conversations and being able to share the news and gossip about what's happening. It's about taking care of the mundane tasks of daily life: getting books at the library, taking a dance class, learning how to make music, buying fresh baked bread, getting your car washed, running down to the Farmer's Market, stopping for a great cup of coffee, purchasing a handmade gift, getting clothes altered or shoes repaired and seeking diversion. It's about being able to meet your needs and to connect with others doing the same.

And Beacon community is always about the river .The river that "runs both ways." The river that connects us to our distant past and to our future revival as a rivertown. It's about the here and now pleasure of being close to the river. It's a chance to rent a kayak at Long Dock Or to take a ferry ride to Newburgh and back. Or to reserve a spot on the sloop, Woody Guthrie. Or to picnic at Riverfront Park.


Some food for thought: I've made many suggestions over the past year related to community involvement and volunteerism, so I thought it would be a good time to take stock of how I am following my own advice. I've become a member of community institutions and nonprofit groups like the Beacon Sloop Club (BSC), Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries BIRE), Dia Museum, Fovea, Howland Cultural Center and Mt. Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society (MBIRRS).  I joined the Beacon Citizens Network website. I've pledged support to the Beacon Theatre since its kick off fundraiser in September 2010. I joined the Common Ground Farm CSA and have participated in its Fair Food committee, annual auction and weekly distribution. I welcomed 6 new neighbors with small gifts of hospitality, and randomly gave seasoned holiday nuts to 5 others in my neighborhood who had been welcoming to me. I hosted representatives from BSC, the Howland and MBIRRS for my homeowners association to share the energy and enthusiasm of Beacon's finest 'movers and shakers'. I've gone to 12 Second Saturdays, 2 Gospel Cafes, 1 Coffe House, 2 MLK celebrations, 1 anti-fracking concert, 1 celebration of the RIvertown Kids grammy award, 2 BSC potlucks, and about 1/2 dozen lectures at BIRE. I've seen Pete Seeger perform live 10 times; he never ceases to amaze me. And just recently, I made approximately 400 biscuits over a 4 hour period of volunteering at this year's BSC Strawberry Festival.



So my hope going forward is to continue to expand my involvement and to celebrate this growing community spirit and to practice neighborship and voluntarism. There still are a lot more "biscuits" to bake. And a lot more blogs to post.

For further information about Beacon, see listings of Beacon businesses and dowload the iPhone app for all things Beacon.

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