Can We TALK ??                                                          4-22-2017

           Thank you Joan Rivers, may you rest in peace.   

                 Have you noticed that people rarely talk anymore? Not just the "Hi,How are you !" stuff, but REALLY talk?  All I see these days are the tops of peoples' heads as they stare into a cellphone screen. Texting has replaced the phone call, email has replaced the hand-written letter or note, Google has replaced research and reading, and online games have replaced outdoor play. Kinda sad, isn't it? 

                 These new habits are a big part of the reason that I retain my old flip-phone and shun the Smart Phones. I LIKE writing and reading and TALKING. I ENJOY reading up on things I wish to know more about. Of course I enjoy the internet and the speed at which we can attain info through it, but that doesn't mean I want to abandon the old ways, yet. 

                  One of my very favorite places is my big, front porch with the rocking chairs. Friends and family gather there often in nice weather and we watch the birds at the feeders and building nests, admire the flowers and smell their aromas, and most of all, we TALK. It was from the porch that I saw my first Hummingbird Moth and nearly had a stroke. I am not fond of insects of any type, but this thing is a WEIRD one! 

                   I'm posting some pics below that I think you will find very interesting. A creative photographer took photos of people in social situations, engaged in their phones. He edited the phones out of the pictures and in some cases, made comments on how the scenes could be very different if those phones were put aside. LIFE and relationships would be very different. 

                   Positive communication is hard enough these days with so many divisive issues at play in our society.  People are frustrated and angry, cooperation and give-and-take have given way to arguing and shouting matches. Everyone wants everything to be 100% THEIR way with little or no compromise.  Many even want the government to impose LAWS against things that "Offend" them, rather than being reasonable and mature enough to work these things out among themselves. In many ways, I think our younger folks have never even learned HOW to talk or come to mutually-satisfying agreements. Compromise is something they have never had to practice and certainly don't wish to.

                   Even our leaders can't talk things out anymore. Today, they use the constant threat of sanctions and military actions instead. Human beings have never been able to come to 100% agreement on ANYTHING, it just isn't possible and never will be. Yet once upon a time, we could meet in the middle and all go home fairly happy.  Not so much anymore.  

                   As you should all know by now, we have a divisive issue here in New Lebanon that we SHOULD be talking about and discussing in large numbers. Dunkin Donuts is something that many of us see as a huge threat to the future of our town and a death sentence to its rural and historical flavor. So many people have spent countless dollars and hours, and buckets of sweat trying to protect this town from the encroaching commercialization that has destroyed thousands of other, rural America towns in recent years. Some of these folks and their groups are too extreme in my own opinion and tend to carry conservation issues and zoning enforcement too far. 

                  As a Capitalist, this Dunkin Donuts issue is a tough one for me. I fully support the growth of business and free enterprise, while at the same time, I also think that there are some limits that must be placed upon urbanization and sprawl. Some things are worth protecting from large corporations, and the remaining, little country towns in America are one of those things. They are becoming few and far-between. New Lebanon is not pretty, but it COULD be, and it has managed to escape the invasion of commercial chain stores and big-box entities for 200 years. 

                 If you went out today and talked to residents, you would be surprised to learn that the vast majority of them are livid at the thought of having a Dunkin Donuts with its big, pink signs, pop-up in the field where once stood a huge, working dairy barn. A spot where corn has been grown for decades and if you take the time to dig around, you still find relics from the barn such as cow stanchions and milking equipment of the old days. DD says that their building will look like a New England Cottage, but it will still be a sore thumb and very much out-of-place in THIS town. 

                 Sadly, we the residents and taxpayers, have NO CHOICE in this matter. All DD must do is comply with the zoning requirements and they are free to build. There has been NO opportunity to "Talk" about it between the town officials and the people. There is no requirement to DO so!  There is a small number of people who support DD, and an even smaller number that don't care either way. So what are we to DO?  Should we yet again just sit silently by and allow big money business and loose zoning laws to sentence us to a future of Fast Food restaurants marring our landscape that we have worked so hard to preserve?  Should we allow them to come in and smother the little, privately-owned businesses that are already here? What do YOU think? Are you TALKING about it with others and brainstorming to see what can be done? 

                Well, some of us ARE, and for once, I am not alone in a resistance! There ARE options, but they will be rendered useless if not enough of us engage. The most vital thing we must pressure our officials to do right NOW, is amend our zoning laws and comp. plan to protect us from any future issues like this one. Then we must take on DD at the corporate level, in the media, and face-to-face. 

                One thing I am confused about and a little ticked-off by, is the lack of noise coming from the Environmentalists in town who are always ready to protect butterflies and puddles they refer to as "Wetlands". Where are THEY in this matter? Where are the owners of the existing, small businesses that will be greatly affected? Where is the Historical Society and the Archaeological Investigators that combed through Howard Commander's field at the end of the drag strip?! Where are those whiners who want a "Noise Ordinance"?  Most of all, where is Queen Ruth Abram and her "Museum of Rural American Life?"  Where are her millions of dollars in grant money, her big-lawyer husband, her dreams of restoring and retaining this town's rural history and aesthetics?  Interesting question, isn't it ?? Where is the Secret EDC ?  Where is Mr. Shaker Swamp, John Dax? Not a word from any of THEM.

                 So, that leaves those of us who simply love our town and want it to stay rural. We are gathering, we are planning, and we ARE taking action. We may win, we may lose, but at least we are TRYING.  The eventual outcome is something we will have to accept and live with, but we will have no regrets that we did nothing. We need to TALK, we need to COOPERATE, and we need to COMPROMISE, but most of all, we need to exercise our RIGHT to have a say in the future of New Lebanon. To seek a redress of grievances from our local government and to have a Comprehensive Plan that actually protects this town and its future. 

                 YOU live here, maybe your kids want to stay here and raise their own kids. What is your vision for this town going forward? IF you CARE, we NEED you! Interested parties can contact our group at my email:  First meeting will be held this week, and if you are interested, let us know and we will send you the info. EVERY voice is important, no matter which side you stand on, but doing nothing is NOT an option. Join us.