There’s nothing quite like the heightened awareness of being new. To a school, to a job, to a relationship, and especially to a city. As we’ve been getting to know Hudson, enjoying the newness, one thing that has really struck us is how much great work our neighbors are doing. Our staff is sharing what we come across daily as we explore. One thing’s a constant refrain: Amazing people are doing amazing things in the Hudson community.
Our just-next-door neighbors on Green Street, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, are also newcomers. They recently opened a new health center and are similarly struck by this community. “Our favorite thing has been the generous welcome and spirited support we’ve received from community members, coalition partners, and local businesses,” says Kara Mariano, their Development Program Assistant. “What makes Hudson so unique is the deep commitment to community health and opportunity while protecting the diversity of the area.” We couldn’t agree more.
Here are a few notable organizations, events, schools, programs, and community events we’ve been learning about near our new Hudson shop. We’re sure to come across more. If you’re interested in our neighbors’ suggestions of where to eat and what to do outdoors in Hudson, head to our blog and check out our last two articles in the series.
“I love our youth department, which serves all the kids of Hudson and is located in this amazing, old Wes Anderson-style building half a block from my house,” says Hudson resident Tamar Adler, a Vogue contributing editor and the author of Something Old, Something New and An Everlasting Meal. Her new podcast, Scrambled!, is recorded in Hudson and will be out on Luminary in October. One look at the Youth Department’s Facebook page reveals Hudson community summer camp, swim lessons, meals, smiles, crafts, gardening, basketball, and a lot more.
Now in its 8th year, Hudson’s Oral History Summer School hosts a range of workshops that focus on oral history as an ethical interview practice. Despite its name, there are also winter classes. It’s run by Suzanne Snider, a writer and educator who wears a number of other hats. Snider is currently in the process of helping to build an audio archive comprised of Hudson residents’ life histories, recorded songs, and ambient sound from around the Hudson community, which will open to the public later this year in collaboration with the Hudson Area Library. “This will involve a lot of heavy lifting and I’m grateful for the support, love, labor and wisdom of so many local organizations and friends,” she says. OHSS is particularly close to our heart as our own COO and Creative Director Sam Gloffke helps Snider out every summer. (On a side note, we have to say a quick ode to Hudson community’s library, even before the audio archive opens to the public. It’s so good, with ample space and high ceilings! Almost everyone we spoke to agrees, including Maddie Fischer, Program Manager for The Sylvia Center’s School and Community program. She says it’s one of her favorite things in Hudson, “from the beautiful building to all of the wonderful programs for youth, families and the greater community.”)
Our next door neighbor’s favorite event of the year is Rally in the Valley. “It was started by a group of passionate local volunteers committed to bringing our community together for a weekend of art, education, and activism in support of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood. We are incredibly proud and humbled by their work,” says UHPP’s Kara Mariano. “This level of community time and engagement inspires and equips us to continue to show up for our patients and to deliver the best, most comprehensive and non-judgmental health care, no matter what.” Head to their website for future details.
We were awestruck when we heard about this daily out-of-school program which offers educational and experiential opportunities just for girls ages 8 to 18. Through community engagement, skill development, academic support and cultural exploration, Perfect Ten “empowers girls on their way to flourishing as confident, independent women.” For the most part the program is set up for Hudson community girls, but they also serve a few girls from two other local school districts. Their outreach is influenced by transportation and funding. They have a new program director this year, Tina Dipper, and she’s as excited to be a part of the program as we are to know it exists. “My position is new but I have seen Perfect Ten from day one and it has grown tremendously and I am so proud to be on board,” she says.
Historic Hudson has been working on preserving the city’s historic heritage since it was founded in 1996. They’re particularly involved in restoring Dr. Oliver Bronson’s house and estate. “It’s this beautiful national historic landmark inside the prison grounds, not currently open to the Hudson community public. Historic Hudson has the lease on the house and some land,” explains board member Anthony D’Argenzio, who is also the creator of This Old Hudson lodging and the art direction company Zio & Sons. The house had fallen into disrepair and the org stepped in to try to bring it back to its original 1811 state. Its architect, Alexander Jackson Davis, is well known for early American design. While some preservation projects can be private, Historic Hudson wants to create a public space. “What we are trying to do with our ten year plan is to create a park for Hudson, so anyone could walk from Warren Street and end up at the house. It’s still in its planning stages,” says D’Argenzio. To learn more or get involved with creating more walkable space for all Hudson residents and visitors following old original carriage trails, check out their website.
The fact that Hudson has so many after-school and unique educational programs speaks volumes. It’s a city that cares about its youth. “What’s unique is that all of our organizations come together in meetings to make sure that all of our kids are held,” says Sharece Johnson, the after-school coordinator for Kite’s Nest, a center for liberatory education. They offer multidisciplinary classes for children and teens during the day, after-school, during school breaks, and throughout the summer. “Recently, while running our summer camp with the teens, we were able to have some activists come who work in and around the community,” says Johnson. The activists came from a diverse array of organizations: CCSM: The Columbia County Sanctuary Movement and The Greater Hudson Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents, among others. “We also had a group from Albany come down that is working on prison reform. I was just in awe that day about how many activists we have a connection to and how we are all in line with the same values and work.” Johnson says this strength of Hudson community and the time people take to educate young people is her favorite thing about the city.
As food industry people, we have a special place in our hearts for The Sylvia Center, which teaches young people how to enjoy, prepare, and speak up for healthy food. “By engaging in skills-based learning through cooking, our students learn critical life skills that spark real impact in their lives and communities. They work together as a team, learn the basic principles of healthy eating, and become more open to trying new things,” says Nicole Cardish, The Sylvia Center’s Farm Based Program Manager at Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, NY. She manages their Learning Garden, plus oversees and teaches groups visiting the farm.
The Sylvia Center not only teaches in Columbia County at Katchkie Farm as well as in schools and community spaces, but also in all five boroughs of New York City. They have a variety of programs for children from 6 to young people in their early twenties. “The Sylvia Center is a part of a movement to develop the next generation of healthy eaters, cooks, and advocates that can fundamentally change the future of food,” says Cardish. “We work in partnership with others because we know that we can not do it alone. The problem may be big, and the stakes high, but together we can lift up young people to take their own place at the table.” We’re excited to call them our neighbors!