RosenRaps: Chris

Chris by Maria

March 30th, 2024

[copy edited]

M: Hi Chris, how long have you lived in Rosendale?

C: Twenty-six years. Long time.

M: And what is it that you love about Rosendale that’s keptyou here for twenty-six years? 

C: I enjoy the pretty easy access to nature and outdoors and the kind of combination of a little town. I really like the rail trail. It’s good, nice, close to Kingston, but far enough away that it’s just a fun little hamlet. 

M: And what else?  What did you do in your twenty-six years in Rosendale? 

C: Well, I raised my kids. They were all pretty young when I first moved here. So, originally, we really wanted to move on to Main Street into a more actual town setting, but was unable to do that. So, I had to settle for Circle Avenue, which was a little more outside of town, but that was fun, but it was kind of a different experience. 

I bought and renovated a few houses. So, I got into the rental business, got into the plumbing and electric business. But I just like being involved, and I’ve always felt like they had pretty… sort of high-quality cultural life there. I feel happy to be involved with the local musicians and all of that, and I always feel like it is on a pretty high level. It isn’t provincial at all. It is pretty sophisticated, but so that’s what I like about it. It’s like a good combination of sort of country and sophisticated urban. It’s like “all the above”. 

M: What would you change about? 

C: Well, I had a friend, my best friend, who lived in Kingston, and they were members at Williams Lake. So, maybe 27, 28 years ago, I had come up to visit, and the Rosendale Street Festival was going on. I really enjoyed that and thought to myself, wow, what a great, a cool thing that this town can operate this street festival. Then I probably didn’t visit for 20 years, and I came back 20 years later, and the street festival happened to be going on again, and I thought to myself, “Wow, this town really has it together, because they kept this street festival going for 20 years straight.”  Unbeknownst to me, there’d been a 19-year gap, and I was attending only the second street festival. But the street festival is fun too. That’s a good example, I think, of the blend of like sort of good high quality culture and small town enjoyment.

I enjoy being able to ride my bike into town, and the trestle has been, for me, has been a tremendous, tremendous boon to the biking environment. Absolutely, the trestle means really, you can really get around, you can go a lot of places without too much interaction with cars, that’s pretty nice.

M:  And if you could change something in Rosendale, is there something that you would want to change?

C: Well, I think that sometimes, in a lot of small towns, is tension between newer and older residents, and I would like to see the newer residents be more open-minded and sensitive to the needs and perspectives of the older residents, but I would like to see the older residents be a little less, you know, provincial and, you know, “dog protecting their bowl and getting mad if you move it”. I think, you know, I’d like to see both sort of groups of people try to be a little more open-minded to the perspective of the other. I think that would make the growth more harmonious for everybody, actually. 

M: And do you have any ideas for how to accomplish that?

C: Well, you know, I think, you know, for instance, anytime people can meet and mingle and talk, is very positive and encourages that. So, I think the farmers market is a great place for all kinds of people to mingle. And I think it’s a lot easier to mingle at the farmers market than at a town board meeting. I think the mingling and getting to know people has to happen before you dive into, you know, a town board meeting or, you know. 

The theatre is a great place where different people, old residents, new residents, city people, can easily mingle. I think a Friday evening concert series in the summer would be a great place for you know, a little more mingling between the different elements that comprise the town. I think there’s some pretty siloed people. I think you have city people who are a little smug and arrogant and kind of like, don’t relate to the locals. And then there’s a lot of grumpy locals too. I think so, so I think that these other forms, you know, the farmers market, the theatre or maybe a concert series, things like that, where everybody can get even the street festival, I think are very positive because when people get to know each other, it’s much easier for them to consider the other person’s perspective and the different town looks something, you know.

M: And do you have any ideas that you would love to see happen in Rosendale?

C:Well, I think, you know, like a, you know, summer concert series, I think would be a really fun thing, like on a weekday evening. I think that would be really fun. Even in like a bike riding event or something, like could be fun, you know, just something like that. Also, I would love to see Rosendale’s identity as like a biking mecca be, you know, identified and cultivated.

M: And why is that? 

C: Well, because it’s near and dear to my heart, but I think it’s also a cross-cultural activity that a lot of different people could engage in. And it could be like the street festival or the farmers market or the theatre, it could be a place where the different residents can interact and get to know each other. 

M: And do you have friends that are very different than you that are very different demographic? 

C: Well, yeah, I have people that are, you know, still stuck in their city head. And then I have other friends who are, you know, born and bred in Rosendale or Ulster County, you know. 

There’s definitely a broad spectrum of politics in Rosendale, just like anywhere else, you know. But when you get people together over some other non-political event, people can get along better. Well, I guess it’s a common ground. Common ground, common interests. I think people, even people who have very disparate political views, also have a lot in common. And I think, depending on the climate in your environment, be it locally or nationally, I think a lot of really polarized, really binary thinking has been cultivated. And I think that people are capable of and used to coexist with different ideas and still feel like they had common ground. 

M: And having raised kids here, is there anything you’d like to say about Rosendale in that regard? 

C: Rondout Valley, I think, is viewed by outsiders as a very provincial redneck-y district. And it absolutely, has some elements like that. And I think also my kids, who maybe have been a very direct competition with kids from downstate or Long Island, have felt at a distinct disadvantage because of the districts down there, so lavishly supported. But I think all my kids had really good experiences at Rondout Valley. And I think, like anything else, if you’re positive, you have a great experience. And I think it’s very similar to the political climate, like, if you see yourself as unbelievably different from the son of a farmer, then you’re not going to have a lot of common ground. So I think kind of the same thing. You have disparate elements in the school that are not unlike disparate elements in the town. And I think the same thing goes like it’s a good place to interact with and recognize the common ground and camaraderie you can have with all kinds of people.

M: And is there anything else you’d like to share about your thoughts about Rosendale? How to, you know, where you want to see it go in the future? Do you want to stay here?

C: Oh, yeah, I could, I see myself, I could easily stay in Rosendale. I just like the combination of access to nature and access to culture. And I feel quite comfortable with the community. Often when I’m traveling and, maybe it’s late at night, I’m driving through some small town in Pennsylvania that I have no feeling for. I wonder to myself, is it just because I don’t know anybody? That I know nothing about this place? Is there really a big difference between, say, Rosendale and this small town in western Pennsylvania, for instance. And I think it’s a little bit of both. I think Rosendale has some qualities that set it apart from other places, but I think if that’s what your priority is, I think you can build community. No place is impossible to build community, I say.

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