A Magazine About Food, Art & Exchange In Midtown Kingston, Published By The Hudson Valley Current.

Life Enhancements: Cure Your Cabin Fever with These Local Organizations

Even in normal times, the shortest month of the year can feel like the longest; it’s a rare soul who’s thrilled with a February snowstorm. This year, what with extra restrictions and so much stress swirling around, it can really start to feel like the walls are closing in. Soon, very soon, the buds will cast a red glow over the tree-tips and the light will get noticeably longer. But right now, life’s got entirely too much icy drizzle and mud in it.

The Livelihood Prescription: fresh fun, and plenty of it. New interconnections. From your easy chair, you can join forces with neighbors to make amazing art, food, and change, building out your network so that when COVID fades (as it will!) into the rear-view mirror, you’ll be poised to jump into a whole new world of events, humans, and fun. Do some exploring and groundwork now, and you’ll find information, stimulation and community online that will tide you over till the warm breezes get steadier.

Here’s a smorgasbord of suggestions that can help the last few weeks of winter fly by:

Besides being fun, studies have shown that art builds emotional resilience and intelligence every which way. There’s never a bad time for that, or for beauty, but now’s an especially good one.

Got youngsters in your life? MyKingstonKids offers Photography Now! and Art in Virtual Reality eight-session programs for teens, and there is a wealth of family resources on their Club Guide page. As soon as it’s safe, there will be the Play Cafe program, which offers activities ranging from jewelry making to bike rodeos, and the Red-K Reading Lounge. 

The Center for Creative Education in Kingston is going strong, with classes for kids of all ages in dance, music, fitness, theater, spoken word, computer arts technology, and the visual arts taking place in person with an above-and-beyond list of safety precautions in place. Kids who grow up in CCE programs, which include three award-winning dance troupes and the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston, build strong minds, bodies, and friendships. Classes are reasonably priced, and scholarship funds are available.

The Art Effect in Poughkeepsie offers fine and media arts programming for all ages, with portfolio development for those who want to take their art to the next level. Here too, there are scholarships available and rigorous safety policies protecting in-person students, along with outstanding online programs. They’re also your go-to source for virtual event organizing or media production.

Free Columbia, founded in 2009, has grown to include a wide range of online and in-person arts education opportunities for adults that blend “studio and performing arts, social theory and action, and nature studies” and dive into the places where art meets Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy of anthroposophy. They just attained their official nonprofit status in 2020; 2021 should become a beautiful year for their gentle, deep probing into the places where form meets meaning.

While you’re getting your ya-yas out, why not build a better world? Local organizations aren’t waiting around for somebody else to do it, so jump on in and be part of the solution.

Forge Collective has established an open platform space for “creating a humanity forward society” rooted in radical honesty, trust building and cooperation, hoping to leverage the Hudson Valley’s creative brain trust in the service of that goal. Current projects include the Policy Lab brainstorming platform and a deep canvassing project focused on Universal Basic Income, and there’s a podcast, Intrinsic, that dives deep into the essence of what makes life worthwhile.

Future Fruits, a Kingston-based collective, seeks to “activate public space to grow food for the general public, reconnecting people with place and purpose. There’s plenty of good progress already, and plenty more work to be done to make the dream of ubiquitous food forests a reality; to find out how you can help, email futurefruitsco@gmail.com.

Hudson Valley Current, your friendly neighborhood local currency, can help you improve your bottom line. Reach out to us to explore ways to earn Currents, which increase the local money supply and can be used in any number of creative and forward-looking ways. (Organizations listed in this story are all Current members.) Our goal is creating abundance; there’s plenty for everyone and we are in the process of proving it.

Want to reinvent yourself? The Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship (GCSEN) Foundation, based in Kingston, has the roadmap. They’ll train you to make your dreams into realities and do well while doing good. Programs include the Evergreen Accelerator, which offers an intensive three-month mentoring process for manufacturing startups. Their goal is to certify 100,000 “meaning makers.” Becoming one of them could change your life forever.

If you haven’t been to the new midtown market opened late last year by Seasoned Delicious Foods, you’re in for a real treat. You’ll discover the delectable recipes of Momma Blossom, guaranteed to take your flavors to the next level, and CEO Tamika Dunkley insists that every product is as good for your body as it is on your tongue. Plus, you’ll be entering a neighborhood nerve center where you can learn about tons of great Kingston goings-on and initiatives.

Stay up-to-date on a wider view of Hudson Valley doings by keeping up with La Voz, a Bard College initiative that has been providing local Spanish speakers with news and information since 2004. There’s a Radio Kingston show, a print magazine, and a podcast series. Follow them on Facebook and you’ll find out about programs, events, and opportunities that don’t make it onto the radar elsewhere and are extremely useful in any language.

Think of these organizations as portals. Through their programming and information networks, you’ll be accessing a web of great people who are building a dynamic Hudson Valley that works for all of us. Creating a rich tapestry of art, culture, excellence, fun, and prosperity, stretching back through the centuries and forward into a smart, just, and livable future for us all. 

C’mon in, the water’s fine.