Mark Marshall is a Kingston Pollinator.
The musician, media producer, and man-about-town organizes Mix at Six: a social community meet-up hosted at a different Kingston location each month. “There are multiple organizations out there that are focused on commerce. Those totally have their place, but the idea behind this was just to get people together in a social atmosphere. Once that happens, like people are going to find each other,” Marshall explains.
The event has its roots in an organization formerly called Kingston Digital Corridor (KDC). KDC’s founders sought to bring industry workers together, and to encourage Manhattanites to ditch NYC in favor of a life upstate. “It was formed with the idea of getting people from New York City to move up here. After the real estate market tanked, one of the initial organizers moved away, and the others became too busy to continue. I took it over, with a fellow KDCer named Alex Brown,” Marshall says. The two tried to expand the event to include more than just tech workers, but with a name like Kingston Digital Corridor, many would-be attendees assumed the meet-up was still for industry folk. “We finally decided to sunset KDC and rename it Kingston Connect.”
“The idea behind Kingston Connect is simply that if you get great people together, great things happen,” Marshall says. The event is held at a different location on the first Wednesday of each month, between 6pm and 8pm. “We try to spread it around. If a new venue has opened up in town, we’ll ask them if they’d like to have us there for a night. It might be at Keegan Ales or at the Art Bar. We did it at Rough Draft, a relatively new book shop and bar on John Street in Kingston. I had never been there before, and the event gave me an opportunity to visit. A bunch of other people who showed up to the mixer had never been there either. That created a connection between us and Rough Draft, and we all got to meet a bunch of people we hadn’t met before.”
Marshall himself can attest to the success that Mix at Six has had in bringing people together. “Attendance at these events can be an intimate group of 15 people, and then sometimes we have 45 or 50 people. I’ve definitely made new friends and contacts there. I’ve been living in Kingston for 10 years now, and there are people I’ve known from these mixers for five or six years. Once you’re no longer 20, making deep friendships is way more difficult. This event gives people a chance to do that,” he says.
Now in its sixth year, Marshall also helps out with an event called Made in Kingston. “It’s strictly things that are made or sold in Kingston. The vendors are store owners or restaurateurs or craftspeople,” explains Marshall.
After hearing about the event, Marshall eagerly offered his services to the event’s organizers. “I built the website for it. My chief role now is the website and planning some of the logistics,” he says. “You need to plan out where all of the tables will go and where to position vendors. Where will the restaurants set up for food? I’m the person who’s basically responsible for the floor plan.”
Though the event lasts for just a few hours, planning takes months. “It’s kind of a whirlwind. We spend six or seven months talking and planning, and the event only lasts half-a-day. It’s a lot of work for just a flash, but the flash is great.”
This year, Made in Kingston is on December 6 from 3pm to 8pm at The Metro on Prospect Street. “It’s a huge space. We did it there last year and it was wonderful,” Marshall explains.
Marshall is also a musician who plays with a local cover band called Mister Kick, and has recorded multiple original albums to boot. This year, he had the chance to play some of his original material at The Anchor during the weekend-long O+ Festival in Kingston. “It was a really big deal to be able to go out and play my original stuff with a band. I found some great people to play with me, and the crowd was really appreciative,” he says.
“The idea behind O+ is – the art of medicine for the medicine of art. Artists—whether they be musical artists or visual artists—quite often don’t have access to health care. So, they trade off. All of the artists and all of the bands who play over the course of the weekend get access to dental cleanings, medical consultations, massages, etc. They get a full range of medical care for providing their art,” Marshall says.
As it turned out, a number of his bandmates already had health insurance, and decided to pay their compensation forward. “They said, ‘Let the people who don’t have healthcare take advantage of this.’”
Mark’s connection with the people in his neighborhood, he says, is unique to anything he has yet experienced. “When I came to Kingston, I found more of a sense of community than any place I’ve ever lived. Within four weeks I had people walking by me on the sidewalk saying, ‘Hey Mark, how are you?’ That’s never happened to me anywhere,” Marshall gushes. “This is a remarkable community. There are some amazing people in Kingston. I feel blessed to live here.”