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

Positive News Briefs

Research shows that we start to become what we focus on in life.

Check out the wonderful things our neighbors are up to.


Kingston’s First Distinguished Artist Awardees

Kingston Mayor Steve Noble presented the city’s first Distinguished Artist Award in a mid-April City Hall event to artist and poet Julie Hedrick and composer Peter Wetzler, a married couple who have lived for years in the Rondout, where they co-own the Church Des Artistes bed and breakfast. Peter Wetzler is an award-winning composer-musician-music director scoring for film, theatre and television who has been instrumental in a number of Kingston creative initiatives over the past two decades. Hedrick is a painter and poet represented by the NohraHaime Gallery in New York. The Distinguished Artist Award was made possible through a partnership with Mayor Steve Noble and the Kingston Arts Commission as a means of better recognizing the role of creative placemaking in the community and is awarded every two years to a local artist of note who has also shown dedication to enriching Kingston’s cultural life.


New York Rides to Its Immigrants’ Legal Aid

The Liberty Defense Project and the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York have partnered to expand the current initiative and grow a network of attorneys and law students that will provide legal aid to immigrants across the state. The program will also include training for volunteer attorneys and advocates to prepare them for immigration casework. It’s all part of statewide efforts created in response to hostile federal policies, andis the nation’s first state-led project to assist immigrants—regardless of status—in obtaining access to legal services. The pro bono project, which is being developed and operated by Catholic Charities, is designed to give attorneys tools to assist the most vulnerable immigrants in New York and to match them with cases. Volunteer attorneys are supported by expert legal training, continuous technical assistance, and in-depth substantive mentorship, which is provided through Catholic Charities and its staff of expert attorneys. According to the American Immigration Council, one in five New Yorkers is an immigrant—4.5 million, or 22.9 percent of the state’s population in 2015; one in six is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent; immigrants make up more than 25 percent of New York’s labor force and contribute billions of dollars in federal and state taxes; and there are 347,573 immigrant business owners, accounting for 33.8 percent of all self-employed New York residents in 2015, generating $7.2 billion in business income.


Revitalizing Kingston’s Waterfront Neighborhood

The City of Kingston and the Hudson River Maritime Museum recently formed a Riverport Community Coalition to enhance and revitalize the historic Rondout waterfront by opportunities and working through collaborative partnerships to maintain a vibrant and sustainable neighborhood and business district.  According to reports, three dozen volunteers met for the launch event, forming committees to help shape future waterfront development, with participants including businesses, cultural institutions, museum supporters, environmental organizations, boating enthusiasts, and local residents. Projects discussed, some of them already funded and underway, include trail development and shoreline resiliency. Front burner issues include rebuilding a working waterfront, year-round access, and handicapped accessibility. Visit hrmm.org for more information.


Climate Change Via A Surreal Prism

The Columbia County-based artist team of Nicholas Kahn & Richard Selesnick share the mysterious characters and magical imagination of their new monograph, 100 Views of the Drowning World (Candela Books, 2017) with a book reading at Hudson Hall on Saturday, May 19 from 5-7pm, followed by a book signing and reception with the authors. Against a backdrop of ecological decline, this memoir/travelogue follows Dr. Falke (the narrator), Count Orlofsky, and Madame Lulu, three members of an itinerant theatrical troupe, as they stage absurdist performances in various locations in which they commemorate their attempts to flee the rising waters of a warming planet, and comment upon the extinction of bats or other animals. Reservations are encouraged. Visit hudsonhall.org or phone (518) 822-1438 for more information.


Keeping Hudson Valley Farming Alive

The American Farmland Trust  recently announced $88,000 in grants to seven partner organizations in the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network to support their work with farmers looking for land and retiring farm landowners who wish to keep their land in farming. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County (CCEUC) was awarded $9,518.88 to work with farmers and landowners in Ulster County and surrounding areas in the Hudson Valley, providing direct assistance by phone and in person to landowners and land seekers in assessing soil, infrastructure and other factors for land to be offered for rent or rented. The grant will strengthen the capacity of CCEUC to provide in-depth assistance to landowners and land seekers. HVFN is comprised of 15 organizations, led by the farm trust, with a farmland finder website (hudsonvalleyfarmlandfinder.org) linking farmers and landowners that has been used by more than 35,000 people. HVFN offers free one-on-one assistance and has helped more than 130 farmers find land. It was launched with primary support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Since 2014, AFT has awarded $258,000 to HVFN partner organizations. This year’s grants will support a wide range of projects that include educational and networking events, support for women farmers, site visits to evaluate soils, resources for Spanish-speaking farmers, and more. Other grant awardees include Agricultural Stewardship Association, Columbia Land Conservancy, Glynwood, Orange County Land Trust, Saratoga PLAN and Westchester Land Trust.


Looking for New Ways to Improve the Grid 

Up to $15 million is available for projects that will help New York improve the resiliency, efficiency, and overall performance of its electric grid to save on energy and costs to combat climate change. A new grid modernization initiative, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, will promote the development of a high performing smart grid that will accommodate a diverse supply of clean energy generation resources, enhance overall electric grid performance, and enable customers to reduce their energy costs, energy consumption, and environmental impacts. NYSERDA will award projects through a two-step competitive process. Applicants will initially submit concept papers of their proposals for a rigorous evaluation process. Based on those evaluations, a select group of applicants will be invited to submit full proposals for further evaluation. The final proposals selected will receive funding to move forward.Concept papers will be accepted through July 18 in one of four categories: research studies, engineering studies, product development, and demonstration projects. Papers should focus on projects that will aid in developing innovative cybersecurity and data analytics or advanced planning, operations, and forecasting tools. Concept papers should also demonstrate how their proposals will advance the state’s goal to have 50 percent of its electricity come from renewable resources by 2030.


Kingston Pioneers Community Responsibility 

The state has awarded $285,000 to support the launch of a pilot initiative in the city of Kingston aimed at reducing domestic violence assaults and fatalities. The Kingston Police, Ulster County District Attorney’s Office and the County Probation Department have been awarded funding that will support the implementation of the National Network for Safe Communities’ Intimate Partner Violence Intervention, a collaborative initiative that will engage the community and enhance enforcement to deter intimate partner violence while also increasing access to services that can help victims recover and offenders change patterns of criminal behavior.With this initiative in Kingston and Ulster County, New York becomes the second state in the nation to implement the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention with support from the National Network. Funding allows the Kingston Police Department, Ulster County District Attorney’s Office and the Ulster County Probation Department to dedicate personnel and overtime costs for implementation, and pay for training and technical assistance from the National Network, which is based at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Through this intervention strategy, law enforcement identifies domestic violence perpetrators and targets them for enhanced attention, services, enforcement and prosecution. At the same time, advocates engage with victims of intimate partner violence to ensure they are aware of every step of the process, have access to support and services, and are not exposed to further harm.The Division of Criminal Justice Services, which oversees GIVE, selected Kingston to pilot the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention strategy because the police department determined that a significant portion of its reported aggravated assaults stemmed from domestic violence incidents involving intimate partners.


A Pet Show Worth Visiting

The High Falls Pet Show returns on May 12 for its 30th outing, 10am to 1pm, in the parking lot of the High Falls Community Church on Second Street. Pets of all sizes and shapes are welcome, from puppies to ferrets, from hawks to roosters. One single registration fee allows each pet to enter three competitions. Admission to the Pet Show is free. All are welcome and entry is not limited to High Fallonians. “The motto of the High Falls Pet Show is ‘Everyone’s a Winner!”, said event co-organizer Rigmor Berntsen. “Animals are our faithful friends. So, let’s return the favor! The High Falls Pet Show celebrates these compassionate companions, while offering lots of fun.” Competition judges for the 2018 event are George and Brigitte Nagle, proprietors of The Spy Social Eatery and Bar of High Falls; and troubled bon vivant Jay Blotcher, a High Falls resident since 2001. First-, second- and third-place ribbons will be awarded in ten competitive categories: Pet/Owner Look-Alike; Peewee-Size Pet; Jumbo-Size Pet; Whippersnapper (most youthful); All-American Mutt; Old Friend (senior pet); Most Unusual Pet; and Happy Days Are Here Again (best pet rescue story).


What’s Genius These Days?

The winner of the $1 million grand prize from Round II of the GENIUS NY accelerator contest was recently announced: going to Fotokite, a team from Switzerland that combines aerial and ground-based robotics with patented flight control algorithms to create a kite-like tethered drone system which actively uses the tether to fly for 24-hours fully autonomously. Quantifly was awarded the second place prize of $600,000; TruWeather was named third place, winning $400,000; while three finalists, UsPLM, Dropcopter, and Precision Vision all were awarded $250,000. TruWeather was also named the crowd favorite in a live poll taken during the event. The initiative is one of the world’s largest business competitions focused on unmanned systems, cross-connected platforms and other technology-based sectors, andis funded by Empire State. Last year’s GENIUS NY ‘s Round 1 winner, Automodality, has successfully launched its Perceptive Navigation software, which turns small drones into highly precise automated inspection agents for cell towers and vineyards, among other uses.


Teaching Entrepreneurship’s Finer Details

The Mid-Hudson Small Business Development Center has a number of very cool graining events in May. On the 1st and 2nd, they will be offering an Entrepreneurship Seminar in Poughkeepsie on ways to attract funding for expansion, where to find appropriate space for expanding, and how to increase sales; followed by a seminar on Hiring, Onboarding and Paying Employees set to include legal and insurance matters. Finally, on May 7 there will be a Business Planning session in Wappingers Falls that will include tips on starting businesses, writing business plans, the importance of financial projections, and means of attracting needed financing. For all events, and more, contact the SBDC by calling 845-297-3428, 845-443-8058 and emailing sbdc@sunyulster.edu.


The Economic Census is Coming!

The U.S. Census Bureau measures the nation’s population once every 10 years. It also measures U.S. businesses every five years with the Economic Census. Companies who receive the census are required by law to respond by June 12. By completing the census, companies are contributing to a wealth of valuable data-and sometimes surprising insights-that can help grow their business. More on results once they’ve been tabulated.


State Sponsoring Game Development

New York has announced the winners of the second round of the New York State Game DEV Challenge, which invited students enrolled in New York State colleges and universities, and independent developers residing within the state, to bring innovative ideas to production by applying to win awards to support the development of digital games. Applicants were judged on their game idea pitch, prototype, business and mentorship plans, and development timeline. The winners were selected at an event hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC); in total, the competition received 25 entries.First-place winners in both categories each won $12,000; second-place winners in both categories each won $8,000; and third-place winners in both categories each won $5,000. The money is to be used to aid in the development and production of their games. Winners will also be included in an on-site incubator at RIT, NYU or RPI for up to one year and will have access to a mentor network.


Thruway Service Areas To Be Upgraded

The New York State Thruway Authority has issued a Request for Expressions of Interest to redevelop all 27 New York State Thruway Service Areas through public-private partnerships. Among innovations being promoted will be solar arrays and irrigation-free landscaping, an increase in truck parking and commercial services, and more farm stands and tourism centers. Along with the RFEI, a customer survey has also been distributed to gather input about amenities travelers would like to see at the Thruway service areas. Responses are due by May 25.


State Starts Probing Cryptocurrencies

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched a probe into firms that trade virtual “cryptocurrency,” citing concerns over potential defrauding of investors in products where values can swing wildly in short periods of time. Specifically, he is questioning 13 online exchanges about their ownership and operations, including the use of robotic programs, efforts to detect market manipulation, potential conflicts of interest and outages when investors are locked out of making trades. Eight of those firms do not have required state licenses to deal with New York customers, according to the state Department of Financial Services, which has regulated online cryptocurrency firms since 2015.Meanwhile, a series of recent stories have pointed out how the data-mining element of cryptocurrencies, which search the internet incessantly looking for long, unique sequences of numbers that can be claimed and traded, uses massive computer server farms that utilize massive amounts of electricity. In turn, those “data farms” are being set up in areas with cheap, often alternatively-sourced electricity that then pushes up costs for others in such areas, often by the thousand-fold. In northern New York, Plattsburgh recently became the first municipality in the nation to put a moratorium on any new cryptocurrency businesses. Stay tuned.


State Increases Its Hemp Research

Sixty new farms and businesses across the state have received research permits under New York’s Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot program. All will focus their studies in biotechnology and agronomics, among other areas, while for the first time, applications for future research partners in the areas of food and fiber will also now be accepted on a continuous basis.Currently, 64 applicants have received research permits for the 2018 growing season with additional research partners in the approval process. In addition, 18 New York companies have registered to process industrial hemp, which is key to advancing market research and supporting a growing demand for industrial hemp products nationwide. Researchers are also starting to explore the potential cosmetic and wellness benefits of CBDs. They are conducting biotechnology work and studying indoor plant breeding and cloning methods as a possible source of transplantable plant stock for growers. Expanding the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program will allow for more comprehensive studies on a wide range of topics and help New York secure its position as a national leader in the emerging industrial hemp industry. Applications for future food and fiber research proposals are now being accepted on a rolling basis and are not subject to a deadline; they are available on the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets website.


Time for the Women’s Studio Workshop Gala!

The annual gala fundraiser for Women’s Studio Workshop of Rosendale is taking place on Sunday, May 20 this year. Honorees will be Dani ReStack, who began WSW’s clay program after a studio internship in 1997 and has since pursued film and sculpture careers to the Whitney Biennial and Toronto Film Festival, and community leader and artist Annie O’Neill, known for her work with regional organizations such as Unison Arts Center in New Paltz and the Gardiner Open Studio Tour, as well as WSW. It all takes place from 3 to 7pm at Senate Garage in Kingston.  Call 845-658-9133 for reservations.


Universal Basic Income Ideals Keep Plugging

The worldwide movement towards a universal basic income took a step backwards this winter as Finland decided not to extend its trial undertaking the first welfare experiment of its kind by a European government that gave citizens an unconditional monthly payment.The government rejected a request from the country’s social security agency for additional funding to expand the innovative two-year pilot program by January 2019, which had seen 2,000 jobless people receive $685 per month without requiring them to work or seek employment, or cease getting payments once employment was found. The initiative had been passed as a means of addressing unemployment that had hit a 17-year high of 10%; last December the Finnish parliament introduced legislation requiring jobless people to work at least 18 hours every three months to qualify for unemployment benefits, a reaction to a rightward lean in recent elections. Meanwhile, UBI advocates continue their push, noting that a basic income can eventually stem other social problems beyond joblessness, including crime, better health, and creativity beyond employment constraints.


Current Makes Splash @ Leaders Forum

The Hudson Valley Current’s Liz Harrington was one of several well-received presenters at the April 17 HV Venture Hub Leaders Forum held at SUNY New Paltz (Science Hall lobby). Among key areas discussed throughout the day’s sessions were the importance of collaboration, blockchain initiatives, and new funding avenues including the Current. The Hudson Valley Venture Hub is a strategic community engagement initiative of the SUNY New Paltz School of Business aimed at creating new opportunities for applied learning that will increase the odds of success for the region’s entrepreneurs. This is synergistic with the SUNY New Paltz drive to increase applied learning opportunities for students. We will encourage and support startups across the Hudson Valley, as well as SUNY New Paltz student driven startups, to enhance the entrepreneurial journey for all.