by Bill Batson
At the request of the Chamber of Commerce, three local artists have put Nyack on the map. Literally.
Last Friday, 45 boxes were delivered to Back to Earth Natural Foods containing 20,000 copies of a freshly minted Nyack Map & Guide. The full-color, four-fold comprehensive commercial map celebrates the cultural and historic significance of our handsome Hudson River village.
Nyack has been on the figurative map as a tourist destination for over a century. Even though our downtown commercial district has expanded and contracted, it is arguably the largest non-mall shopping option in Rockland County. Since the early 1970s, tens of thousands of visitors have descended on the village annually to attend spring, summer and autumn street fairs. More recently, our location on an increasingly popular bicycle route has increased tourist traffic. The map and guide is a tool to welcome and direct these constant arrivals and to entice them to return.
“We wanted a document that would be useful to first time visitors as well as long time residents,” said Nyack Chamber of Commerce President Scott Baird. The Chamber, which sponsors two annual street fairs, the largest Halloween parade after NYC’s and the year-round Farmers’ Market, commissioned three local artists to create the map. I was honored to be on that creative team.
“Before 2008, The Chamber produced The Guide to the Nyacks…a complete handbook of local resources that was a staple of visitors and residents alike. But when the recession came the revenue for the map dried up,” recalled Carlo Pellegrini, the long-time Chamber officer who chaired the map committee. “You cannot imagine how many phone calls we would get year after year for current and back copies of The Guide. Real estate agencies in the area clamored for it.”
Landmarks & Points of Interest Featured on Map & Guide
- Carson McCuller’s House
- Nyack Library
- Nyack Center
- Edward Hopper House Arts Center
- Pretty Penny
- Undeground Railroad
- Couch Court
- F.O.R. HQ, Shadowcliff
- Historical Society of the Nyacks
- Nyack Post Office
- Old Stone Church
- Van Houten’s Landing
- Oak Hill Cemetery
In 2009, Gina Cambre of Casa del Sol proposed that the chamber provide visitors a parking map. “We started researching companies to take on the project for us, but nothing fit,” Pellegrini said. “Then we realized we had a reservoir of local talent that was already working to put Nyack on the cultural map.”
According to Pellegrini, “Kris Burns was reinvigorating the legacy of Edward Hopper as the artist-in-residence at the Edward Hopper House Arts Center and the organizer of the Hopper Happens Festival. Loraine Machlin had designed the Hopper Happens logo and had been the go-to-graphic-artist for many local non-profit organizations and arts groups and Bill Batson was the artist-residence for the Farmers’ Market and was publishing his weekly Nyack Sketch Log. Each was dedicated to Nyack, local to Nyack and capable of producing a map for Nyack.”
Map & Guide Features
- Local history resources
- Local recreational information
- Parking information
- How to get to Nyack via car, bus, train and bike
- Display ads and business listings
- Universal list of businesses in downtown commercial district
- Farmers’ Market guide
- Landmarks and points of interest
- QR codes that link to information about parking, the Farmers’ Market and the Nyack Chamber of Commerce
The goal of the creative team was to produce a map that was easy to use for the visitor seeking parking, shopping and recreational information, but would also showcase the cultural and historic relevance of the village. The year-long map project was shepherded by Kris Burns. The bold, colorful design and easy functionality of the map is the work of Loraine Machlin. I contributed text and illustrations. We hope that you will see the map in the hands of tourists as they navigate Nyack and that they will hang on to their copies and take them home as keepsakes, leading them to return again and again.
“Without Carlo Pellegrini and his Map Committee members Roger Cohen and Paul J. Curley, this unique collaboration between the arts and the commercial community would not have been possible,” said Baird. “The local economy will benefit from our Nyack Map & Guide, and the village’s reputation will be enhanced by the dissemination of this impressive document.”
Where to find the Map and Guide:
- Nyack Chamber of Commerce Members (look for a copy of the map in their window)
- The Chamber of Commerce booth at Street Fairs
- Every Thursday at the Farmers’ Market
- Or, contact the Chamber at nyackchamber.org, (845) 353- 2221
Map and Guide cover photo credit: Richard Kavesh
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log Art Puts Nyack on the Map” ©: 2013 Bill Batson.
by Bill Batson
Former South Nyack Mayor Patricia “Tish” DuBow was honored by residents and local elected officials at a community celebration in Franklin Street Park on Friday May 9. After nine years in the Mayor’s office, DuBow chose not to run for another term. However, DuBow’s 23 years of public service are not over. She has been appointed to complete the un-expired Trustee term of Bonnie Christian, who was elected Mayor on March 19th. This week’s sketch log is dedicated to DuBow’s service to the citizens of South Nyack.
Before her formal role in government, DuBow was a long time activist serving on the boards of Planned Parenthood and Friends of the Nyacks. DuBow began her public service in 1990 as a member of South Nyack’s Zoning Board of Appeals. She was elected a Trustee in 1994 and 12 years later, she became Mayor.
During her tenure, she was active with the Rockland County Conference of Mayors, and a zealous advocate for and protector of her village. As Trustee DuBow can continue to insist that the concerns for the village are incorporated into the planning and implementation of the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
Tish DuBow was not interviewed for this column, so this Nyack Sketch Log will be a surprise to her. The reflections and well wishes that follow are from her colleagues in local government. To paraphrase a show from the golden age of television, Tish DuBow, this is your public life!
Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee
In working with Tish DuBow, I’ve witnessed firsthand her tireless commitment and dedicated service to the Village of South Nyack. Throughout the many years of discussion and planning for a new Tappan Zee Bridge, Tish has been a vocal advocate for the village and its residents, determined to ensure that they receive maximum protection and benefits during and after construction. Tish has made her mark on the Village of South Nyack, improving the quality of life and enhancing her community. I have no doubt as Trustee she will continue in that role.
Undersheriff Robert Van Cura also Honored
After a 32 year career in law enforcement in South Nyack, retiring Chief Bob Van Cura has been appointed Undersheriff for the County of Rockland. Van Cura was honored and thanked by South Nyack residents and local elected officials at the community celebration on May 9. In addition to his service as a law enforcement officer, Van Cura has held the position of Rockland County Police Benevolent Association President and has served on the New York State Executive Committee on Counter Terrorism.
Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart
When I think of Tish DuBow, on the occasion of her retirement from service as Mayor of South Nyack, I remember walking door-to-door in South Nyack with her, doing the essential political work of democracy – collecting signatures, activating voters, answering questions about local government and listening to peoples’ concerns.
I remember standing side by side with Tish at so many Tappan Zee Bridge and Thruway meetings, nudging each other with our elbows to register our frustration with the usual formulaic responses of bureaucrats putting on a show of gathering public input when they are already convinced they have the right answer. Supporting her calls for a redesigned Thruway exit 10 with allocation of vacant land to community benefit, whether as open space, commercial development or “lid park.” I think of sitting at her kitchen table talking with Gene DuBow, whose mighty pen has made the letters to the editor page of local papers much more interesting to read so many times. Tish has served well, she will continue to inspire and lead and I’m looking forward to working together during the year to come! Thank you Tish for all you have done for South Nyack, and for Orangetown!
Rockland Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell
South Nyack is known for its extraordinary vistas, its diverse lively population, and the indomitable spirit of Patricia DuBow. As a long-time mayor and village leader, Tish never stops fighting for the interests of the people. Her voice has been heard loud and clear for over a decade protecting the land and residents of South Nyack from adverse impacts of a new Tappan Zee Bridge. As a leader of Friends of the Nyacks, she helped develop the concert series in Memorial Park and much more. Thankfully, Tish will remain in Village government continuing to champion causes that enhance the quality of life for all residents.
Former Rockland County Legislator, midwife Connie Coker
When I was running for Rockland County Legislature in 2006, Tish DuBow was very involved in helping me to get elected. Ever since, I have appreciated just how effective she is as a campaigner for Democratic Party candidates. I would jokingly call her the “ward boss of South Nyack”. But most importantly she would still work graciously and cooperatively with elected officials from other political parties. She is an inspiring role model in how to put political party differences aside to work for the good of all residents.
Village of Nyack Mayor Jen Laird-White
Tish DuBow is one of the kindest most respectful and respected public servants I have ever met. Her decency, quiet intelligence and her quick bursts of humor will be sorely missed in the world of Rockland politics. Her dedication to both her community of South Nyack and to the greater good of all of Rockland were impressive and forced her to take complicated and difficult positions when faced with the enormity of the Tappan Zee Bridge project. It was her vision that imagined that the unwieldy Exit 10 loop could be put to greater and more beneficial use. She and I schemed on all sorts of projects, from recreation and parks to shared community and commercial services.
One incredibly great thing about Tish was she always saw the possibility in any idea and was quick to say “yes, let’s explore it” rather than succumb to the “no’s”. She has been an excellent Mayor for her village. Boy will she be missed. And her earmuffs too!
Community celebration photo credits: Nicole DuBow
Special thanks to South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian, South Nyack Village Clerk Sally Seiler and Deputy Village Clerk Denise Mishkel
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log Honors Outgoing South Nyack Mayor Tish DuBow” ©: 2013 Bill Batson.
by Bill Batson
Nyack was a stop on The Trip to Bountiful. The play of that name was just nominated for a Tony Award for best revival, and its author, Horton Foote, lived in this house in Upper Nyack in the 1950s. Foote joined theater greats Helen Hayes, Charles MacArthur, Ben Hecht and Carson McCullers who called our village home. For a moment in time, if you wanted to find some of the most important figures in American theater, you need only take a stroll down Broadway – in Nyack.
Foote moved to Nyack from New York City with his wife, Lillian and three children. His fourth child was born at Nyack Hospital. When Foote arrived, he was already a prolific and successful playwright and a major force in the new media of the day, television.
The Trip to Bountiful originally aired on NBC on March 1, 1953. Lillian Gish and Eva Marie Saint reprised their roles on Broadway a year later at what was then Henry Miller’s Theater. The recent revival of that play, directed by Michael Wilson, opened 60 years later at the same venue, which has been extensively renovated and is now named for Stephen Sondheim.
Nyack resident and composer John Gromada, who was nominated for Best Sound Design for the revival of Bountiful, first worked with Horton Foote on the 2000 production of The Carpetbaggers Children with Jean Stapleton at Lincoln Center Theater.
Although Foote no longer lived in Nyack when they met, Gromada said that he and the playwright bonded over their mutual affection for our river village. Over the years, Gromada has worked on six Horton Foote projects.
According to Gromada, Foote attended every single rehearsal for his productions before his death in 2009. Gromada watched as Horton’s daughter, Hallie, who is now executor of the Foote Estate, continued her father’s tradition and attended all of the rehearsals for The Trip To Bountiful.
Hallie was six when the family arrived in Nyack. She remembers her transplanted city cat eating the heads off all of her mother’s tulips at their first home on North Broadway and family picnics on the banks of the Hudson River.
Several years after moving to Nyack, Foote would craft a script that not only won him an Academy Award; but also helped create a national discussion about racial injustice. That screenplay, To Kill a Mockingbird, was written at the family’s second Nyack home.
Hallie describes a procession of creative heavy weights visiting their house on Ferris Lane in South Nyack. “Alan Pakula who went on to direct All the President’s Men, was the producer for To Kill a Mockingbird and spent a lot of time meeting with my father. He needed to have a strong sense that a script was in as good shape as possible before he would start shooting. Bob Mulligan, the director, was there and I believe that Harper Lee came once.” Lee wrote the best selling book the inspired the film.
Soon after winning the Academy Award for the script, the Footes relocated to New Hampshire. As a 16 year-old at the time of the move, Hallie was crushed. “I told my father that he had ruined my life. But I think he wanted to get further away from the pressures of business.”
The Trip to Bountiful Gets 4 Tony Award Nominations
Michael Wilson’s production of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful received a total of four Tony Award nominations:
- Nyack resident John Gromada for Best Sound Design in a Play
- Cicely Tyson for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
- Condola Rashad for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
- Best Revival of a Play.
The Tony Awards will be announced on June 9, 2013.
The artistic and creative demands of the Horton Foote estate now fall on Hallie’s shoulders. She recently formed the Horton Foote Legacy Foundation to promote her father’s work as well as his craft. “We provide access to my father’s childhood home in Wharton, Texas as a residence for writers.” A great deal of the content of Foote’s work, including the Orphan’s Home Cycle and The Trip to Bountiful, is drawn from that region. Recent recipients of the foundation’s support include Susan Blackburn Smith award winner Annie Baker, author of Circle Mirror Transformation (2009) and The Flick (2013) and David Lindsey-Abaire, author of Good People (2011).
Hallie works on and off the stage to preserve her father’s legacy. An accomplished actor, she starred in Dividing the Estate, produced by Lincoln Center on Broadway in 2008 and will perform the role of Sybil in The Old Friends, which will open at the Signature Theater in 2013. Along with director Michael Wilson, composer John Gromada and her husband, actor Devon Abner, she has created an ensemble that is interpreting the work Horton Foote for new and expanding audiences.
According to some Broadway insiders, Cicely Tyson is a sentimental favorite to win the Tony for best actress in The Trip to Bountiful. The 88 year-old actor achieved national prominence, and an Emmy, for her role as a freed slave in the 1974 made-for-TV-movie The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Tyson has enjoyed glowing reviews for Bountiful, her first appearance on stage in thirty years.
A Tony Award nomination alone has returned Tyson to the pinnacle of her profession and demonstrates the continued relevance and popularity of the work of Horton Foote. A Tony would be a trip beyond bountiful for both.
See also: Local Arts Index: John Gromada
Photo Credit: The Tony Awards
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” Our Village Was A Stop on the Trip to Bountiful” ©: 2013 Bill Batson.
by Bill Batson
According to former Oak Hill caretaker Luke Conroy, “cemeteries are for the living.” Seated in the first floor office of this house, where he oversaw these hallowed grounds and met with family members, Conroy found his true vocation. “I realized that I was there to help families work through their grief to seek wholeness,” says Conroy who followed a spiritual path that took him from Oak Hill to St. Ann’s Church, where he is now a Deacon.
Many people know Luke from his various forms of service. There are those that met him in their darkest hour at Oak Hill during his fourteen-year tenure that ended in 2003. Others have taken one of the guided tours of the cemetery that he has conducted with Friends of the Nyacks. And then there are those that Luke meets when he reads residential meters for the Water Department.
In 2001, Luke merged his passion for service and his faith when he was ordained at St. Patrick’s as a Permanent Deacon. “In Greek, deacon means servant,” Luke said, “a servant of the word, the altar and charity.” According to Luke, Oak Hill led him to his calling.
Luke moved to Nyack in 1988. At the time, he had a small landscaping business. When Luke learned that the caretaker’s position was available at Oak Hill, he could not apply because he was nursing a back injury. Three months later, when his condition had improved, providentially, the job was still available.
Oak Hill Cemetery
At a Glance
- Located on Route 9W across from Nyack Hospital
- Approximately 23,000 interred
- 65 Acres with sweeping views of the Hudson River
- Established in 1848
- 25 headstones that predate the 1848 incorporation of Oak Hill are from Salisbury Point in South Nyack and were disintered because of flooding.
- The oldest headstone is for Harmanus Tallman (1716-1790), the great nephew of the first European settler in this region, Dowe Harmensen Tallman.
- Among the illustrious and fascinating in permanent residence at Oak Hill Include:
- Helen Hayes and her husband, South Nyack native Charles MacArthur
- General Daniel Ullman, credited with convincing President Abraham Lincoln to create a black regiment during the civil war to fight on behalf of the Union Army
- Acclaimed Painter Edward Hopper
- And the person who is reported to receive the most visitors, author of the Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers.
“I started as caretaker in the summer of 1989. I was responsible for all aspects of the business. I held down the office, paid the bills, sold graves and maintained the grounds,” Said Conroy. But soon he found that his most important role was helping families cope with the enormity of loss.
After a particularly solemn funeral service, where a family had lost a child, he encountered a parent that would return to the gravesite each and every day for months. “At that moment, I realized the importance and vitality of simply saying, ‘How are you?’ And in time I would say, ‘I have a kettle on, would you like to have some tea or coffee. ‘“
Sitting with grieving family members in his office, Conroy discovered that he was able to make a powerful connection to people at the lowest point of their lives. “As difficult as the origin of those relationships was, it was wonderful to be able to help people work to put their lives back together. I learned that the cemetery needs to be a place of healing.”
Luke left Oak Hill in 2003 to join the Nyack Water Department. But he would soon return to the cemetery in a different capacity. When he and his wife, Nancy and daughter, Anya joined St. Ann’s in the 1990s, Luke’s’ active participation as a layperson caught the attention of then Parish Priest Father Henry. There was is an ideal role for a person with Luke’s dedication to serve others the the Catholic Church called the Ministry of the Deacon. And unlike Priests and Bishops, Deacons can be married at the time of their ordination, but cannot remarry if widowed.
In 1997, Luke entered the seminary at St. Joseph’s and in 2001 he was ordained by Cardinal Egan. As a Deacon, Luke prepares the altar and gives the gospel reading. He can also perform baptisms, weddings and funeral rites.
One morning, 14 years after he walked the grounds as caretaker, Luke conducted his first funeral service at Oak Hill. Although he says it didn’t feel any different, his responsibilities were expanded. Before he left his caretaker position, Conroy lightened the load of the living, now that he is ordained, he is able to provide travelers’ aid to departing souls. “When I worked here, I felt like Oak Hill was my parish,” said Luke. And now it is.
Tour Oak Hill Cemetery
This Sunday, May 5, The Friends of the Nyacks will conduct a walking tour of Oak Hill Cemetery. The tour meets at the Cemetery entrance gate on Route 9W behind Nyack Hospital at 2p. The donation is $5 per person, payable at the start of the tour.
Special thanks: Christine Lundgren, Bob Goldberg and Gini Stolldorf
Oak Hill Photo Credit: Dave Zornow
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” Oak Hill Cemetery According To Luke” ©: 2013 Bill Batson.
by Bill Batson
Elegant hats have become the symbol of local civil rights icon Frances Pratt. But when she arrived at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City 60 years ago, she wore a borrowed dress and shoes too tight for walking. On Thursday, April 25, Pratt will officiate over her 44th annual fundraising dinner for the local chapter of the NAACP at the Pearl River Hilton. From head to toe, France Pratt’s story is as bold and compelling as her sense of fashion.
Pratt grew up with her mother and four sisters and two brothers in rural South Carolina. An incident from her early childhood shaped her future activism. “I walked into an ice-cream parlor with my mother and the clerk said, ‘You can buy the ice-cream, but you have to eat outside.’ I had never seen my mother demeaned in that way. If she had spoken up, the clerk would have called the police.”
In May, 1955, Frances, who was attending Friendship College in Rock Hill, South Carolina, learned that she would not be returning to school. “My mother sat me down and said ‘you are going to have to go to work for a while,’” Pratt recalled. “My brother Billy Powell and my mother were not well.” With the support of a teacher, Pratt found a potential employer in New York who would pay her $40 per month that she could send home to support the family. She first had to travel to Clover, South Carolina to pick peaches to raise the $17.50 for her bus fare.
Two years after arriving to New York City, Frances moved to South Nyack into the home of new husband Marshall Pratt. “I met Marshall in Mount Morris Park in Harlem while I was on a field trip with a group of children,” said Pratt. “I was working for a nursery school founded by Dr. Thelma Adair, the first women to serve as an Elected Moderator for the Presbyterian Church. Marshall declared that he wore out four tires circling the park trying to see me again. When he found me, we made a date.”
When Pratt came to Nyack, she dreamed of attending the missionary program at Nyack College. “I wanted to go to Addis Ababa in Africa.” But responsibilities to family required that she find a way to serve the world closer to home, so she enrolled in Rockland Community College where she obtained her degree in Nursing. Pratt went on to work at Nyack hospital for 53 years, holding title including Head Nurse of the Emergency Room and the Office of Employee Health.
This week’s sketch is based on a photo that currently hangs in the emergency room lobby of Nyack Hospital. The lobby as well as a scholarship and a Peace Rose Garden were named in her honor on the occasion of her retirement.
With her typical combination of candor and comic timing, Pratt remarked at the dedication ceremony, “What I appreciate most about this recognition is that it is not about the late Frances Ethel Powell Pratt. I can actually read the plaque and smell the roses!”
In 1981, Pratt was elected President of the local branch of the NAACP. On Thursday night, April 25, Pratt will host the organization’s annual fundraising gala at the Pearl River Hilton. While all eyes will be focused on this year’s keynote speaker, New York State NAACP President Hazel Dukes as she takes the podium, people will find it difficult to turn away from Pratt, who always appears in a hat more spectacular than the previous year.
“My husband designed all my hats.” Pratt credited Marshall, who passed away in 2002. He was a talented artist and would always design my hats and coordinate my outfits.” Pratt’s collection of 250 chapeaus were on display at RCC in 2005 for a fundraising event for NAACP’s ACTSO program.
One of Pratt’s greatest legacies might be the annual Martin Luther King program that has taken place at Pilgrim Baptist Church for the last 35 years. The non-denominational, racially diverse event is regularly a standing room only affair.
“Frances Pratt is one of the most decent, thoughtful people I have ever known. Her fight for the rights of all and her clarity and fairness in pursuing those rights is astounding,” Said Nyack Mayor Jen Laird-White. Mayor Laird White, along with most of our other regional public officials religiously attend the King Day service, which is always held on the national holiday for the slain civil rights leader.
Pratt’s organizing style is as subtle as her fashion sense is striking. Most people who organize large public events always include themselves on the program, but that is not Pratt’s predilection. But even as she reserves the limelight for others, for many, Pratt’s aphorisms are as memorable as her fashion statements. When Pratt sets the agenda, her guests get the last word. Today, however, this sketch log will end with a few classic Prattisms:
If you see a turtle on a fence, you know he didn’t get there by himself. None of us got to where we are without help from someone else.
Your pennies you got to watch, the dollars take care of themselves.
You ain’t never seen a U Haul following a hearse.
Public remarks should be like a lady’s dress…short enough to be attractive and long enough to cover the subject.
There are still seats available for the NAACP annual dinner on Thursday evening, April 25 at the Pearl River Hilton. To purchase tickets contact Frances Pratt at (845) 358-1487 or Voncile Oliver at (845) 268-6626.
Special thanks to Dr. Lori Martin and Paul Adler for sharing some Prattisms.
Photo credit of hat collection: Doria Hillsman
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” NAACP President Frances Pratt” ©: 2013 Bill Batson.
by Bill Batson
Like millions of Americans, West Nyack’s Robin Bell dreads her commute. It’s not the time it takes to cover the 26,000 mile round trip. And while she certainly misses her family during the weeks she spends at her remote workspace; that is not the worst part. It’s the carbon footprint from the passenger and ski-equipped cargo planes that troubles her the most. Robin Bell is a climate scientist and air travel is the only practical way for her to get to her “office” at Field Camp Twin Otter in Antarctica.
As the Senior Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, NY, Dr. Bell directs polar research in Antarctica and Greenland. Her interests range from ice sheet dynamics to sub-glacial ecosystems. Bell studies the mechanisms of ice sheet collapse and the environments beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, including the Gamburtsev Mountains. The Gamburtsev range, also known as the ghost mountains, are as large as the Alps with a summit that never sees the sun, buried beneath 2,000 feet of snow and ice.
“I use physics to paint pictures of the world.“ Bell said in a 2011 interview. “I’ve been incredibly lucky in terms of being able to leverage physics to see through to these places that are pretty much hidden to the human eye.”
Bell uses geophysics to observe “how the ice sheets work, how they grow, how they change and how they are changing now.” The model for how ice sheets behave was, until recently, as simple as ‘putting an ice cube on a table and letting it melt.’” Bell and her multinational scientific partners in Antarctica are observing a much more dramatic process. “Parts of the ice sheet…are like giant conveyor belts that move a lot of ice into the ocean fast. Conveyor belts that are as wide as the state of Rhode Island. “
As remote as her polar offices might be from our northern hemisphere Atlantic coastal setting, we are connected by the world’s oceans to the changes in the ecology of Antarctica and Greenland. In Antarctica, Bell is recording “how ice gets taken from the middle of ice sheets down along these fast flowing ice streams down into the ocean where they turn into icebergs and are the mechanism that raises global sea level.”
“Since my grandmother was born, sea levels have risen one foot.” Bell said. “In the worst case scenario, the oceans could rise another foot in the next three decades, which means adapting to what we had seen since my grandmother was born a little quicker.”
Bell takes to the seas as a sailor as well as a scientist. “We sail as a family to soak in the open sea and sky and see new places together. I take a microscope and a small plankton net to look at the creatures in the sea, but that is just for fun.”
While organizers of Nyack’s Earth Day celebration in Memorial Park on April 21 work to raise consciousness about the health of our planet, Bell will be at her other workstation: Greenland. “We are testing a new imaging system, ‘icepod.’ It will measure ice thickness, how much snow has fallen in the last 100 years and the temperature.” Her commute north is shorter than her southern sojourn, just 2,000 miles to the town of Kangerlussag and another 3,000 to the spot where they measure the ice.
Here are a few things that Bell wants to share with her environmentalist compatriots that will be gathering on the banks of the Hudson River this Sunday.
Integrate your concern for the environment into your life whatever it is… art, journalism, business… we have to embrace change and move away from a lifestyle based on carbon fuels. We have to look for solutions at all levels.
Encourage kids to study science and engineering…. we need more really smart people working on the planet as a system if we want to keep it as a habitable place.
When you are standing in Memorial Park on Earth Day, Bell has a simple way to fathom the elevated height of the river. “Put your hand just below your knee…. the water has gone up that far since 1900.” Bell hopes that local governments will be mindful of this accelerating trend and place critical infrastructure above storm surge levels.
Even though she already gives to the fight against global climate change at the office, Bell’s activities extend beyond the traditional scope of scientific research. Bell was the Director of the ADVANCE program at Columbia’s Earth Institute from 2004-2011 that increased the participation and advancement of women scientists and engineers at the university. She was also instrumental in the development of the International Polar Year 2007-8.
Most of us are as likely to walk on the moon, as we are to step onto the ice at the South Pole. But what happens underneath Antarctica’s frozen surface shapes our future. Which is why we are fortunate that one of our neighbors is willing to make the trip for us. Let’s just hope that policy makers have the wisdom to comprehend the implications of her findings and the integrity to take corrective action.
Earth Day Events Requiring a Minimal Commute
Celebrate Earth in Memorial Park on Sunday, April 21
Earth Day Nyack will be a celebration held at Memorial Park on April 21, 2013 from 12:00-5:00 pm. All proceeds will benefit the Park Conservancy and the Children’s Garden. Activities for the day include craft tables, farmer’s market vendors, local artisans, live entertainment, educational tables, group games, and a community tile project. It is free and open to the public. The first 200 people to stop by the Vincent’s Ear booth will receive one goodie bag per family.
Public Lectures this Spring at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. There are two more programs in their 2013 Spring Lecture Series. On Sunday, April 21, from 3-4p Emily M. Klien, PhD will give a talk entitled Volcanoes and Vents: A Hidden World Beneath the Sea and on Thursday May 16th from 6-7p, Maya Tolstoy PhD will discuss Deep Sea Earthquakes: Science and technology. Admission is $5. Registration is recommend or call (845) 365-8998 for more information
Celebrate Earth Day at the Fellowship of Reconciliation on Sun. April 28,
The Hudson Valley chapter of F.O.R. is hosting an Earth Day event from 2- 6p at 521 N. Broadway in Nyack. Young and old are welcome for a day of music, art, educational workshops, expert speakers from ecology groups, organic food and raffles. For more information call 845-300-0739 or 845-358-4601, Ext. 41
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” Earth Day Action Nearand Far” © 2013 Bill Batson .The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored by The Corner Frame Shop at 40 South Franklin Street in Nyack, NY.
by Bill Batson
In London, the jewels are in the tower. In Nyack, the towers are the jewels. The evidence of our architectural opulence is on display in “Towers of Nyack,” a photo exhibit by Bob Goldberg that runs through June 1 on Saturdays from 1-4p, at the Museum of the Historical Society of the Nyacks located at 50 Piermont Avenue. If you haven’t experienced Bob’s love for local architecture and history during one of his walking tours or lectures during the last three decades, this show gives a hint of what you’ve been missing.
Goldberg can trace his interest in Nyack’s iconic housing stock to a talk at the Edward Hopper House Arts Center by architectural historian Leontine Temsky that he attended 25 years ago. “She got me fascinated in the details of Victorian architecture: the porch balustrades, the bargeboards and the towers,” Goldberg said. This week’s sketch captures a design feature that Goldberg learned about from Temsky and is particularly fond of recording; Hudson Valley brackets. The ornately carved wooden brackets can be seen supporting roof overhangs and are always placed in pairs.
Temsky and Goldberg form an interesting pair of Hudson valley brackets themselves as colleagues on the trustee board of the Historical Society of the Nyacks. The transplant Brooklynites attended the same Sunday school, high school and college in the borough before independently arriving in Nyack, where they have become two of our most ardent preservationists.
Once ignited by the Temsky lecture, Goldberg was eager to share his interest in local architecture with others. An opportunity emerged when the Friends of the Nyacks were looking for someone to guide their popular walking tours because of the departure of architect Joe Cunin. Goldberg provided colorful and compelling commentary for walking tour participants for the next 25 years. The annual guided tours are now conducted by others, and can always be taken through a self-guided version.
In order to accommodate year-round interest, Goldberg created a tour that could be conducted without walking. The John Scott Armchair Walking Tour started 18 years ago and are well attended at both the Nyack and Valley Cottage Libraries. The lectures are named for preeminent Rockland County historian John Scott. This year’s series, which starts in September, features Rockland Veterans Service Agency Director Jerry Donnellan and retired naturalist and educator from Sterling Forest, Doc Bayne.
Goldberg’s favorite armchair lecture topic is downtown Nyack. And his favorite place to direct the attention of his audience is up. “If you walk downtown, what you see at street level is the village as it is now,” Goldberg observes, “but looking up at the second and third floor is like looking into a time capsule. The buildings at that level are pretty much the exact way that they were when they were built 150 years old.”
Towers are not the only treasures that hide in plain sight that Goldberg celebrates. One of Goldberg’s lectures tells the story of the legacy of the retailer Smith and Quidor, captured in the time machine of a fading advertisement, known as a ghost sign. The sign that advertised the haberdashery is only a faint stain on the south-facing second story brick face above the Lockesmith across from Village Hall.
In his lecture, Goldberg follows the linage of Smith and Quidor back nearly a century. The business survived through a cycle of succession where owners would leave the business to employees that started as apprentices. The business was ultimately passed down to Mike Condello, a respected civic leader, whose widow, Pat, is a current member of the Historical Society Trustee Board.
Goldberg’s current exhibit at the Historical Society contains 35 color prints. Bob’s favorite tower, pictured here, is a beige lava lamp-shaped beauty with fish scale shingles. This building, which is on Washington and Piermont, is the first tower that Goldberg shot, in black and white, 25 years ago. The show contains a broad range of examples from the classical clock tower of the old high school to a post-modern wispy stone spiral chimney on Catherine Street.
There is a sense of all consuming passion and purpose in Goldberg’s lectures and tours. He honed his presentation skills in the chemical industry where he would “put facts into story form.” But don’t call him a historian, “that implies research,” he protests. “I like to tell the stories that have already been put together.”
But through the impressive archive that Goldberg has assembled, future historians, who will be able to tackle topics that his lectures have chronicled or scour a landscape that he has documented with his camera, may beg to differ.
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Towering Treasures” © 2013 Bill Batson.