While questionable ethics and serious moral lapses continue to persist on both sides of the Hudson—see the ongoing “Sleepergate” scandal documented on the Hudson Sunshine blog, for example—we’re going to defer our own up-close look at some scandalous behavior for just a bit longer. Instead, let’s have a look at Utopia.
I’m referring to the 1516 classic published by Sir Thomas More, AKA “A Man for All Seasons” and familiar to college students everywhere. More actually coined the word “utopia” and the idealized system and society he imagined in his famous book remain as elusive as ever today. The book itself, though, has never been more accessible: now we have Open Utopia on the web, wherein the book becomes a meeting place and people can gather and exchange comments (ideally, these would be about the book and the idea of utopia, rather than the current size of the Powerball lottery).
Open Utopia is the brainchild of NYU associate professor Stephen Duncombe. Faced with a year’s sabbatical, he had planned to write a book but decided to pursue something different instead. “We live in a world where people can talk back to their books,” Duncombe says. Open Utopia embodies this concept; an article detailing the genesis and development of the project is available here.
I haven’t delved deeply into the project yet, but I think the concept of book as gathering place is intriguing (though I’m not sure whether it ultimately works; I suppose that would depend on both the book and its technological implementation). If you want to explore Open Utopia, the developers recommend Chrome or Safari (though I had no issues in the introductory pages using Firefox). The idea of utopia, of course, is always worth exploring. Some may feel Thomas More is not the most reliable guide, however—see the dark, corrective portrait of More in Hilary Mantel’s gripping historical novel Wolf Hall, for example.
Now there’s a book that doesn’t require a meeting place. You’ll find it totally absorbing all on its own, regardless of whether you’re reading pages or bits.
New York State’s new 19th Congressional District (see map below, borrowed from Julian Schreibman’s campaign site) is far more logical, and also more compact, than its predecessor, the 20th. There is no skinny finger extending up into the Adirondacks for no apparent reason (except to garner more Republican votes). Instead, the new district wraps around Albany to the north and encompasses the Catskills and the mid to upper Hudson Valley. It also extends west to the PA border and east to Connecticut and Massachusetts.
New York’s 19th Congressional District
NY-19, because it contains Kingston and all of Ulster County, should be friendlier to Democrats than the old 20th District that elected Chris Gibson. And because the district is less gerrymandered and more of a piece than the 20th, it has the potential to be more unified in general, and thus represents more promising ground for region-wide efforts—economic development and broadband initiatives, for example.
We’ll be looking at the Congressional candidates and the pros and cons of NY-19 in the weeks and months leading up to the election. Spoiler alert: for counties like Greene, that used to reside in the 20th, a Schreibman-Democratic victory would represent an empowering step forward.
Sometimes it helps to lighten up a little, and the creative remix of West Side Story that’s been making the rounds the past couple of weeks is bound to generate a smile, at the very least. The new “Occupy” lyrics are clever and nicely performed, and Officer Winski receives a much-deserved comeuppance. Check it out below if you’ve haven’t seen it before (or even if you have).
We’d planned to show the award-winning documentary Inside Job later this month as part of the “Wall Street to Main Street” exhibition in Catskill. Unfortunately, those plans have changed.
Do let us know if you would like to see this film. If enough of you vote “Yes,” we’ll try to show it at a later date.
Elaine Fernandez of WiThePeople.com has put together an excellent video interview highlighting BlueInGreene’s principles, objectives and plans. If you’d like a brief introduction to what our group is all about, Elaine’s video—complete with visual aids and theme music—is an ideal place to start. The video is available on WiThePeople’s home page.
A reminder: Catskill’s important Wall Street to Main Street exhibition opens tomorrow at 2 PM. Some of us from BlueInGreene will be attending; perhaps we’ll see you at BRIK or GCCA. We’re sure you will find this exciting collaboration between GCCA’s Masters on Main Street program and the Occupy Wall Street Arts and Culture Working Group well worth attending in any case.
Also, BlueInGreene is having a meeting the following evening, Sunday March 18 at 6 PM, on the Mountain Top. If you’re interested in joining us, send a brief note of introduction to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you driving instructions.
Hope to see you soon.
Wall Street to Main Street is a collaborative presentation from the Occupy Wall Street Arts and Culture Working Group. It will run March 17-May 31 in Catskill, hosted by the Masters on Main Street Project of the Greene County Council on the Arts. The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has focused its energy on justice for the 99%—Wall Street to Main Street offers a platform for creative expression and dialogue focusing attention on a struggling community through a ten-week festival of experiences designed to engage, educate and inspire.
Elaine Fernandez of WiThePeople.com has a great video interview with Fawn Potash, Director of the Masters on Main Street project, on the upcoming OWS exhibition. The video is available here.
Wall Street to Main Street sounds exciting, and it’s a terrific opportunity for progressive people from throughout the region to meet up. Don’t miss the opening in Catskill on Saturday, March 17, from 2 to 8 PM.