A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Gratitude for the Hudson Valley

by Ajax Greene   

It was a tough year for me, 2014—about the worst ever financially, tough emotionally and physically. Normally a people person, I have been more withdrawn than usual. I think 2014 was the crescendo of a tough decade of ups and downs.

So why am I grateful? When things are tough I am forced to go inward for answers and solutions. The more I come to know that I am in control of my own experience the world, regardless of my circumstances, the more joy I am able to experience, regardless of what the universe serves up. This willingness to own my experience empowers my success.

As a Localist, I’d like to share some things I am truly excited about for 2015.

For me, this year was in part dominated by a shoulder injury, but thanks to both my acupuncturist and chiropractor I am healing nicely. We have such an amazing network of healers here. We need to let the world know that the Hudson Valley is a world-class destination for health and spiritual renewal. The opportunity is ripe and ready to be picked. How about an organizing committee to brand the Hudson Valley as the East Coast Ojai, CA or Sedona, AZ—a wellness destination? Forty percent of Americans live within a four-hour drive, after all.

Even on the toughest days I am in complete awe of the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley, from the amazing Hudson River (and its tributaries) to the glory of the Shawangunk Mountains, to a rainbow across a farmer’s field, and the fall colors on a hillside. Yes there are tough days when I forget where I live, but that never lasts long before I fall in love all over again with our region. In my opinion this natural capital is the foundation of our economy and needs to be protected at all costs.

With my injured shoulder, one of my outlets has been taking walks on the rail trail. We are so blessed to be in the process building a world-class trail system. Let’s not downplay the awesome value of rail trails as a resource for local citizens as well as their immense attraction to visitors.

One of my greatest joys of living in the Hudson Valley is you. There are so many cool, smart, creative, interesting people living here. Most people know we have the most artists per capita in America. I love the energy this creative density brings and am eternally grateful for all of you even on your wackiest days. Your willingness to innovate is the foundation of every effective economy.

Any economy needs to be grounded, and we have our amazing farmers to thank for that. We are healthy in part due to the abundance of high quality local food and produce. Let’s not forget the surge of fine local wines, beers, ciders, and spirits. There is not enough space in this column to list all reasons to be grateful for the farm-to-fork movement and its value to you and the Hudson Valley. This all shows up additionally in vibrant restaurants, retail, and even craft production companies.

You’ve no doubt heard about 3D printing. I think it’s going to completely rock the world in the coming decade(s). The fact that SUNY New Paltz is one of the leading centers for 3D printing in the country is worthy of many positive adjectives. One reason I am so excited is that this is not about big companies—this is about artists, solopreneurs, and local independent businesses reinventing the way our economy functions.

Just this morning I was reading a piece in a paper that was still lamenting the loss of IBM and complaining that there are no big companies on the horizon to save us. The article commented on all the folks relocating from Brooklyn (which I think is great) to our urban river towns. It lamented that there were no good jobs for these folks. I think the article completely missed the point. These folks are younger and more motivated. They don’t want “jobs.” They want to create their own destinies, and they are choosing the Hudson Valley because of the opportunities and the resources available here. This is exactly the kind of energy we need more of here.

I am eternally grateful that we are collectively ReThinking our future. We are the answer. We have all we need to have an amazing economic future. Let go of your fear and embrace your home region.
With so much to be grateful for, let’s embrace 2015 as the opportunity of a lifetime.