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

Positive News Briefs & Opportunities: Living Capital, Ashokan Rail Trail, COVID-19 Resources

Eight Forms of Capital: Living Capital 

As we continue our discussion on alternate forms of capital, another interesting and useful form is living capital. What is living capital and how is it valuable? Living capital is made up of the animals, plants, water, and soil of our land—the true basis for life on our planet. Permaculture encourages us to share the abundance of living capital rather than the intangible “wealth” of financial capital. If we are able to recognize earth’s valuable resources, businesses can continue to exist and support each other without relying on human-made capital. 

During this strange and unknown economic climate it is important to remain positive and remember the abundance around us. Thinking about how sustainability will propel our future, each day we are given the opportunity to make choices with this in mind. By restoring and sustaining living resources and reusing materials found in natural systems we are working together to imbed living capital into our lifestyles.

While many of us may now be faced with the lack of a 9 to 5 job, we can achieve wealth in an alternate way. Human welfare is best served by improving the quality and flow of desired services delivered, rather than by merely increasing the total dollar flow. When a paycheck may not be coming regularly in the weeks ahead, let us use our local resources to make ends meet. Invest now in soil and land. Plant your garden and then harvest from it. Participate in local ecosystem services. The good news about living capital as compared to inanimate capital (like cash or credit) is that it travels. Living capital is leverageable because it has a common currency as a medium of exchange. This common currency is surfacing as most vital in our day to day lives. Now more than ever we are able to realize the importance of living organisms and the necessity to grow global stocks of resources in a sustainable fashion.  

Economic and environmental sustainability depends on redressing global inequities of income and material well being into living capital. We can work together as a community to address this issue and support those who need it most. The Hudson Valley has been making large strides in transferring financial capital into the living forms of soil, animals, and agriculture. Connecting community members to the places where they live, creating healthy relationships and new sources of capital for small food enterprises will lead us to invest in better food, farms, and fertility. When you think about living capital in this light we will all reap the benefits. Together, let us serve people and place, instead of industry sectors and markets. 

Economic Engine: Ashokan Rail Trail

The Ashokan Rail Trail (specifically the west end) is now officially and completely open to the public. Opened in the fall of 2019, the Ashokan Rail Trail (ART) is a shared-use recreational trail running 11.5 miles along the northern edge of the Ashokan Reservoir between Basin Road in West Hurley and Route 28A in Boiceville. The ART was developed by the County of Ulster through an historic partnership with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which owns and operates the Ashokan Reservoir and adjacent lands. As many of you have already visited this prized spot, it is important to remember that you can do much more besides walk or bike it. The trail can be used for hiking, nature observing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and it offers three large trailheads from which the trail can be accessed. It is made up of highly compacted crushed stone ranging from 10 to 12 feet in width, and this flat trail is ADA compliant and accessible for persons with disabilities. 

With the trailhead on the Ashokan reservoir end being reopened and resurfaced, many new visitors have been heading its way. There is easy accessible parking and once you are on the path it is just you, the trees, and the long stream of stone mirroring Route 28. The Boiceville Trestle  replaced the flood-damaged bridge that formerly conveyed trains across the Esopus Creek and the new trestle is six feet higher and 60 feet longer than the previous structure, to accommodate future floodwaters. The improvements continue to make the trial a safe and inviting home for many creatures and for our human enjoyment. Businesses along the trail have seen an increase since the new trailhead opening and it also encourages travelers to explore further into the Catskill Park to begin their adventures. Perhaps there will be additional beneficial economic impact in and around the Shokan and Boiceville areas and even parts of western Ulster County. 

Utilizing the trail during this strange and stressful time would benefit us in many ways. Keeping active helps our bodies and our minds. Soak up the vitamin D on the trail and get your heart pumping with fresh oxygen. This is one of the activities that we are all still able to do while practicing safe social distancing. Ashokanrailtrail.com.

Local, COVID-19 Resources

Food Bank of the Hudson Valley 
The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley is dedicated to alleviating hunger, while preventing the waste of wholesome food. It is a branch of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and a member of Feeding America, the national food bank network. Working in partnership with the food industry, the Food Bank collects large donations of unmarketable, but still edible food, and distributes it to charitable agencies feeding hungry people in a six county region. Even with everything changing around us, The Food Bank is committed to providing emergency food assistance to people in need. Financial support will be essential to help cover costs for additional staff, vehicles, and food purchases.

If you are able to, you can donate by visiting this link, donatenow.networkforgood.org/foodbankofthehudsonvalley or by signing up to be a volunteer. Another way to access food during this time is through the YMCA Farm Project in Kingston. It is providing Kingston City School District students with free breakfasts and lunches every weekday. Pickups are between 11am and 1pm at JFK Elementary and Bailey Middle Schools.

Project Resilience
Ulster County has announced Project Resilience, a community fund and local food distribution effort to support residents impacted by COVID-19. The County has secured over $2 million in funding in 24 hours, and will utilize UCAT and partner with nonprofits and municipalities to deliver meals to local distribution centers. This new initiative will help residents in need and simultaneously provide support to small businesses. Ulster County is partnering with United Way and many other area organizations and businesses to mobilize food and services. Funds raised here will be used to purchase meals from local businesses and not-for-profit organizations, helping to keep dollars circulating in our food economy while we ensure that everyone is fed, as well as for other support.

211 Hotline 
This hotline provides a free and anonymous 24-hour telephone helpline (also with a crisis text line) for counseling, crisis intervention, information and referral, chemical dependency services, and clinic appointments. It also provides suicide prevention call boxes at local Hudson Valley Bridges: Mid-Hudson FDR, Beacon/Newburgh, Bear Mountain, Kingston/Rhinecliff, Rip Van Winkle, and Walkway Over the Hudson. Through the helpline you can access appointments, information, and referrals for Hudson Valley Mental Health, Astor Services for Families and Lexington Center for Recovery, as well as the Department of Behavioral and Community Health. 

24/7 Crisis Services
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing a mental health crisis please call or text the helpline at 845-485-9700. You can also still visit the walk in center (The Stabilization Center) at 230 North Road in Poughkeepsie. Someone will always be available to listen and help people dealing with emotional distress, anxiety, depression, or family issues. They offer immediate crisis response, emergency mental health counseling by phone or text, and will help you understand the mental health services and programs in the County. Using the Stabilization Center is 100 percent voluntary, and no one is ever denied service based on lack of health insurance or inability to pay.

Mutual Aid Beacon
In these fast moving and uncertain times, it’s important that we show up for each other and remember that we are not alone. Mutual aid is a powerful way to build strong connections—we all have something to offer and we all have something we need.

On their website, beaconmutualaid.com, there are many platforms and ways to which we can all get involved in our community and help one another. By visiting the website you will notice that there are three sections that each include their own shareable spreadsheet. The sections include: offering support, requesting support, and neighborhood pods. The info you provide will be directly uploaded into a public non-editable “offerings” spreadsheet that others can view and reach out to you directly for support.

If you have a need that appears on this sheet, go ahead and reach out to the person listed. If you are looking for support, there will be a form available that you can use to request what you need. There is no task that is too big, and no one will ever be shamed for asking for what they need. Pods are hyperlocal text message groups or phone trees of you and your neighbors. Since not everyone has access to online communication or will ever see these google docs, neighborhood pods is how we can reach more people in need.