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

Positive News Briefs & Opportunities: Social Capital, Chrysalis, COVID-19 Outreach

Social Capital 

A valuable capital resource that can be utilized in opposition to monetary gains is social capital. Social capital is the effective functioning of social groups through interpersonal relationships, a shared sense of identity, a shared understanding, shared norms, and shared values. The way we value our resources impacts our social groups. Whether the resource is tangible or intangible, we measure the value of social capital by the outcome involved in each relationship or in large groups. A person or entity who has ‘good social capital’ can ask favors, influence decisions, and communicate efficiently. Social capital is of primary importance in politics, business, and community organizing. If capital can take the form of equity or debt, a person can owe favors or decision making influence to another person or entity. A strong social network is like money in the bank. Your network can help you build visibility, connect you with influencers, and open up doors for new opportunities.

How can we use social capital in the current economic landscape and what would it look like? Social capital uses the connections we make with one another to influence our decisions and the relationships we share. Through the use of social networking, our social capital strengthens the connections we share, allows us to create a common identity and share common beliefs. Social capital can be used as a resource for public good and for the benefit of individuals. There are many social outlets or platforms that help us connect during a time when physical distancing and speaking with someone face to face may not be a viable option. Some ways to manage your time and create a beneficial social network is to be strategic and have a goal in mind. What groups or teams are you interested in joining, and how can joining these groups help you gain leverage or insight to your end goal? By creating a diverse network you can assess and manage the groups that are committed to staying organized. You can also set aside a specific time each week in which you can try to expand your social networks, like reaching out to former colleagues and bosses. Now is a great time to tap into your social capital and explore what it has to offer you. 

Chrysalis or Cocoon—What is the difference? 

Gardeners love butterflies, and not just because they are great pollinators. They’re also beautiful and fun to watch. It can also be interesting to learn more about these insects and their life cycles. Butterflies make a chrysalis, while other insects—like the tobacco hornworm caterpillar—makes a cocoon and becomes a moth. They will transform over time into a butterfly or a moth. Most butterflies and moths stay inside of their chrysalis or cocoon for between five to 21 days. The major difference between a chrysalis and a cocoon is that a chrysalis is the hardened body of a butterfly pupa, whereas a cocoon is an external structure constructed by larvae to protect themselves during the pupal stage. While there are many different types of insects that create cocoons, they are largely associated with moths. Butterfly caterpillars, with very few exceptions, do not build cocoons, but instead harden into chrysali during their pupal stage. The chrysalis protects the caterpillar as it begins to turn itself into a liquid, soupy substance. The new butterfly’s organs, wings, antennae, and legs form inside the chrysalis. Now that you know the difference between the chrysalis and cocoon, see if you can spot the differences in your own home garden. If you have not done so already and are struggling to find a way to spend time, try gardening! Gardening is a relaxing and useful tool that can help you cope with anxiety and stress during this unprecedented time of uncertainty. Watching your flowers and plants flourish during springtime is a simple joy that must not be dismissed. 

Outreach Efforts

Ulster County Launches New Interactive COVID-19 Online Chat Tool

As a response to residents’ questions about COVID-19, Ulster County Government launched a new online chat tool to provide an interactive platform to respond to residents’ questions and concerns as well as serve as a resource for county-specific information. This will increase capacity and improve responsiveness with instantaneous replies, so residents can receive information 24/7. The online chat can easily help residents looking for answers about symptoms, testing sites, as well as the current status of schools, businesses, transportation, and other public services. The online chat tool was developed in partnership with IBM utilizing IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens. In addition to the online chat, residents can continue to utilize the Ulster County COVID-19 Hotline at 845-443-8888. Since setting up the hotline last month, it has received over 10,000 calls, resulting in 4,000 calls directly responded to by operators. The hotline is now fully accessible in Spanish. The online chat tool can be found on Ulster County’s COVID-19 Virtual Center found at covid19.ulstercountyny.gov

“Community Champions” Campaign 

As a response to the remarkable community support seen through Project Resilience and across the County, Ulster County Government and Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan launched the “Ulster County Community Champion” campaign. This campaign will highlight community members who are stepping up and taking care of our community during COVID-19. This initiative will thank and acknowledge the many “champions” caring for our community including: health care workers, front line workers, mail carriers, delivery workers, journalists, grocery store staff, public transit workers, teachers, pharmacy workers, and more. Community members who are Ulster County residents can be nominated by filling out a on the COVID-19 website. Selected nominees will be recognized for their efforts to be featured on Ulster County social media.

Project Resilience

Ulster County has recently announced Project Resilience, a community fund and local food distribution effort to support residents impacted by COVID-19. The County secured over $2 million in funding in 24 hours, and is utilizing UCAT as well as partnering with municipalities and non-profits to deliver meals via local distribution centers. This new initiative helps 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 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. 

3D Printed Face Shields
County Executive Pat Ryan toured the Hudson Valley Additive Manufacturing Center at SUNY New Paltz where the college and the County have partnered to utilize the center’s 3D printers to produce 3D-printed face shields for local health care workers and others at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. Since standing up this initiative, 1,000 face shields have been produced and donated to health care facilities and medical personnel at Ulster County drive-through mobile testing sites. Once fully ramped up, the facility has the capacity to produce 500 face shields per day. 

BlueWave Solar
In response to the COVID-19 crisis in the Hudson Valley, the Northeast area community solar provider is partnering with the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley to donate $150 per subscription signup for its new solar project off Salt Point Turnpike in Poughkeepsie. Residents and businesses in Central Hudson Gas & Electric service territory are eligible, and BlueWave will give them an additional $100 bonus to keep or donate to the food bank. start.bluewavesolar.com/foodbank

Lunches for Children
Wappingers Falls favorite Mamma Musetti’s keeps up its charitable programming by offering free lunches to children in the Hudson Valley. In addition to prepping takeout meals for diners, owner Rosaria Musetti whips up her signature pastas and Italian specialties for little ones who need comforting, nutritious food while they’re out of school. Donate through a community organized GoFundMe page, which aims to support Musetti and her husband as they give back to locals while working to stay afloat. 

Another great resource is located at 188 Liberty Street in Newburgh; Lodger is preparing and distributing 200 school lunch replacement meals for free Mondays through Wednesdays, from 10am to 1pm. Their staff are driving deliveries, and their efforts are being supported through donations from neighbors and local businesses. 

Kingston School District Meals
KCSD will provide families with free to go breakfast and lunches Monday-Friday from 11am-1pm.  They will be distributing these meals at John F. Kennedy Elementary School and J. Watson Bailey Middle School.  Students who attend any KCSD school are welcome to stop by either of these two locations for breakfast and lunch items.  You may walk or use the drive through curb side service.

People’s Place
For those in need of food support on the weekdays, People’s Place is offering various services to help the community. The Community Cafe will be open from 8:30am to 1pm offering takeout Continental breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. The Food Pantry will operate in a modified version at regular hours (10am to 1pm Monday through Friday, and Wednesday evening from 5:30pm to 7:30pm). The Bag Student Hunger Program, which offers breakfast, lunch, and snack items for school age children will begin on Monday, March 16 and run until school resumes. Distribution will follow the food pantry hours. For more information please call 845-338-4030.

Million Gallons
A coalition of Westchester chefs led by Eric Korn—owner of Good-Life Gourmet Catering in Irvington—are organizing restaurants to join their cause of cooking one million gallons of soup for regional communities. Known as the Million Gallons operation, they’re raising money through GoFundMe and partnering with local food pantries to distribute fresh or frozen soup. Find updates on their website, milliongallons.com. Restaurants can also register online through this site to help.

Community Pantry Shifts To Home Deliveries

The Arkville based Community Pantry has shifted to 100 percent home delivery of food distribution in an effort to limit the possibility of infection during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials at the Community Pantry have made the decision to suspend in-person food distribution for the foreseeable future. The changeover to home delivery service went into effect on March 23. Emergency food supplies will be available to all members of the community in need. To schedule a delivery, please call 845-586-2233. The Community Pantry staff, with assistance from the MARK Project, has recruited volunteers to deliver food packages. Deliveries are available to all members of the community in need of food. The organization previously conducted a limited amount of home deliveries, but now that will become the norm, until the pandemic is past. The pantry is geared toward Delaware County residents and primarily serves Town of Middletown residents. Nearly two dozen volunteers assist in keeping the Community Pantry running smoothly.

Other Resources or Concessions To Note: