|Photo by Ilene Cutler.
The Signs of Sustainability Project is a citizen-lead initiative created to show gratitude to our friends and neighbors in the Rondout Valley who demonstrate sustainable practices. Sustainability is defined by this project as stewardship and care of the present and future vitality of our wild, agricultural, and human resources. Since it began in October 2012, the Signs of Sustainability Project has recognized 24 local individuals and organizations by documenting what they have done. Each year the past recipients of the award are invited to join in the selection process.
Bill Brooks – Rosendale
Bill Brooks owns the barbershop in Rosendale where he has cut hair for 45 years. For many people Bill and Rosendale are synonymous. He started at the age of 19 as a volunteer fireman and he hasn’t stopped working for his community since. Bill’s community projects range from town governance to the Rosendale Energy Group, to serving as Rosendale town historian. Bill attends hours of meetings; he creates committees; he joins committees. Oh, and he also serves as the unofficial town concierge. Let’s just say that if Bill were paid for his hours of community work he could retire to his own island in a sunny climate!
What does it mean to be the town concierge? People call him for direction and advice: can he recommend a serviceman for a repair project? Can he explain to the servicemen what they need? Is it time to take the potted plants in for the season? Is there a storm coming? Bill is always on the phone helping his neighbors figure things out. Amidst his collection of license plates in his quirky, retro-style barbershop is a poster that reads: “How to build community”. That is exactly what Bill does.
His long-standing project The Rosendale Pickle Fest is in its 17th year and attracts over 7000 visitors annually! The proceeds are donated to many community services; including rebuilding the Little League Baseball fields which are repeatedly devastated by flooding.
In the study of ecology we learn that the relationships between things are as important as the things themselves. A healthy ecosystem is a web of connections. Bill has been building those community connections for decades. He’s a true steward of our human resources!
–text by Lisa Jones, photo by Ilene Cutler