What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Ahh...  where to begin.  I guess I can start by saying a lot of running around while struggling to find time to write it all down.  Since my last post I have done a wealth of things, including start writing several posts without finishing them up.  Thinking its better to just stick to the broader strokes. 

So I've had a number of meetings.  I won't get into them all, but Thursday I met with the Gateway to Entrepreneurial Tomorrows (GET).  GET's goal is to "help minorities and low income families in the Mid-Hudson Valley start their own businesses, thus giving impulse to the general economic growth of the region."  The meeting was both informative/helpful and also pretty annoying and frustrating.  They were very pesimistic.  I really almost got the impression that they would just simply be happy to have me not come back through their door, less work.  All they could see was what can't be done, why it wouldn't work.  And not in a constructive way, but in a nothing works way.  They also don't have the best reputation on the street...  That being said though, I started being a bit assertive about things and got past the cloudy exterior to some solid advice.

On Friday I met with the Director of Development for Putnam ARC a NGO located in Brewster, NY that works with people with disabilities.  This meeting was fabulous.  The perfect type of person to speak with, and interestingly, a Newburgh resident (Town of, not City) who had some really good thoughts everything.  She really helped formulate some solid directional ideas.

I met with some other community members, as well as government, religious, and business leaders.  There are some really great people out there, doing really great work.  There is also a lot of judgement and pessimism.  I find it very interesting to fell the differences when I - a respectably dressed white guy - walk into a room in Newburgh versus in Sierra Leone.  In Sierra Leone I stick out like the sun in a perfect blue sky, but not in a racially charged or prejudicial way, but more pragmatic.  In Newburgh, there is so much judgement.  Most everyone seems to size you up before you ever get in the door.  They seem to assume everything they need to know about you.  I mean, must come from a well to do upbringing?  I probably never struggled right?  I have no way of knowing or understanding what life is like there right? I must fit into a category no?  My how interesting it is the way people think.  But no matter... people can think what they want.  I know where I come from and what I want to do.  Some people will be supportive and others not!!

This stretch finished with going to a City Council meeting in Newburgh last night.  They are working on a new plan for real estate development.  I won't get into much now, it would deserve its own post.  The regular meeting seemed quite civil by local government standards.  The big event was the approval to auction 50 city owned properties off in April.  Very interesting to think about that on many levels.  I also met some more people there of course, and am quite happy with the network I am getting in to.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath ones feet..."     

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