Welcome to S.W.E.E.T.!
S.W.E.E.T. stands for Sustainable Wawarsing-Ellenville Economy Taskforce.
S.W.E.E.T. is a forum and catalyst for creating a proactive nucleus of concerned citizens of the Town of Wawarsing / Village of Ellenville area who want to see a vibrant, creative, Local-First "living economy" developed and maintained from within the community itself, through local production, ownership, and financing, as much as possible.
By "Thinking Local First," fulfilling local needs and growing local businesses, we can build and sustain a more self-sufficient community with a more self-reliant economy, one that is better able to withstand shocks to the larger economy, provide more stable job opportunities, and allow for greater local control of our own economic destiny.
To that end, this forum will provide ideas and examples of how such efforts have fared elsewhere, in communities like ours, and will allow for feedback and discussion so that we can take advantage of the wealth of talent and experience from within our own citizenry.
There is no agenda here except to strengthen our own community by making our local economy more strong, diverse, and flexible, and to find more solutions from within our own local and regional area than to expect or depend on help and salvation from afar.
Certainly, local issues of particular urgency can not be ignored, even as we pilot a course that looks to the long-term results and goals. Therefore, facts, links, articles, and debate over issues that seriously impinge on this long-term strategy will be a major part of this forum, even as it continues to present positive and local-centric ways to grow and maintain our own economic infrastructure.
We are all neighbors here. We have either grown up here or have chosen to live here. We may not agree on various things from politics to sports to our tastes in food or recreation. But we all have to live here and that means breathing the same air, drinking the same water, riding the same roads, and viewing the same scenery (natural and man-made). We have been given this community by those who preceded us, and what we leave to those who come after us will be our legacy to them; they won't hold us blameless if we are negligent or selfish and leave them with nothing worth claiming.
The decisions we make today, actively or through choosing to not act, will live on to affect us and our posterity. We can choose wisely, by being informed and taking responsibility, or we can choose poorly, by believing in hype and wishful thinking and letting others make our critical decisions for us. It is the duty of each citizen to bear some responsibility for the fate of his or her community, and it is the right of every community to protect itself from all manner of threats and subjugations, and we are obliged to be ever vigilant to those possibilities, and to discern for ourselves whether possible short-term gains hide potential long-term losses, and act accordingly.
The purpose of this forum, again, is education and discussion. We will deal with facts and opinions, but, ever mindful of the difference between the two, we will expect that assertions be more than blatant, but will be substantiated with evidence and support material whenever possible, and that discussion remain civil and courteous, and that each person will take responsibility for what he or she says.
I have not decided to what extent anonymity will be allowed; sometimes, persons with important things to say feel constrained if their jobs, friendships, or social standing are jeopardized by revealing who they are or where their information came from. I would hope that all will be honest and courageous enough to identify themselves and stand behind what they say, but one can understand how that can be difficult when strongly disputed matters are on the line.
I will start by identifying myself. I am Steve Krulick, currently a Village Trustee in Ellenville, sometimes editor/publisher/entrepreneur, currently columnist and resident of Cyberspace. I have been trying for 20 years to get the town and village to create a joint development office to comprehensively analyze our assets and needs and work to retain and expand current businesses and jobs, while seeking sustainable growth through new businesses and new opportunities to increase the level of local production, ownership, and financing.
There is no point in denying that news of the possible location of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Napanoch has me concerned, and that this concern has impelled me to write many of my neighbors directly, and to raise these concerns in public in the local newspaper, local radio, and other venues. I am concerned as a citizen of the town, and more specifically as a Village official, since I can see potential economic impacts to the Village that have to be addressed, through asking hard questions and doing diligent research, particularly in how other similar communities have been affected, and how they have dealt with the situation and/or consequences.
This forum is part of that concern and an objective way to address the concerns. I have no dog in this fight; I neither make nor lose a business penny if Wal-Mart is built in town. I have no personal interest in its success or failure, other than how it affects me as a taxpayer and official who may have to deal with the fallout. However, I realize there are others who believe that Wal-Mart (or any big-box store) is great for them personally, or good for the community, and still others who believe that such an event is bad for them personally, and for the community.
Alas, mere belief is just that; unsubstantiated opinion, blatant assertion, or wishful thinking. I can believe that the tooth fairy leaves shiny quarters under the pillow, but, absent some hard evidence, it is just mere opinion. Forums require a higher standard than simply opining, though this is surely part of the process. I will focus on providing facts and statistics wherever possible to back up my claims, and I would urge others to do so, too, if they are to be taken seriously.
For example, if you claim a Wal-Mart is good for the community because it will bring 300-400 new jobs, and I have a statistic from the Public Policy Institute of California that says: "for every Wal-Mart store that opens, the county loses 3 percent of its retail payroll. Further, for every Wal-Mart job created, 1.5 retail jobs - those to be found in smaller, local stores - are lost." (cited in Times-Herald Record editorial), then my stats trump your mere belief. Unless you think a net LOSS of 150-200 jobs is a good thing (many of those so-called "newly created" jobs will actually be displaced workers from former local businesses), you will have to rethink your claim, or come up with another argument. And so it will, and should, go, as we compare myths with actual experience, and beliefs with hard evidence.
I also expect others to engage in honest self-disclosure, and reveal if they have a bias in their remarks, due to some real or perceived gain or loss that the subject of their discussion involves. Yes, we can understand that someone whose life's work is threatened is going to have a certain take on things, and someone who stands to make substantial money also is not the most objective of commentators.
My job, self-imposed (unless YOU want to create your own blog), is to maintain a level of serious and honest discourse, and to present as much evidence as possible to bring us back to plausible scenarios, rather than to indulge in mere wishful thinking based on desire and having seen too much hype. As I've said, I fear that, no matter the outcome, this can tear the community apart for years, and will change us forever. Hence, I will try my damnedest to prevent that by keeping the debate honest and objective as much as I can.
I will not allow personal attacks and innuendo. I will excise foul or inappropriate language. I will require proof before allowing extreme or extravagant claims. I will not let people engage in slander or self-promotion, or hog the conversation. For now, this is MY blog, and I am the final authority here. My goal, however is to see S.W.E.E.T. develop into a real and effective organization, and, at such time, I'll be happy to turn the reins over to another, or allow a democratic process to determine the future of that organization, if any.
I will soon open this blog up to comments from outside, and create and link to a website where there is greater control over the page format, which is better from presenting side information and hyperlinks.
This is NOT about stopping a particular store, and S.W.E.E.T. is NOT about that. It is about expressing positive ideas and actions that can improve our local economy and the community that depends on it. But let's not be naive... all the positive ideas and work can be undone and short-circuited by an overwhelming external presence that sucks the oxygen out of the economic room for its own agenda and diminishes local control of that economy and the quality of life we all want. That being said, I will begin posting regularly to this blog about both the positive and negative news and information that will help all local citizens better understand what is at stake and the price we may for not doing the research before big decisions are made.
Until next time,
PS: Please come to the Ellenville Public Library Community Room, Monday, Dec. 4th, at 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:30) for a second FREE showing of the film "Independent America," which covers many of these concerns and issues.
For details, go to http://ellenville.org/news.htm.