Malone’s Assets

Why solar energy farms are a bust!

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD
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I recently sent the following exposé to numerous communities being stalked by Big Solar.  I wrote it as a member of FARM.  Friends Against Rural Mismanagement.  A bunch of cranky old-timers who object to farmland, woodland, wildland, marshland, rivers and lakes being screwed — regardless of who is holding the screwdriver.

Here is a screenshot of the beginning of the document.  Click here to access the entire article online.  You’re welcome to circulate and otherwise use as you wish.

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Click here to continue reading . . .

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Birds returning, frogs waking up: What’s back

Editor’s note:  This article was written by Nina Pierpont at this time of year, 8 years ago.  It’s worth re-reading.
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 Pine warbler (photo by Bill Garland)

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— Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD

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This is a blog for people who like to go outside and see what’s coming up or coming back or singing now that it’s spring. Please add your own observations and pictures, of whatever kind of animal, plant, or fungus you enjoy finding or watching.
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April 19, 2008:

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We’ve had three days of warm, sunny weather. Spring migrants ride winds from the south, so they tend to come in on warmer days. There’s been a burst of early migrants the last few days. The Wood frogs, which sleep away the winter, frozen in the leaf litter, have thawed out and woken up—and they’re cackling.

I like to follow the west side of Salmon River from the Willow Street Bridge, via Reservoir St., to the bottom of the high school track.  Then through the woods behind Franklin Academy, over the Pinnacle on the trail above the river, to the fields and mixed woods on the west side of the river.

This is a great time of year for seeing birds, because there aren’t any leaves, so you can see things, and the black flies aren’t out yet. During migration you can also see things which don’t breed here, but are heading further north. When they’re hungry and coming through in big flocks, they come right into the village. Birds don’t always stick to their usual habitats when they’re migrating.

I bird by ear. I ran into some people in the woods today who wanted to know how to learn bird calls. I’ve learned the most from tracking down unknown sounds until I can see the bird, but recordings are helpful too, especially if you don’t listen to too many at once. I thought if I posted pictures and calls of the birds that can be heard and seen in and around Malone right now, day by day as they come back, this would be a limited dose way to learn about what lives right here.

These birds

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Miracle on Mill Street

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

 

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How much would you be willing to pay to spend a night in this?  (Here’s a few close-ups.)

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Still undecided?  This might sway you.
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Imagine waking up to the dawn chorus of larks and sparrows, and gazing out on the rolling, bucolic landscape through this splendidly arched window.  A mug of hot, steaming coffee in hand.
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Still wondering?

Don’t bother, ‘cause you don’t have a chance of staying here.  For starters, it’s booked solid through December 2017 — at a cool £475 per night.  That’s 475 British pounds sterling.  That’s $732 USD.

Obviously, I left something out of this little story.  Omitted was (a) someone with a vision and (b) someone with skilled hands.  People like this:
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A visionary and a pair of hands, the two ingredients missing from my little story.

Think of Rodin’s hands.  Fingers that, from indifferent, unyielding marble, created “The Kiss.”  Think of the mind of Steve Jobs, the visionary who could thrill an audience with the challenge, “Let’s go invent tomorrow, rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.”

With these two ingredients, we’re ready to reconsider that pile of rubble, above, currently renting at $732 per night.  We’re ready because somebody like Steve Jobs looked at that pile of rock, and didn’t see a “mess”; he saw “possibilities.”

The visionary happened to be 3 men, and this is what they saw:
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To make it happen, they needed a pair of hands that could perform magic on that crumbling mass of stone and mortar.

They got lucky.  They found a master mason.  (Actually, they found a number of master craftsmen.)  And this is what their hands built:
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Look carefully.  What you’re looking at is a 21st-century building erected within a ruined, 13th-century castle in Warwickshire, England.  It goes by the name “Astley Castle.”  Strictly speaking, it was never a castle; it was a manor house that was added onto over the centuries, including the addition of decorative parapets (i.e., “gingerbread”).

Ingenious!

Okay, how much would you pay to spend a night here?

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“Heart & Soul Community Planning”: Blueprint for Malone?

Editor’s note:  Take a look at this video.  “Heart & Soul Planning” for communities like Malone.  It’s a program run by the Orton Family Foundation, Middlebury VT.

My thanks to Boyce Sherwin for bringing this to my attention.
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Unlock Your Potential: Heart & Soul Community Planning
from Orton Family Foundation on Vimeo.

In 2008, the Orton Family Foundation began a $10 million, five-year initiative to develop a new approach to values-based community planning designed to bring citizens back into the process of charting the future of their cities and towns. We call it “Heart & Soul Community Planning.”

We piloted the process in partnership with five communities in the Northeast and Rocky Mountain regions, testing new methods, tools and messages. Our early challenges and successes have inspired us to further refine our approach so that citizens have the tools they need to unlock their potential and keep their places special.

 

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“Place-Making”: Reviving downtown Malone!

“Virginia Developer Is on a Mission to Revive His Town” (Roanoke VA)

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Editor’s note
:  Could Roanoke VA become a model for Malone’s “renaissance” (rebirth)?  Read the NY Times article, below, and see what you think.  

There are interesting parallels between Roanoke, which is far larger than Malone, and Malone.  John Mills (Malone’s “Painted Lady” Genius), Hugh Hill (Exec. Dir. of the Malone Chamber of Commerce), and I have been discussing a concept rather similar to the one described in the article, below.  It has a name; it’s called “placemaking.”  Much of our concept has to do, believe it or not, with “paint.”  (You will notice that Frank Cositore used this approach with the Flanagan:  Once he fixed the windows and painted the building, it stopped being an eyesore and everyone stopped hyperventilating about “The Flanagan.”  There might be a lesson in that little story.)

Incidentally, Boyce Sherwin has been preaching “placemaking” for years.  That’s what the “Mullin Report” was all about—years ago.  (“Boyce, I think some of us, including yours truly, are only now beginning to grasp what you were talking about.”) 

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—by Melena Ryzik, NY Times (7/24/12)

ROANOKE, Va. — The Kirk Avenue Music Hall, a four-year-old club named for its downtown block here, offers an unexpected perk to its performers: an apartment. For a night or so, before or after gracing the stage, artists stay at no charge in a loft a block away, signing the guest book with notes of gratitude.

Community members involved in Roanoke’s revitalization gathered last week at a building that is to become a rock climbing gym.

“We don’t have money, we don’t have fame, so hospitality is really critical,” said Ed Walker, the club’s landlord and a founder.

It is hard to miss Mr. Walker’s brand of hospitality on Kirk Avenue. He owns nine of its storefronts, turning what was a forlorn block not long ago into a social destination. The music hall doubles as a microcinema and event space. There is Lucky, a restaurant run by a touring rock band that decided to stay put, and Freckles, a cafe and vintage shop

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Re-Imagine Malone (Part 2)

—by Hugh Hill, Malone Village Trustee & Executive Director, Malone Chamber of Commerce

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Checklist of Economic Opportunities:

(1) Develop our tourism economy by creating a modern and effective marketing effort funded by a fee collected from lodging visitors and managed by a private sector board of directors based on the proven record of success in Essex and Clinton Counties. (This opportunity deserves an essay all by itself!)

(2) Understand and exploit the seasonal resident potential by developing housing that takes advantage of our proximity to Titus Mountain, the golf course and the residential lakes in the area. Building. Selling 15-25 seasonal residences a year would have a multi-million dollar annual impact locally, providing new revenue for business and municipal governments. I think the potential is greater than the number I mentioned because we are 1.5 hour away from the nearly 4 million residents of Montreal, whose per-capita incomes are among the highest in North America.

(3) Domain and brand the area a value-added agricultural food basket specializing in agricultural products we already produce (dairy products, maple syrup, etc.) and are capable of producing in greater quantities (organic meats, tree fruits, specialty produce and high-value products like vegetable oils, beer, wine and more).

(4) Create an agricultural incubator space that would help small producers reach consumer markets by using shared administrative services (order taking, shipping services, etc.) and health department certified production equipment that they cannot afford to own when transitioning from home production to commercial production.

(5) Clean-up and fix-up local communities & neighborhoods through code enforcement, and deal with restrictive state and federal rules that prevent the removal of blight. This will be a small step in positioning our communities to better attract some of the estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers a day who are turning 65 years old (76 million people). That daily trend started last year and will continue every single day for the next 19 years.  America is ill-prepared to house and service the changing needs of this gigantic number of people. We have an opportunity here!

Communities like Malone are safe, have nearby high quality health care services, retail services, are walkable,

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Re-Imagine Malone!

Re-imaging Distressed Communities: A Strategy to Reverse Decline and Attract Investors”

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—by Catherine Toups* and James H. Carr (Spring 2000)

Recasting the image of a community is a potentially powerful tool to promote revitalization in distressed inner cities. While neighborhood leaders and redevelopment professionals struggle with the overriding tasks of earning community trust and participation, structuring real estate deals, raising money, and gaining political support, the challenge of turning around the community’s image may be relegated to the sidelines.

It is, however, a critical task: If a community plagued by a public image of abandonment, crime, and blight can reimage itself early in the process, it is better positioned to attract new residential and commercial development and engender a new sense of community pride and hope in the future among current residents. Across the country, formerly distressed communities have repositioned themselves with remarkable results.

This article outlines strategies that can be used to recast a community’s image and illustrates how such techniques have been used successfully. One of the primary strategies often used to change the perception of a neighborhood is giving it a new name that creates a positive image, possibly highlighting historic or positive elements in the community. Often, a logo is created to reinforce the name with a graphic image. Other reimaging techniques include packaging creatively the community’s unique or historic assets, making highly visible physical improvements, and target marketing the neighborhood to carefully selected potential residents and merchants.

Identify Community Assets

An important first step to recasting a community’s image is to take stock of its physical, social, and human resources. Engaging stakeholders — neighborhood groups, community development associations, merchants, local government and institutions, the school district, churches, local foundations, and interested corporate citizens — in the community’s future is a critical part of this process. Together, the stakeholders can identify the community’s assets, incorporate them into an identity, and envision a new image.

In inner cities across the country many eyesores are actually hidden assets: rundown old houses, busy streets, vacant warehouses, boarded up buildings, empty lots. They often possess an infrastructure no greenfield could begin to compete with

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Warbler wave

—Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD

Last night I slept by a pond.  The night was warm.  No clouds, numberless stars in the sky and the grass—really, it looked like stars had fallen into the grass.  Little points of greenish light which appeared and disappeared.  With a flashlight I found something looking partway between a sowbug and caterpillar, with glowing greenish point at one end.  Nearby the dry leaves on the ground were rustling.  I crept over and looked, catching glimpses of glittery blue eye-shine—spiders moving among the leaves.

Something walked by in the shadows on little feet.

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