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Beacon: City of Creatives


Last Updated: 08/13/2013 4:06 pm

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Such interaction can occur when the line between private and public blurs. A current Beacon instance of such is School of Jellyfish, envisioned by Lily Zand and her husband, Oliver Schaper. Both accomplished architects, they came to love Beacon after Schaper was commissioned to design the new Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries building at Denning’s Point. They decided to establish the “village square concept” in nonprofit café form, serving homemade food and chocolate, espresso, performing arts, and free advice on architecture and permaculture. According to Zand, “Architects study amoebic structure and jellyfish for their sustainable organizing abilities.” In an attempt to imitate nonhierarchal jellyfish society, wherein each individual depends on its surroundings for form and survival, Zand hopes to encourage dialog and compassion among patrons.

It is while helping out at Jellyfish that Erica Hauser has found a taste of that typical Beacon support. She noted a conversation that flared up one day when a group of mature Beacon natives wandered in. They reminisced on the way Beacon used to bustle and discussed how it bustles now. They argued over which bakery or furniture store on Main Street was best and seemed grateful at the opportunity to sit, discuss, and remember.

Mixing mature and young, newcomer and native, is a form of union that allows community to flourish. Another such instance occurs at the Martin Luther King Cultural Center. For 40 years, the center has provided local seniors with services like door-to-door rides to health care, Beacon Free Press delivery, and hot, nutritious meals. It is a resource that Executive Director Dot Paulin calls “a way to help the senior population remain part of society.” In 1993, then-concerned citizen Paulin discovered the center had lost its funding. In the midst of her retirement from IBM, she decided to head up the center’s rebirth and enacted the youth program that still creates avenue for teens and children to enter society in a positive manner.

The center is in the process of moving to a new facility, located at the Parish House of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The building has a spacious kitchen with tall ceilings and windows and two large iron ranges. The gym shines with large, triangular windows on three sides, suitable not only for sports but banquet dinners and theater performances. Not only a physical change, the center’s expansion will also mean a conscious blending of the center’s two target populations. For instance, a Circle of Life Chorus is now being proposed that will allow participants of all ages. Paulin also enthusiastically welcomes a connection with the art scene of Beacon, an idea born in 2000 when artist Nestor Madalengoitia led MLK youth in a mural painting of the old Beacon-Newburgh Ferry at the corner of Main and Chestnut. Paulin hopes for similar, future engagement in saying, “We have enough artists in eacon that if each gave an hour or two a month, we could really have a real community connection.”

River Music
On an early spring evening music swells on the patio of the Bank Square Coffeehouse, situated at the very end of Main Street as it meets 9D, allowing sound to carry over the lands leading to the Hudson and beyond. On Tuesday evenings, the cafe hosts an open mike and always attentive in the crowd is Miss Vickie. Offering nurturing music instruction in an intimate, nearby storefront, Miss Vickie is lovingly conjuring a music scene on the west side of Beacon with friend Tom Joyce, a longtime Beacon resident who emcees the open mike. The café is the starting place for what Vickie hopes to expand to summer music events on a well-used empty lot further down Main Street.

The seeds of music being cultivated on the west end are a preview of other music destinations, including Chill Wine Bar’s Saturday night jazz series and Max’s on Main’s local music shows in its vibrant social setting. On the east end, a little thing called Local 845 has also been born. Stephen Clair, long-time touring musician and founder of Local 845, became an organizing music guru for Beacon after he and his family left Brooklyn.

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