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This Land is My Land

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He made similar reassurances at a meeting earlier this year where Mohonk was seeking approval of the New Paltz Town Board on a state grant that would help with its acquisition of the foothills land—Brook Farm would stay where it is, despite the property changing hands.

The problem here is that Hoagland is not in a position to make these statements about Brook Farm. Mohonk is managing a large tract of OSI’s land, though the property that Brook Farm currently occupies will be under the control of Glynwood Institute.

Perhaps Hoagland was mistaken, or maybe his statements were designed to reassure the community that Brook Farm, something it loves and cares about, would be left alone. He has said the same thing many times, and it turns out not to be true.

At the October 2 community meeting about Brook Farm, Mohonk sent the chairman of its board of directors, Ron Knapp, to represent the preserve. (Nobody from OSI or Glynwood attended.) After listening to community members vehemently express their concerns about land trusts for three hours running, he stunned the room by asking people do make donations to the preserve so that it could raise $2 million and purchase land from OSI.

The next weekend, Brook Farm Project held a concert and festival to build public support for its plight to stay on the land. Pete Seeger was on the schedule.

Twice, Glynwood Institute officials tried to talk him out of performing at the event. Yes, they contacted the 94-year-old singer, who has stood up for every imaginable progressive cause for the past 75 years, and tried to persuade him not to support the Brook Farm Project. As I said—some people have no sense of irony.

Tom O’Dowd, a former Clearwater staff member, wrote to Seeger on October 3 and pleaded with him not to “join the unfortunate bashing of OSI, Glynwood, and Mohonk Preserve.”

The lobbying efforts didn’t work. Seeger performed as planned.

“I have not seen my father so pleased with an afternoon of music in a long time,” his daughter Tinya Seeger wrote to Brook Farm Project’s leadership. “The afternoon was such a relief for him. He loved seeing so many local singing young people, and is enthusiastically in support of all of you.”

Many people in New Paltz and the surrounding towns feel the same way. The ball is now in Glynwood’s and OSI’s court—let’s see if they do the right thing.

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