Living the dream in Schoharie County
My dream has always been to leave the world a better place. Cliched, I know, but true. And a dream I know is shared by many, in this county and beyond.
As a child I was blessed – raised in the middle of one of the oldest biological research stations in the U.S., the 2000 acre Huyck Preserve in Rensselaerville. Over the years I spent hundreds of hours exploring the natural habitats in my backyard and meeting scientists from all over the world who came there to research,connect, learn and grow.This foundation developed a deep appreciation for diversity within me, both in the natural and the human world. After undergraduate studies at the University at Albany, I traveled to Scotland where I studied sustainable development at the University of Edinburgh. Amidst the striking stone architecture and bustle of a modern city emerging from a rich and ancient past, I again met people from all over the world. Twenty other students and I were selected to participate in an interdisciplinary graduate program to explore how the environment is understood and managed as well as strategies for fair and sustainable development. My dissertation centered on involving communities in the sustainable development process. While there I quickly realized that my next career goal was to take what I was learning and bring it home. I write all this to help you understand why I am so committed to the development of sustainable communities and regions. To help you understand why and how I am living my own dream here in Schoharie County.
SALT is following national and international best practices for transitioning communities from the long term rebuilding and recovery work that follows a disaster, to the even longer term (forever, perhaps) community development work that must come next if that region is to become healthy, strong, resilient and sustainable. I know because I’m part of a team of a few paid staff and many volunteers who are conducting research, developing relationships, making connections and participating in the planning for and execution of innovative, collaborative, community development projects that will take our dreams for Schoharie County and help to make them a reality.
My dream is for a county that works together, across municipal lines, to identify and build upon our bountiful assets and strengthen our local economy. A region that preserves our natural resources and rural character, while at the same time creating a vibrant community that celebrates and welcomes diversity.
My dream is for more people to realize that Schoharie County is a desirable place to live. As far as I’m concerned we have it all. We have mountains, valleys, woods, farmland, streams, lakes and waterfalls. We have an abundance of fresh, local food. We have more family friendly activities and events then I can keep track of. We have safe communities and neighbors who are there for each other through thick and thin.
Sure, we have more work to do… we need more jobs, more affordable, quality housing, and more spaces for residents to gather together, especially our youth and our elderly. But we have a range of opportunities that we can and will build upon to further improve quality of life in our region. And most importantly, we have a strong, resilient local population, full of hard working and creative people – the type who don’t give up. The type of people who I am proud to call my neighbors.
As we celebrate our region’s fifth year of resilience, in the face of what was a traumatic and devastating disaster for hundreds if not thousands in our community, and look toward the future, I am filled with hope. Whether your family has lived in this county for centuries or just a few months, whether you’ve traveled the world or never left New York State, I firmly believe we have all that we need, right here, right now, to show the world how lucky we are to live here.
But I am also realistic. Sustainable community development work is hard work – we must work together and build each other up. Luckily SALT is blessed with many hard workers who firmly believe in the power of collaboration and we’re not going anywhere.
I for one have found my home and I intend to keep living the dream here, my dream, doing everything I can to make it a better place for myself, for my family and for my community.
Written by Jerrine Corallo, SALT Project Director