May 10, 2021

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Essex library starts Wall of Literary Fame | Local News

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ESSEX – The Belden Noble Memorial Library spruced up its interior including painting the walls during the COVID shutdown.

One blank wall was a canvas in need of decoration for resident Jim Van Hoven.

“I’m not on the library board, my wife (Colleen) is,” he said.

“But, I’ve been very interested in the library over the years. I’m a former school administrator. I’ve been in a lot of places where you go into a high school or a school building, and they will have an athletic wall of fame or community wall of fame.

“I’m thinking to myself, I know a lot of people in Essex. I have been here a long time, and a lot of the them have published books of one kind or another.

“Then I thought, why don’t we have an Essex library wall of fame to highlight this?”

Van Hoven got started on this idea and talked to some of his author-friends.

“This thing just kind of grew,” he said.

“The more I talked to people, the more I learned about other people. We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve identified 25 people, some of whom are deceased, but recently deceased, who published either a book of poetry, fiction or nonfiction.

“By published I mean they have actually gotten a publisher and printed the book up and either sold it or distributed it to people. It’s not just one of these one-off things. We decided to honor these people by having their pictures and a little brief biography of them on the wall of the library. We just finished putting that up.”

The library received a grant from the Essex County Arts Council to fund the costs of the materials used to create the wall, which features: Laura Couchey Abate, Andrew Buchanan, Sid Couchey (1919-2020), Shirley Ross LaForest (1935-2020), Rick Dalton, George Davis, John Davis, Steven Engelhart, Morris F. Glenn, Alice P. Green, David Hislop, Harry Hutson, Steven Kellogg, Kristin Kimball, Miriam Z. Klipper, Katherine Manthorne, James Lancel McElhinney, John Mesick, Jeff Moredock (1939-2020), Dr. H. Nicholas Muller, Allison Pataki, Owen Pataki, George E. Pataki, Katherine Preston, and Richard Robbins.

“Essex is a neat little place,” Van Hoven said.

“It’s only 680 of us that live here. When you look at that and you find that 25 people have published, I think that’s a rather remarkable situation.”

All of the authors or their family members have donated copies of their books to the library.

Once they are cataloged, the books will be available in the Dorothy “Doffy” Voorhis Reading Room.

“I’ve had so much fun doing this,” Van Hoven said.

“I met some people I didn’t know, and I learned a lot about people that I thought I knew but I didn’t know a lot about them. It really has been very rewarding for me.”

The library also created a booklet featuring Essex on Lake Champlain literati.

George Hearn, of Broadway musical theater fame, said about the hamlet in an October 13, 2006 New York Times article:

“There’s a real life of the mind. There’s a lot talent here – theatrical, literary, but it’s not self-conscious the way that Aspen or Woodstock is. I think of Martha’s Vineyard 40 years ago.”

“That’s what George said about Essex back in 2006,” Van Hoven said.

“And, I think it’s really quite true today. We’ve had more people move into the community, who have literary backgrounds of one kind or another.

“And of course, this COVID thing has chased some people up here from Manhattan. It’s really kind of neat.”

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ESSEX LITERARY HALL OF FAME

 

LAURA COUCHEY ABATE

Laura Couchey Abate is an ENL (English as a New Language) teacher in Albany. She holds an MS in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and has served refugees in various capacities for more than 25 years. Laura is also a freelance writer who collaborated with her father, Sid Couchey to produce the children’s book Champy by the Masters. She loves hiking, playing guitar, and spending time with her teenage sons. Laura grew up in Essex and still enjoys the lake in summer, always on the lookout for Champy. She recently reminisced: “Growing up in Essex was magic. There were a lot of kids in my generation and we felt safe, loved, and enjoyed the beauty of the lake and all that a small town has to offer…ice cream, penny candy after church, Fourth of July festivities, biking, knowing everyone’s dog’s name…and this little library. We ice skated in the parking area in the winter after the firefighters flooded it for us and held carnivals there in summer. I took origami lessons in this back room from Bernie Douglas (a Whallons Bay Schoolhouse summer resident) with a bunch of other 5-year-olds. Essex will always be a part of me!”

ANDREW BUCHANAN

Andy Buchanan was born in London and attended Balliol College, Oxford University, graduating with a BA in Modern History in 1980. After graduation, he worked on the London buses and then trained to become a skilled machinist. After moving to the United States in 1992, he spent several years helping to design and manufacture artificial hearts in New York City. Andy completed his MA (2005) and PhD (2011) at Rutgers University. After moving to Essex with his wife Mary Nell Bockman for the hiking, climbing, and kayaking he began teaching at UVM in 2007. A specialist in Global and Military history, Andy has published several articles on World War II in the Journal of Contemporary History, Diplomacy and Statecraft, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, and Global War Studies. In addition to his two books on World War II topics, he has also contributed book chapters on the military and social history of the Champlain Valley. Andy has for many years been one of the leaders of the effort to revive the Whallonsburg Grange Hall, serving at different times as the organization’s president, vice president, and organizer of the popular Lyceum Lecture Series.

SID COUCHEY

(1919 – 2012)

Sid spent most of his adult life living and working from his home/studio on Lake Shore Road in Essex. He began cartooning at an early age and graduated from the School of visual Arts in NYC. While living in the city Sid met and married Ruth, his love of a lifetime. They moved back to Sid’s hometown and never left. Sid got his break in cartooning in the 1960’s when he got work with Harvey Comics, drawing the beloved characters Little Dot, Little Lotta and Richie Rich. He was well respected by his peers in the cartooning community and fans eagerly sought him out at cartoon conventions. In 1994 the profession honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Locally, Sid created Champy, his rendition of the Lake Champlain Monster, Rascal Raccoon who fought to deter alcohol abuse and the 1980 Olympic mascot. He collaborated with his daughter, Laura, on the illustrated “Champy in the Style of the Old Masters” and worked with local authors, illustrating many books of regional interest. Sid had a deep faith and a strong moral compass.

SHIRLEY CROSS LAFOREST

(1935-2020)

 Shirley was born and raised in Essex, attended a one room schoolhouse and was valedictorian of her 1953 Willsboro HS class. She graduated cum laude from Plattsburgh State Teachers College and began a teaching career that took her and her husband Jim to a number of states and the US Trust Territory of the Pacific where they lived for six years. Shirley and Jim completed their professional careers in the Washington, DC area, where she taught school and worked in several positions in the US government. They retired to Essex in 1995. Acknowledging her family’s deep roots in Essex and her love of history, she was appointed Town Historian that year and served until her passing in July 2020. During these years Shirley offered many public programs on local history and organized displays at the Town Hall. She authored 14 publications on Essex history including a history of the Essex Community Church and collaborated with Morris Glenn on a history of Whallonsburgh. In 1998 Shirley began publishing an annual Essex Calendar complete with vintage photos. Her final project was a timeline that spans 255 years of Essex history, from 1765 to the present.

RICK DALTON

In 1953, at age five, Rick Dalton spent the first of 10 summers with his parents and four siblings on Willsboro Point. In 1988, He and his children returned to the lake when he purchased a house just north of Essex. That property became a year round home two decades later when he and wife Karen purchased the Essex Inn and brought their nonprofit, CFES Brilliant Pathways, across the lake from Middlebury, VT. As the founder and head of CFES, Rick has spent three decades helping underserved youth, 100,000 of whom have attained college degrees. He has written 200 articles and op-eds on college access and success, and his book, College For Every Student: A Practitioner’s Guide to Building College and Career Readiness, co-authored with Ed St. John, was published in 2016. Routledge published his most recent book, Rural America’s Pathways to College and Career: Steps for Student Success and School Improvement in April of 2021. Prior to founding CFES, Rick served as Director of Enrollment Planning at Middlebury College. He has a BA from Colgate University, an MA from Middlebury, and an Ed.M. & Ed.D from Harvard University.

GEORGE DAVIS

Geo Davis is a poet errant who blogs, a storyteller who doodles, and a creative risk evangelist who believes that story is first and foremost about community building. “Shared experiences and co-created narratives bridge the widest divides while fostering respect and wonder for what might exist (or what might be possible) beyond the shores of our own experience.” George earned a BA from Georgetown University and an MA from St. John’s College, and he taught at Santa Fe Preparatory School and The American School of Paris. A flâneur-cum-socialpreneur and global nomad turned serial home rehabber, his current or recent ventures include Maison Margaux, Margaux Europe Group, XenOases, Essex Editions, The Rewilding Institute, Carpe Midlife, Champlain Area Trails, the Depot Theatre, Why No Kids, the Christopher Emmet Hallowell Fund, and the Saranac Review. George’s books include Essex, New York Architecture: A Doodler’s Field Guide, and Midlife Crisis Postponed. George lives with his bride and his dog in Essex and Santa Fe.

JOHN DAVIS

John Davis is executive director of The Rewilding Institute and editor of Rewilding Earth (rewilding.org). For Rewilding, he serves as a wildways scout, editor, interviewer, and writer. He rounds out his living with conservation fieldwork, particularly within New York’s Adirondack Park, where he divides his time between the village of Essex and his cabin east of Coon Mountain. John serves on boards of RESTORE: The North Woods, Eddy Foundation, Champlain Area Trails, Cougar Rewilding Foundation, and Algonquin to Adirondack Conservation Collaborative. John served as editor of Wild Earth journal from 1991-96, when he went to work for the Foundation for Deep Ecology, overseeing their Biodiversity and Wildness grants program from 1997-2002. He then joined the Eddy Foundation as a board member and continues to serve as volunteer land steward for that foundation in its work to conserve lands in Split Rock Wildway. This wildlife corridor links New York’s Champlain Valley with the Adirondack High Peaks via the West Champlain Hills, and is described in John’s book Split Rock Wildway: Exploring Adirondack Park’s Most Diverse Wildlife Corridor, published by Essex Editions. John served as conservation director of the Adirondack Council from 2005 to 2010.

STEVEN ENGELHART

Steven is a native of the region and has a B.A. from SUNY Plattsburgh and an M.S. in historic preservation from the University of Vermont. Along with several other area residents whose passion is historic preservation, Steven founded Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) in 1990, became its executive director in 1994, and has served in that capacity ever since. Reflecting on his 27 years at AARCH, Steven said: “I am extremely proud of the big things that we have accomplished, including saving Camp Santanoni, the Bow Bridge in Hadley, the Old Stone Barracks in Plattsburgh, and several fire observation towers, but I am equally proud of our less visible work – the myriad of ways that we’ve worked with people all over the region to restore historic buildings and bring new life back to their communities.”

Steven grew up in a family that valued the power of the written word. He is the author of “Crossing the River: Historic Bridges of the AuSable River,” a small book about bridges and local history of the AuSable Valley. He has also written lengthy forwards for three books: “Great Camps of the Adirondacks,” “A Guide to Architecture in the Adirondacks,” and “Places of the Spirit.” Steven moved to Essex several years ago.

MORRIS F. GLENN

Morris is a long-time summer resident of Essex and for years has been the “go to” person regarding the history of Essex and the surrounding Adirondack region. During his professional career, he was employed by the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office and served on Government oceanographic survey vessels worldwide. He also worked on many mapping, charting and geodetic projects for the U.S. Defense Mapping Agency (DMA). Morris has served since 1995 as a member of the Board of Directors the Essex County Historical Society and is a member of the Smithsonian Society for Industrial Archaeology and of numerous other local and state historical societies and groups in New York State and Vermont. Morris has written for “The Antiquarian,” published by the Clinton County Historical Association, and several regional journals. He has published many books on local history, Lake Champlain, nautical history and the Adirondacks and has led tours for many of the programs sponsored by Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH). When they are not at their historic camp in the Crater Club, Morris and Ellin live in Oxford, Maryland.

ALICE P. GREEN

Alice grew up in Witherbee, NY where she attended school and was a three-season athlete. She currently lives most of the year in Albany, but spends her summers at her Essex home on Lake Shore Road. In 1997, she founded the Paden Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color in Essex, where writers are provided technical assistance and a quiet environment for writing. Alice is the Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice, which focuses on issues of criminal justice, civil rights and liberties of concern to poor communities and those of color. Alice holds a BA in education, two MA degrees, an MSW degree and a Ph.D. in criminal justice, all from SUNY Albany. She writes and lectures on racism, criminal justice and prison reform and has co-authored several books, including Law Never Here, A Social History of African American Responses to Issues of Crime and Justice. She is currently completing a memoir entitled, “We Who Believe in Freedom.” Alice has competed for city and statewide political office and has held leadership positions in several organizations concerned with racial issues including the NAACP and ACLU. Her commitment to physical fitness has had an impact on her professional life. “Running has made me a better writer. When I get back from a run, I just sit down and the ideas flow.”

DAVID HISLOP

David Hislop worked as a psychologist for New York State but has always been keenly interested in historic preservation. In the 1980s he learned preservation work while serving on the executive board of the Rochester Historical Society for many years. David was then an Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) board member for decades and its president from 2005 to 2011. He has served as the president and volunteer director for Historic Essex/ECHO, is a long-time member and presently Chair of the Essex Planning Board, and has taken on the restoration of several historic buildings, including the 1867 Essex Union Hall and Greystone Mansion. David has written and published in Antiques & The Arts Weekly, Adirondack Life, Fine Art Connoisseur, and Nineteenth Century Magazine. In 2002, he received an MA in Historic Preservation from Goucher College, publishing his thesis on Essex-on-Lake-Champlain as an Arcadia Press book (2009).

HARRY HUTSON

Harry Hutson has been a high-school social studies teacher, organizational development consultant, human resources professional, and leadership coach, including 25 years as a director and corporate affairs officer in Human Resources with four multinational organizations. Harry has also served as a church youth director, elder and moderator. He currently serves on the Boards of the New England Center for Children (autism) and Baltimore Outreach Services (homeless women and children.) During the course of his career, he has written or co-written books and articles in the field of applied behavioral science. Harry continues to publish articles in business and professional journals. His approach to writing was shaped at Hamilton College where, in freshman English, each student was expected to compose two “perfect” papers. He is still learning the craft of composing sentences and forming paragraphs that give voice to his ideas. Harry holds advanced degrees from Stanford (MA), Indiana University (Ph.D.) and Harvard Divinity School (MTS). Harry and his wife, Mikey Dodds, bought their home in Essex hamlet several years ago. They divide their time between Essex and Baltimore to be close to family and friends in the North and South.

STEVEN KELLOGG

Steven was born and grew up in Southwestern, CT and attended the Rhode Island School of Design where he majored in illustration. He spent his senior year in Florence, Italy and claims that experience has stayed with him for a lifetime, influencing his art. Steven has published over 130 titles, almost all of which are children’s books. He is a winner of the Regina Medal for his lifetime contribution to children’s literature and his books have received numerous awards. He is a member of the Board of the National Children’s Book and Literary Alliance, an organization that advocates for literacy. During his long career Steven has travelled to schools, libraries and colleges in all 50 states presenting programs that promote and celebrate reading. Children throughout the world read his books. Steven summered in Essex with his family as a youth and both he and his three sisters ultimately were drawn back to the area. A number of years ago Steven and his wife, Helen, purchased Block House Farm and while living there they turned the barn into both a studio and a showcase for their extensive collection of Americana. Steven has been a long-time friend and supporter of the Belden Noble Memorial Library, which named its newly created Children’s Room in his honor.

KRISTIN KIMBALL

Kristin was born in 1971 and grew up in central New York. She graduated from Harvard in 1994, then moved to New York City, where she worked at a literary agency, taught creative writing, and free lanced for magazines and travel guides. In 2002, She interviewed a “wingnut” farmer named Mark, and took more than a professional interest in both him and his vocation. They founded Essex Farm together in 2004 – the world’s first full-diet CSA, as far as they know – and she’s been professionally dirty ever since. Kirstin and Mark have two daughters, and she has three great jobs: mother, farmer, and writer. Since the publication of The Dirty Life in 2010, Kristin has written for O Magazine about what it’s like to change your life completely; for Vogue on physical work, and for Gourmet Live on all sorts of farm and food related subjects (The Pigs Are Alright, A Corny Story, Tales of Terroir, Three Things Every Ethical Eater Needs To Know). Essex Farm has been featured in Food & Wine and the Burlington Free Press, and Alix Girod de l’Ain Laffont wrote about the farm in French, in French Elle. Kristin published her latest book, “Good Husbandry,” in 2019.

MIRIAM Z. KLIPPER

In 1988, Miriam and her husband, John, bought and renovated The Noble Clemons House on Elm Street. That same year, she co-authored “Board Games: The Changing Shape of Corporate Power.” It was inspired by her experience at a Wall street law firm after graduating from Yale Law School during the takeover era, a time when the flood of corporate takeovers, mergers and restructurings were altering the shape of corporate America and changing the ground rules for corporate boards. The book is based on eight of the most significant corporate transactions of the era and the ensuing courtroom battles that set new standards of conduct for Directors. During the 1990’s, Miriam and John travelled extensively in Eastern Europe. Both were tasked with assisting former Communist countries in their transitions to free markets. Miriam also served on the board of a PhD. Program at Charles University, Prague. For several years thereafter, Miriam worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan investigating and prosecuting international fraud. Miriam and John now divide their time between Manhattan and Essex. Their son, Nathaniel, and his wife, Courtney, own property in Essex and are active in local philanthropy.

KATHERINE MANTHORNE

Katherine Manthorne, a specialist in modern art of the Americas, earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University. Prior to joining the faculty at the Graduate Center of City University of New York, she was Director of the Research Center at Smithsonian’s American Art Museum. Her fellowships include Tyson Scholarship at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Terra Foundation Professor, Free University, Berlin; and Senior Fulbright Research Fellow, University of Venice. Her scholarship had long focused on landscape and hemispheric dimensions of American art, beginning with Tropical Renaissance. North American Artists Exploring Latin America, 1839-1879 (1989) and continuing in California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, 1820 to 1930 (2017). Eager to better highlight the role of women within the visual culture of the Americas, her book “Film and Modern American Art: The Dialogue between Cinema and Painting “(Routledge, available in paperback, 2020) included a chapter on women of the silent era. Two new books continue that focus: “Women in the Dark: American Female Photographers 1850-1900” (Schiffer Publishing, 2020) and “Restless Enterprise: The Art and Life of Eliza Pratt Greatorex” (U. of California Press, 2020). She lives in the Champlain Valley and New York City with her husband, James Lancel McElhinney, and their cat Maeve.

JAMES LANCEL MCELHINNEY

James Lancel McElhinney is an author, publisher, visual artist, and blogger. Trained at Tyler School of Art (BFA), Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and Yale (MFA, Painting). McElhinney is the recipient of grants from Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Identifying with historic expeditionary artists, McElhinney regards his works as mindful encounters with nature, history and science, pursuing knowledge and ideas in ways that leave no trace. His works are to be found the collection of Hudson River Museum, West Point Museum, Albany Institute of History and Art.

McElhinney is the author of several books including “Sketchbook Traveler: Hudson River” (2020), “Art Students League of New York on Painting” (2015), “The Visual Language of Drawing” (2012), and “Classical Life Drawing Studio” (2010). He is the publisher of Fine-Press limited editions, including “Hudson Highlands: North River Suite Volume One” (2017), “O.T.W. The Schuylkill River” (2018), “The Palisades: North River Suite Volume Two” (2020), and “Grand River Sketchbook” (2020). During numerous rambles through the Champlain Valley, McElhinney always made note of Essex. Resonating with his boyhood memories of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the historic village seemed to beckon.

JOHN MESICK

By the age of nine, I had become enthralled with historic buildings owing in large part to the influence of my grandfather, a Methodist minister who had traveled extensively in Western Europe and the Mideast. Early on I knew that I wanted to be a “restoration architect.” Therefore, I attended the architectural school that offered the strongest curriculum in architectural history — Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Upon graduation I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen. Returning home, I was offered a position as a designer at Eero Saarinen’s office in Birmingham, MI. After two years I returned to Albany and eventually became a partner in the architectural firm Mesick-Cohen-WilsonBaker. Over the decades the firm has played a significant role in historic preservation. In June of 1971, I was retained as a consultant by the newly established ECHO to survey the town with the aim of creating a historic district which eventually led to Essex being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the same year I acquired the Billings Stone Cottage on School Street. With its restoration in 1984, I became a part-time resident of Essex!

JEFF MOREDOCK

(1939-2020)

 Jeff was a writer for more than 50 years, producing articles, sermons, shorts stories, songs and over 100 poems. He grew up in western Pennsylvania and graduated from Westminster College and Pittsburgh Seminary. Among other activities he was a farmhand, surveyor, folk singer, lifeguard, ordained Presbyterian minister, teacher coach, headmaster of several independent schools and an educational consultant. In 1980, he and Etta purchased a summer home in Essex. Jeff loved sailing, golf, and the ambience of village life. Jeff explained his dedication to writing in these words: “I love words, I love playing with words. Most of all I love employing words to provide an unfamiliar perspective. On occasion, others see things the way I do. When they don’t I appreciate discovering a new viewpoint.” Jeff often said if he couldn’t find an outlet for his creative energy, he would go crazy. Essex gave him inspiration, material and an audience for that energy.

DR. H. NICHOLAS MULLER

Nick, a native of Pittsburgh, graduated from Dartmouth College and earned a PhD from the University of Rochester. He taught history at the University of Vermont where he became an academic Dean and was active in the cultural and political life of the state. Between 1978 and 1985, Nick served as President of Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH. He then relocated to Wisconsin to serve as Director of its State History Society and then became CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Nick “retired” to Essex in 2002 with his wife Carol and resumed a career as a full-time writer of history and a leader of many regional non-profit organizations, including the Fort Ticonderoga Association, which recently honored him with its Henry Knox Award. He also serves on the Boards of The Vermont Historical Society, the Elizabethtown Community Hospital and the North Country SPCA. Locally, Nick served for many years on the town of Essex Planning Board and was a founder of the Essex Community Fund where he remains active. Nick has written a number of books on Vermont history, among them “Inventing Ethan Allen,” which was recently judged one of the top 100 books ever published on the era of the American Revolution.

ALLISON PATAKI

Allison Pataki lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and family, but has spent her lifetime enjoying summers in the North Country, particularly at her family’s home in Essex. Allison is the New York Times bestselling author of “The Queen’s Fortune, The Traitor’s Wife,” “The Accidental Empress, Sisi: Empress on Her Own,” “Where the Light Falls,” as well as the nonfiction memoir “Beauty in the Broken Places,” and two children’s books, “Nelly Takes New York,” and “Poppy Takes Paris.” Allison’s novels have been translated into more than 20 languages and have been adapted for the screen, with Allison as producer and screenwriting consultant. A former news writer and producer, Allison has written for The New York Times, ABC News, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Fox News and other outlets. She has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, Good Day New York and elsewhere. Allison graduated Cum Laude from Yale University with a major in English. When not working on her books or chasing her children around, Allison enjoys traveling, cooking, walking her pup outdoors, and yoga. 

OWEN PATAKI

Owen Pataki graduated from Cornell University in 2010 with a degree in history. He also studied film. In 2011, Owen joined the Army and after Basic Training he served as an Army/Cavalry Officer. He also graduated from Airborne School, Air Assault School, Army Reconnaissance Course, and served as a Platoon Leader in a Dismounted Reconnaissance Troop. He then deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 with the 10th Mountain Division, stationed at Bagram Airfield. Following his service in the military, he attended the Filmmaking Program at Met Film School at Ealing Studios in London, also working as a Screenwriter/Director. In 2015, he took part in the Reconnect Hungary Program (that was co-founded by his sister Allison.) He now lives in New York City where he is working as a screenwriter and filmmaker. “Where the Light Falls” is his first novel and his second; “Searchers in Winter” is due to be released in the spring of 2021. Owen is a frequent visitor to Essex where his parents own a farm.

GEORGE E. PATAKI

 George Pataki was born in 1945 and grew up on a farm in Peekskill, NY. After graduating from Peekskill High School, he matriculated at Yale University and completed his law degree at Columbia University. After a career at a New York City law firm he became Mayor of Peekskill from 1981-1984, followed by four terms as a member of the NYS Assembly representing the 91st district. He then successfully ran for the NYS Senate and served there briefly before running for Governor in 1995. As a Republican, he was given little hope of defeating incumbent Mario Cuomo in a traditionally Democratic state, but he prevailed. George served three terms as Governor, from 1995 through 2006. In 2002 he and his wife Libby purchased and rehabilitated South Farm in Essex, reestablishing it as a working farm. Following his retirement from politics the Pataki’s divide their time between Essex and Garrison, NY. George currently works for the firm of Norton Rose Fulbright on energy, environmental and corporate matters. His book, “Beyond the Great Divide,” chronicles his experiences and perspectives during and following the 9/11 crisis.

KATHARINE PRESTON

Katharine Preston studied anthropology as an undergraduate at Brandeis University, learning from Indigenous American cultures about the place of humans in the natural world. She went on to gain a Masters in Forest Science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Masters of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School. After spending many years working for government, non-profits and academia in the environmental field, in 2005 she and her husband, John Bingham, retired to a hay-and-pasture farm in Essex. Katharine and John are active Associates of the Iona Community, an ecumenical community dedicated to social justice based in Scotland but dispersed worldwide. In 2019, she wrote “Field with a view: Science and Faith in a Time of Climate Change,” published by Wild Goose Publications in Scotland. She continues to guest preach and write about justice issues surrounding the climate crisis on her blog (katharinepreston.com) and in various other publications.

RICHARD ROBBINS

Richard Robbins is currently SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at SUNY Plattsburgh. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has spent his entire teaching career at Plattsburgh. Some of his most formative academic experiences include field research among Cree, Inuit and Naskapi peoples in Canada, Acadian farmers and fisherfolk in New Brunswick and among religious communal societies in the United States. A sabbatical at the Science Studies Unit at the University of Edinburgh would count as one of his most stimulating intellectual experiences. His books have appeared in Chinese, Korean, Polish, Arabic, Italian and Spanish translations. He has received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the American Anthropological Association’s Teacher of the Year Award. He appeared also in the hit antiglobalization documentary, “The Yes Men.” He, his wife, Amy, and daughter, Rebecca, moved to Essex from Plattsburgh in 2010 and never looked back.

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