If I have a frustration with our community, it is that great artistic and cultural events are often poorly attended. There are probably lots of explanations: insufficient publicity and communication, the long and thin geography of the city, false perceptions about certain venues and/or parts of town, and the insularity that can be the unfortunate flipside of our terrific diversity. Whatever the reason, I often drop by amazing events to find only a handful of folks in attendance. And then people complain that there is nothing to do! If we want to have a vibrant artistic and cultural scene, and if we want focal points of our city, like our downtown, to thrive, then we should take advantage of opportunities to gather together and enjoy what New Rochelle has to offer. Let me now descend from my soapbox, and extend an invitation.
New Rochelle’s Jazz Fest is this weekend at Library Green. There will be performances on both Saturday and Sunday, from noon until dusk. Some really top-notch talent will be here in our community.
You can relax on the green, grab something to eat at one of the nearby restaurants, let the kids run around, meet neighbors and friends, and help establish and sustain a great New Rochelle jazz tradition. The whole event has a relaxed vibe that lets you stroll in or out at your leisure, and you’ll never find an easier way to support our community. Please come and please spread the word.
Norman Rockwell depicted families, small towns, and American icons in paintings and illustrations that have become world-famous emblems of mid-century American life. He started his own family and lived for almost two decades right here in New Rochelle.
Joseph Campbell wrote groundbreaking books on world mythology, finding the common threads in stories shared by many cultures across thousands of years. He first encountered the folklore that would inspire his life’s work at the New Rochelle Public Library next door to his childhood home.
Carrie Chapman Catt succeeded Susan B. Anthony as the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, where she successfully mobilized men and women across the country to pass the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. She founded the League of Women Voters, ran for president in 1920, and spent the last twenty years of her outspoken life in New Rochelle.
These are but three of the remarkable men and women recently inducted into the inaugural class of New Rochelle’s Walk of Fame, an instructive and thought-provoking new feature of Library Green in downtown New Rochelle. With large biographical signs for each of 25 inductees, the Walk of Fame showcases nationally recognized artists, activists, athletes, entrepreneurs, and more who have distinct ties to New Rochelle.
The next time you’re at the library or dining downtown, I encourage you to take the time to read the signs designed and funded by historian Roderick Kennedy, Jr. (a former New Rochelle resident himself). You’ll be reminded of — or learn anew — the rich cultural history of our hometown. It’s a tradition to be proud of, and I commend the City’s Parks Department and the New Rochelle Downtown BID, as well as City Historian Barbara Davis, for supporting Rod Kennedy’s excellent work.
The New Rochelle Farmers Market enjoyed great success last year with its move to Library Green. Featuring locally-grown food and regional vendors, with tastings, cooking demonstrations, cider pressings, and many other events, the Farmers Market helps support sustainable local agriculture, provides an abundance of tasty and healthful food options, and enlivens our downtown.
This year, Community Markets, which has been organizing the market since 2009, is promising even more events, including a “community table” program to encourage local businesses to interact with market shoppers. They also promise to reboot their website, communitymarkets.biz, later this summer, with seasonal recipes, cooking tips, and profiles of the farmers you meet at the market.
The Farmers Market is open at Library Green every Friday from 8:00 am through 3:00 pm* starting June 17 and running through November.
(*Smart shoppers come early to get the best produce!)
Arbor Day doesn’t get its own parade or fireworks, but it’s still a holiday well worth celebrating. Whether you’re concerned with planetary health or just the shade in your backyard, trees bring pleasure and nourish life. The City has a responsibility to maintain, replace, and increase the number of local trees as a way of enhancing the beauty of our community, improving property values, controlling floods, and helping combat global climate change.
I was pleased to participate last month in New Rochelle’s Arbor Day ceremony, a tree planting at Library Green. The Kwanzan cherry tree planted by students from Isaac Young Middle School joins the nearly 400,000 trees within New Rochelle, almost 30,000 of which are under public ownership.
New Rochelle’s recently-approved Sustainability Plan, GreeNR, will help to expand the City’s tree-planting program and promote private tree planting. One of the plan’s “10 Big Goals for 2030” is to plant at least 10,000 new trees on public property. As a first step, we will soon conduct an intensive tree survey to help identify “vacancies” where street trees can be most appropriately situated and to determine which tree species are most likely to thrive in particular settings.
At its new (and likely permanent) location on Library Green and with an expanded roster of products and participants, the New Rochelle Farmers Market has enjoyed a surge of activity in 2010. The organizers report roughly 1,000 visits in a typical week, a huge jump from last year. Meanwhile, nearby establishments, such as Gallery Café and Java Dreams, say that they enjoy increased business on Market days.