Strong Towns & C/P – Meeting Notes

Conversations – February 3, 2021

Feb 24, 2021 Zoom call
Strong Towns with Danny Lapin – Call Notes

-Moderator: Alex Rodriguez (AR) – Lexington Arts + Science /
6:00PM – Introduction: Danny Lapin – Danny Lapin, environmental planner for the Otsego County Conservation Association, about challenges and small steps, specifically:
-Creating a mission statement for our group
-Organizing ideas into small projects
–Engaging and partnering with the Town Board
6:15PM – Mission Statement; Organizing Ideas into Projects; Engaging and turning the Town Board into partners
6:45PM – Q&A
7:00PM – Goodbye
Welcome to share your information/plug your idea or project via Zoom chat.
-Beaux Ripnick – distinctive local project, could be bear-shaped cookies or could be like the Asbury Park clown, used in many fun contexts.
-Alex – Additional Ideas from the past week:
Catskills Radio Station / Community Garden / Pickup Kickball Games on Town Field / Dance Performance Fundraising / Mural project. Contact Alex to be connected with others interested in these possible initiatives.
Danny Lapin:
-What is the Strong Towns movement? Bottom up, small bets, focused on sustainability and community. Learn more at
-Important to go to town meetings, insert your ideas, vocalize opinions, get them on the record, never know who is going to see the minutes, helps people know what ideas are happening and what people want/to do.
-What are conversations in a Strong Town framework? Local conversations are groups of advocates and members who meet to discuss how Strong Towns concepts can make their place stronger, more resilient and community oriented places.
-Development versus Gentrification
-Creative Placemaking is a way to create “placeness” and community through the arts. Unique marketing approach (as opposed to a development plan deliverable, designed to create a brand around a town which does not feel authentic)
-Lexington unique because of its residents, creative activities
-Strengthening the community has the potential to lower property taxes as viable businesses pay a larger share into the town coffers (depending how taxes to the county/town are allocated) and create value around themselves.
-we can use increased town wealth to increase the resiliency of the Schoharie Creek (?)
-Example of local business utilizing adaptive reuse and creating value under a Strong Towns approach:
Greenane Farms ( in Meredith, NY near Delhi, western Catskills. (“Located in the western Catskill mountains in the town of Meredith, we are a diversified family farm producing great quality wholesome and healthy food from the plants and animals we grow and raise. We raise grass-fed Angus cattle, heritage pigs, pastured chicken, quail, turkey, goats, and sheep and grow a variety of vegetables and fruits. We operate an on-farm to table restaurant serving the finest in Authentic Mexican Cuisine and wood fire grilled steaks and meats. We have a farm store located adjacent to the restaurant where customers can buy our produce and have our meats cut fresh to their liking. If you can’t make it out to see us at the farm our products are available directly through our our on-line store, our CSA program, at fine dining restaurants and specialty retail establishments throughout New York.“)
-Preserving the qualities that brought us to the mountains in the first place, including quietude and nature — in the face of sustainable, wealth-building development
-(per Hillary’s question re: affordable housing) Creating, accessing and preserving affordable housing;; Oswego Town hall tiny homes to combat homelessness; COVID-19 relief; more.
-Gentrification versus Development; listening to community, creating spaces based on community needs
-Create gDrive document for grassroots organizational purposes, so that people can journal communications with representatives in town/county/state government in pursuit of initiatives.

Feb 17, 2021 Zoom call
Strong Towns / Creative Place(mak/keep)ing – Call Notes

-Moderator: Alex Rodriguez (AR) – Lexington Arts + Science
6:00PM – Introduction
6:15PM – Current projects
6:45PM – Q&A
7:00PM – Goodbye
Welcome to share your information/plug your idea or project via Zoom chat.
With Beaux Ripnick (Rip’s Wild Mountain Honey products), Clyde Forth ( & Lynn/Stu of Newton Farms (
-Austin Moore to farm
-Glen Leashing to renovate Lex House
-Shandanken Community Garden as a model for Lexington (
-Community Survey to assess needs / redo wordcloud from Revitalization plan
-Involve town government

Feb 10, 2021 Zoom call
Strong Towns / Creative Place(mak/keep)ing – Call Notes

-Moderator: Alex Rodriguez (AR) – Lexington Arts + Science
6:00-6:15PM – LA+S Opening Remarks/Current Projects
6:15-6:30PM – Open Introductions/Networking
6:30-6:45PM- Guest (John Halpern, Cookie Design Collaboration)
6:45-7:00PM- Actionable Items
Welcome to share your information/plug your idea or project via Zoom chat.

-Ivan Himanen – Recommends checking out the 2019 Hamlet revitalization strategy. Interested in Strong Towns’ small steps concepts as way to drive growth in the way that residents want it to go. Ex: Foster Supply Company. AR to create town assets, list of places possibly available for community uses.
-Danny Lapin – environmental planner at the Otsego Conservation Association, serve as muni planner for the counties’ 34 municipalities. Mohawk Valley Region primarily. Wife and Nancy Barton are colleagues so became connected with LA+S through PAC. Works with local governments to help them respond better to ground-up movements like ours, and to become involved and assist through providing funding resources, linking master development plans with actual, tangible implementation strategies, so favorite thing to do to is to take broad concepts such as those related to the hotel and identify a path forward in terms of implementation, to achievable targets and helpful funding sources. To connect ideas to implementation. Likes Ivan’s ideas, and believes strongest types of movements in terms are planning are where creative volunteers (such as yourselves) start an initiative and push from the ground up because it creates sense of ownership in the community over a project. Often v boards and committee at town level feel lost because community does not interact as much w local govt as should, so this group is very heartening to see, particularly how it orients itself around a Strong Towns concept. secure funding and direct to tangible incremental projects. Happy to assist with grant writing, planning, engaging town board and planning board members, and identify implementation strategies based on master planning document. Has worked a lot with small towns similar in size to Lex dev comprehensive plan, zoning codes, economic dev and energy planning. Spec in environment sus planning, protection watersheds, and integrating natural world into our built environment.
-Patrick Meagher – DEP buys properties and lets them become abandoned, Ex: biker bar on cliff. Perhaps DEP could move hotel out of the watershed.
-Kate McNeely – Patrick was talking about “Nick’s Waterfall House.” Near Bethel, cultural organizer/public administration/art activism, works with both small towns about climate change public works participatory art sculptures, racial justice/immigration art that ties into street protest, participatory government and placekeeping. Works with muralists, Groundswell Mural Organization.
-Eric and Kristin – grandparents in Lex since 1960s and love it here. Professor at Rockland Community College.
-Jeff McClain – Biology professor at Rockland Comm College with Eric. Has the place in Lexington (neighboring LA+S) as a place for the kids to be outside. Spends a lot of time in the woods. Potentially interested in getting involved with the Schoharie Creek Field Station (aka the Rachel Carson Center).
John Halpern – in “New Consume,” created a snow globe with black sand inside to transform minds – when you buy stuff this is what happens to the environment. Take an existing commodity/product and transform it by giving it new meaning/changing the elements. A kind of “genre buster” where the product takes on a whole new meaning and therefore the consumer takes on a whole new identity and the consumer can now intervene in their own thinking in how to impact the environment in new and sustainable ways. For the “Fresh Air” Project, in Switzerland made a cookie mold. A cookie not just as a baked product made and sold by previously unemployed people, but the cookie takes on whole new meaning. The “Fresh Air” cookie won a prize from the Swiss Dept of Industry and Economy. Got unemployed people to get inside the meaning of this cookie. When you eat a cookie you change the economy (obviously, if it’s produced by previously unemployed people). You’re eating an art object, it changes your body. When you have these thoughts in your mind it is an immersive experience of taste of interaction with the art and change to society, group individuals, contribution to society group sold all over Switzerland, it was an expensive cookie, it has laxative properties so when you eat this cookie it makes you poop so you’re thinking about all these issues so when you taste this product, you become an interactive activist yourself, as a consumer. So you have a new identity for the consumer. So if you bring the rigor of these principles (made a 9 mo course out of it) and made a new identity as workless which means a potential for a new identity, worklessness as a positive not a negative, just like a cookie form that produces thousands of positive from a negative cookie mold. ALPS is always prominent in the Swiss mentality, geo and physical border. Word for unemployment is A.L.P.S. (“Albreit Losen Project Swiss” in German). So you can’t escape the meaning of this cookie. … Interested in collaborating in a design for a product for Lexington imbued with meaning

Feb 3, 2021 Zoom call
Strong Towns / Creative Placemaking – Call Notes

-Moderator: Alex Rodriguez (AR) – Lexington Arts + Science
6:00-6:15PM – Introduce LA+S
6:15-6:45PM – Open Introductions/Networking
6:45-7:00PM – Actionable Items

AR wants to build community; working with Mary Kaplan/Patrick Meagher; inspired by Strong Towns (a gift from Ivan Himanen) to have a meeting to connect interested parties and discuss small steps to community building and revitalization. 

The following attendees expressed an interest in collaborating/ assistance:

  • Clyde ( choreographer/dance; mentioned Teresa Feleon (other choreographer/dance include @ccomptesse, Kris Seto, Juliet/Dan)
  • Joseph Imhauser – artist / IG @josephimhauser
  • Kris Seto @mosquitopointroadhouse restoring historical barn by Prattsville bridge (white building) choregrapher/dance
  • Oriana – interested in getting involved locally, splits time with Brooklyn; got to know some neighbors with another mountaintop organization
  • Jill Benson – art gallery
  • Tom Gasparo – structural engineer; helped PAC with consult during reno
  • Nancy Lainez
  • Roman Goyenko – AR friend/business partner
  • Beaux Ripnick (CBD honey / Queen B) – neighbor to LexArtSci, excited to see art back
  • Robert Leaver (Birdthrower) musician/artist
  • Matt (IG @matty2jay) – born in Lexington, photographer
  • Marisa Caruso (Prattsville Art Center) – arts admin/theater; actively involved in developing relationship between LA+S and PAC
  • Nancy Barton (Prattsville Art Center); mentioned NEA, CWC grant; may elevate PAC building.  Prattsville Development Corp was tricky politically to establish; Dev Corps create credibility for grant applications, taken more seriously by arts funders. 
  • Marline Martine – Create Council / Greene County
  • Maeve McCool – Create Council / Grant Coordinator
  • Danny R Lapin + Lindy – professional town planner, active in BOCES Grand Gorge;familiar with Strong Towns concepts; interested in supporting project through pro bono grantwriting, (AR to connect with Ivan Himanen)
  • John Halpern / Emily Harris – Inst for Cultural Activism / the Tuning Fork; hand shaped cookies to effectuate positive social change; “Utopian Scenarios” will be revisited in scope of LexArtSci project. 
  • Gabi Moritz / Sam Bagetz – architects loadingdock5 IG:@paradisecabin – looking for paid or intern help building panels for IG @theDiamondNotch tiny a-frame at USPS/Lexington
  • Jamie Richards (formerly EST) – currently theater project development; “rummage sale” 
  • Mike – journalist / Mountain Eagle/Schoharie Creek News
  • Hillary Kolos asked if the 2014/2018 revitalization plans were going to happen.  Alex stated they were aspirational and funding did not exist but that we were now in a position to make comprehensive plans for the town.  Nancy Barton stated they were useful for gathering funding. 

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