Thank you to all who served. In honor of Veterans Day 2023 we offer deep gratitude, good resources and indelibly moving stories.Continue reading
How one village gets lit, including a Shopping Guide starring the merchants who light the Northport Leg Lamp!Continue reading
Introduction to Storytelling with Moth Grandslam Champion Terry Wolfisch Cole of Tell Me Another. Learn from home 2/6/24, 7-8pm.Continue reading
Photo of Dolores Thompson taken in 2008 by Katheryn Laible
Three extraordinary souls that I happened to know passed on these last few months. I think part of why I’ve been slow to send a newsletter is because I’ve wanted to pay each one their proper respects. Unfortunately, I still haven’t processed enough to do that for Bill Bohn and another dear soul the world lost over a year ago. There’s so much to say about each of these folks. It’s going to take a while. I’ll tell you a little now and endeavor to properly memorialize each of these “Legends of LI” here soon.
Dolores Thompson – What a force! She was introduced to me as “Queen Dee.” You didn’t have to squint too hard to see her crown. She was regal if she was anything. Tough as they come, she could bring you down with a look. Still, as one dear soul said, “If you didn’t love and respect her, you just didn’t know her that well.”
I’ve never had anyone so point-blank command that folks give a damn and love, breaking it all down as simply as possible for anyone who would listen.
Soon after Dee’s passing about a month ago, Cheryl Blum dug up roughly 30 years of news clippings charting Dee’s adventures as a committed advocate. A true community Matriarch, Dee was a big reason why there’s a library in Huntington Station, and why the Dolan Family Health Center exists. I can’t even begin to fathom how many kids she impacted for the better as a champion of the Huntington Station Enrichment Center and the local Boys and Girl’s Club, as well as the local NAACP. Among the most ardent advocates Huntington Station has likely ever had, she was also a driving force and deep conscience for its BID (Business Improvement District). There was more…so much more…
Dee did things her own way, that’s for sure, even as she collaborated closely with any and everyone. Naming 2nd Avenue “Dee Thompson Way“ in her honor was simply putting a formal label on a street many had already long seen as hers. When the Huntington Awareness Day and its Unity in the Community parade were rained out, it felt like the heavens were joining the town in mourning, and knew folks weren’t quite ready to hold that event without her.
The last time I saw Dee, I got to give her a hug over a relatively simple yet deep request she’d had of the powers that be which seemed to take way too long to accomplish…a supermarket. She’d have loved to see it sooner, but was happy at least that it was finally done.
It was so good to see her. She was pure Dee that day, loaded with three more things she wanted accomplished: Improving a difficult corner, beautifying a major train station, and establishing a museum. She admonished me to go see the extraordinary collection of the Reverend Bernadette Watkins which was then on view at the Tri-CYA in Huntington Station for Black History Month. She hoped it would soon find a prominent home.
I am so glad to see this happening, and am sure there are others carrying a torch for the other two items. Grateful thanks and all the best to Melisa Rousseau and everyone involved now in establishing the Huntington African American Museum, and to all who collect and curate to preserve and better understand this important part of our heritage. I’m sure Dee’s watching over you.
Thank you, Ms Thompson, for all you did to serve your community. I’m sure I’m far from the only one who feels they’re a better person because of you. May those that follow make you proud.
Kevin Thorbourne passed suddenly last summer. It’s still hard to believe he’s really gone. He was not the kind of guy to toot his own horn. However, the first time I encountered him he did explain that he had recently written a tell-all about himself and invited me to read it if I would. Harlem Son is a beautiful, raw, thoughtful, incredibly honest story of life in the city and LI suburbs, starting in the 1950s. It includes observations on local and national events as an African American man, as well as reflections on his personal journey: Triumphs, challenges, missteps, love, appreciation and redemption.
It’s an inspiring and thought provoking read.
Kevin was the first new friend I made when Ron Stein and others got me involved in the effort to save the Coltrane home in Dix Hills. He was passionate about his church, fine men’s clothing, the political scene, and his personal mission to honor and document Jazz musicians wherever he could find them, sometimes pulling them straight out of obscurity.
I was apparently not alone in finding Kevin to be the most Coltrane of all the Coltrane volunteers, even though I never heard him play an instrument. It was his open heart and mind that reminded us of that legend, his very human commitment to being a “force for good,” and his earnest desire to learn everything he could, especially regarding jazz musicians.
Kevin’s capacity for self-reflection and improvement was only outdone by his indefatigable care for things beyond himself. A professional mediator for many years, he was a natural at being “the oil in troubled water.” As a Coltrane volunteer, Kevin was known for being the perfect person to consult with when things got stressful. Never dull, it was amazing to listen to him talk to others about whatever they happened to be an expert in. Kevin asked great questions and always seemed to have something profound, grounding, or just plain thoughtful to say.
I think maybe what I’ll miss most is that smile he had that instantly warmed the soul.
It was a great honor and pleasure to work with Kevin, and to get to call him friend. He is deeply missed and appreciated.
Robert DeSimone was my classmate in the Leadership Huntington Class of 2001. A lion of a man, we were never quite sure he got the whole “leading from behind” thing that was really the thrust of this community leadership organization. Still, he was an enthusiastic participant. He definitely made a deep contribution, reminding us that there are people in this world who are simply natural born leaders. Ones with good hearts and minds to match their powerful charismas at that.
Robert’s good-natured advocacy of this fact led him ultimately to be dressed in a toga with a makeshift wreath of laurel on his head as he took on the role of Julius Caesar in a series of skits that were part of the class. I hope to someday locate and transcribe the video of them. Until then, I’ll treasure the memory.
Last I spoke to Robert was maybe ten years ago. He was thinking about his girls, who’d been adopted from Ukraine. He was ardently searching the world for their sister, whom he eventually found. He was also excited about work he was doing to get major corporate leaders to understand their enlightened self-interest and thus adjust their business practices to help save us all.
Trudy and I wanted to get him to do something with Leadership…to talk about these and other things he was passionate about. He was enthusiastic, but it simply wasn’t meant to be. I always hoped I’d catch him around again sometime, but I guess that wasn’t in the cards, either. He is dearly missed.
To all out there who also knew and loved these folks, thank you for appreciating them. I’d love to hear your memories.
For more than 25 years, Vision Long Island has made a huge difference in our communities, connecting great people and generally helping all sorts of folks wrap their heads around the challenges and opportunities to improve our built environment on LI. Their 2023 Smart Growth Summit is happening Friday, December 1, 2023 from 8am-4pm.
It will feature over 1,000 local community, business and government, downtown revitalization and community development leaders. There will be nearly 20 workshops, 100 speakers, a trade show, and a concurrent Youth Summit. The breakfast “State of the Towns and Villages” session and luncheon alone are worth the program price.
This is a great way to get an in depth, inside scoop on important local issues, including infrastructure, redevelopment, energy, human needs, small business, walkability, transportation and many others.
The LI Smart Growth movement generally attracts great people who care about the future of our communities. For an idea of the quality of folks who attend, check out these in-depth interviews hosted by Eric Alexander featuring a broad range of local leaders. You can also check out Vision’s YouTube channel to see important discussions they’ve hosted in the past, as well as people, projects and policies that they have highlighted.
It’s really valuable stuff. Best to come check out what they’re talking about now!
Check out their website for details and get on their email list!
Pictured, from left to right, Firefly Katie Laible and story slam host Liz Alexander with storytellers Katrina Buyers, Eric Eaton, Annie Mark, Glenn Perreira, Karen Paquet and Eric Alexander. Photo by Joanne Kountarikis, Northport Journal
Story Slam at The Firefly! "I Had a Hunch..."
Autumn Landscaping. Plant Something and Chill
On Leaving the Leaves
To explain why this is so beneficial, let’s start with another post from deeply knowledegable local expert Anthony Marinello of Dropseed Natives, “Leave the Leaves!”
This is rapidly becoming a very mainstream concept.
Here’s a piece from Homeserve.com, “Rake It or Leave It? Here’s Why You May Just Wanna Leave Your Leaves Where They Fall,” one from the USDA, and even one in Good Housekeeping.
Environmental groups have been saying this for years. Here’s the National Wildlife Federation on why.
And one from The Xerces Society: “Leave the leaves.”
BTW the Xerces Society is interesting. It’s really focused on saving invertebrates. Their work is deeply fundamental and yet applied at our level in the food chain, so it’s also really helpful! Their Facebook page is a wealth of basic, excellent advice.
…There are tips on winter cleanup, saving seeds, a beautiful sight of Monarch Butterflies migrating….
I learned about them from Long Island Native Plant Group on Facebook, a great community of incredibly knowledgeable and helpful folks who think about our local ecoscapes all year long
…but I digress…
…I was talking about leaving the leaves…
Well, Most of Them Anyway
The movement to leave the leaves is really important, but should be taken with a little common sense.
It also remains important to keep the driveway clear, as well as stone patios and pathways, assuming you wish to preserve them. The same goes for grass (though a thin layer of leaves may be mowed quite healthfully), which also likes to be aerated from time to time.
On my property, I’m dealing with invasive Norway Maples that I’m working to eradicate and replace with native trees as quickly as I can afford to do so. With them, I have found raking the leaves is fairly important as they seem particularly smother-y and slow to break down. As I am working to reduce their spread, I also want to be able to get their whirlybirds up in the spring!
As such, my approach isn’t so different from what these folks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have to say, or The Spruce, here.
So, I do continue to rake a bit….mindfully….
Consider Losing the Lawn
Of course, while lawn health is among the biggest reasons to still rake, folks such as those from Re-Wild Long Island (an incredible collaboration of Long Island experts) suggest you consider doing away with your lawn instead.
This powerful opinion piece in the New York Times suggests you’d best “Kill your lawn before it kills you.”
On the West Coast, this has become a serious affair. Alternatives such as Xeriscaping, which focuses on minimizing water use, have become very popular. There, many factors including severe ongoing drought are coming together to prove that fighting the ecosystem for the sake of grass isn’t worth the trouble.
Related practices are gaining popularity across the country as communities come to realize that tending their own yard is a great way to nurture a healthier environment.
I’m not quite ready to ditch my lawn myself. However, I am committed to neither watering nor fertilizing nor spraying it with chemicals, and to doing all I can to maximize the ecological value of my property.
Here’s a nice piece from Brooklyn Greenways on why native plants are so important.
I am deeply inspired by projects like these “Rewilding Long Island” examples featured on the Rewild Long Island website.
See these 12 Inspiring ideas for a lawn-free landscape from porch.com, and some more on Houzz.
Check them all out and then go, tread lightly into winter, and dream of the upcoming spring.
(BTW: You can find resources for that here … it’s never too early to start planning!)
Heroes Among Us. You may recall that we hosted a show of previously unshared works by Photojournalist Peter Foley. Soon after it opened, Firefly Steve Walker came in and saw his neighbor.
Story Slam at The Firefly! "I Had a Hunch..."
Inspired by The Moth radio hour, Elizabeth Alexander has been organizing storytelling events in Northport Village and the surrounding area, In this, she is creating opportunities for the community to connect and be inspired.
They’ve been fantastic. What a way to get to know our neighbors! We’re thrilled to host the next one at The Firefly!
Moth-style storytelling is a genre of personal narrative stories about an experience that took place in the storyteller’s life. Stories are crafted, planned- and told, not read-before a live audience. It’s a wonderful art form that allows folks to connect with community at a very human level.
Join us: Saturday, October 21st from 7:15-11pm.
The theme: “I Had a Hunch….”
Proceeds will benefit: Students for 60,000 and The Firefly Artists.
Get your tickets here. Storytellers still wanted! Learn more here.
Their networking luncheon is October 20th. It’s great networking and a wonderful way to support this amazing organization and learn what they’re doing now!Continue reading