The Crossroads debate marches on and on (click the “New Paltz” category to the right to read past Crossroads posts) and it’s time to send a letter to the editor of our fine typo-riddled paper, the New Paltz Times. Here’s my civic duty. It doesn’t need to be sent off until Friday, so please point out any errors or weirdnesses you see. Technically it’s 7 words too long, so let me know if you see anything that could be cut – All fixed, thanks!
As a small business owner and landowner who is deeply critical of the “profits first, people and planet last” capitalism practiced in the US today, I do a lot of thinking about sustainability. I became a small business owner so I could make enough money to lead a fulfilling life without compromising my values (or getting up before 10 am). I became a landowner because I’m in love with New Paltz and want to ensure that it stays as beautiful as it was when I moved here four years ago. I believe that small locally-focussed businesses are what will steer America out of the economic nightmare we are currently facing.
I am continually amazed at the generosity and goodwill that all the small business owners in New Paltz show each other. James and Michelle at the Mudd Puddle always hold onto my chocolate truffles if I deliver them to The Cheese Plate before Kat opens her doors, Jana and Margaret at Health and Nutrition Center recognize my voice when I call to place a special order, Jenn and Seth at Karma Road (who are technically my “competitors,” although neither of us thinks in those terms) are always eager to talk about foodie gossip when I ride my bike to their place for a delicious smoothie. Most rewardingly, I work with a wide variety of wonderfully cranky, overworked, perpetually exhausted farmers who are always incredibly generous and helpful when I call them up in a panic because I forgot I needed four flats of tomatoes in four hours.
When I dreamed of becoming a chef and living in a town with access to quality local produce, New Paltz is exactly what I was dreaming of – and more. Human-scale is the term that always comes to my mind.
Nowhere in that vision was an enormous ticky-tacky development with a giant tacky fountain, chain restaurant with inedible food, boring national shops, and faceless ugly housing units. Some have said that we need the tax revenue that the Crossroads development will bring. This argument is handily refuted on the very useful website stopcrossroads.org, so I will not counter it here.
Others have said that they cannot afford the prices of the small New Paltz shops and thus big box stores would be welcome. I do not believe that this argument takes into account the true cost of the plasticky disposable items sold in big box stores. Behind those low prices lie sweatshops, boring and demeaning minimum wage jobs, planet-destroying carbon emissions both in the manufacturing and shipping processes, and the death of local character. (Check out Walmart: the High Cost of Low Price on DVD for more perspectives.
The truth is that none of us can afford the true cost of the junk sold in big box stores. We are facing a global economic and environmental crisis, and harnessing the power of local communities is the way to survive. We cannot afford Crossroads at New Paltz.