Category Archives: Catskills Conversations

Catskills Conversations: Diane Galusha

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Accomplished Catskills historian, Diane Galusha, is author of Liquid Assets: A History of New York City’s Water System, which has recently been updated and expanded to include the last ten years of advancement in the delivery of the NYC water supply. It’s published by Purple Mountain Press.

What first brought you to the Catskills?

Love. What else? [Laughs] I was living in Hamilton New York, up in Madison County working at Colgate University and I met a man who lived in the Catskills. I made a move down into the Hudson Valley to be closer. Then just decided to take the leap and move to the Catskills to be with him. I had a relationship with him for eight years.

Where are you from originally?

From Broome County, a town called Windsor. I’m a small town girl and I love these small towns and these hills. I was raised about a couple of hours from here.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Leigh Melander

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

JNU: What first brought you to the Catskills?

LM: I wanted to create this magic place where people could come, play and plan ideas, celebrate stuff and figure out who they were in the world. I had been living in California, being originally from Pennsylvania, having bounced around the country a bit. I had finished my doctorate in California and was doing something called the Imaginal Institute, which was the precursor of Spillian. It consisted of programs around myth, imagination, story and narrative. We would do weekend conferences for which I was renting other peoples’ places and I didn’t make any money at all. I figured out that I needed to own the building that it was happening in. We had been out in California for about 10 years at that time and I was really getting homesick. My family is still on the East Coast in State College where I grew up. I missed them, the east coast, the water, the history and the hemlocks. It came into relief when 9/11 hit, because it became clear that things could happen where I couldn’t get home.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Elaine Mayes

© Laura Sue King

© Laura Sue King

UD: What brought you to the Catskills?

EM: I had a friend called Helen Levitt, who was a wonderful, well-known photographer. I went on summer vacation with her almost every year beginning in 1980. We went to other places, like Cape Cod or New Hampshire and other spots and then in 1994, she came to Catskills. I didn’t come that year or the year after because I was working on a project in Hawai’i. In 1996, I started coming to stay with her in the summer time. That’s how I got introduced to the Catskills.

In 2005, I bought a house across the road from where we were staying every summer. It was a house I had been watching every year and nobody was in it and I used to wonder about it. Anyway, so I started looking for real estate and I looked for two years. The second year, this house was for sale and, almost as a lark, I made a low offer and got the house.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Brian Tolle

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

What brought you to the Catskills?

We (Brian and his partner, Brian Clyne) had an apartment in the city and I had the studio for 20-odd years in Williamsburg in Brooklyn. We both grew up on Long Island, so we grew up close to the water but for whatever reason, we both had an affinity for the mountains. One summer – I think it was about the year 2000 – we had enough friends up here that we could spend two or three weeks up here as vagabonds, throughout the Catskills. We went to different regions, but this region in Delaware County was very appealing to us. There was something about the topography, the landscape and the history of all this that suited us very well.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Lizzie Douglas

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Lizzie Douglas is the proprietor of Stick in the Mud, a recently-opened cafe and store selling local goods and produce, in the ground floor storefront of the Bussy Building in Margaretville.

JNU: What brought you to the Catskills?

LD: The connection I have with the Catskills was that my daughter originally had a second home here.

Where did you raise your daughter?

My daughter lives in Brooklyn.

Did you live in NYC for a long time?

No, I have never lived in NYC. Before I came here I was living in Colorado, in the Four Corners area. Before that, I was travelling all over as a tour director and before that I was living in London.

What took you to Colorado?

As a tour director I would take my groups on authentic stagecoach rides and we would do Hollywood, Vegas, Grand Canyon Wild West Style. We would do dinner and dancing afterwards. I met a stagecoach driver.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Bill Birns

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?

BB: 44 years, I came here in August of 1971.

What brought you here?

Funny story, actually. I went to Union college in Schenectady New York and became fast friends with a fella who grew up and lived in Margaretville. He used to get the Catskill Mountain News and in those days, much of it was a local and personal column where local correspondents would call people in the community and find out just the social notes. So we sophisticated suburban kids, as I was, we would all be chuckling and having fun, “oh look, Mabel Smith had chicken dinner with so and so”, etc. So he’s telling me a story one day. We’re sophomores in college and I knew that his father was a physician, a doctor. He was telling me about an automobile accident. He said his father is best friends with a truck driver and I said, “what? Stop. What? Your father’s a doctor and his best friend is a truck driver? I’ve got to see this place”.

That was really the beginning of my fascination with the Catskills and the Margaretville area. I grew up in the suburbs of Westchester County in post-World War II prosperity years – the Eisenhower years – really before the world kind of changed in the 1960s. I grew up in the high suburbs in New Rochelle, New York. My father died when I was seven years old. My brothers were ten and eleven and my mother was a widow who had paid off the house. So we grew up in this prosperous, upscale kind of thing. She went back to work as a secretary in a school district, making $7,000 a year, raising three kids on her own, in a world where everything is kind of rarified. It was a big suburban Tudor house. It kind of gives you an outsider’s observational point of view because you’re in the middle of a whole way of life, but you don’t feel like you’re really part of it. For one thing – and this wouldn’t be true for younger people today – but I was the only kid in the class who didn’t have a father. There was no divorce. So I had that outsider perspective.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Raji Nevin

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?
RN: Lived in Woodstock for about four and a half years now.

Where did you move from?
I just moved across the river from Rhinebeck.

Did you grow up in Rhinebeck?
No, I grew up in Oklahoma, smack in the middle of the USA, but I have moved quite a bit. I’ve probably lived in about 28 states.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Jack McShane

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

JN: What brought you to the Catskills?
JM: I guess a love of the forest and the outdoors. Nancy and I used to ski a lot up in Hunter and Windham, but we didn’t want to be in a ski-town, so we looked further afield. Plus, we figured that a lot of the open space here would be protected because it’s in the New York City watershed and won’t be highly developed which is what we were trying to avoid.

Where were you living before you lived in the Catskills?
We were down in Long Beach, Long Island.

I have friends there.
The reason I wound up in Long Beach first is because I was born in Brooklyn, but I was big into surfing and fishing and all that, so I found a little studio apartment in Long Beach overlooking the ocean. It was very expensive at $70 a month. [Laughs]

When was that?
A million years ago, but it was great. I was 21, or whatever, and all my buddies would be calling me and asking me if the surf was up. Plus, we would go fishing.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Peg DiBenedetto

© Peg DiBenedetto Self-Portrait

© Peg DiBenedetto Self-Portrait

JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?

PD: I was born in Margaretville, so I’m a lifelong resident except for five years that Michael and I – the year after I got married, I was very young – we moved to Texas. We lived there for five years so we could finish school for basically free. Then came back and started raising our family here in the Catskills. So we moved back to my Dad’s farm and he gave a piece of it to each sibling.

Nice.

So my children grew up climbing on the same stone walls that I grew up climbing on and also my grandchildren are [doing that] as well. My brother and I used to bring the cows from the barn down the road up here to this field and then take them back again at the end of the day to be milked.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Burr Hubbell

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?

BH: I was actually born here and then I moved away for college. I lived in New York City for a while and Boston for a while. I came back here and practiced law for a bit and then moved to the Finger Lakes area when our first child was born. I lived in Dutchess County for a while and came back about four years ago, right after Hurricane Irene.

So you like to travel?

No, I actually don’t like to travel, but my first wife was a navy brat and she did like to travel, so we did.

I was having a conversation with somebody else about that, about how young people are moving away and how we can keep young people in the region.

And that’s been an issue ever since I went to school here. I can remember the Rotary Club had about eight of us come down from my class in 1976 and asking us what would it take for [us] to come back here, but in being 18 years old, we didn’t really have an answer at the time.

Continue reading

On The Radio: Ellie Ohiso on Photography & Feminism

Photo4Girls_4761

The following is the edited transcription of my interview with Ellie Ohiso that was broadcast on my radio show, The Economy Of, on August 10th on WIOX in Roxbury New York. Ellie Ohiso, the co-creator of Green Door Magazine, is designer and publisher of Photography For Girls, a Catskills magazine project that was feature here a few weeks ago.

On September 7th, I will interview the photographer on this project, Kelly Merchant on WIOX at 9am.

JN: It’s wonderful to have you and it’s wonderful to have this project in the Catskills. So what is Photography for Girls?

EO: It’s a very small print project, almost the size of a Playbill. It’s a concept of interviewing local women, in addition to photographing them, and allowing them have a large say in how they’re photographed. The photos are not retouched for their physicality, but there’s some color correction that we do. Other than that, we run the photo as it was taken. There’s no manipulation in that sense other than traditional lens manipulation. Then Akira, my husband, interviewed the subjects and then discussed with them the empowerment process of being photographed, how they feel women in general are represented and this greater discussion of feminism.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Kristie & Steve Burnett

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Kristie and Steven Burnett run Burnett Farms in Bovina, New York. Kristie also makes herbal tea and salve, using herbs grown in their greenhouse.

JN: What brought you two to the Catskills?

KB: I’ve been here for 15 years and what brought me to the Catskills was my charming Bovina farmer.

SB: I have been in the Catskills for a long time, starting in Phoenicia, where I had house and barn full of motorcycles. Then I moved to Bovina where there was a little more sunshine than up Woodland Valley and have been here since 1989. I came here also to have a weekend house, like so many people with careers in the city.

JN: So you’re both from the city?

KB: I’m still in the city. I teach third grade, so I’m up here on weekends and holidays and summers, which is more than I teach actually.

JN: Have you ever thought about getting a job up here teaching?

KB: Yes. Hopefully, that’s in the making.

JN: So you’re both born and bred in New York?

KB: I’m born and raised in New York and Steve is from…

SB: Iowa, where there are more pigs than people and we’re proud of it.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Jeanette Bronée

© Torkil Stavdal

© Torkil Stavdal

JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?

JB: About four years.

From where did you move?

New York City, but I’d been coming up here many years prior to that. I used to be a motorcyclist. [Laughs]

Really?

I used to come up here motorcycling and skiing. That was my other life, right?

So what brought you to New York City in the first instance?

That was back 26 years ago; I met someone who was American and wanted to go back home and I wanted to leave Denmark. I was in the mood to explore at the time, so we moved here. Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Marino De La Cruz

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Marino De La Cruz is the owner of Vivae Colores barbershop in Fleischmanns.

JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?

MDLC: About ten months now. My wife’s family is from here and my parents recently moved as well.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Lisbeth Firmin

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Lisbeth Firmin works out of her warmly inviting art studio in Margaretville, in upstate New York. She was part of the Catskills Open Studio Art Tour last weekend in which she showed many strikingly gorgeous cityscapes in oil.

JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?

LF: I moved from New York City in 2000, but I kept my apartment down there, so I went back and forth for a while.

What were you doing in the city?

I was a painter and I had a two-bedroomed apartment on Sullivan Street and I painted in one of the bedrooms. My career was just taking off and I needed a bigger space, so I bought a storefront in Franklin, upstate New York.

That sounds very Williamsburg. I remember, back in the day, artists used to buy storefronts and paint out of them. Those were the days.

Oh man, those days, Williamsburg. You can’t even go anywhere near the city these days. I’ve heard Newark is happening.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Alex Wilson of Wayside Cider

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

I think we’ve had our house for about six and a half to seven years, right after we got married. Basically, we needed an escape from Manhattan. We started looking around Woodstock and realized that if you went a little bit further you could get a lot more for your money.

What were you doing back in the city?

I was producing and editing film, both documentary and commercial stuff. It’s just that being stuck in an edit room all day, the high pressure, deadlines, late nights: you need an escape from that. My wife’s an attorney so she worked long hours. We got married in a beautiful place in Vermont and we wanted to recreate that beautiful place up here. I grew up in a rural area in England and I’m never happier than when I’m in the countryside. I had to work in New York City, but I didn’t really love it. I was a big fan of London and I quickly learned that I didn’t enjoy New York as much. There wasn’t so much of a social scene with work. In London, your boss would always take you out for a drink on Friday night and you would get to know the people you worked with, but in New York City everyone went home after work. There wasn’t the same camaraderie that I had enjoyed in London and not as much space. It’s slightly more intense and slightly more money-centric. People just live to make money [in NYC] and I think, well what’s the use of money if you can’t enjoy it? Up here, you don’t need very much money but you have everything. Trout fishing, hiking, riding: friends of mine down the road have horses and I go and exercise them. I absolutely adore it.

I had a pretty serious traffic accident and I couldn’t really edit for about a year and a half because my hand was completely out of action. That gave me pause for thought in terms of what I really want to do, my love for this area and the potential in this area.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Louann Aleksander

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Louann Aleksander sells herbs, which she grows from seed, wholesale and in The Annex in Andes.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

It’s going to be eight years on August 1st.

So what made you decide to move here?

We had friends who had moved to Andes and before that my husband would come up maybe once a year and he absolutely loved it. We wanted to get out of the rat race of Long Island. It was getting where you work to go back to work. We weren’t enjoying life at all.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Rob Greenberg

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

So what brought you to the Catskills?

First of all, I’ve been upstate for many, many years in different areas, Syracuse, Poughkeepsie and I lived in Kingston for a couple of years. I was born in Brooklyn. We moved out of Brooklyn when I was pretty young. I was 11 or 12 years old. I wound up coming to the Catskills from Long Island. I lived on Long Island for twenty something odd years and I used to backpack up here and hike, and that really was the original motivation to come to the Catskills. I had no idea about moving here or living here [when I visited]. I thought it was a great place to come for long weekends and to embrace the mountains that way.

It’s tough to live up here to make a living.

That’s why so many of the young people leave and they come back to retire here or semi-retire here. If you’re not in the service industries, it’s tough.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Tim & Jess Luby

© J.N. Urbanski 3pm

© J.N. Urbanski

Tim and Jess Luby own the Storehouse in Phoenicia. Last year, they were married on Giant Ledge, having hiked two miles in wedding attire and hiking boots.

JN: What brought you to the Catskills?

TL: The mountains. When Jess and I started dating, we both enjoyed hiking, so we planned a trip up there.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Jeff Vincent

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Vincent

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Vincent

Jeff Vincent is proprietor of the new mountain guide business Catskill Mountain Wild, in Catskill, New York.

JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?

JV: I was born in the town of Catskill 28 years ago.

So you’re a born and bred mountain man. You never wanted to leave? Usually young people leave here by the thousand every year.

I have left a few times and I came back. I lived in Denver for a year or so. I was in San Diego for a little while, but I really, really love this area, now that I’ve grown up and got all of that out of my system. I through-hiked the Appalachian Trail last year, so that got me away for six months.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Heather Rolland

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Jenny: How long have you lived in the Catskills?

Heather: I moved to the Catskills in 2007, so I’ve been here going on eight years.

Where did were you living before?

I was living in Dutchess County in Dover Plains and I had been there 17 years. I grew up in Nyack. I’ve actually never lived anywhere more urban than Nyack. It’s been a slow and steady march northward.

What started that slow march?

When I was in High School. I had a buddy who – and this is a crazy story – we both turned sixteen, got our driver’s licenses. She quit high school and moved all by herself as a sixteen year old to Woodstock.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Peter DiSclafani

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Peter DiSclafani is proprietor and chef of the Catskill Rose Lodging and Dining in Mount Tremper, New York with his wife Rose Marie Dorn.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

Rose and I moved here in 1987 after we got married. I was born and raised in Saugerties. I was out in Colorado in the seventies after high school just to check things out and that’s where I met Rose. She’s from Colorado.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower

Image courtesy of Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower

Image courtesy of Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower

Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower is a registered nurse, herbal educator and wild foods forager who conducts“weed walks” in which she teaches us how to forage for wild edibles.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?
Since 1980.

From NYC?
Manhattan and Brooklyn. I was born in Manhattan and spent part of my young life in Brooklyn. When I experienced the country when I was eleven, I knew that was where I was going when I got old enough.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Jeanine Pascarella

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

How long have you lived in the Catksills?

I moved upstate with my family in 1979 when I was nine years old and my parents were partners with my mother’s parents – my grandparents – at the Emery Brook House, that’s now the Evergreen. They ran it as a German Cuisine bed and breakfast.

Were you born here?

I was born in Huntington, Long Island.

So what made your family move to the Catskills?

Well, my grandparents had found the area. They had a boarding house in Rockaway and the area was being developed so they had to sell, or were bought out. I don’t really remember the story of how they left Rockaway, but they were looking for a German community and that’s how they wound up in Fleischmanns. There was a nice German community here and they were looking for a similar situation to what they had left: a boarding house. So when they contacted a real estate person in the area, the real estate person told them about the St Regis, which is huge and much bigger than anything they had envisaged managing, so they then found the Emery Brook and that’s where they settled.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Lorraine Lewandrowski

Lorraine Lewandrowski does not live in the Catskills, but our radio interview and half of our phone conversations, which are always fascinating, take place in the Catskills, so I’m printing them here. Lorraine is an agricultural lawyer and dairy farmer with 60 cows in the Mohawk Valley, New York. She is a very active spokesperson for the farming community, speaking at agricultural conferences and writing articles for trade publications. She tries to do things like link deep rural farmers with urban food groups. Lorraine is a descendant of Polish immigrants who arrived in the valley about 100 years ago and one of a long line of farming advocates. Her grandfather was one of the founders of a co-op, of which her father was the president for many years. She’s on Twitter with 15,000 avid followers.

I’ve never met a dairy farmer and lawyer before.

There are a few of us around. Actually, I know some attorneys and dairy farmers in England and we keep in touch on Twitter to compare notes on contracts and things that are going on. In fact, I keep in touch with farmers in Wales, New Zealand, Australia, all over the place and to the best of my ability in France. I’m not that great with French. We try to share information that way. The global corporations have far more extensive communications networks than we do, but this is a way of us getting at least some idea of what’s happening.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: John Hoeko

© J.N. Urbanski 4/2/15

© J.N. Urbanski 4/2/15

John Hoeko, a lifelong fly fisherman, owns Fur, Feathers and Steel in Fleischmanns. He’s writing a book about his life and times and his work with the Catskills waterways.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

My whole life, except for one day. I was born in Jamaica, Queens. My grandfather was Chief of Radiology in a hospital in Queens. He thought that the local hospital here in Margaretville, the old one, was too provincial. So he insisted I be born in New York City.

So you’ve lived here in Fleischmanns ever since?

Yes, my parents originally lived off Ellsworth Avenue, while they were building our house.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Todd Pascarella

© Jeanine Pascarella

© Jeanine Pascarella Brian Mulder and Todd Pascarella (right)

Former Mayor of Fleischmanns Todd Pascarella is embarking upon a new effort to keep us all in good spirits. Union Grove Distillery in Arkville is due to open this year, producing vodka to start and eventually offering aged rye whiskey and aged rye bourbon.

When did you move to the Catskills?

I moved to the Catskills in Spring 2001. I was drawn here partly because of my experience of going to college down in Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. I grew up in Long Island and it was quite a contrast from the life in Long Island to the way things were down there: the natural beauty and the niceness of the people down there. I decided to try and move up here by myself as a yearlong experiment and I moved to MT Tremper. And I started meeting a lot of people who I was fascinated by, so I decided to buy a fixer-upper house in Highmount. I lived in that for a couple of years and that’s when I met Jeanine.

Continue reading

Transplant Tales: Jessica Vecchione

© Jessica Vecchione Selfie with Drone Camera

© Jessica Vecchione Selfie with Drone Camera

Jessica Vecchione is the founder of the Catskill Mountain Film Festival and is a documentarian, videographer and photographer.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

I moved up here in 2001, three weeks before 9/11. It was such a shock. We had no cell service and I don’t think we had even gotten our dial-up yet. I had no idea that anything had happened until the afternoon when I heard some phone messages. It really did seem like everything changed after that. [House] prices went up. They were still very affordable but they were much lower before when I was looking in the period before moving, late August.

What made you move here?

Continue reading

Transplant Tales: Keith Carollo

Photo courtesy of Keith Carollo

Photo courtesy of Keith Carollo

Entrepreneur Keith Carollo closed his NYC business and moved to the Catskills full-time with his husband Chris. They are both pursuing careers in the arts, with Chris directing the local school play.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

We’ve lived here full-time for about a year now and we had our home four years before we moved here full-time. It was just a weekend home.

What made you move here?

It was for financial reasons really. We had a business that we closed and at the same time, they were increasing our rent in the city, so it just seemed like it made sense to come here where our expenses would be lower. And that became the next adventure for us.

Continue reading

Transplant Tales: Tim Trojian

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

“…the mountains feel like they’re hugging you and holding you in”.

Tim Trojian, one of the proprietors of the Foxfire Mountain House in Mount Tremper has, for the past year, been living in the establishment while he oversees its renovation.

What made you move to the Catskills?

I was looking for a place with my wife Eliza, where we could start a business that would allow us to be together. She has been working in television all her life and we were trying to find a good location. I have been a chef and an hotelier all my life. The Catskills are perfectly situated being two hours from NYC, where Eliza could work while we were getting this project up and going. We could have the amenities of the city, but still live in the country, which we love.

Where are you from?

Continue reading

Transplant Tales: Laura Silverman

© Mark Hanauer Courtesy of Laura Silverman

© Mark Hanauer Courtesy of Laura Silverman

Laura Silverman was a guest on my radio show on WIOX almost exactly two years ago and is a fellow writer of Edible Hudson Valley. Laura has a popular local food blog called Glutton For Life and is Editor of Delaware Valley 8 a new bi-annual newspaper based in the Catskills to be published on Memorial Day and Labor Day this year.

There’s been a rash of articles in the media about the Catskills turning hipster. What do you think about that?

I think that cities in general are becoming much more challenging places to live especially for creative people. I think more people are moving out of the cities and more people are dreaming about moving out of cities.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

Continue reading

Transplant Tales: Esther De Jong

© Esther De Jong

© Esther De Jong Self-portrait

“I don’t ever think any more in terms of weekdays and weekends… I don’t ever feel the need to book a vacation any more because to me it’s all here.”

Esther De Jong, model, real estate agent and fine artist lives full-time in the Catskills after relocating from her native Holland via a life and career based in New York City.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

Since 2006.

Continue reading

Catskills Conversations: Margaret D. Helthaler

Margaret

© Chris Helthaler

Margaret D. Helthaler is a graphic designer and fine art photographer living in the Catskills. She is taking the Daily Catskills images for Upstate Dispatch for the next three days.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

Continue reading

Transplant Tales: Erik P Johanson

© Nicole Vente

© Nicole Vente – Erik at his office in the Catskill Center

Erik P Johanson has lived in the Catskills for little more than a year, but has already developed a business plan for the redevelopment of the Maxbilt Theatre in Fleischmanns, which has resulted in the building being put on State and National Register of Historic Places in 2014: a formidable achievement in such a short time. He now works full-time for the Catskill Center in Arkville. After having lived in New York City for ten years, Erik and his boyfriend tried the Berkshires, New Mexico and looked to purchase property in Los Angeles before buying a house in the Catskills and moving here full-time.

What first brought you to the Catskills?

Continue reading

Transplant Tales: Molly J Marquand

© Erik Johanson/@halcott718

© Erik Johanson/@halcott718 Molly Marquand at her office at CRISP in the Catskills Center

“My muse is always nature.” Molly J Marquand, Catskills transplant and fellow native Brit, photographer, writer, naturalist, and wild flower gardener dishes the dirt to Upstate Dispatch in our new series Catskills Conversations.

How long have you lived in the Catskills? About two and a half years, I moved from New York City where my fiancé and I, Martin, lived for three years. I was born in England and moved to the Hudson Valley just before high school. I did go back to England to get my Masters Degree, in Taxonomy and Conservation of Plant Diversity (Botany) a joint programme with Kew Botanical Gardens and The University of Reading. But my undergraduate degree, which was in Ecology, I did at Bates in Maine.

What made you move here? I’d always had my eye on it, because I knew that I always needed space. We had this dream of having a farm and having wide open tracts of land. At the same time, I wanted to be close to my mother who lives in the Hudson Valley. [My fiancé and I] were both attracted to landscapes like the Rockies and Montana and places like that, but knowing that we were never going that far away because Martin’s family live in New York City.

Continue reading