I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. ~George Bernard Shaw
I’ve always been fascinated by this quote by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. The idea of making a life-long commitment to community as a means of fulfillment in one’s life has always seemed such a noble aspiration to me.
When sitting to write this column about the community of Germantown – our featured community in this month’s issue of Mercantile – this familiar quote kept coming to mind. So I began to contemplate the reason why, when considering Germantown, these words refused to leave my mind.
I think it’s because Heather, our children and I have the unique privilege of actually being part of the Germantown community. As publishers of a monthly regional arts and entertainment magazine over the past few years, we have had a presence in many villages and towns in the Mid-Hudson Valley. And we hope that we have had a positive impact on all of those communities – we certainly mean to.
But we send our children to school in Germantown; they play soccer at Palatine Park each Fall; they play basketball at Germantown Central School on Saturday mornings in the winter; Heather is program coordinator at the Germantown Library; I enjoy coaching basketball and soccer. And Heather and I have participated in marketing and planning projects for numerous Germantown events – most elaborate of which was the amazing Germantown 300 celebration last year.
In the six years since our children began attending Germantown Central School, we have gotten to know scores of parents, teachers, community leaders and business owners from Germantown. We have seen many of these same people over and over again volunteering for myriad school functions benefiting all of our children; attending high school sporting events; chaperoning field trips; starting community gardens; joining forces for fundraisers for new school facilities, field trips whose traditional funding was slashed from the school budget, or a classmate who’s been injured or whose family has fallen on harder times than the rest of us.
As I write this a large contingent from the Germantown community is on its way to Middleburgh in Schoharie County to volunteer at a barbeque whose mission is to serve 1,000 meals to those families whose homes were destroyed by the ravages of Tropical Storm Irene in August. Germantown’s school, churches, library, fire department, civic organizations and business community have all banded together for this effort to help another community in need. It’s only the latest display of the camaraderie, selflessness and compassion that epitomizes Germantown.
Read on in this issue and learn about an ongoing archaeological dig by a Bard professor and his students – literally unearthing remnants of Germantown’s earliest days as a Palatine settlement. Explore upcoming educational and entertainment events at the state-of-the art Germantown Library. Visit the Central House – a hotel and inn recently restored to its vintage glory to provide much-needed overnight accommodations for this Hudson River town. And don’t miss the story from the Germantown Economic Development Committee about ARTspace – Germantown’s own cultural sanctuary that opened in 2008 to attract high-end arts exhibits, and to fill a void in a market saturated with gifted and talented artists.
Please do read on – the special features section is on pages 20-29 – and learn more about this fantastic community of which my family and I are so proud to be part. Then visit Germantown and strike up a conversation with the people you meet. I encourage you – become a part of this community!