Hidden in Suburbia (Update)

A couple of years ago, I did a photo essay of the “lost” parts of my suburban Latham neighborhood called Hidden in Suburbia. The heart of the piece centered upon a hike I did down a surprisingly dangerous (and all the more beautiful for it) creek bed that runs from Haswell Road down to the City of Watervliet, where it goes underground until draining into the Hudson River. The topo and other maps I consulted never named it, so I dubbed it “The Great Gorge of Goopy” in my essay, and prominently featured a tower-like water drainage feature that I called “Castle Goopy.”

I have received numerous e-mails over the years from folks who either grew up running around those woods, or discovered them as adults, the way I did. I got some answers to some question I’d raised, including discovering the proper name of the gorge, which is actually The Dry River. (See photo of a new sign to the left, courtesy of Bill Mischler). The Castle itself was part of the City of Watervliet’s water supply system. Locals knew it as “The Witch’s Castle,” and once you’ve seen it, it’s easy to understand why they did. It was actually pretty creepy to come upon it unexpectedly deep in the woods the first time I saw it.

I’m glad to know that other people are interested in this sort of stuff. There are several new developments that either have or will encroach significantly upon the Dry River. I’m glad I saw it when I did. Hopefully it’s wild and steep enough to endure the pressures of suburban creep.

To see other Hidden in Suburbia photo essays, click here.

Two Weeks, Two Boards

In the nonprofit world, Board of Trustees meetings are a big deal, the place where governance occurs in real time, face to face, and where the unpaid members of the corporation who are charged with representing the public’s trust and the organization’s fiduciary interests bring their hands-on expertise and vision to the table. I was very fortunate in the timing of my job transfer: last week, I participated in the Rensselaer Newman Foundation’s board meeting, this week, I am participating in the American Institute for Economic Research’s board meeting. It was nice to be able to leave one job, seeing folks I only saw a few times a year, giving a solid report of accomplishments and expectations . . . and then to walk into a new job, and have the opportunity to meet the new governing body, and learn of their expectations right off the bat. Nonprofit board governance is one the more challenging elements of the nonprofit experience: the ability of paid staff  to interact with and execute the vision of unpaid, volunteer Board members is one of of the defining elements of the world in which I’ve worked for the past 11 years. I count myself as fortunate to be able to see both my old board and new board in action in such a short span of time. There’s no better way to get an accurate handle of the business, governance and culture of nonprofit agencies.