For those interested in our town’s local culture (something that I admit to being fascinated with), (and, yes, I am aware that I ended with a preposition!), visiting with those who like to communicate with one another on the Internet can be quite informative. Several Facebook group pages make up our cyber neighborhood, and some of them have a significant number of members who meet and greet one another daily.
On my most recent visit to virtual New Paltz I noted in particular the following groups and their associated membership numbers:
Facebook Group Name Members
“New Paltz Bartering Community” 1,476
“New Paltz” 1,304
“You know you’re from New Paltz when…” 818
“New Paltz School Budget Watch” 578
“Why We Love New Paltz” 308
“New Paltz Village Vibe” 289
“New Paltz Alternative” 267
My personal favorite cyber hangout, however, is the “New Paltz” group, membership of which has tripled in just the past 18 months. If you are ever bored or seeking some tidbits of local ‘chatter’, you can drop in and see what the major topics of the day are. You get a feel for the eclectic, diverse community in which we live and the interesting people who contribute each day to the fabric of our lives. The topics vary from the ridiculous to the sublime, and the individual posts are variously serious, sad, funny, thoughtful and occasionally thoughtless.
The bartering page is just what it says, except when someone wanders in and starts posting about world peace or fracking or needing a job. A few days ago you could have picked up a California King Snake. “She’s a biter…,” according to the barterer offering up her pet, “… and your landlord won’t know she’s there.”
While some may find the “New Paltz School Budget Watch” page a little dry, it is the place to visit to keep up with the activities of the largest taxing authority in our community and the one most focused on the education of our youth. It’s kind of like having to eat your vegetables, although I highly recommend it.
For those enchanted by the funkiness of our town, I suggest a visit to the “New Paltz Alternative” page. While there are fewer members, the frequent contributors do indeed provide some alternative thoughts and concepts, and I consider a visit there to be the equivalent of ‘dessert’ after having dutifully eaten my vegetables.
Of course virtual New Paltz exists as well in the individual Facebook pages of current and former New Paltz residents, college alumni who continue to reserve space in their hearts and minds for our town and many others who have roots and friends here.
And what about those black bears?
A particularly valuable side of virtual New Paltz is our very own early warning system comprised of information posted by hundreds of community members on their individual Facebook pages. Elsewhere in this issue of the New Paltz Times is a helpful if slightly alarming feature on the dramatic increase in bear sightings in our area. So if you want to know if any bears have been seen in your part of town recently, simply ‘friend’ enough folks whose homes surround yours, in ever-increasing concentric circles, and you will soon have your very own ‘DEW Line’. If you lived through the Cold War you will probably remember the amazing system of radar stations located in the Arctic region designed to warn us if Russian bombers were heading in our direction. However, I digress.
New Paltz Police Chief Joe Snyder confirmed that there have indeed been reports of black bears in our area. In one case, the DEC came out to a location near the campus to tranquilize and remove an animal to a safer place for all involved. He said a bear will generally just go away if you make a little noise or clap your hands. If you see one on the property as you pull into your driveway, hit the horn and it will run off. However, please remember to log the sighting on your home page so the rest of us can be on the lookout, while keeping in mind, of course, just who the major invasive species actually is. And by the way, save the Lake Minnewaska leeches!