January 5, 2006

Regionalism and upstate New York

There was a burst of discussion last month about the possibilities of regionalism in a number of upstate blogs. York Staters, over in Binghamton, got things going with a post on regionalism:

As we attempt to solve Upstate New York’s problems, as long as we think of ourselves and our problems as primarily "American" we will be bound to a tiny number of options promoted by our centralized authorities. However, when we begin to free ourselves from what is an appropriate answer for America and identify ourselves with Upstate New York then we can begin to find new, uniquely Upstate answers.

I think a fair number of people (from a variety of political parties) would say similar things about New York State because of the upstate/downstate divide. BaloghBlog, up near Syracuse, followed up with a discussion of upstate, and finds some hope:

Less in the way of complaining, more in the way of discussion that will lead to action - I seem to be finding a growing niche of people that feel the same way, who are proud to live in upstate, who want to be here and make life better for ourselves and our communities.

There's also a great piece from NYCO, who starts by writing of her "classic American road-trip childhood" in a piece on what regionalism could mean for upstate:

I say we here in upstate New York put out a call for people who don't need to be constantly entertained, and who are skeptical about the 21st-century American dream and can imagine a better one; who recognize that upstate New York never was, is not, and will not be just like the rest of the country; that it is situated in a historical time zone that - in both good times and bad - is a few decades in the future from the rest of America....

Upstate New York's autonomy, its genius really, depends on three things. 1) The intelligence and education level of its people, and their ability to imagine and articulate profoundly new alternative futures. 2) Its physical location and topography, which is somewhat cut off from the mainstream (think: we're not part of BosWash - and this was a place where people came to get away from hidebound Boston thinking 150 years ago). This location was always strategically important in past history, but still actually could be strategically important (think: international border, natural resources that don't seem important now but could be very important not too far in the future). 3) Its very old tradition - sometimes happy, sometimes unhappy - of meaningful interaction between different tribes, races, genders and cultures.

I'm very happy to have moved back to upstate New York. I'll confess - I lived three years in Manhattan (and my brother lives in Brooklyn) - but after living there, Connecticut, and North Carolina, I was very happy to come home. The weather, the taxes, and the relationship with downstate give people a lot to complain about, but there's a vitality here that's worth preserving. Some of it's the history of the place, and some of it's the present of the place, but upstate New York has a very strong sense of place.

Hopefully we can combine that sense of place and the state motto - Excelsior (ever upward) - and make upstate an ever more worthwhile place to live.

Posted by simon at January 5, 2006 8:33 PM in ,
Note on photos


Natalie said:

Hey thanks for the shout and for participating in the discussion.

The site is great, keep up the good work!

Natalie from York Staters