( Column 17 / 2002)

"The Lost Valleys"...by...Ron Gladkowski

          "A commentary about creative people living in the small communities scattered through the hills and valleys of Central New York"
          Published in The County Review

Get off your Duff!

           It's the middle of this Holiday shopping season, and are you looking to find a present for that someone special, but don't know what? Buy a handcrafted gift from a local artist or craftworker. Not only will it be unique, and original, your purchase will strengthen the local economy.
           I won't preach about how a strong economy is important to the fight against terrorism, nor will I point out that these artists are hard working and honest, and never cheated anyone out of their retirement. Though many of them are on the web, I don't know of a single one of them that got rich scamming others in the dot-com boom. They don't spend all their time lying through their teeth at press conferences, or raising large sums of money at fund raisers, just to increase their power and prestige. All they do is create wonderful things because they love to do it.
           So, if they work hard, maintain their integrity, and contribute to the local economy, the least you can do is Get off your Duff and Buy Something Special! Support the folks in your community that help to keep it vital. After all, it is the creative people of a culture that give it life.
           If you have access to the web, many local artists have web sites. You can find links to some of them at The Lost Valleys web site, www.lostvalleys.com, Silver Jewelry from Helloonie Ink, Wood Turnings by Tony Ingraham, or Photography by Morrell, are just a few you will find there. [By the way, if you are a creative person or know someone, who has a web site, you/they can get a free link posted on the Lost Valleys website] Some advertise in the Free Classifieds at www.anysaver.com, while the CCCA has a listing of member web pages at their web site.
           If you prefer to shop in person, "Made in Chenango", on Broad Street in downtown Norwich carries a wide selection of local work. I see that Joe Lindsley, a pastel artist from Greene has some very interesting work there, in addition to a wide selection of fine artwork and traditional crafts. Woodwork, stained glass, and folk crafts, fill the shop, making it a wonderful place to browse.
           Gallery 3-2-1 on State street. in Oxford is another good local place to shop for artwork and handmade crafts. It has a more contemporary feel, and carries the work of many regional artists, as well as being the home of Strongstone Pottery where functional stoneware, and porcelain work is produced.
           So, go ahead hunt down those sales at large chain stores, get your hunting and outdoor supplies at the sporting goods store, and buy fashionable clothes at the specialty shops, but remember to set aside some time and money to support your local artists and craft workers. You can, by building a strong local economy; Be a Patriotic American, Fight Terrorism, Defeat the Dictators of the World, and Unite Our One Nation, Under God, With Liberty and Justice for ALL!
           It's all in YOUR hands! Happy Holiday!

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