Dear New York Times,
We defy you.
On February 19, you released an article entitled, “Community, Returning to Life, Asks, ‘Where is Everybody?’” Many of us here in little ole Red Hook read it. And many of us are astonished by your lack of insight.
To start with, I – as an editor – would just like to point out that there are entirely too many commas in that headline. But that’s just the first of very many things you have dimwittedly misinterpreted. Perhaps the only thing about this entire piece you managed correctly was the very first word of your ridiculous headline: Community.
It probably would have been best if you’d stopped there. But you didn’t.
“A cloud of fear hangs over the neighborhood,” you write. “A fear that Red Hook – a place of pioneers and craftspeople who were artisanal before it went mainstream, and who rewarded people who ventured to the neighborhood with great food, drinks and song – had lost some of its desirability because of the storm.”
This ridiculous notion you have the audacity to call a story is utterly untrue. We are Red Hook. Throughout our trials, we have lost nothing. The very simple truth – the truth your near sighted eyes have failed to recognize – is that we have in fact gained more from all of this than you can possible imagine. Unfortunately, there are no corrective lenses to fix this problem. Your have spread ignorance and untruths about who we are and what we stand for among the masses.
You chose this nasty word “fear.” Looming fear. If we are so frightened, as you say we are, how have we managed this long? Why are we rebuilding bigger, better, stronger? Is that our fear egging us on as well? Does this fear show up at our community gatherings, our celebrations of hope and survival? I think not.
This is not the first time a major publication has shown up in our neighborhood and not been able to comprehend who we are and what we do. You certainly were not here in those first few hours watching us emerge as characters of strength and survival. You know nothing of our Red Hook Coalition and the amazing feats they have conquered. Nor can you even begin to imagine what this community has to offer.
You stopped in for one afternoon and interviewed three people. You heard second-hand stories of some – a very small few – who were not up to the challenges that Red Hook faced, and drew your own conclusions. You looked around and saw empty streets and decided no one was here. But I – the community journalist who has been here day after precious day with this community – I can tell you where the people were.
The heartbeat of this community that you so conveniently overlooked, they were dancing Friday night to live music at Bait and Tackle. They were sitting around a fire telling stories in the back yard of the Ice House. They were lending a helping hand putting up sheet rock in a neighbor’s basement. They were sitting behind windows you didn’t peer through. They were in office chairs sending emails and making phone calls to organize distribution sites and weekend volunteers. They were hanging art that is forever touched – not damaged – by storm waters. They were in the back room of Hope & Anchor with hugs and smiles and hot food for all. They were organizing interviews for a documentary that will be the model for other communities recovering from disaster at Kentler Art Gallery.
But you didn’t see us. Because you weren’t actually looking for us.
Ian Marvy, whom you quoted in your article, best describes our sentiment. “’There are lots of other neighborhoods I could live in,’ he said” – you wrote. “’But here is where I want to be.”
Here in Red Hook, unlike any community you’ve ever seen, we celebrate life. We make lemonade and spike it with prosperity. I know you were told to find a story. It is unfortunate that you took the easy road and made one up, instead of taking the time to find out what is really happening in here in little ole Red Hook.
Kimberly Gail Price
Senior Editor & Co-Publisher
Red Hook Star-Revue