No Place Like Home – The Power of a Creative Neighborhood

In our World Wide Web culture, it’s easy to disconnect from the captivating people right around us who thrive with great ideas.

This summer, I’m actively re-connecting with the community that has nurtured me for a dozen years – the incomparable Mid-Hudson River Valley and Ulster County located 90 minutes from New York City. Instead of chains and franchises, you’ll find here exceptionally smart, talented, industrious people who use their wits and each other to craft an enterprising life.

Here’s a quick tour of my creative neighborhood and ideas for you to contribute to and honor yours. Once you start looking around, you might discover fascinating people performing incredible creative work right down the road.

Resources for Writer Enterprisers
Ulster County and the Mid-Hudson Valley brim with hundreds and hundreds of writers – renowned, sequestered, performing, aspiring. Here are a few who might serve you or fuel ideas for your own ventures.

Marisa Goudy is a spit-fire message strategist and promotional healer (I love that!). Marisa not only can help you craft your authentic message and “get it out there.”  She also can help you deal with “social media overload.”

Memoirist and celebrity interviewer Martha Frankel gathers headline writers at the Woodstock Writer’s Festival each spring. Really cool stuff. Martha’s developed a smart festival model based on community and financial sustainability. Think your neighborhood could support a festival?

Brent Robison and Bliss Plot Press have pioneered publishing that blends the literary with the spiritual. A spiritual practitioner, publishing wiz, fiction writer, and all-around smart guy, Brent helps creatives with their publishing options.

Publisher and author Judith Kerman moved the established Mayapple Press to Woodstock a couple of years ago and has infused the community with signature, high-quality readings, events, and publications.

Will Nixon’s blog has become a virtual clearinghouse for poets in the area and beyond. If you want to know what poetry to read, this poet-author-walker offers the goods.

Woodstock has not one, not two, but three independent bookstores. Read Merchants of Culture, and you’ll realize that’s a huge feat.

Mirabai Books has a model based on community support and diverse merchandise. Their workshop series keeps fresh ideas and new customers circulating. Audrey, the co-owner, has the Connector Instinct, and her partner Jeff has the money savvy. Both have heart. (And they’re hosting my Tools for Your Creative Quest workshop.)

The Golden Notebook specializes in more literary titles and author events. The third stop is a used bookstore with erratic hours, but it still counts.

Towns of New Paltz and Saugerties have Inquiring Minds Bookstore – a smart collection where you can enjoy stimulating browsing and events.

Which is to say, if you don’t have an independent book store any more in your area, support one of ours.

Resources for Creative Play Enterprisers
(and Enterprisers looking to spruce up their offices and studios)

Shea & Christina recently launched Fiber Flame Studio in Saugerties, New York. Their tagline: your creative home. Smart. They open their doors for you to get messy and use your hands for something more creative than pecking a keyboard (oh, how I need to visit!). They provide a dynamic model for some of you “crafty” enterprisers.

Jenny Wonderling (what a last name!) converted a non-descript warehouse into Nectar Imports, a veritable “feast for the senses” stocked with fair-trade furniture and objects from around the world. Enter Nectar, and Jenny will offer you a cup of tea and a seat to tell your story. Jenny’s an avid storyteller and writer, too. She has the Connector Instinct, and she has two warehouses full of unique objects and furniture for your studio or office – each with its own story.

Blair Glaser of Woodstock and Brooklyn combines psychology, movement, theatre role-playing, and creativity for self-exploration and optimal corporate team collaboration. You can reach her long-distance, and you can see what a dynamic coaching model she has.

Uhm, the O + Festival is just cool. Artists get free medical treatment in return for free art. And the city of Kingston gets free public art. That’s smart. In its third year this October, the O + Festival is developing a model built on generosity and savvy that other creative enterprisers and enterprising creatives could learn from. (Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s take.)

Another creative conversion story: Take a manufacturing factory and make it into a performing arts center tucked in the woods and minutes from a bustling village, and you get the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory. See any empty buildings in your neighborhood waiting for a new life?

Chronogram Magazine offers the most comprehensive guide to what’s happening in this creative neighborhood. Publisher and author Jason Stern and editor Brian Mahoney have built a successful model established on community outreach, intelligent editorial, and diverse advertising. Could your neighborhood use such a guide?

Resources for Creative Enterprisers’ Website and Online Needs
It’s confusing to know where to turn for online marketing advice. Our neighborhood has two intelligent, creative, trust-worthy experts.

Doug Motel is an SEO expert and master. A few years ago, Doug revamped his business model, gathered his Creative Pack, and made SiteOptimized the go-to place for travel websites and other enterprisers who want to put their sites on the Internet map. For $250, he can offer a thorough, custom analysis of your site, how it stacks up with your competition, and strategies you can implement today.

Psst…His background as an awesome performer and writer, by the way, helps him captivate audiences and helps him help you capture good Google rankings.

Ric Dragon and Dragon Search Marketing take a comprehensive, strategic approach to your creative enterprise’s marketing needs. Ric and his team are generous, smart, and clear in what he suggests.

I’ll stop here for now.

Here are six tips to tap into and honor your creative neighborhood:

  1. Pick up collateral. Visit independent retail and coffee shops and pick up business cards and brochures whose design and taglines capture your attention. That’s the first promise that your area enterprisers might know something about captivating creativity. Then check out their wares online or “live.”
  1. Search for “Creative” and “[your area name].”  
  1. Attend and participate events. Even if you’re a wallflower – especially if you’re a wallflower – nudge yourself to attend events where other creatives and creative enterprisers might hang out.
  1. Insinuate yourself. Volunteer your services or expertise to an event or group worthy of what you offer.
  1. Collaborate. Hold free talks or events with people in your ‘hood who have complementary services.  Create a festival. Partner on a small venture.
  1. Honor your creative neighborhood. Do work with them. Do something for someone in your area. Shout out their services and splendor to others. If you’re a photographer, develop a project that honors them.

Many of us are forging digital connections and relationships. The more we do so, the more vital it is to maintain live connections and relationships established on mutual respect, trust, and desire to build real community.

A creative neighborhood can remind us how we thrive by touch, conversation, direct sensory experience, and physical environments built to human scale.

And if you’re in the ‘hood this weekend, join me in Woodstock for the Tools for Your Creative Quest workshop.

What’s happening in your creative neighborhood? What could you do to build it?  What are the challenges you face in connecting “live” or the challenges your particular ‘hood faces? And Hudson Valley dwellers, add to this list.

See you in the woods,




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  1. I thanked you over a few of those multiple social media channels that distract and enchant us, but I wanted to go retro and leave a comment here too! The workshop was great yesterday – a definite source of clarity and inspiration. With gratitude, Marisa