Hi Folks. Here are the notes from the meeting at Oriole 9. It was very productive in my opinion, but my focus is on Youth Empowerment and growing as a community to expand support in time when we are suffering from the symptoms of disconnection.
Yes, we have a drug problem. but we have an even deeper problem as a community, when our kids are lacking in support for their creative outlet. Now, this is truly in appearance only, as I am very aware of many who are in direct support of our young people, and I want to magnify those voices and actions.
There are many who are focused on the substance abuse issues, and I am here to support those actions in any way that I can. But/And my commitment of time and energy must continue as directed, which, my instinct tells me must remain focused on lifting our young people toward their purpose, creativity and entrepreneurship.
I offer these notes to you all, and you may do with them as you wish. I will continue to work on this list, as well as expand it, and reach to meet these incredible forces with opportunity to manifest their desires hopes and dreams for a better present and future.
The recent article in the Woodstock times seemed to reflect the course of local action, which is focus directly on substance abuse and dealing with those symptoms. The adults in our community focused in this way seem to feel they have the answers, and will be continuing to act on them. Bravo!
I am going to continue to focus on the kids. As you can see, (If you read the article) even in the reporting of the more recent town hall meeting, my call for the voice of the youth and the response, was misrepresented and perhaps even annoying to the writer. What she failed to note was that after several calls for the youth voice, every time, what followed was adults who felt their voice was more important at the time. My mention of the lack of trust in the room was not in response to a few empty seconds, but following several attempts to give them the floor only to be usurped by people who felt their questions were more important at the time. When the kids did finally begin to speak, the meeting was approaching the third hour of the meeting.
All of this to say that my focus is best to remain where it has been for the past year, which is on local, community resources for young people to step up, find mentorship and grow their leadership. It is best I got.
Earth Guardians New York will be rolling out some workshops, screenings, music events and more as the winter progresses. My partner in Direction, Aidan Ferris is on the way to Paris to participate in an Earth Guardians delegation, and when she returns, we will hit the ground running. Stay tuned.
I know many have problems with the idea of spending money on a full service, comprehensive program for education, discovery, more education and followthrough covering the young people, school administration, police, and parents… But some feel the expense is worth it. For those of you who agree that the cost is worth spending, contact me about joining a breakout group on this subject.
***Just to note, Onteora recently spent $7500 on a guest speaker who talked about drugs and their impact on his career. I can’t say if anyone believes it was worth the cost, but if they have a budget as such, I believe the $7500 it would cost OCS in this case, would be a valuable investment. Key words here: Comprehensive, full service, followup. You decide.
Below is the list from the first meeting and a few notes on the Town Hall meeting this past monday.
To me, it was very clear that the meeting we participated in at Oriole 9 was not only valuable, but necessary, specifically because we did provide a platform where the young people present felt safe to express themselves. These meetings will continue.
There are many people specifically discussing Substance Abuse, and there is a need for different approaches… All hands on deck is a GOOD thing!
But for me, It is most important that I focus my attention on Solutionary action rather than reaction to dis-ease.
Important Info:
  • Lila Bacon is an Alateen Sponsor, and would like to see Al-ateen available to students in school , a youth forum for Kids to have an avenue to talk to others about substance abuse, their own and family concerns
  • If you are interested in becoming a Narcan Kitholder, George Amodore has been sponsoring Narcan Trainings in our county. look into it.
  • Route 212 Coalition—In the meeting on Monday, the announcement was made that there is a coalition forming to support our young people in the struggle with substance abuse. There will surely be ways to connect with them in the future. This is a peer driven movement, the organizers are in their mid twenties. They are talking about things like, meetings, support groups, Anonymous taxi service, Text hotlines etc… There is a Doodle Poll happening right now to determine a meeting time. If you would like to connect with them, and join the meeting, go to this link and click on all of your avails that match their requests… Its easy! Check it out because we will be using this platform in the future as well. To join this amazing task force, please email:
  • Community Of Supportive Peers is Needed—No Family connections in school or at home for many kids… Not Enough Support at home. Not always support amongst Peers. Some examples given: Boy scouts, Wayfinders, Paul Green Rock Academy, Earth Guardians
  • Parents, what is in your medicine cabinet?
  • Do your kids feel safe to talk to you about their concerns?
  • OCS is known to have a bigger drug problem than Kingston school. One person has experienced hesitancy, from KHS students, to relate to OCS Kids in a knee jerk reaction to the OCS reputation for being drug infested.
  • Kids willing to hook others for their own habitual gain
  • People will leave the scene of an overdose and not call 911 or the cops, leaving the person in trouble to die
  • Compartmentalization is practice, boxed too early, example: Youth Center goers are often stigmatized as druggies
  • “townie” stigma sets the course who many, especially the defiant ones who tend to embody what they rebel against.
  • “This community’s ignorance about the substance abuse is a set up”
  • Cliques & competition
  • Labeling Not honors… then you are a loser.
  • Separation within the districts
  • Feel that classes that focus on the scientific angle should be offered
  • Stand for personal safety
  • “Why is it that in 9th grade, I can be sold on a lie by my herb dealer, that percoset is no more dangerous than marijuana, and not know the truth until I am already hooked?” —Asked at Monday’s Town Hall meeting
  • “I feel safer in the street than in my parent’s home
  • Elementary school is NOT too young for substance abuse prevention “Keep that sixth grader from becoming the next twelfth grade drug lord”
  • DRUGS IN THE REHABS—Drugs are being sold in The rehab. one of our community’s young people was dropped off there by a friend and signed himself in, only to need to be picked up the next day to avoid being tempted to keep it going, right in the rehab. Our rehab services MUST be upgraded.
EMPLOYMENT—Kids already have a hard time finding jobs in the area, reentering the community after rehab, or jail, there is an even slimmer chance of being employes. (Note, there was mention of a non profit cafe being opened in Kingston that is in the works which would help to reintegrate recovering young people into the work force, giving them training in food industry skills. This is tremendous, and exciting!. As well, Earth Guardians is working to open a productivity & outreach center in Woodstock, and one of our main goals is to foster the entrepreneurship of our young people, and bridge their abilities with income generating opportunity)
  • More honoring and nurturing of creativity in OCS
  • Teachers and Admin do not always step up
  • Don’t drop out after elementary school
  • Release the pressure in school to meet standards.
  • Mental Fitness needs to be honored. Example given: When a kid has a physical wound, the wound is dressed and the child is prescribed rest the ares of concern. But when a kid is mentally/emotionally overloaded or anxiety is present, it is not taken as immediate need.
  • Youth Oppression is felt
  • Cocaine and Pills are readily available in OCS. The right handshake will get you all manner of substances.
  • Honor students are separated from the rest of the community, this causes a separation amongst peers. Non Honor roll students are often stigmatized as losers.
  • Integrated off time—The kids feel separated, and have a difficult time connecting with eachOther
  • They want voice in decisions on how they spend their time in school
  • Lockdown experience in school
  • The courtyard stands as an empty unused resource and can be frustrating for kids who have vision for it.
  • 20 or so minutes of outside time per day. This is not enough and the suppression of young energy is apparent
  • Student Government Empowerment—The Student government is unable to make much change. They feel that the student government should have the ability to be more effective.
  • There is a large crevasse between the Involved and not involved students. More middle way programs and opportunities the smaller the crevasse becomes.
  • Honoring the Young people’s ability to step up to responsibility.
  • Helicopter parenting disempowers youth expansion and accountability
  • More musical opportunity for outlet
  • creative outlet
  • remove the Angry “teen angst” stigma
  • The youth voice must hold a higher value
  • Don’t drop out after elementary school —Parents are very involved in the PTA during the elementary years, but seem to fall off when High School comes around. They want continued involvement YET, they want their parents participation to be driven by and for their needs. They called for PTA inquiry into what the young people need and want.
  • Many kids want space, but many want parental advocation in High School. Again… Follow their lead. be in the know about what they need.
  • OCS Needs to focus on Social Opportunity, such as supporting the growth and sustainability of Clubs
  • Social integration is nearly impossible, OCS seems “engineered for separation”
Jade Moon offered suggestions/ideas for Expression
Life Skills Classes:
Dance & Movement (see below)
Health & Cooking
Astrology & Astronomy (in the EGNY works)
Drum/Instrument Making
Archery, Renaissance Skills
History/Social Psychology
AVAILABLE PROGRAMS, & OPPORTUNITY OF NOTE (Please add to this list as appropriate:


  • Earth Guardians NY is teaming up with The woodstock youth center to get a monthly musical event happening
  • EGNY Is in discussion about teaming up with Woodstock Yoga to offer classes for young people
  • EGNY Is In Discussion with an amazing local astrology teacher about offering an astrology class for Young people. This would be amazing!
  • EGNY Is working on landing a spot in the middle of town that will provide young people the opportunity to find all of these ideas in one spot. And have some ownership in a space they can create in. And bring their art to the mix— Entrepreneurial exploration is a key element of this mission.
  • Youth Empowerment and Leadership Trainings begin when Aidan returns from Paris for the COP21 talks. Begining of the new year, with some starting earlier.
  • EGNY Workshop Series beginning soon! (see below)
Earth Guardians New York will host several different series of public workshops for young people’s participation. Kicking off the efforts to create a hub where these activities can become regular offerings to our community’s youth. We expect that some will participate in multiple workshop topics, and combine and collaborate to bring about larger actions. In the summer of 2016 Earth Guardians will present an event where all of the mediums explored can come together in one location. There will be limited space for some of these programs until we are settled in a location, but we are seeking to fill the winter months with activity and opportunity for young people.
RYSE YOUTH LEADERSHIP TRAININGSRYSE (Rising Youth for a Sustainable Earth) is the actualization of the Earth Guardian Movement. Bridging the intergenerational gap between Youth perspective and Wisdomkeeper perspective. Different series of trainings will be happening throughout the year to help young people grow as leaders in their own communities and beyond.
SONGWRITING FOR ACTION—Work with professional songwriters to turn your passions, concerns, hopes and fears into action, with music.
Explore the power of song to motivate listeners. Those who write Lyrics but don’t sing, or sing but don’t play an instrument will have the advantage of the EGNY musical department’s assistance in actualizing your vision. Help EGNY to create an album highlighting the growing environmental and social threats to the Hudson Valley and beyond. We have invitation to work with one of the best recording studios in the community, and this is going to be a pretty amazing program.
MEDIUMS EXPLORED: Songwriting, Poetry, Instrumentation, Sound Engineering, Performance
GRAPHIC DESIGN—Create Signs, T-shirts and Flyers, Memes for actions. Engage with artists who have turned their art into successful entrepreneurial endeavors which have fueled their actions.
Silkscreening, Dying, Graphic Design, Basic Photoshop, InDesign, Painting & Drawing, Cartooning, Graffiti, Upcycling
WORKSHOP YOUR KEYNOTE—This workshop will help you become more effective in expressing yourself. Participants will define their purpose, gather facts and information, use the written word to craft speeches and talking points. Work with performance artists who will assist with expression, projection and stage presence. Complete the series ready to speak on any stage.
MEDIUMS EXPLORED: Writing, Poetry, Performance Art, Finding Your Purpose
JOURNALISM—The Good Life Youth Journal has partnered with Earth Guardians and will be dedicating several pages of every issue moving forward, to Youth Leadership, Climate and Social Justice. EGNY and Good Life will host workshops with Editor In Chief Cathy Macnamara to invigorate the talent of young writers, artists, poets, and editors in our region. Become a writer for Good Life Youth Journal!
MEDIUMS EXPLORED: All aspects of production of a magazine, from writing, to print.
VIDEO PRODUCTION & EDITING—Leran how to Storyboard, film, edit and distribute your film. Working with professional videographers, editors, and producers, you will understand at least the basics of film production by creating your own takeaway film ready to share.
MEDIUMS EXPLORED: Film, Editing, Photography, Content curation
I will be working on a LOOMIO.ORG Group to hold this conversation in a space where we can come and go to it as we please, adding to it and the like. Each of these topics would be in a thread, and we can then expand in virtual conversation on the threads via comments.
Much Love, Many Thanks… Bless up!
Rachel Marco-Havens

Hearing from our Youth

Our first meeting inspired by the loss of Shama, happened tonite at oriole 9. It was intense, frightening and also inspiring. It was encouraging to sit with close to twenty five people commited to honoring the young people in our community and working toward supporting their passion for life.

We accomplished a lot, identified community members who have incredible gifts and ideas and support to offer. We began a dailog about solutions and we made a commitment to keep the conversation going.

But most important was the ability to hear from the six young people who attended. They found a safe enough container to share some of their hopes, fears, truths and wisdom,–and it was tremendous wisdom indeed. I am in awe of the love, and caring and supportive heart that came from each of them, each with something different and valuable to offer.


This was a small meeting that was shared on a few facebook walls. I heard from an attendee that some young people felt left out and it wasnt intentional. As a matter of fact, their voices were needed. And they will have plenty of opportunity to be heard. More containers like this will be made, and each time together will be different as the conversations Continue.

A few things stood out for me at this meeting:

Young people want the support of their elders, parents, school admin and yet, they want a stronger voice in the conversation.

They know many of our concerns and even share some of them, and they want us to know that; even more than our concerns, they want to hear how we are going to support them in finding their purpose. We can talk at them and to them about the problems we see, but what they want more is to be heard and be offered opportunities to shine.

We think we know the solutions they need, and yet if we dont listen to what they say need, we really can’t fulfil them.

It is going to take a lot of listening to change the situations that our community is in, because there are many layers and dynamics that comprise the state of our community.

I will be taking the notes from this evening and putting them together in the next couple of days and sharing. Two lists were made, the first is of concerns and suggestions from the young attendees, and the other, the things that are happening and being offered that are available for young people to engage in.

Because this was the first meeting of this kind, a lot did not get covered, but the lists will be posted and remain alive for expansion and more will be made as we keep talking.

Hopefully people will be stepping up and taking leadership on our findings, and we will continue this conversation and take action.

From this meeting alone, we may be seeing a youth led spoken word open mic happen in the center of town starting imminently.

We became aware of an youth NA sponsor who also took the Narcan training and has a kit to show up in first response she could be closer than the paramedics when the calls go out. And the calls must begin to go out in situations like Shama’s and others.

If we have enough real intergenerational trust being nurtured, they will begin to make calls like the ones they aren’t making now, when they or their friend is in trouble.

There is another meeting on this same subject next week


this is open to all and it is my hope that the organizers are, amongst the speakers scheduled, planning for dedicated time to hear our kids

i will be presenting some of the key notes from tonite and looking to expand on them at the community center.

I will be one of those speakers, and my aim is not to become the next anit-drug advocate but to continue honoring my passion to create more opportunity to magnify the voices of our young community members and expand their opportunities to find their purpose. We have incredible potential here in these hills, and as someone who grew up in them, i know how it feels to see much of it squandered.

i asked one of my earth guardian friends tonite if he felt that the young people today feel hopeless about their future, and this incredible 14 year old boy said to me (my best attemt to quote him)

‘There is a name for that (*remember to ask him what that name was) every generation comes in believing that they know more than the generations before them and the one to come, so they have a bit less trust in what the previous gen has to offer them. So i guess every generation has a bit of hopelessness that they carry along with a bit of resentment for the mess we are in.’

this is very telling to me, And they have every reason to feel that way.

We can change our course, but we must allow this to be a youth led movement.

Keeping Our Flowers In The Garden

It breaks my heart to be writing about losing another child I care about to a drug overdose… again.

Last night, I received a call alerting me to the fact that a dear friend of my son’s died at the hand of pharmaceutical drugs.

You could say that the strikes against him were many, and the stakes were high for a boy like him in a society that grooms kids with less difficult circumstances for incarceration in an epidemic school to prison pipeline, but this boy should never have been struck by that hand. No child should.

I met Shama soon after his mother told me that our sons had become friends at school. She was excited and relieved that he now had a friend like Chog… She held so much hope for their friendship then, but over the years, the ability to sustain it was eclipsed by bad choices and productive paths chosen—or not. When she and I had that first conversation, we happened to be standing outside of the funeral for another dear young friend who had died of an overdose. 

My last conversation with Shama had not been easy. We talked about choices and actions and repercussions and vision for something better and the potential that lies in the luxury of a small town like this one… He always appreciated my straightness, even when it wasn’t easy to hear. He wanted to find the right path and make valuable choices… I know he did.


Shama, around the time that I met him…

It’s not just one demographic, and it is not just one income bracket. It’s not just “that” community, or somebody else’s “dysfunctional” family, or the fault of one parent or another. It’s not just someone else’s medicine cabinet… or some other place to point so we can turn our heads back to complacency.

It is right here in our little “conscious” town, in our families, and it is more than small town substance abuse, and it is more than just a drug epidemic.

We can go back and forth about how horrible the drug problem is, or curse the drug dealers, or the government for the systems that keep us down.

We can  ask, “What are we going to do?” a million times, but we need to take action.

In the same way a community has many different people with many different offerings,  that action is going to take many forms. It is going to take more than treatment centers and lockdown, it is going to take more than heart to heart conversations, it is going to take more than scare tactics and statistics, and tough love and tender care.

And it is going to take commitment from all of us… there are many holes in the lifeboat, and we need more than a few open hearts and minds to figure out how to fix them. From what I can see, It is going to take creativity on all sides…

Time and time again, in the last five years, I have seen kids go into drug treatment centers and jail, only to be dropped back on the green, taking only a few weeks, days or minutes to make their way back down to the CVS bench. Interesting how the clinic that prescribed almost 10,000 scrips for oxycodone in a two year period, half of which were to people under the age of 23, closed almost 4 years ago, but the activity continues today, on the same block and goes unaddressed.

The rumors are flying, some people think it was Heroin, some think it was the first time, some think it was a slippery slope he was headed for. Some think it was one thing when he thought he had bought another.

Oh yes, the problem is deeper than just the choice to dance with hard drugs… Selling killer drugs to your peers or your juniors is bad enough, but when you pass one thing off as another and keep walking… Oh, it is a deeper problem than we think. When is one of our kids going to accidentally smoke a laced joint? Or has it already happened around the corner and we just haven’t heard?

I could spend hours comparing growing up in my generation to times today, but why bother, the situation today is dire, and we have to get here now. We must keep these flowers in the garden…

We have to provide more lasting opportunities for kids to fill time with creativity. We must give them more ways to engage productively.

We have to be there when they land. Isn’t that what we are pro porting when we say we want to stand in support?

Because the work is continuous and the need spans far beyond before and after treatment. And far beyond the mourning period when another child has been taken.

I want to honor the life in Shama’s heart and potential by being there for another child in need of support. Just being there to the best of my ability.


Yesterday I was driven by the motivation to create another place for kids to go and be productive, but today, after losing one more bright light the drive is even stronger…

I invite you to enter into an immersive conversation about solutionary action.  This is where my heart has been for most of 2015. I believe this is one avenue for solutionary potential… Join me?



Kids naturally don’t trust cops, and there is good reason not to. When I was a teenager in Woodstock in the 80’s, we had a weapon free Constabulary. They checked the door of every business in the hamlet, on foot, nightly and knew every kid in town by name. When they moved to official gun carrying policemen, no one would have noticed a change if there hadn’t been a to-do about it.

What I have seen in the last five to ten years is frightening, Woodstock police force has gone from a small-town force of local resident officers who grew up with us, or watched us come up, to a force of non-resident cops who don’t know any of us from a junkie on the bowery and they have tazers to go with the guns. And trust me, there is nothing creepier than watching a cop taze a young guy right in front of you, only to be told that if they look above the age of 14, they are wide open for a tazing.

There are (last I checked) only five remaining local officers on active duty out of nineteen, including the Chief who is rarely spotted out and about. And we have an epidemic spreading in our community.

What are they doing about it? And where do they begin. They have no idea who we are and how we roll…

Who are the other fourteen cops?!?!? I have no idea. In a small town like this one… no bueno.

Time for change. Our kids don’t stay young forever.

The weight of funeral costs, lost wages, is nothing compared to the toll of losing a son, brother, nephew, cousin, uncle, grandson…

No mother should outlive her child

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Think Every Drop-We’re all In the Same Boat

Think Every Drop

We are all in the same boat

our ripples effect

Photo: Judy Glasel

In September I became aware of a major bottling company having made a proposal to tap 1,700,000 gallons of water per day from a lake in Woodstock that I cherish. This lake feeds the City of Kingston’s water supply who then sells some of it to the Town of Ulster because they’re water is too hard and needs 700,000 gallons per day to mix with their own. Now the Town of Ulster plans to broker the deal. And I am not sure they are considering their neighbors in their effort to fill an empty business complex. Meanwhile, the DEC has washed their hands of us, County Executives have remained silent through this process and the the Governor of NY is pushing this project silently via Start-Up NY which has offered ten years of tax exemptions to Niagara. And I do believe that The Town Of Ulster has their eye on the Plastic Manufacturing plant, with or without our water.

They cannot have our water, and they cannot have our Air Quality, and this is bigger than we think…At first I was scared and angry, and I still am, but joining together with concerned citizens and the few politicians who still hold integrity, I am less afraid and more determined to see the best possible result.

For most of my adult life I have steered clear of social activism, and for good reason.

I am well aware that my energy is very intense, my sense of directness can disarm people, and I am not always a think-before-doing kind of person.


Because of that and because of my propensity to poke the hornets nest, I usually just pray from the sidelines–holding the vision of the greater intent and supporting those in the front lines.
But this time I’m doing quite the opposite––taking the challenge of joining this team and working daily for the preservation of my community.
I live in a “not in my back yard” Community.
Many people turn out when any large construction or possibly environmentally damaging project comes to the table.
Once in a while for me, it feels completely necessary to jump in and say no. This is one of those times.
What I’m learning most about this process is that civic engagement comes in many forms and colors.
There’s so many different ways to become involved–educating your community, holding politicians accountable and spreading the word.
There is a large movement of concerned community involvement, and we are so blessed for the work of Kingston Citizens, Woodstock Land Conservancy, Esopus Creek ConservancyThe Woodstock citizens group; Save Cooper Lake, Riverkeeper, Transition Woodstock, The Alderman of Kingston, The Woodstock Town Board and and all of the other people who seem to be joining the effort.
In the last two months I have learned more about policy then I ever cared too before, and I’m glad. But even more so, I am learning about myself.
This experience has been very telling about my own personality and relational tendencies––and why I so often choose to stay off the front lines of civic activity.
If I don’t hold myself in check, it becomes a fight and suddenly I look at myself roped in to the battle.
I make rash decisions and misjudgments, I become counterproductive and my energy is best spent elsewhere. And the honest truth is that there’s no formula––and I certainly don’t have even half of the answers. And fear and anger only cloud the way to solution.
So it appears that once again, as usual,  I have to Keep myself in check.
My ego, my intensity, my fear and judgment are all part of the “fight” and my work is, to keep my focus on the scrutiny of the situation at hand and recognize that each of us has a drop to add to the bucket, and there is a ripple effect.
As we all need to be thinking every drop proverbially and literally.
When I think every drop of energy that I put into the bucket while the bucket either spills over the top, or leaks from the bottom, I come to a really strong sense that every drop matters… And our ripples effect.
So in this effort I have decided that one of my gifts is to point to all of the efforts that are going into this particular issue––which is that our water is at stake and it’s not just in my tiny little town or my region or my state or even my country––this is an issue that is global and we all need to come together and add our drops to the bucket…
Whether they be prayers or physical presence or letters to Lawmakers or songs or water filters–– there’s always something you can give and there’s always something to be checked and there’s always something to be balanced.
Right now, the balance that I’m working with personally, is recognizing that if I look at this as a fight then I will be fighting for the rest of my life.
This does’t have to be a fight, it can be a unifier.
I want to see the results that I, and those working together for a sustainable future can bring.
I am so overwhelmed with emotion that sometimes I am not sure where to direct my intense ball of energy.
I can sometimes (more often than I would like) move with rashness… Combined with my brashness, this can be a detriment to myself and the vision at hand.


I am learning that I cannot be so selfish as to protect myself from what comes up for me when I join the effort, but instead continue to stay involved, and to check and balance my efforts, and hold a vision.
It is my honest and true belief that together we can stop this WHOLE project, and we can only do it together, with clear vision.
What if we considered joining the efforts to grow our region with economic responsibility, and offered assistance toward that end? Many are already working on that…
WE are the checks and balance that these officials need, and many of them would like to discredit ourselves and our actions.
I recognize my own need to check and balance myself in this effort, and stand together with my people to protect our resources.
Because there have been systems put in place to that end, it is time for us as citizens to check and balance the energy and actions of the politicians who make decisions for our lives and crucial ways
As long as citizens sit back, the politicians step up––and not to the plate–– but to push for what they believe feeds their interests.
We are all in the same boat, it’s all hands on deck,
and when we think every drop that we add or subtract…

our ripples have the potential to save what drops remain.

For more information about Woodstock’s, Kingston’s, Ulster’s & the Hudson Valley Region’s efforts on this Niagara Proposal please check out the following links: 

Me and my Hetty McGee

When I was in my early twenties, I had the great fortune of coming to know and Love Hetty (McGee) Maclise.


Hetty By Ira Cohen

We met soon after she moved to Woodstock, from Nepal via London.Our closeness was spent in the years between 1993 and when she returned to London, due to visa complications–– “That One seed in Ok-ahoma in 1968.”

After briefly meeting Hetty and her son Ossian, I had a dream about them. At the end of the dream, she had some sort of swirling emergency and they had to leave. I was left standing in their apartment in New York City, with all of her belongings.

Hetty was a wild woman who danced with ribbons and lace, across the bridge from the Beat Era into the Psychedelic swirl of the 60’s, up into the Himalayas and back to “civilization” in time to catch the new Millennium from her comfy Victorian seat.

She was a multi-instrumentalist and vaudevillian style traveling circus troupe member, a poet and artist. She worked as an illustrator for Haight-Ashbury bible The San Francisco Oracle, while living with the Grateful Dead in the famous castle.  Timothy Leary married she and Angus Maclise in Golden Gate park.

The stories she shared with such fervor and excitement were flavorfully colored with her zest for all things wild and wondrous.
She was easy to love and sometimes overwhelming to live with, and I did both, thankfully.

On the afternoon Hetty left Woodstock for the airport to London, we had one last cup tea together.

Her tea was so distinct, sometimes I make a cup just how she did to feel a bit of her… She brewed English tea in an old porcelain pot and delivered it to her guests on an antique tray. Beside the pot were two bowls, one with sugar and one with powdered milk. It cost a lot on a pension to buy milk, so a little spoon of white flakes did the trick.

We drank our tea with melancholy reverence, shared a few tales of our times together and then her friend came to drive her away.

I knew I would never see her again.

She had rented her apartment to a dharma practitioner who, turned out––coincidentally, she had met in Paris in the 60’s wearing only a fur coat. The woman would not arrive for a week.

She told me to go back to the apartment and take whatever I wanted. She had given me an old chest, which I now keep my filled diaries inside.

I went back upstairs to the second floor over the Woodstock town green, and stood in her apartment––full of her things and missing the heart that had collected it all.

She had taken her teapot, and the piano scarf that she laid over her table where she did her phone readings for the Psychic Network the past year and a half. The spot where her shrine had lived was empty.

Her bed tidily made, in her one room apartment, I felt like I was in a surreal dream… Or perhaps it was a Deja vu, or the result of a prophetic dream I had dreamed years prior.

But there I was, standing in her apartment with much of her belongings… She in a car, with that train fever she told of, hours ahead of schedule on the way to the airport.

There was nothing more to take… She had given me so much to hold in my memory.. In my heart… And the one chest was quite enough.

I went to the bathroom, to pee… one last time and noticed one more thing,  the note above the toilet paper roll.

The one thing that would always remind me of the wisdom she shared amongst all of those tales of adventure and lure…

I peeled the little reminder I had taken in every morning when I lived with her in that one room apartment…. and put it inside the little chest.

Don’t be the shit servant of mental projections.

A piece inspired by this love…

Namtok- by Christina Varga

Hetty’s Blog

Ira Cohen on those times

Some of Angus & Hetty’s Music



The Hudson Vally is being spotlighted again, as a resource of creativity, environmental beauty and sold as a getaway. And the Chambers Of Commerce sure are selling their towns… While a city like Kingston, NY strugglings to be part of the hype, they are shooting themselves in the foot by even considering to allow Niagara Bottling Corp to tap one of our most prized resources. Cooper Lake.Rachel's Cooper LakeOur Glorious Cooper Lake.  Continue reading

Connections | Rest In Power

This day, September Eleventh, is one that many take to remember sadness and loss and death and destruction. But there were also, some pretty creative people born on this day too… Mickey Hart, Victor Wooten, Harry Connick Jr, Moby, Kristy McNichol, Lola Falana, Tommy Shaw, Brian DePalma… It is also the day we lost Peter Tosh…

Rest In Power. Image from the Peter Tosh Facebook Page

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