I’ve lived in the Tankerhoosen Valley for 47 years, yet never once did the thought occur to me that I lived in the ‘Tankerhoosen Valley.’ I’ve hiked and explored much of the Valley over the years and very much enjoyed living so close to her woods, fields, ponds and streams; yet I’ve never considered the Valley as a whole.
Then last winter I was drawn into the TicketNetwork concert opposition as I live only a quarter mile from where the sound stage was planned. The materials gathered and presented began to open my eyes to the uniqueness of the Valley and I met neighbors and environmentalists who were passionate about the river valley.
At the hearings person after person spoke about what the Valley meant to them, how special it is and how in many cases it was the reason they chose to live here. A common threat unites people and what might be called a ‘flash community’ quickly came together, organized, raised money and presented a coherent argument for denying the concert application.
One of the resources I became aware of was the in-depth studies made of the Tankerhoosen Valley by the Friends of the Hockunum River and their consultant Fuss & O’Neill. Why didn’t I know about them and have the opportunity to read them to learn about the area I live in? And if I wasn’t aware of all the information then likely few others were either. This is information that needs to be available to a larger audience!
I borrowed everything I could from Ann Letendre, who for thirty years has been studying and defending Vernon’s waterways, writing grants, working with the state and town, and organizing committees and groups. She is an extraordinary resource to the town and anyone working to protect the wetlands.
Through the spring and early summer I explored areas of the Valley not previously visited and looked at it through new eyes, as a wholistic living entity whose bones are the rocks and blood is the water, and is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, including we humans.
I’ve always had eclectic interests; love history and have delved into geology, geography, myth and statistics. I began to also look at those aspects of the Tankerhoosen Valley and got an appreciation of how rich the Valley is in its history and the unique geology of the area and how it formed. I also became more aware of the threats to the watershed and the challenges involved in protecting it. There was so much information that people needed to know and would find interesting also.
At this point a little of my background is relevant. I was an engineer at Pratt & Whitney for 32 years, published a statewide magazine on holistic living for 18 years, worked with small organizations for 25 years and have been doing websites for 12 years. My forte is gathering, organizing and communicating information. I also have a strong interest in creating and nurturing community.
So it was a small step from the desire to share information on the Tankerhoosen Valley to the decision to create the website and newsletter; I’ve done it before. Finding the time is another issue, but it will work out.
At one of Vernon’s POCD public forums last January it was mentioned by a number of people that outsiders don’t have a clear idea of Vernon, they lack an easy to remember image of the town and that affects people’s desire to move their families or their businesses here. Rockville, its mills, buildings and history presents one image of the town, but that doesn’t necessarily attract people. Drawing attention to the Tankerhoosen Valley as the unique resource it is, and all it offers will, hopefully, create a positive image in people’s minds of a town that they want to visit, explore and live and work in. My hope is that drawing attention to the Tankerhoosen Valley can be of economic benefit to the town through higher property values and making it more attractive to businesses for their employees.
Finally, I have found there are many small organizations that relate in some way to the Tankerhoosen Valley. Another goal is that the new website will bring attention to these volunteer groups, give them another way to share the information they have gathered, while encouraging them to make more of it available to the Internet public, network the organizations to work more closely together organizing more events in and about the Valley with a new resource for sharing and spreading information.
And, of course, as we build a new community within a community, we strengthen our voices and influence to protect what we love.