September 14, 2011

Woodstock conservatism

From the New York Times:
In Woodstock, Values Collide over Housing 
... a protracted battle over a 53-unit affordable housing project is dividing this still-crunchy town where mellow ’60s vibes and liberal politics coexist uneasily with real estate prices increasingly out of the reach of the humbler classes. 
When workers finally began clearing land for the Woodstock Commons project in July, it looked as if the uncomfortable dispute might finally be ending. Instead, new issues kept popping up: the plight of black bears and endangered Indiana bats threatened by the construction; a botched permitting process; uncertainty about water service. 
In some ways what is playing out in this Ulster County town is a more colorful microcosm of affordable housing controversies elsewhere. Still, the collision of environmental, neighborhood and social justice issues is making people squirm in a place where the only thing more important than making the world better can be keeping Woodstock the same. 
“Nobody would tell you they don’t want these people in our town,” said Jeff Moran, the town supervisor, who has been a conflicted supporter of the rental project. “Instead, they talk about the effect on the quality of life, ramping up the costs of services and those kind of things. But there’s a joke in town that the reason The Woodstock Times costs a dollar is because people don’t want change. People come here and they think they have an investment in the town being a certain way.” 
Opponents, particularly in neighborhoods near the project site, said the issue was not Nimbyism or opposition to public housing but practical objections based on Woodstock’s small size (population about 6,000), charmingly Brigadoonish downtown and creaky infrastructure. Among their complaints: the project is too big, it is at a dangerous bend for traffic and the site should remain green space. They have picked apart particulars, like the nonprofit developer’s claim that residents would be within walking distance of a nearby “grocery store” that is actually a high-priced health food store. 
“It’s politically incorrect to oppose an affordable project, so you can’t even look at it,” said Robin Segal, who has a doctorate in energy policy and who moved to town two years ago in search of a garden and peace and quiet. She has since been consumed with writing a detailed blog about the project that has found errors and problems the planning process missed. “But,” she continued, “it’s the wrong project in the wrong place.” 
Woodstock’s lack of affordable housing has long been a public concern, though a low-level one, in a place where almost any building project — whether a cellphone tower, the expansion of a Buddhist monastery or solar panels at an animal sanctuary — can set off a nasty dispute. 
“This is a town where if someone is sick or someone’s house burns down, people will come out of the woodwork to be generous and to help,” said Susan Goldman, a longtime community volunteer. “But we don’t see people who have a need for housing as part of that community. It’s a town full of social progressives, but we don’t look at our own community the way we look at the rest of the country.”

As a man of conservative disposition, I sympathize with Woodstock's many conservatives, even if they claim to be progressives. 

I don't particularly believe that the 1960s were about "values" or whatever. I think it was more a struggle for dominance and the talk about principles was more a smokescreen. Much of contemporary politics, therefore, consists of the the winners of the 1960s trying to preserve their gains. 

That's only natural.

From Wikipedia:
The racial makeup of the town was 94.25% White, 1.30% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 1.57% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.79% from other races, and 1.87% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.56% of the population.

That's less diverse than the lineup at Woodstock in 1969, which featured Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, Ritchie Havens, Santana, Joan Baez, Grateful Dead, Ravi Shankar, and two albinos.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

We should stop bringing in people to compete for housing in Woodstock.

Anonymous said...

Upstate New York is such an economic graveyard that these filthy hippies should be able to find plenty of groovy places if they are actually willing to move to somewhere no ones heard of rather than someplace known for a music (now rape) festival.

Anonymous said...

If affordable housing was for poor whites, Asians, or even Hispanics, it might not be such a problem.

But it often means Affirmative or Afro-motive housing, and that is dangerous.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Crown of Creation
One More Brick In The Wall

Yeah, I think you are right that it was about cultural dominance more than values.

Still is.

Finnegan said...

" Much of contemporary politics, therefore, consists of the the winners of the 1960s trying to preserve their gains."

That's the type of brilliant comment that earns you one new reader.

Finnegan said...

"Much of contemporary politics, therefore, consists of the the winners of the 1960s trying to preserve their gains."

That's the kind of brilliant comment that just earned you one new reader.

Shouting Thomas said...

Thanks for the plug for my hometown, Steve.

We're progressive for other people. Other people should integrate their redneck towns. Other people should live in a vibrant, diverse community. Other towns should host rock festivals with our town's name.

I gotta tell you... there's another side to this story. Woodstock could have been a little Nashville East, but the commies didn't want it. They refused to allow the music biz to be about profit.

And, the town is furiously anti-business.

When the IBM plant in Kingston closed down a couple of decades ago, the loons at the Woodstock Times held a party to celebrate. They hate any business that is run for a profit.

So, there are no jobs. Which is why housing is... not affordable.

Anonymous said...

I think Lewis Namier already made a career out of the observation that values are overrated in politics.

Anonymous said...

"Affordable housing" is codeword for blacks.

Anonymous said...

I guess it was Dylan and The Band that put Woodstock on the map (even before the famous festival), but let's see where Dylan, a guy who could live anywhere in the world he wanted to, chose to live: One of the whitest, most exclusive communities in the country: Malibu.

Kylie said...

"As a man of conservative disposition, I sympathize with Woodstock's many conservatives, even if they claim to be progressives."

As a woman of reactionary disposition, I not only don't sympathize with Woodstock's many faux progressives, I feel contempt toward them for their hypocrisy generally and Schadenfreude for their specific current predicament. I hope they experience to the fullest the joys of diversity.

In short: HA! HA! HA!

Anonymous said...

If the importaion of hordes of Somalis is "good" for Minnesota, then it should be "good" for Woodstock, New York.
In fact, if Mexicans,
African-Americans,
Muslims-in-veils,
Haitians,
and the Hmong are good for Red State America, then its got to be good for Woodstock right?

Dick Durbin, Elliot Abrams, Robert Dornin, and Michael Medved all say so. Irving Steltzer brags about how many immigrants the USA "attracts" in print at the American Spectator. Its got to be good for white liberals and neolibs/neocons (same thing) to dwell along side these people right?


Diversity for thee, but not for me.............good and hard.

Nanonymous said...

"People come here and they think they have an investment in the town being a certain way."

How dare they? The diversity threat is existential and avoiding it is almost treasonous.

I also love how delicately he puts it: "the town being a certain way". Yes, certainly a very certain way. The name of the god should not be mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Nice of you to be so understanding of the Woodstock conservatives" considering they'd call you a 'racist fascist hate-monger' and would love nothing better than if 20 million Mexicans moved to California and turned it into part of Mexico.

Seriously. You can't really understand the F*** America attitude that many of these people have until you actually meet them.

Despite the country giving them everything, they still hate it. They don't even consider themselves Americans. They do live in the real world of course, and are willing to be "conservative" when its to their benefit.

I think Lenin was a "Zurich conservative" until he moved to St. Petersburg.

Jeff said...

A lot of the music from Woodstock sounds triumphant. It is the music of young people who knew that they were winners. They knew that they were socially superior to the soldiers in Vietnam, to Southerners, and to traditional Christians. Listen to Richie Havens' song “Freedom.” The freedom he was singing about was the freedom from the oppressive customs of traditional white Protestant America.

Only a dominant people can enjoy triumphant-sounding music. A few generations earlier, John Philip Sousa played triumphant-sounding music for a different ethnic group of Northeasterners.

In the 1932 elections, the Democrats of the Northeast, a coalition made up largely of Catholics and Jews, celebrated Roosevelt's victory over the Protestant Republicans. The Protestants made a comeback in the Truman and Eisenhower years. But by 1969, with TV, the movies, and the leading newspapers all under Jewish control, an ethnic coalition led by Jews was feeling successful and optimistic. They would later move from victory to victory: getting rid of Nixon, retreating from Vietnam, completely taking over the universities, and launching the feminist revolution.

But today the Northeast is an economic dead zone, limping along only because $1.3 trillion in annual deficit spending is being funneled into its hospitals, universities and banks. Its leadership groups do not produce many children. Their political leader, Obama, is in the dumpster. Obama's failure is not only a failure of one man. It's a failure of a whole ethnic/cultural coalition that once celebrated its youth and success on Max Yasgur's farm.

Will Southerners and Westerners be able to take over under the leadership of Rick Perry? That ethnic group has not ruled America since the Jackson era ended in 1861. Or will the Woodstock people retain power under a different leader such as Hillary Clinton?

America has had five leadership groups: the Virginia planter aristocracy (1789-1829) the Jacksonians (1829-1861), the Northeastern Republicans (1865-1933), the Roosevelt coalition which included Catholics, Jews and Southerners (1933-1968), and the Woodstock people and their parents (1968-2011). Historically there has been turmoil when leadership has shifted from one group to another.

Harry Baldwin said...

I recently read "Gang Leader for a Day," Sudhir Venkatesh's study of life in the Robert Taylor housing project in Chicago in that late 1980s--early 1990s. These projects were classic, high rise hell-holes with urine-soaked stairwells, broken elevators, drug-dealing gangs, and all the rest. At the end of the book, the project is torn down and the residents moved to scatter-site housing. What was interesting to me was that most of the residents did not like the change--they preferred the large-scale projects, where they could network with other residents for day-care, use of a car, shared cooking chores, etc. Plus the comfort of living among one's own, for better or worse.

This scatter-site housing is another example of SWPLs looking at the way black people live, being appalled by it, and deciding to change their situation in some way that the SWPLs imagine they would prefer. However, unsurprisingly,in doing so they generally cause more problems than they solve.

hbd chick said...

"People come here and they think they have an investment in the town being a certain way."

evil, evil people!

(at the same time, i feel quite a bit of schadenfreude on their behalf, too.)

Anonymous said...

We should stop bringing in people to compete for housing in Woodstock.

Actually I retract my earlier comment. We should search the slums of San Juan, Puerto Rico and Detroit, MI for some vibrant diversity. Then export it Woodstock and house it next to these Hippycrats. That'd be awesome.

As much as I personally love diversity, it pains me that Woodstock's residents are not getting to enjoy the immense pleasure of having it in their community. I hope our president acts quickly and implements my proposal.

Anonymous said...

This is a town where if someone is sick or someone’s house burns down, people will come out of the woodwork to be generous and to help,” said Susan Goldman, a longtime community volunteer. “But we don’t see people who have a need for housing as part of that community. It’s a town full of social progressives, but we don’t look at our own community the way we look at the rest of the country.”

Goldman? Hmmm.........

I hope the Goldmans get a chance to live near some Riveras and Washingtons in the near future.

I also hope that the Goldman Sachs get a chance to hire some Riveras and Washingtons in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Ulster County resident here. "Affordable housing" is not so much a codeword for minorities (at least up here) as it is a codeword for sketchy developers to build housing, get PILOT agreements, and pay little or no property taxes for years and years.

Dahinda said...

I find it strange that bears still live as close to New York as Woodstock is. I read a story recently that bears are starting to invade the suburbs in New Jersey. The Shawnee National Forest in Illinois is about as remote as you can get in the Midwest. No major cities for hundreds of miles and thick forest in the foothills of the Ozarks and there haven't been bears there for at least 150 years!

DCS said...

I think the word I and most of the commenters are seeking is : hypocrites.

Sheila said...

What percentage of Woodstock's 94% White populace is composed of more Segals and Goldmans? I second Anonymous' comment: "Diversity for thee, but not for me . . . good and hard."

Anonymous said...

Ameria TODAY is demographically (and in other ways too) so different from the 1960's. I wonder if those sixties hippies, now senior citizens, have any regrets? They helped to push for and support policies that created a very different world then the one they had. Would they have been better off with the old one? As always be careful what you wish for. And be even more careful what you protest for....

Maya said...

"These projects were classic, high rise hell-holes with urine-soaked stairwells, broken elevators, drug-dealing gangs, and all the rest."

It always amazed me when my social studies teachers cited these conditions as the reason for the poor performance of the inner city dwellers. That's exactly the type of a high rise in which I spent the first part of my childhood. That's how EVERYONE in the Eastern Block lived since the government chose locations of the apartments for any given family at random. Thieving alcoholics, doctors and engineers grew up next door to each other, and every building had, at least, several people who consistently urinated and bled in all communally used spaces.

Marc B said...

Since Woodstock is so affluent, I doubt most of these affordable housing residents will be coming in from the surrounding area. This sounds like a place to dump a bunch of undesirables from some borough around NYC to expedite a trendy neighborhood's transitional phase and improve it's desirability.

Also, if there is such a major lack of industry and jobs in the area, what vocational opportunities will there be for the new residents? Are the residents just expected to stay welfare moochers for as long as they live in Woodstock? Hippie schadenfreude aside, this sounds like a bad idea.

ATBOTL said...

What percentage of Woodstock's 94% White populace is composed of more Segals and Goldmans? I second Anonymous' comment: "Diversity for thee, but not for me . . . good and hard."

----------------------------

The NYT has an amazing ability to quote Jews no matter the subject or location of the story. You would think America is 80% Jewish from the "regular people" who show up in its articles.

Anonymous said...

I think the social crowd of the average New York Times journalist is 80 percent Jewish.

Anonymous said...

Liberal Jewish blogger Matthew Yglesias got beat up by some black flash mobbers in Washington DC. Good and hard indeed.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes diversity just jumps up and smacks you good and hard in the face.

James Kabala said...

I guess proof that the sixties are dead is that no one (except for an indirect comment by Shouting Thomas) has mentioned that the so-cslled Woodstock Music Festival actually took place in Bethel, New York. Bethel is still un-diverse, but slightly less so. (90% white, 5% black)

David said...

"People come here and they think they have an investment in the town being a certain way."

This is always looked at as a Huge Sin, when blacks and browns start pouring in.

Of course, it's laudable solidarity and resistance to imperialism when the sandal in on the other foot.

Anonymous said...

@Maya--

Indeed, you're right; I'm an American and before I went abroad, I thought that living in the former Soviet Union would "cure me of my racism," but the opposite happened: the хрущевки may physically resemble American "projects," and might have even had a few drunks and drug addicts, but they just ain't the same thing.

BTW, based on one of your earlier comments, I'm in love with you.