Sunday, July 31, 2011

NOTES FROM THE RECENT GOLDEN GLOW OF CHRISTMAS CONVENTION IN RYE

As many of you know, the Golden Glow of Christmas held their recent annual convention, this time on the East Coast--in Rye, New York. Not all of us could go, but we did have a correspondent there. Here's some of the highlights, courtesy of Barbara H: 

--Martha Stewart’s “senior collections editor” was there--which gave those planning to take part in the "All Things Christmas" auction no small measure of pause.
--The first activity Barbara attended was the sales event, where Golden Glow members bring items to sell to other members. It was a fantastic array of vintage Christmas items… everything you could think of, including putz houses! A family member purchased a wonderful, HUGE putz church with an embossed glossy roof topped off with cotton 

--Next up was the “Under the Tree” contest, where Golden Glow members decorated to the theme of Under the Christmas Tree, and then other members voted for their favorite. The standout display, in Barbara's opinion, was an absolutely incredible putz display which took up almost an entire wall. The owner had the most amazing collection of houses she had ever seen… including many "House of the Month" examples from Papated's site. (Flat Iron Building, “Big Blue” clock house, “Martha Stewart house”, incredible full coconuts and loggies, all of them in absolutely pristine condition). She did take some photos but claims they didn't do the display justice. We look forward to seeing them anyway!

--The big news from the display was that Barbara saw at least a ½ dozen houses that she has never seen on Ted’s site, or anywhere else. It made her realize that the variety of houses out there is vast, and no doubt about it--there are plenty of undiscovered HOM contenders just waiting to be found! She did get an opportunity to talk to the owner of the display, who has been collecting for about 20 years and said that he acquired most of his houses in Pennsylvania. Exactly where in Pennsylvania I don’t know. 

--Next stop: the “Museum Rooms”, where Golden Glow members display the best of their collections of antique Christmas. This was a really spectacular display, and an incredible opportunity to see and study vintage ornaments, figures, Belsnickles, tree lights, feather trees, a Noah’s ark from the 1800’s, you name it. There was a very cool display of German “vertical” putz displays, for lack of a better term. It was a cardboard display that had two tiers, and “1/2” facades of houses displayed along the tiers, with twigs inserted into the cardboard for trees, glitters and such. There was a space in the back for the display to be illuminated by a candle, (which may explain why Barbara had never saw one of these before – they’ve probably all gone up in flames!) 

---Another great activity that she attended was a lecture by The Spaeth Group. They decorate the Christmas windows at Saks, Lord & Taylor, etc. in New York City. They gave a great talk about the process of doing the window from schematics to constructing a mockup in their warehouse to installing the final product, complete with a slide show and video of completed windows. Barbara got lots of ideas for her hardware store display…and will be on the look out for some animatronics!!!

--Last event: the auction, where Golden Glow members auctioned off items from their collections. There were some great items to be had… and some great prices realized!!! For instance, ONE “Matchless Star” Christmas bulb sold for more than $300 … various Belsnickels went for nearly $1,000 …. And a four foot high feather tree for over $900. Barbara won a lot of what was listed as “Japanese houses” but in fact contained two wonderful candy containers among the “houses”… for not much money!
--The next five years of golden Glow Conventions will be nowhere near our neck of the woods. But Barbara says it was a really worthwhile event, and strongly encourages you to go if a future convention is held near you. Photos soon.

SPECIAL VISITORS AT HOLY NAME OF MARY: THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

PHOTO ALL RIGHTS RESERVED M.D. CUDEQUEST

Welcome to EverythingCroton, a collection of all things Croton--our history, our homes, our issues, our businesses, our schools--in short, EVERYTHING CROTON.

A note from Maria:

It was my great pleasure to be asked to photograph special visitors to Holy Name of Mary this weekend: The Little Sisters of The Poor, whose mission is to care for the aged poor. Click on the photo.

You can find out more about them, and make a donation in case you missed them collecting after masses, at the link here: http://www.littlesistersofthepoor.org/

Friday, July 29, 2011

SUSAN KONIG'S "THE TRUTH ABOUT AFFORDABLE HOUSING" NOW AVAILABLE IN FULL TEXT HERE

The following appeared in The Examiner News. We now have permission to post it in its entirety here as well.

The Truth About Affordable Housing By Susan Konig
What is the most racially diverse county in New York outside of the city? According to the 2010 US Census, it’s Westchester. Only Queens, Brooklyn, and The Bronx are more diverse. 
Despite this fact, an “anti-discrimination” lawsuit was settled by the former county executive and the current county legislative supermajority, foisting new “affordable housing” on our local communities by the federal government. Decisions on where to build are not based on what local communities need, or on how to help the disadvantaged. Housing units are being rammed through because federal tax dollars are available for them, and politicians fear that if they don’t spend the cash fast, it’ll dry up.
The discrimination lawsuit was described by elected officials as “garbage,” “Swiss cheese,” and making “lemons into lemonade.” Then they cut a deal.
New housing developments are being shoe-horned into communities where there is not a demonstrated need and where there are no resources in place to accommodate residents. Each new unit cost taxpayers about $330,000, while existing homes and apartments languish on the market, affordable in price but not in financing. These days, no one outside the affordable housing system can get a mortgage. 
And the idea of home rule with local input has been thrown out the window. It’s a mad dash for taxpayer’s cash, with little thought, planning, or reason.
Two years ago, a zoning law change was proposed in my small village of Croton-on-Hudson, opening the door to density housing. What would this mean for our school district (already at capacity) if the 90 proposed apartments were filled? One trustee said this wouldn’t be a problem because “we can control who lives there.” Apparently, it is not discriminatory for a village board to decide to rent only to the childless?
The board was asked where these new apartment dwellers would park their cars. (There’s very limited public parking in Croton.) The board explained that people who lived in the apartments would take their cars to work (assuming they would all work somewhere else and would be needing their cars wherever they worked) so that local residents who were shopping in the village would have a place to park. Then, at night, the local shoppers would finish their shopping and drive home, and the apartment dwelling city workers would come home and take the shoppers’ parking space (assumedly none of these apartment dwellers would be walking to the train station – a two-minute walk from the proposed density housing – to take the train). Simple, right? 
I serve on the county planning board. I constantly see housing proposals that don’t take into account the facts on the ground -- like a plan for affordable town homes in North Castle. North Castle is one of the most rural areas in Westchester (properties are zoned for 2 to 4 acres). The main source of employment is horse farms.
The county’s plan calls for marketing affordable housing well beyond Westchester – in other words, attracting lower income residents from outside the county to move here and into the new housing. But where are these new residents of rural North Castle going to work -- as blacksmiths and stable hands?
That sounds futile…and feudal.
I have heard housing officials explain that when shopping around for properties to be used for affordable housing, the county looks for foreclosures. What about these property owners who have been ravaged by our economic recession? Why doesn’t someone help them prevent foreclosure and personal bankruptcy? 
What about a low income family losing their Westchester County home because an adjustable rate mortgage went up and drove them out of their house? Why not help hard-working taxpayers keep their homes by reining in county spending and giving everyone a break on property taxes? 
Developers are feeding off this settlement. At an affordable housing seminar I attended, a developer explained the new reality: “If you find an affordable housing project in Westchester County right now, it’s going to get funded.” People can’t get regular mortgages or refinancing. Only affordable housing is getting funded.
He also warned: “If you want affordable housing, don’t let the NIMBYs run amok. Garner some support. Community housing resource boards will bring out people in support.” The concerns and questions of the people who live in the community are not valued – they are viewed as an obstacle to be shouted down.
County Executive Astorino has called the settlement and its implementation by the federal government “over-reaching,” but the current veto-proof board of legislators has done nothing to stand up for Westchester residents who are footing the bill for this development deal.
Westchester is made up of hard-working families of all sizes, shapes, and income levels. In these hard times, our neighbors need help from their representatives to keep the housing they actually live in affordable. That should be our first priority, not poorly planned payouts of taxpayer dollars to the “Affording Housing” big developers.