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Quite a February! Shifty political winds have upturned the ships of both Governor David Paterson—now no longer going for “re-” election thanks to apparent misuse of his captaincy—and Harold Ford Jr., who attempted to re-tack left for New York Senate voters much too quickly after a strong right-tack for Tennessee Senate voters, revealing the fundamental flaws in his unseaworthy vessel. Aren’t you loving the nautical metaphors? OK, I’m done here.

But it’s been the wacky weather that will make last month memorable. We got a big dose of super wet and heavy snow, taking out power and cable all around our area for days. As much of a drag as that was, it was also pretty cool. People tend to be more helpful and friendly in crummy weather around here; I guess it comes from everyone having a shared burden outside of their control that can actually be overcome, sometimes with a little help. Frost said “Good fences make good neighbors.” I say good snow shovels do.

What was also memorable to me about this February was how locals came out for charity last month; I counted at least five benefits in the area for the Haiti earthquake survivors, featuring some of the Valley’s best talent. One in particular that was outstanding was the Project For Haiti benefit at the Bearsville Theater, raising several thousand dollars from generous residents for a reputable NGO that can put the money into immediate action there. (Kudos to Ted Orr for coordinating the show.)

But this coming month sees a charity event unlike any other I’m aware of. Twelve hunger relief organizations—Queens Galley, Family of Woodstock, Caring Hands Soup Kitchen, Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, Ulster Corps, Angel Food East, Saint James Food Pantry, Rosendale Food Pantry, People’s Place, Chiz's Heart Street, God Given Bread Food Pantry and Libertyview Farm—are collaborating on what they are calling a “hunger event,” on Sunday March 28, at Backstage Productions in Kingston.

It goes like this. Upon arrival at the event, guests make their donation—$35, or $25 non-tax deductible minimum—and draw tickets at random that assign each guest to a high, middle, or low tier, based on the latest statistics concerning the amount of people living in poverty. The 15 (or so) percent who receive a high tier ticket are served a sumptuous meal by chef Samir Srichi of Ship to Shore, and the 35 percent on the middle tier will dine on an offering from the Kingston Consolidated school lunch menu. The 50 percent on the low tier get to help themselves to small portions of rice and water. The guest speaker will be Chef Sarah Copeland, spokesperson for the Food Network and Share Our Strength's fight against childhood hunger, and a co-founder of our Good Food Gardens initiative.

Based on the OXFAM “hunger events,” this bit of participatory theater creates a first-hand experience of the reality of world hunger, and illustrates how those who get to enjoy the high-tier a) are not as numerous, compared to world populations, as they think they are, and b) are high-tier ticket holders thanks only to the luck of the draw. Which in real life is often where and to whom you were born. The out-numbering middle- and low-tier ticket holders here, munching on bologna sandwiches and rice, should no doubt provide some lively counterpoint to the feasting.

If this sounds to you like a bad dinner plan, fear not: reservations will be available for the 85 percenters at Ship To Shore following the event, which goes from 5 to 7 PM. What really counts here is the donation to the aforementioned relief organizations, and the necessary experience—which is frankly easier to take than facing the very real hunger that’s out there in the world today.

So have a great—not hungry—March. And as always, be sure to make good use of our art, music, and theatre/cinema listings herein. See you out there!

Cheers, Ross Rice
Editor, Roll Magazine

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