July 05, 2006

What's On Your Mind?

James Davis, Occupation: Producer & Performer, Southold Resident: 8yrs.

The biggest problem is what appears to be this unspoken flow of traffic and real estate expansion in the area. While everyone seems to love being on the North Fork, the consequences of that is a migration and housing problem that does not equitably co-exist with the reason why people come here.

For example, I would have never dreamed we'd be arguing about a CVS in Southold or see Greenport sue Southold to annex land for a ridiculous housing complex. But commerce can bring greed and those are the things we have to deal with out here, and I think people have been caught off guard by it.

Now Suffolk County is dealing with the challenge of traffic problems on the North Fork because of the number of traffic accidents. I think since I moved back here accidents have increased 200 to 300%. With the increase of tourism and housing complexes, you wonder with all that's going on how long these parts of Southold that I grew up with and love will last.

With all that's going on I still have everyday life and issues, and since I work in family entertainment and programs, I've seen some of the dynamics of the good things that are out here and what some of the missing links are.

For instance, I've created a program that has gained in popularity from families and kids at the Maritime Festival in Greenport and now the development of summer camps. There's been a lot of community and business support through schools to make these things happen . . . Southold School, Vail Leavitt Music Hall and EEAC. They have filled a need by being there for the creation of these types of programs that work. As has my working in the city with homeless kids and in talking to the program directors on how to bring part of this creative education program for the less advantaged kids here on the North Fork.

The only way to maintain these programs and to continue into the long term is by seeking corporate sponsors and benefactors. Many people have expressed their appreciation as it has filled a void for hundreds of young people. And it has given countless numbers of kids who have performed in the show or attended it something to do.

Only three years ago, I was operating the Front Street Playhouse in Greenport, and I can't tell you how many kids would come up during the night just looking for something to do. Education and entertainment mixed together is the combination on how to teach people how to get things done. If the kids aren't playing football or soccer there's a missing link that's filled by creative education.

When we do these shows the learning is fun, but then it's also fun for them to show people what they've learned. That's why I've had kids begin with me at age 14 and are still involved at 22. This young man learned how to use puppets and timing. These were hidden talents within himself he has discovered and now uses, and without this type of program available for the local kids, no telling where he or others would have ended up.

It's a proactive thing — people can't do it for you. And they need to learn no one's going to hand you your dream. You have to work for it. The kids learn that if they can eat, if they work hard they can eat and make money and if they work even harder I'll help them with their own ideas and dreams. Just as the community did for me as a kid when I used to knock from door to door asking for money. The North Fork has that kind of spirit of generosity and community, where things wouldn't normally happen for the kids or grownups like myself. But here . . . it does.

If you live or work in the North Fork area and want to give us a piece of your mind about something, let The Independent Traveler Watchman know by contacting Rick at 324-2500 or E-mail news@indyeastend.com and we'll pass it along to R.B. Stuart

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