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Dear Pine Plains 8.13.21


Dear Pine Plains,

Last weekend I got to meet Roger Payne, the biologist who discovered that whales sing. You read that right. He runs the Whale Institute in Lincoln, Massachusetts. He is the guy who recorded Songs of the Humpback Whale, which a generation of us listened to, I know. And Joni Mitchell sang with. We asked him about climate change and here is what he said: However this will end, it will be fast—fire, drought, famine or pandemic. Is there any hope? we all then asked. “Oh, I’m hopeful—if just one billionaire would use all of his or her resources to save our species, that would save the world. Literally, one person could change the world right now.” Otherwise, he continues, it could also take 10,000 regular people devoting their lives to saving all species, starting now. Because, he finished, diversity is the only thing that can save us.

More opinions are welcome on the subject of the Marijuana Laws, which I brought up a few weeks ago. Monday we will be meeting to discuss this at our monthly Town Board Workshop: whether the town should allow a by-law high-security dispensary business to open here, and whether or not we ought to allow a “lounge” type business to open here. There are documents about this on our website, and your careful thoughts on this would be appreciated if you haven’t sent them in yet. The State would be taxing sales at around 13% with 4% going to the town. A lounge would be ruled the way bars are, and smoking is an issue we would need to deal with in a law. No children allowed, obviously. Lots to work out and consider. Please write to

Last weekend we also celebrated the success of our town Girls 10U rec softball team—the Pine Plains All-Stars—at The Stissing Center. It began with a parade from the Bank to the Center, fielded by Officer Steven Camburn who stopped traffic for them. This is the first time we have ever sent a town rec team to State Finals, and their teamwork presided over by a team of dedicated coaches made all the difference in the outcome. I loved their “haha” routine meant to scare the competition. That competition is a part of their team too—as is the whole Town of Pine Plains who stopped the traffic, and made the arrangements and drove the cars and set up the party and contributed the money to send them to the finals. The diverse world Roger Payne would like to save is a part of our team too. Or should I say, we are all members of its team.

On Wednesday, our Seniors Group met over lunch and a presentation by Stan Hirson of some of his many films over the years about Pine Plains. If you have never seen any of this footage, you must go to the website and peruse it. Your relatives might be there. Stan has documented the last 30 years of life in Pine Plains and the stories are pretty darn incredible. We are so lucky to have this archive at our fingertips.

And yesterday we celebrated the retirement of Judy Harpp, our Town Clerk (and other duties) for 33 years. Many of you were married by Judy. I know because you stop in occasionally to say hello. She has filled out the marriage certificates and death certificates for generations of people here in Pine Plains, as keeper of the records of our lives. She will still be around coaching her team of one, the new town clerk, until December. Please stop in and wish her well.

And tonight there is a piano concert at The Stissing Center. I am ushering! Come sit in the air conditioning and hear beautiful music at 5:30pm

The best thing about the new Census findings is how it confirmed diversity here in the U.S. amongst the human species. The best observation I have made about us people is how diverse folks keep falling in love with each other.

Stay different, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

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Pine Plains Views in Video

A Video Portrait of a Small Town in Rural America

Pine Plains Views

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Photographs by Stan Hirson


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I came to Pine Plains by choice, not by chance of birth.

But the small-town rural community I chose is changing. The farmers have, for the most part, sold to people from the city and fields are becoming lawns.

And, like the land, people, too, are becoming subdivided as difference breeds distance rather than discourse.

I have been making these videos to preserve and reconstitute what I can of a changing way of life and to share it with the community.

On a more personal level, I am making this website as a way of holding on to the reasons why I came here.

Stan Hirson

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