12.01.2005

York Staters Mission Statement

Ideally, we would have written this mission statement earlier and posted it upon the inception of this site, but alas, things don’t always go according to plan. So if you’ve been reading this and have been prompted to question the purpose and intent of this website, this is the post in which all shall be revealed. This will soon be moved to a permenant link on the sidebar.

Mission Statement
A good place to begin outlining the intent and purpose of this weblog is by explaining its name. What is a York Stater? If you are reading this, it might very well be you.
The title of this project was derived from a book Natalie perused this summer, Low Bridge! Folklore and the Erie Canal by Lionel D. Wyld.* He explains that in the mid-nineteenth century, “New York State” was not a major part of the lexicon: “York State” was the preferred nomenclature. In a vast state that has always been dominated in the national consciousness by a few measly islands, New York has long been synonymous with New York City. Everything else is, sometime contemptuously, referred to as “Upstate.” And geographically speaking, that’s where we in the rest of the state exist.

And so we are termed “Upstate New Yorkers.” But personally, communally, regionally, are we merely a footnote to the story of New York State? Second class citizens residing in some hayseed cultural backwater that is merely a place for second homes, colleges, and prisons? For people who now or at one time have made their homes Upstate, the answer is no. Upstate New York has its own rich history, culture, and communities worth considering, worth investigating, and maybe even worth celebrating. The term “York Staters” reflects these facts and contributes to something that in this age of rapidly homogenizing culture can too often be lost: a regional identity. One made up of smaller local identities, to be sure: the York Staters from Buffalo to inside the Blue Line have as many differences as they do similarities. And York Staters is a place to share them.

The idea of York Staters is that the site will function as a forum and a sounding board for musings on life in upstate New York. The goal is to foster the regional and upstate identity you might not even know you have. The site is a recognition that the regions and communities in which we live or have lived profoundly shape our experiences. It is a gathering place for sharing those experiences.

When reflecting on life in Upstate New York, it is impossible not to address the prevalent decay and decline: population declines, wealth decline, disappearance of jobs, and the oft-referenced “brain drain." York Staters strives to be a forum for the creation and revitalization of an upstate identity, but to what end? It is our goal not only to construct an upstate identity and share knowledge and ideas about our collective past and future, but also to direct that consciousness down the path of meaningful change. Together we can re-examine the status quo and seek out alternatives in the political, economic, social and spiritual facets of our upstate lives. To get perhaps overly idealistic for a moment, this contemplation and knowledge can only make the Upstate experience better.

The key to this venture is you. Everything from analysis of current events to artwork, from history to music, fiction and poetry is welcome. Anyone is welcome to submit anything they wish, and all will be posted promptly. The only requirement is that the submissions be related in someway to Upstate New York. You can take credit for your work, or post anonymously. If you’d like to become a member of the site so you can post frequently, just email and you’ll be put on the list. Our email address is york.staters@gmail.com.

Every person has a unique story to tell or perspective to take. Submit a description about your neighborhood. A picture you took and would like to share. A story you wrote. A topic you’d like to explore with other readers/writers. And of course, feel free to email us with feedback. Thanks for visiting.

* Wyld, Lionel D, Low Bridge! Folklore and the Erie Canal, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, NY, 1962. This book also contains the longest and most complete version of the Erie Canal song in existence. Worth checking out if you can’t get enough of an old mule named Sal.

Posted by Natalie and Jesse

1 comment:

joesulli said...

the Erie Canal Song is really crappy.