Sunday, October 21, 2012

Art at the Furgary

In the past, painters and photographers encountered perceived suspicion and hostility when trying to capture the rustic uniqueness of the Furgary cabins. Yesterday, however, with all the cabins now vacant, members of the Columbia County Council on the Arts and BeLo3rd flocked to the Furgary for an en plein air opportunity, carried out under the watchful eye of mayor's aide Gene Shetsky. The products of yesterday's event will be exhibited at CCCA in December.

The photograph reproduced here was taken by Lynn Davis, long before the Furgarians were evicted from the camp.    


  1. It's pretty easy to deduce from the post that photographer Lynn Davis encountered perceived suspicion and hostility while shooting photographs.

    It's not impossible that I was painting at Furgary on the same day the photo was taken. I remember painting at Furgary on a warm April day just like it.

    The first time I set up my easel at Furgary it was a very hot day. Someone I couldn't see called out from inside a cabin: "It looks like you need a beer!" In fact I did need a beer, and one was immediately brought out to me.

    On the same day I met several people whom I still call friends. I heard dozens of different stories, but all related to the river and to local history at the river. I talked with several children about fishing.

    It's not impossible that someone - a photographer - might have had a different experience, and I'm very sorry if Ms. Davis did. But I'd be remiss not to attest that I was met with a welcome there.

    This week I've been preparing for Tuesday's hearing on the BOA application. While rereading the LWRP workshops from January 2007, I came across the most remarkable Furgary reference.

    But I should first point out why it was suddenly so important to reference meetings held almost 6 years ago.

    In the BOS "narrative," which is available online at the city website, I discovered the rationalization for why we haven't heard much about this BOA business before. Please read the following from page 14 with an acute awareness of the names listed on the BOA Steering Committee:

    "The public participation process, as undertaken during the recently adopted Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan [sic], exhaustively engaged many constituencies, including the general public, in the formulation of the Plan. The fact is that the audience, issues and participatory techniques that ordinarily constitute the community participation element of a BOA pre-nomination study were wholly contained in the LWRP public participation process. As such, the BOA Steering Committee recognized that .... [it] would be deleterious and, potentially, confusing to the pre-nomination process, for the public to be so soon again intimately engaged on the very same issues. As such, the Steering Committee made carefully considered and deliberate decisions to: incorporate the outcomes of the LWRP public participation process into the BOA Pre-Nomination Study; more extensively engage specific constituencies through their participation on the Steering Committee and during focused meetings; ration the work and involvement of a planning-process fatigued public."

    Does anyone else think that the above explanation for why the public was cut out (again!) deserves our attention?

    What I discovered about Furgary was that they did indeed have representation at the January 2007 LWRP workshop.

    Every Furgarian concern noted in the record (and probably more that were not in the record) was ignored in the final LWRP. I don't mean any concerns about ownership, but about their economic activities in both the commercial and recreational fisheries. The planners were all but required to include such things in the LWRP, but someone decided to write them out of the story instead. The workshop notes should have been reflected in the coastal consistency review language, in the zoning language and in a half dozen other technical contexts, but they were ignored. Those workshops 6 years ago were meaningless window dressing.

    Still, the BOA business is not about Furgary. The troubles with it lie in the South Bay. I hope that interested people will please contact me, or at least make sure that the Valley Alliance is concerned about making its same arguments which were also ignored during the LWRP process.

  2. I'd like to add that "the watchful eye of mayor's aide Gene Shetsky" gives a slightly different impression than the one I got.

    On this first meeting with him, I found Mr. Shetsky to be more than merely approachable. He exuded a genuine sense of care.

    Far from imposing any feeling of the watchful eye, Mr. Shetsky was instantly responsive to our idea (as Furgarians) to enter the site to tidy up, as well as have our first look inside Furgary in months.

    After signing and dating a release (the city's release, rather than the CCCA's) we were pleased to be strolling the site with him.

    We were always at our leisure to walk the site unattended, and later we did. But initially we chose to continue walking and speaking with Mr. Shetsky because his company was entirely agreeable.