Diner Dialogues Gets Real

A little more than a year ago when I first launched this blog, Diner Dialogues: Talk of the Hudson Valley, I envisioned a community conversation that spanned the range of issues many of us care, think, and talk about here in the Hudson Valley: Politics, culture, food, farms, education and the environment, among them. Reflecting it’s Hudson Valley roots, this vehicle, I figured, could comfortably be both a little new tech and a little old school.

So, having these conversations in a diner — even a virtual diner — was a natural fit.  My family and I are longtime diner fans.  A local diner will always be our first choice to stop — any time of day. And we in the Hudson Valley are so fortunate to still have a number of fabulous classic diners throughout the region. Those retro stainless icons are among my favorite images, whether roadside or in town, and what’s not to love about any dining establishment that serves breakfast all day.

When I was elected to the New York Assembly this Spring, my team and I started brainstorming about how best to be available to our new constituents who live as far south as East Fishkill and Beekman in Dutchess County and as far north as Ghent and Hudson in Columbia County.  While our district office in Red Hook is somewhat central, it is still not particularly close for most of our our communities.

A series of real Diner Dialogues became our solution — and the reception has been just great.  A few weeks ago we launched our first of five Mobile District Office Diner Stops. Irving Farms Coffee House  in the village of Millerton was our first venue and we held a terrific series of conversations with both elected officials and residents on topics ranging from shared services in adjacent towns to Lyme disease awareness.  Our second Mobile District Office was in a comfy booth at Grazin’ Diner in Hudson where the topics ranged from support for a youth center in the city to the impact of real property tax law on local businesses.

In addition to meeting constituents in their own communities, our goal in this series of Mobile District Office Diner Stops is to highlight our local eateries that are themselves hubs of their community. They support nearby farms and partner with other local businesses; they are where neighbors regularly meet to catch up on local news. We are very grateful to all our hosts for graciously welcoming us and the community to their tables.

Our next three Mobile District Office Diner Stops are on Friday, June 15 at Marisa’s Bagel Cafe, Chatham, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm; on Friday, June 22  at the Village Restaurant, Pleasant Valley, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm; and on Saturday, June 30 at Plaza Diner in Greenport from 8:30 am to 10:30 am.  Appointments are suggested. To sign up for an appointment please contact either of our offices: Red Hook at 845.758.9790 or Albany at 518.455.5177.

I hope you’ll pull up a stool and join us for a Diner Dialogue in the district.

About Diner Dialogues

Didi Barrett was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election in March 2012 and re-elected to a full term in November 2012. Her district, the 106th AD, covers some of the most beautiful parts of Columbia and Dutchess Counties. She has deep roots in the Hudson Valley and came to elected office after a career as a community activist, writer and longtime leader of not-for-profit organizations. Didi is passionate about the agricultural, natural, cultural and historic resources of the Hudson Valley and their critical importance as economic engines and job generators. She is also a great fan of the iconic diners that dot the region. As a member of the Assembly she serves on the Committees on Aging; Agriculture; Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry; Mental Health; Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development and Veterans Affairs.
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