I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other.
John Green was a 19th century lumber dealer, entrepreneur and community leader.
Pete Seeger was a 20th century folk singer, activist and environmentalist.
What could these two men possibly have in common?
First off, they were both dreamers. Secondly, they both made their dreams come true.
John Green found himself in Nyack, working for a wealthy family. But he looked to the Hudson and dreamed of the future – a future with an active seaport, a steamship to carry his cargo to New York City, and a road running right through the middle of the County to bring folks here.
He did all those things and more.
About 146 years later, Pete Seeger, legendary singer, songwriter, folklorist, activist, environmentalist, and peace advocate looked at that same Hudson River in despair. Decades of industrial pollution had left the once pristine waters a filthy, chemical sludge. But Seeger looked to the Hudson and dreamed of the future – a future with a cleaner, more vibrant waterway, and announced plans to “build a boat to save the river” –
He did all those things and more.
John Green had a vision of a bustling Nyack Seaport, and he built his business around that vision. He charted out the deep water channel to bring large vessels to his landing. He lobbied for legislation making possible the construction of the Nyack Turnpike, providing a direct route from Suffern to the Hudson River. With the maiden voyage of “The Orange” (originally called “The Nyack”), a steamship he was instrumental in making a reality, Green brought his vision to life.
Pete Seeger thought the river was worth saving, and that a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries would bring people to the river where they would experience its beauty first hand and be moved to preserve it.
He organized, performed and fundraised, finally building the majestic sloop “Clearwater”. From “The Clearwater’s” website; “In 1972 Seeger and the Clearwater crew sailed the sloop to Washington, DC while Congress was debating the Clean Water Act. Seeger personally delivered a petition with hundreds of thousands of signatures to Congress and then proceeded to hold a spontaneous concert in the halls of Congress. A few weeks later the Federal Water Pollution Control Act was passed in 1972 over then President Richard Nixon's veto.”
These men weren’t men of great means. But they believed in their dreams, acted on them and made them real.
And though they are no longer with us, their passions live on.
Today, Pete’s supporters are carrying on his mission, working to restore the majestic Clearwater sloop, just as supporters of The John Green House are working to restore his historic sandstone home.
But we need more people like John Green and Pete Seeger.
We all need to be like these dynamic dreamers – willing to set our minds to the task, find a way or make a way, and never stop until the task is done.
By Arthur O'Shaughnessy
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
To make a contribution to the restoration efforts of The Clearwater, please go to http://www.clearwater.org/
To contribute to the rehabilitation of The John Green House, please go to http://www.johngreencoalition.org/donatesupport/
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