Also in this Issue:

Saddle Up! How to say “I Do” to a Hudson Valley Barn Wedding

For a Kingston/New York City Couple, Home is Where the Art is.

A Little Shellfish

Michael Drapkin: Wine Merchant

Map: How to Get Here From There

Kingston Snapshots

Decora: Hip-Hop Artist/Social Activist/Urban Farmer

The Times They are A-Changin’: Kingston’s Evolving Second-Home Market

In For The Long Haul: A Kingston Weekenders’ Love Story

Escape-Worthy: Cold Spring

Kale Kaposhilin: Technology Innovator/Community Builder

Welcome to the Beerhood: Those who Brew Together, Stick Together

Kale Kaposhilin: Technology Innovator/Community Builder

Upstater Magazine   |  By

Hometown: Burlington, Vermont

Lives and works in: Kingston

Moved here from: Vermont

Hudson Valley resident since: 1995

Best ingredients for innovation and community: “You get people together in a place like this [CatskillsConf], get them drinking some Keegan Ales and eating some local grass-fed meat, they come up with a new idea, and six months later they’ve created a new company around it, doing what they love and making the world a better place.”

Community is a self-sustaining enterprise requiring people to do whatever work is necessary, day after day, to create the kind of world they wish to live in. That being said, if you’re one of the many people who’ve flocked to Ulster County to become immersed in that community, you probably owe Kale Kaposhilin a beer.

Kaposhilin arrived in the Hudson Valley as a Bard College student, but after graduation, he was loathe to leave. “I didn’t want to ‘work for the man,’” he says. “We had a great community of artists here, and we wanted to do our own thing.”

So he and his friends began building studios and providing resources for artists. A few years later, Kaposhilin met some younger Bard graduates doing the same thing. “We had both made a difference—we had both built studios, and we both had crews of artists as our friends,” he recalls. “So we moved to Kingston and went into business together as Evolving Media Network [EMN]. It was literally a network of media professionals who had all learned how to do business by working together, and wanted to further their own creative careers.”

The EMN team has done pretty much everything digital—building websites, creating apps, producing videos, cranking out code—as well as producing live events. The firm’s diversity and drive mirrors that of Kaposhilin, who is also technical director for the O+ Festival and the Ashokan Center’s biannual Hoot Festival, and a board member for business booster ReThink Local. Last fall, he also organized the Ashokan Center’s first annual CatskillsConf, which he calls “a mashup of the creative lifestyle of the Hudson Valley, the educational work that has always happened at the Ashokan Center, and the technology community. So if you’re an innovator, creator, technologist, or artist, we consider all of those things to really be the same thing.”

Hudson Valley Tech Meetups are yet another community-building initiative that Kaposhilin created, with gatherings in Kingston and Poughkeepsie. “So many of us work out of our homes or out of coffee shops,” he explains. “It’s a wonderful existence, but it doesn’t have a central location where people can come together and participate in something. So, at least once a month, people have a coordinated opportunity to get together. We have about 625 members signed up after only doing these for a year. It proves that there’s a really strong community up here, but right now it’s kind of invisible unless you know where to look. This gives people a place to look.”

After 20 years in the Hudson Valley, Kaposhilin believes its boom is just getting started. He says he frequently meets people who have just moved here because they see the innovation taking place and realize the potential for what’s to come. “We’re flying a flag of inclusive, progressive innovation,” he says. “We want other people to come visit, as they often do, once or twice, and then think to themselves, ‘Wow, I could live here too. I’d like to help out with the YMCA garden in Kingston. I could open a business like Hops Petunia or the Brunette Wine Bar,’ or any of these awesome new places that have just opened in Kingston. The people who are coming here tend to be supportive, the kind of people who get involved. Hopefully, we can keep getting more and more of them to join the community.”

About Brian PJ Cronin

Brian PJ Cronin lives in Beacon with his son, three cats, and the occasional wayward bat. He regularly contributes to such fine Hudson Valley publications as Chronogram, Upstate House, The Times Herald-Record, Ulster Magazine, Organic Hudson Valley, Visit Vortex, and The Highlands Current. He is currently working on memorizing every single hiking trail in the Hudson Highlands and getting his Marathon time to under four hours.

Read more from Brian PJ Cronin
  • kalekaposhilin

    Thanks for writing this profile about me, Brian and thank you for focusing on these community building projects work that I’m most passionate about in telling my story. I just want to add that none of what I’ve co-created or built would have ever been possible without the dozens of partners that I’ve had. I’ve never built any community enterprise completely on my own. Our first organized group of friends living and working together was called 32 Broadway and it was 6-10 Bard Students living in a house together in Tivoli. 32B Media/Arts Project was half of those friends building a recording studio and providing creative resources to emerging artists. Then I met Dan Stone and David Resnick with their crew and we made Evolving Media Network out of the two groups. More recently Dan and I (after leading EMN for over ten years) formed Hudson Valley Tech Meetup with our friends Sabrina Schutzsmith and Daniel Schutzsmith. This never would have been possible without each one of the four of us and each persons unique qualities. Then Aaron Quint moved to Kingston and Catskills Conf was born. Again, it never would have happened without all five of us – each person investing time, skill and love. Everything that I work on is an ensemble effort of co-creation and I wanted to at least mention the other co-founders of our most recent enterprises here in these comments. Last but definitely not least, if I didn’t have such an amazing and capable wife/life partner who is the lead parent for our two awesome daughters, I wouldn’t be able to do much of anything. For real. I’m so grateful to be able to build so much with so many incredible people who inspire each other. That’s really my story. Our story. Thank you for letting me share it.

    • Paul Heath

      Crew is thick!

  • Tommy Keegan

    Great article about a great guy and his crew!