hope

Upstate New Yorkers want to Keep Hope Alive

Share

The Keep Hope Alive Project, founded in 2016 in Hudson, New York, provides an outlet for those opposed to the divisiveness and rightward drift of the Trump era to express publicly their hope and commitment for a more inclusive, progressive, and just future for all Americans.

The concept to create an advocacy network of artists, businesses, nonprofits, and communities originated with Hudson Valley resident Cheryl Roberts. Roberts initially sought to create a symbol that would signal support for a positive vision for the future rather than the frighteningly negative and destructive one emanating from Trump, his administration, and his Republican enablers. A rectangular field of violet and white emerged as the subtle, yet powerful, graphic Roberts came up with to encourage public statements of solidarity for a wide-ranging and ambitious agenda. That list of issues includes support for the arts; racial and gender equality; universal health care; environmental sustainability; a free and independent press; freedom of religion; immigration and criminal justice reform; support for local businesses; and workers’ rights.

The project rolled out on inauguration day, January 20, 2017, when the first Keep Hope Alive flag was proudly hoisted in the City of Hudson, an upstate community located approximately two and one-half hours north of New York City.

Since that first roll out, Hope flags, banners, and signs have cropped up along Warren Street, the commercial drag in Hudson, as well as on the facades of private homes along Hudson’s side streets. The second upstate community to join the project was Chatham, New York, just a twenty-minute drive from Hudson, where residents and visitors are greeted by an impressive show of violet and white along Main Street. 

…In a region where conservative Republican social mores and politics still dominate, it’s almost certain that the flags may cost small business owners the vital support of at least some of their customers.


For those reading this post who may be unfamiliar with the culture and politics of Upstate New York, I can assure you that for business owners to make the choice to put their political or social beliefs on full display, participation in the Hope project is a more risky act than the subtleness of the graphic may imply.  That’s because in a region where conservative Republican social mores and politics still dominate, it’s almost certain that the flags, banners, and window signs may cost small business owners the vital support of at least some of their customers.

Of course, the organizers of this project have much larger ambitions than just flying the flags in small villages and towns in Upstate New York. The project seeks to expand across the country and internationally.

According to Linda Mussmann, co-director of Time and Space Limited, an arts space in Hudson and co-sponsor of the project, outreach to communities in other states is beginning to bear fruit.  This summer Asheville, North Carolina, becomes the first community outside of New York State to proudly fly the Hope flags and banners at twenty locations throughout the town.

If you’d like more information, would like to purchase a flag or banner, or find out how to organize your community to join in, go to www.keephopealiveinternational.org/about.

Renee Shur Renee Shur (134 Posts)

Renee Shur lives and works in New York’s Hudson Valley.