I got my start as a carpenter and an electrician in the theater, and as a production manager for shows and dance companies. Thirty years ago, I started a business fabricating stage draperies and stage rigging, working throughout North and South America.
My wife, Robyn, and I had a little cabin in Sullivan County for ten years, and when we sold it we decided we would just stay in the city. But three months later, we thought, “Oh, we need to get out."
We found a property in Wassaic and built our house in 1991. We moved up here full-time in 2015. At some point, we'd talked about not wanting two residences—and if there was a choice between the city and the country, the choice was here. I grew up in the city. I had done everything my whole life in the city. I didn’t need the city anymore. I wanted to get involved in a community, and I have a much better chance of making an impact up here than in Manhattan.
As the Wassaic Project got going, we thought, "Wow, there’s something really going on here." We’d go to the exhibitions and events, where we met Eve and Bowie and Jeff. They made it more appealing to be here because of the energy that they were putting into the community.
Jeff and I both joined the fire department and I started going to some of the Dutchess County Fire District meetings. The fire chief would drive and I’d ask him, “So do people understand how much time you guys actually spend training, going to meetings, going to retraining, getting up in the middle of the night?" It’s an amazing amount of time for people who have families and jobs. I asked what I could do, and he told me I should become a member of the company. "Well, that’s kind of crazy," I said. "I’m not going to be a fireman at my age." But I got voted in! I’m doing the training, not to fight fires because I’m not really at that age where I should be doing that. I’m doing it because learning is interesting and I can be helpful.
It’s all very interconnected. I’m a member of the Wassaic Fire Department. I’m on the Amenia Planning Board. I’m on the advisory board to the North East Community Center. I joined the Wassaic Project board in 2014. We’ve had a bunch of the Wassaic artists over to the house for dinner. That’s my community. I feel really good about it.
If there was a choice between the city and the country, the choice was here... I wanted to get involved in a community, and I have a much better chance of making an impact up here than in Manhattan.
David Rosenberg, Wassaic, August 2017
Photos by Verónica González Mayoral