The first time I came to Wassaic, it was ramp season. Jeff and Bowie took us up Deep Hollow Road, past the charcoal kilns and the waterfall, to hunt for ramps on the ridgelines. We dug a few dozen up with trowels and brought them back to the Lantern, where we put them on our pizzas.
Wassaic immediately felt like home. I’d been working in the city for almost 20 years, but I had grown up in rural settings and felt like a fish out of water living downtown. I had no idea there was a stop on Metro-North where I could be immediately transported to the small town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where my family is from. Part of that is the landscape—hidden creeks, old barns, and Victorian woodwork. But mainly the resemblance comes from the sense of community and the work that the Wassaic Project does to foster and support that community.
Through my work with the Wassaic Project, I’ve made a home for myself where one did not exist before. The Wassaic Project creates spaces in which neighbors of all ages, backgrounds, and communities can explore and grow. That growth has included me and as a result, my world around me feels more connected and vibrant. The community in which I live is one of mutual respect and idealism—and that’s something that is more important today than it has ever been.
Through my work with the Wassaic Project, I’ve made a home for myself where one did not exist before.
Jillian Dunham, Wassaic, August 2017
Photos by Verónica González Mayoral