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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 10, 2008

Saving Space
Gibsons donate land to conservancy

By Tyler Schuling

NEW SCOTLAND — Two residents have made an agreement with a local conservancy to protect their highly-visible land from being developed.

Walter and Alice Gibson, who live along Cass Hill Road in New Scotland, own 106 acres at the ridge top on the eastern slope of Cass Hill. Located in the Onesquethaw Creek watershed, the heavily-wooded property has rock outcroppings and contains small wetlands and springs that drain along the terrace and eventually flow off the land as a small waterfall.

In the agreement between the Gibsons and the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, a not-for-profit land trust, the Gibsons will retain the property but development will be prohibited. Unlike the MHLC’s preserves, the Cass Hill property will not be accessible to the public.

There are two ways property owners can protect their land from development — by donating their land or through a conservation agreement, said Jill Knapp, the executive director of the conservancy.

Though the public will not be able to access the Gibson property, there is a public benefit to the agreement, said Knapp. Knapp called the Gibsons’ property "such a highly visible property," and said the agreement protects and maintains the scenic view for those who live nearby as well as for those who see the property from Clarksville and the surrounding area.

The conservancy has acquired numerous properties in the region. It has preserves in New Scotland, Bethlehem, Guilderland, Knox, and near Burtonsville (Montgomery County). Since its founding in 1992, it has preserved over 1,700 acres.

One of the conservancy’s preserves — the Bennett Hill Preserve in Clarksville — is located near the Gibsons’ land. The Hannacroix Preserve, one of The Nature Conservancy’s properties, is also on Cass Hill Road.

Knapp said there are tax advantages to conservation. Landowners can get a 25-percent rebate on their town, county, and school taxes for up to $5,000, she said. Expanded federal tax benefits have been reverted, Knapp said, but, because the Gibsons had made the agreement by Dec. 31, they are eligible.

Knapp will give an overview of the MHLC on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site at the Enders House in Fort Hunter as part of the state’s winter lecture series.

Civilians behind the lens show an everyday Iraq

By Zach Simeone

VOORHEESVILLE—High school students are looking to broaden the community’s perspective on the war in Iraq. With that goal in mind, they’ll be hanging up pictures taken by Iraqi civilians.

"They’re very humble, simple photographs," said Marie Triller, a photographer herself. She teaches art at the high school, and acts as advisor to the students responsible for the exhibit. "This gave the Iraqi people a chance to have a voice," she said.

The pictures provide a window into the lives of everyday people in Iraq, but this was no product of mainstream photojournalism. In 2004, a not-for-profit organization called the Daylight Community Arts Foundation gave 10 Iraqis each a disposable camera and a chance to photograph whatever they decided to fix their lenses on. Their mission: to give the American people an insider’s perspective on what it meant to be a citizen of a war-torn Iraq.

"Photographs by Iraqi Civilians, 2004" will be presented at Clayton A. Bouton High School by the United for Peace and Justice club, a local chapter of a larger national organization. The club is sponsoring the exhibit with help from the district’s humanities committee.

Triller was the one who came up with the idea of displaying these photographs in Voorheesville. She originally saw the photos at Union College in Schenectady, after which she began taking steps towards bringing them to the high school. The images first went up at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and have since been seen at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Photography at Woodstock, the "Offline:Baghdad" film festival in Milan, Italy, and a handful of schools across America according to Michael Itkoff, editor of Daylight Magazine. "I think it’s been a really successful project, and a real eye-opener for everyone," said Itkoff.

To present the entire collection would require more space than the gallery has to offer, so Triller and students in the club handpicked which photos the community would get to see. "Their reaction was very important to me," Triller said about the students choosing the pictures. By letting them choose, Triller got a better idea of how the rest of the student body would react to them, she said.

"We kind of just threw the pictures on the table, and we had a rating scale from one to three," explained Hillary Edmunds, student president of the United for Peace and Justice club. "They’ll give the people in my school a chance to see something outside of the news, give a civilian’s perspective," she said of the photos.

Lydia Tobler, humanities coordinator for the district, said that the exhibit serves to remind us that "they’re people too." One such photo, with a caption that reads "Al Hussein with his friends at recess," simply depicts Iraqi children at play. "The students are looking for ways to raise awareness and make a difference," Tobler said.

An image by a dentist named Ahmed Dhiya shows a young Iraqi boy, Abd-Allah, lying on a couch. His shirt is riding up slightly, revealing part of an opening on his lower back. The caption tells that there is a device in his head that separates his blood from fluids that collect there, though we can’t tell from the photograph. Other images by Dhiya show children in a classroom, a woman at the dentist, and essentially everyday people in everyday situations.

"The Iraqi people refuse the new flag and insist on the old one," reads the caption next to one of Dhiya’s photographs that shows the recently retired Iraqi flag. The new flag, since its inception in 2004, has been rejected by many of the Iraqi people.

Though the chapter at Clayton A. Bouton High School was formed only last year, United for Peace and Justice is a national organization that was founded in October 2002 in an effort to prevent the invasion of Iraq. Since then, members have organized thousands of gatherings worldwide in protest of the war.


"Photographs by Iraqi Civilians, 2004" will open today for public viewing at Clayton A. Bouton High School’s Performing Arts Center Gallery, free of charge. The opening will run from 2:30 until 3:30 p.m., and community members can visit the exhibit through the end of February. A gallery with over 30 of these photos can be viewed at the "Photographs by Iraqi Civilians" website: www.pixelpress.org/iraqi_civil/intro.html.

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