Danby group seeks to bring neighbors together
By Erin Mansfield
STAFF WRITER | August 28,2014
Erin Mansfield / Staff Photo
Tim Cameron (left) and Rich Carter (right) stand on the porch of the Big
Yellow Building on 34 Main St. in Danby. The first floor is the new home to Danby-Mt. Tabor NOW.
DANBY — A grassroots effort that popped up this summer is helping residents get to know their neighbors one story at a time.
The effort, called Danby-Mount Tabor NOW, is the brainchild of 65-year-old Rich Carter of Danby, who said the idea started after he saw a paper list of veterans who had served and died in wars.
He began researching how to construct a veterans memorial in town, and realized the group could go a few steps further — it could showcase every positive attribute in Danby and make sure to include those in neighboring Mount Tabor.
Carter teamed up with his friend Tim Cameron, who owns the Big Yellow Building in the village on Main Street in Danby.
Since the restaurant on the first floor of the yellow building went out of business years ago, Cameron had been looking to put the space to use in a way that would benefit the community.
The two began hosting “Hi neighbor” events every other Friday and approaching people from different sections of town to sit on stage in the restaurant and be interviewed in front of a casual audience of townspeople.
“We have a featured neighbor each event,” Carter said. “It’s intended to be fun.”
He said he was pleasantly surprised to meet someone who is teaching himself Hungarian, and another who escaped Eastern Europe decades ago when it was taken over by communists.
“Everyone has a story,” Carter said. “Who knew that an antique dealer here was such a jock?”
“You don’t know what you’re going to find until you scratch the surface of the person,” Cameron said. “We’re really trying to get to know the folks who have been here a long time. Sometimes folks are a little hesitant until they realize how fun it is.”
Carter said the group has made a point to find neighbors from different areas of the community — especially from Danby Four Corners, Danby village and Brooklyn Road in Mount Tabor.
Carter said the group did not pick different regions specifically to explore potential cultural differences, but said, “If there are cultural differences, then we want to get to know them.”
The group has set up events for Sept. 12 and Sept. 26 to talk to George McNeill and Georgia Labatt, respectively.
“Come, have a brownie,” Cameron invited the public.
“You can come at 7 (p.m.) and be out of here at 8 (p.m.), and still have your whole Friday night ahead of you,” Carter added.
“We have other organizations in town that focus on Danby’s history,” he said. “We’re focused on now.”