Report Says Faiths Believe in Our City

January 26, 2007

Author: Larry Hughes

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal

The Poughkeepsie Institute is a state of mind, not a place.

The now 10-year-old collaboration between area colleges and the City of Poughkeepsie produces an annual report on a particular issue. The 2006 effort resulted in “The Civic Effects of Faith Based Organizations in Poughkeepsie,” a study offered up in a 35-page report and 12-minute video released in December.

Twelve students (from Vassar and Marist colleges, Dutchess Community College, The Culinary Institute of America and State University of New York at New Paltz) and four faculty members (from Dutchess, Vassar, the CIA and the Children’s Media Project) produced the report collected from a semester of study, discussion and interviews.

“It’s a very distinct course, the only one in the United States of America that does what it does,” explained Peter Leonard, institute chairman, director of field work at Vassar College and Journal columnist. “It takes a local topic, introduces the students to it, gets them out into the field - knowing Poughkeepsie, knowing the subject and, in the end, building a report and video.”

That’s a lot of work for one semester. The institute’s reports are not definitive works. If you want one of those, bankroll a national organization for a few years and toss a few million dollars its way.

The institute’s latest report was formally presented to the city’s elected leaders. The city fathers (and mothers) decide what to do with the information. Usually they decide to do nothing with it, but that’s OK. It’s comforting to know someone is dealing with such issues.