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Essex, NY, seen from a pier in Lake Champlain. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34715542@N02/4083583139/">Raymond Johnston</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Essex, NY, seen from a pier in Lake Champlain. Photo: Raymond Johnston, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

George Davis learns community from life in Essex

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For George Davis, life in Essex, New York has been a lesson in community. He's become a cheerleader for the little town -- serving on boards, restoring a historic property, and even tweeting and blogging about life on Lake Champlain. Sarah Harris interviewed Davis in his boathouse right by the Essex-Charlotte ferry for today's Heard Up North.

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Sarah Harris
Reporter and Producer

George Davis: I actually grew up in the Adirondacks, and left when I went away to boarding school in '86 and have been coming back here seasonally ever since. When I was living in Europe in the early part of this century, I had the opportunity to marry a beautiful woman from New York who wanted to live in Essex. So we moved north and we restored this crazy house and boathouse that we’re sitting at right now.

I had lived for the last four years before this in Paris and Rome and I was an ex-pat. It was a totally disconnected, very romantic, wonderful life—but with no real sense of community. When you move into a tiny seasonal town like this, you very quickly get approached to involve yourself with all of these little organizations. All of a sudden you’re sort of involved on every level with your community, and it really redefined for me and my wife what community meant. Our connection to Vermont and our connection to the Adirondacks are probably the two most important defining characteristics of Essex—in addition to our architecture.

We’re sitting right now watching the Essex ferry come in from Charlotte, Vermont. I do think that there is an identity to the Champlain Valley basin. I think that the lake itself is a unifying characteristic, and has always been for people that have chosen to settle here. To this day, when the lake freezes, we skate back and forth across the lake, and I think it’s a rare time that you’re out skating on the lake where you don’t meet up with Vermonters while you’re out there and all skate together.

Listen to the full piece here, or hear more from NCPR's ongoing series, Heard Up North.

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