Chris Clemens, creator,
Exploring Upstate blog
Home: I own a home in North Winton Village
Education: B.S., health science, SUNY College at Brockport, 2008
What drew you to explore Upstate New York’s religious history with your first blog, Exploring the Burned-Over District?
A friend and I were fascinated by the curious religious history of upstate and even more by the fact that we hadn’t visited many of the important sites in person.
When did you start the Exploring Upstate blog?
I launched on Sept. 2, 2014. But, the site currently includes a lot of the older material that goes back to 2011.
Why chronicle upstate? What’s the draw for you?
I love that we have dense cities with multicultural backgrounds and that from any of them I can drive an hour to be surrounded by dense forests and wildlife. Upstate has a rich history sitting right on top of one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country.
How many places have you visited for the upstate blog? Any favorites?
Since starting with the first blog in 2011 I’d say probably a few hundred. For a long time I was visiting something each weekend, so over the years it has really added up. I love driving through back roads in the Catskills, especially the northern sections—it’s so serene there! But, my most favorite place probably is the one I haven’t been to yet. It’s all about discovery!
Have you noticed ways New Yorkers differ regionally?
A bit. I do know that once you get about two hours outside of New York City, everyone drives faster and isn’t quite as outgoing as folks in areas like the Finger Lakes. And, it intrigues me that the farther you get from a city, the more “Repeal S.A.F.E Act” signs are in yards. Little differences like that are neat to notice.
How about similarities?
I think for the most part, our dialect tends to be similar until you get closer to the City and accents change and some different words get thrown in. I think the similarities exist within pockets of the state. Bath feels very congenial, but it’s pretty different from the Polish community of Buffalo, which is also really tightknit and different still from the all-Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel (in Orange County).
Assumptions that outsiders have of New Yorkers or their state: That we are all from New York City! People in other states don’t realize how much exists outside of the city.
Three words that describe upstate: Diverse. Resilient. Vast.
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