Pawling: An Evolving Community

Pawling was founded by Quakers, and it remains a place where families continue to live in harmony with others to lead productive lives, as these founders would have wished.

Pawling has historically been known for being a small town community. The population size is estimated at 8,402 as reported by the U.S census “community survey” for 2016. There is no big hustle or bustle, and it’s just a place where there are two traffic lights and a community where you can raise a family, grab a bite to eat, stroll in a town park, or pick up items from one of our merchants in the village. You may notice when you go into our places of business the conversation might be more than “next on the line.” It’s a personable customer approach that might be in contrast to large cities. Pawling’s own notable proponent of positive outlook, the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, lends his legacy to the town as “The Home of Positive Thinking.”

Pawling was founded by Quakers, and it remains a place where families continue to live in harmony with others to lead productive lives, as these founders would have wished. The town is an evolving community where the values of diversity should be highlighted to remind us of the beliefs of the Quakers who felt that every life had value. As George Fox, of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, wrote in the seventeenth century, there is “that of God in everyone.” The core values that drove the Quakers’ beliefs were integrity, equality, simplicity, community, stewardship of the earth, peace and nonviolence. The Quakers were also forward thinkers, being strong and vocal advocates of the abolishment slavery a century before President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

The tenets of diversity and inclusion are the closest to the ideals of the Quakers. This would include matters of equity, community, and inclusion.

So how diverse is Pawling? When we think about diversity we should also recognize that it is more than just race and ethnicity. It also includes religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability, socio-economic status and political affiliation. As an example, our town displays diversity of religious practice by the existence of different denominations: Catholic, Evangelist, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others. We remain proud, not only because of our constitutional right but as a community, that we can openly practice our faiths free from persecution as compared to other countries.

Other areas of diversity include the changing demographics within our community, which continues to evolve. Would you be surprised to know that we have 10.8% of our community that has disclosed that they have a disability? Also we have 11.6% that are non-U.S born. Their regions of origin include Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Also, the greatest percentage of ancestry representation in Pawling is Irish, German, and Italian. All of these cultures have value as they bring knowledge, languages, skills and experiences to our community increasing our “talent pool.” We are all enriched and influenced when we connect with people from different backgrounds as it helps provide us with broader perspectives as we continue to develop our community. As we move forward in 2018, recalling the values and beliefs of our town’s founders will help keep us going in the right direction.

A frequent contributor to the Poughkeepsie Journal, Pawling resident Obed Figueroa is a published researcher, columnist, and doctoral candidate at Northeastern University. He is Director of Enrollment Management for the New York College of Podiatric Medicine.