January 19, 2012


Posted in: General News — by Karen Moreau at 9:24 am

by Karen Bulich Moreau


This is a short, 22 minute film about the decline of rural New York, and examines the forces which have led to vast parts of the state becoming a virtual economic wasteland.

Part I starts out on my family farm in the Hudson Valley, where the farm got its start because of a once thriving cement industry. It allowed my grandfather to save money to buy a piece of land, and the farm grew from there.

Today, it is the last commercial mushroom farm in NYS, and the cement plants which once employed over 1000 people are now decaying relics of a lost age of industrialization. Many of the people I grew up with are gone, joining the migration of generations of young people out of the state.

Points out how industrial technology was key to the farm’s survival.

Part II moves into Central NY where a woman dairy farmer is struggling to keep going and has a gas lease. Her town has banned gas drilling, where forces led by wealthy second-home owners are leading the fight against her. Presents the view of those opposed to gas drilling as well as the view of the farmer fighting for her property rights. Also features landowners in the southern tier who talk about what it’s like struggling to hang on to their land, as their neighbors across the border in Pennsylvania are thriving because a technology called “horizontal hydrofracturing” is permitted and their economy is now booming.

Part III features interviews with Pennsylvanians who speak about their experiences with gas development, how it has given them capital to invest in their farms, and allowed young people to return to the once depressed area. Interviews young Pennsylvania workers who now see a stable future in their home state.

The film will be available soon on DVD and is meant to stimulate discussion. Stay tuned next week for a trailer and update of where it will air. The Foundation hopes to produce more films like this about the other regions in NY that are experiencing similar challenges, such as the Adirondacks and Catskills.

The “Empire State Divide” was funded by my mother and siblings in memory of my father, Frank Bulich, who passed away last year. He was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things in a quiet way, a farmer who loved his family and loved the land, and cared about others who worked hard and were not making it. This film is for those people, the farmers and landowners of the Southern Tier.