The Rural We: Annie Brody
Annie Brody’s reasons for living in our region is for the dogs, literally. After adopting a dog in 1999, she saw wide-open spaces in her future, so she left New York City for East Chatham and quickly acclimated to the rural lifestyle. A longtime film buff, she volunteered at the Crandell Theatre which lead to her current position as executive director of the Chatham Film Club.
I moved to Columbia County in 1999. I was raised in Manhattan but the idea of living a simpler life in a quiet rural area had become more appealing and as I had recently adopted my first dog (Hero, a Golden Retriever), I realized we needed to be in a more natural, quiet environment. Because my mother and sister were in the New York area, I wanted to find a place that was less than a three-hour drive away. I also knew I needed to find a community with shared, progressive values and opportunities to be exposed to creative new ventures. And of course, a good bookstore and local theater showing small, independent films! I narrowed it down to Pennsylvania, the Catskills, or the Berkshires area. As it turned out a woman I knew from the Madison Square dog park ended up renting me her old farmhouse in East Chatham while she lived in Dublin and I fell in love with Columbia County and the Chatham area immediately.
I loved the rural open spaces and the small-town values of friendliness and trust. I would marvel at the genuine kindness of the teenagers who worked part-time at the gas station or supermarket and were so kind and eager to help. I found out about the local CSA, the Columbia Land Conservancy (wonderful hiking) and all kinds of cultural events and organizations, including the very new Chatham Film Club. I have always loved the Crandell Theatre, with its old-fashioned charm, and first volunteered in 1999. With my position at the Chatham Film Club it’s such a pleasure for me to work on its behalf and help keep our local Main Street economy thriving.
Inspired by my beloved (and now deceased) Hero, I started my own small, artisanal business in 2004 called Camp Unleashed, which holds seasonal-long weekend retreats for people with their dogs at the Becket Chimney Corners YMCA Camp. Every May and September, 50 dogs and their owners get to “rough it” in nature and experience the freedom from the leash!
I always say to people that I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined that I would be living in a cottage on a dirt road where I see few cars and people. But I love it. And I always say that I owe it all to my dog, Hero, who completely changed my life for the better.
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