Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

One isn’t the loneliest number — it’s 30 something in Peekskill

Social bonds weakened during the pandemic

An experience that will likely surprise my fellow Peekskill residents and me as we reach our mid-30s is the gradual realization that we are starting to resemble our parents more and more.

Those priorities we dismissed during our twenties as hallmarks of selling out or simply being boring, suddenly become quite pressing. Out of nowhere, we find ourselves preoccupied by interest rates, childcare, and a host of different acronyms related to retirement savings. However, the most surprising aspect of entering our mid-30’s is the reality that we have almost no friends.

There is a well-documented phenomenon wherein many people enter their 30s and find themselves with few dependable friendships. Friendships often take a backseat when we are occupied with our careers and starting families. This is not unique to millennials; however, several factors have exacerbated the issue for this generation. 

The recent Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact, as it happened while millennials started families while often being in lock down and forced to socialize in a small groups.  Additionally, millennials face various challenges, such as student debt, inflation and expensive housing, which have greatly reduced their disposable income. Moreover, the modern lifestyle tends to be more transient, with people less likely to settle in their hometowns for housing or employment, leading to weaker social bonds. As a result of these factors, people in their 30’s and approaching their 40’s are considered the loneliest generation in society, according to polls.

This issue is equally prevalent in Peekskill and the surrounding Hudson Valley area. My wife and I recently moved from Canada to New York due to her job. Despite knowing very few people in the country, we were drawn to Peekskill for its natural beauty, cosmopolitan atmosphere, and affordable housing. However, like many others, we found it daunting to establish social connections in our 30’s.

Individuals in our age group find it challenging to socialize at pubs or attend late-night concerts. Unlike our twenties, there isn’t an apparent gathering place where people like us naturally converge. Meeting people of a similar age outside of work has proven to be quite difficult in Peekskill and in the Hudson Valley. 

Ten years ago, polling revealed that millennials tended to prioritize experiences over material possessions. Interestingly, this trend continues, even as many individuals in my generation are settling into their own homes. While we may be spotted at Ikea on weekends, we are not content with merely indulging in traditional family activities like frequenting chain restaurants or outlet malls. Instead, we yearn for dynamic experiences reminiscent of our twenties—engaging with thought-provoking art and underground music, activities that initially forged our social bonds. And for those who have kids, they want their children with them. 

A woman pondering machine generated art at a recent Center for Machine Arts reception. (Photo by Fred Dennstedt)


Yet, we have evolved since our twenties, and the late nights spent at seedy dive bars, paying exorbitant prices for a pint in Brooklyn, no longer hold the same appeal. Unlike our parents, we lack well-established social networks to fall back on. Therefore, we find ourselves actively seeking new friendships and meaningful connections. Regrettably, there are limited spaces, activities, or opportunities that cater to our desire for stimulating experiences while remaining accessible to us.

However, there is a glimmer of hope in Peekskill as one organization is trying to change this very situation.

In 2021, a nonprofit concert series called ONETWOHEARTU kicked off on Esther Street. The festival is run by Brian Orsi and his team. The series aimed to push the boundaries of musical imagination and ambition in the area. With an increasing number of newcomers settling in Peekskill, there was a noticeable lack of engaging activities and venues, especially for those who had previously lived in bustling cities like New York City. ONETWOHEARTU brought together artists from the Hudson Valley region, primarily showcasing various styles of indie rock. 

A recent ONETWOHEARTU concert at Esther Street.  (Photo by Brian Orsi)

The shows present the same electrifying energy and excitement reminiscent of Brooklyn’s vibrant music scene circa 2014, but with a twist – they take place around 6 o’clock in the evening, creating a family-friendly atmosphere where kids run around and are making new friends. 

Orsi and his team have worked to make the festival inclusive to as many families as possible by not running it late at night or charging admission. “Certainly having events earlier that kids can attend became a positive, whereas before early events weren’t really on my radar. It’s a joy to be able to introduce my sons to live music, and not just a concert for kids, but for them to see what’s possible for them,” said Sam Harden-Hertz, who regularly attends the festival. With no one getting paralytically drunk and most people leaving the show with a couple new numbers in their phone, ONETWOHEARTU leaves Peekskill feeling a lot less lonely and a bit more exciting. 

There are spaces and activities for children while parents enjoy the music. (Photo by Jeanette D. Moses)

Orsi revealed that the driving force behind opening his gift shop, Bucko!, was the same motivation that led him to start ONETWOHEARTU – to contribute to Peekskill but also help foster Peekskill’s community. He expressed, “I started ONETWOHEARTU for the same reason why my wife and I opened a retail store in a place not particularly known for shopping. I want to show people that more and better is possible.” In a place so dynamic and so beautiful, Peekskill deserves to have public events that are open, inclusive, but, maybe most importantly, fun. 

The concerts in Peekskill have achieved remarkable success with consistently attracting impressive crowds numbering in the hundreds. Orsi and the team aspire to expand the festival further, envisioning possibilities like taking over the entire downtown for a day or filling up the Paramount Theater. However, the festival’s operations solely rely on donations. Although both individuals and businesses receive a tax write-off for their contributions, Orsi acknowledges the ongoing challenge of securing funds. He passionately expresses, “it’s always a struggle finding funds but the more financial support we receive, the bigger and better we can make this.” 

Amidst a sea of stories on Reddit about people exploiting others’ desires for meetup groups, defrauding them for money, ONETWOHEARTU’s volunteerism approach stands as a refreshing contrast, despite its inherent limitations. The festival’s commitment to relying on donations and its dedication to fostering a genuine community experience set it apart from the profit-driven motives seen elsewhere.

During a time when chronic loneliness impacts so many, particularly people starting families or new to Peekskill, events like ONETWOHEARTU help alleviate so much stress by showing there is a whole community out there for you to meet and you’re actually going to enjoy the music! It certainly has helped make Peekskill a friendly home for me. 


Ciaran Miqeladze is a writer now based in Peekskill after immigrating from Canada. He lives with his wife and their two massive Bernese mix dogs. His interests are Tottenham Hotspur and weeding his garden.