Your Name: Alison Cupp Relyea
MyRye.com: Why are you a pRYEde founder?
Relyea: My family moved to Rye in 2014. We have three children who started at Milton School and Christ Church Nursery School. Prior to that, I worked as an elementary school teacher in Manhattan. I did graduate work in Museum Studies and Elementary Education, and one area that always resonated with me was the challenge of creating a community that honored multiple perspectives and embraced diverse identities. I enjoyed helping students understand gender stereotypes and how harmful they can be.
When I moved to Rye, I realized our community had work to do in this area. As the co-chair of Heard in Rye, I organized an event to help educate parents on gender identity. Through that, I met Genevieve Weber and others committed to this work. My advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community grew from there, along with an overarching goal to help lift underrepresented voices. pRYEde has given structure and purpose to that work.
What is pRYEde-how should residents see pRYEde and its mission?
Relyea: pRYEde is a community group that supports LGBTQ+ people through collaboration, community and connection. We have been able to accomplish a great deal in the past two and a half years, particularly with given the pandemic, and much of our growth is due to our focus on collaboration. We work closely with schools, other LGBTQ organizations, and youth-facing community organizations in Rye to amplify our mission and maximize our impact.
How did you become involved in pRYEde?
Relyea: The relationships behind pRYEde started long before we got organized. Molly Ness and I have known each other for years from our backgrounds in education and our time spent along the boards at Playland Ice watching our daughters play hockey. I knew Danielle Tagger-Epstein from her role on the City Council and as the Chair of the Human Rights Commission in Rye. Genevieve and I knew each other from the Heard in Rye event and had become each other’s sounding board on local issues. When events in the winter of 2020 prompted us to take action, I met Amanda Timchak, new to Rye but experienced in her community organizing abilities. pRYEde has grown a great deal since then, and I am grateful that we were able to come together to increase visibility and create positive change.
What is your role within pRYEde?
Relyea: Now that we have formed a 501c3, I am officially the secretary, but my role is probably best described as a community connector with an education focus. I work at the Rye Historical Society in education and programming and have served on the board of the Rye YMCA, the Auxilliary board of the Rye Free Reading Room, and co-chair of Heard in Rye. Through those roles, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many different people in town who do work that intersects with what pRYEde does. I see my role as helping to strengthen our ties within Rye and the surrounding towns.
What does it mean that the City of Rye now raises a Pride flag each June?
Relyea: Raising the Pride flag means so much for Rye and I am grateful to the City Council and City Staff for the work they did to accomplish this, along with the leadership from our students. The Pride flag raises visibility for our LGBTQ+ community members, and does more than that. It is a symbol to show that we are a place that strives to be inclusive by celebrating identities. I hope this is a way to learn about the diverse lenses of American history and how the flag represents intersectionality.
What should the community expect to see from pRYEde in the next 12-24 months?
Relyea: We unveiled our second annual mural in Rye Town Park this month. In the summer, we will likely start planning some events for the school year. Hopefully the community event we held in May on the Village Green, organized with the help of the Rye High School GSA, will become an annual event, with a second one next spring. We will continue to find opportunities to join forces with other organizations to plan events, too.
Tell Us About You:
What do you do professionally?
Relyea: I work as the Director of Education and Programming at the Rye Historical Society. We hold summer camp, host field trips, research local history and lead intern projects. It is a wonderful place to work and is definitely partly responsible for the deep connection I feel to our town.
Where do you live in Rye?
Relyea: I live on Halsted Place. It happened by chance that we ended up on that street, and has shaped my experience in Rye. I fell in love with Rye Town Park, Playland, Oakland Beach and the rich history and natural environment of the Milton Point neighborhood. I also discovered a certain quirky old white house on the corner of Rye Beach Avenue and Milton Road, the Knapp House. I started doing research there and felt like I entered a time capsule every time I crossed the threshold.
How long have you lived in Rye and where did you move from?
Relyea: I have lived in Rye for 8 years this July. I moved here after living in New York City for sixteen years. I spent my childhood in Pennsylvania and then Toronto.
Other than the June Pride flag raising, what are some of the other annual Rye events and traditions you enjoy?
- Mistletoe Magic
- Rye Triathalon
- Edith Read Fall Fest
- Little League Parade