Never has the heart of a community been more present in City Hall than in Hudson, NY, where — since he was elected in November — Mayor Kamal Johnson has conveyed the principles of his platform by shouldering the burdens of his surrounding community. Johnson’s relentless pursuit toward bringing the residents of Hudson closer together while fighting on behalf of those less fortunate has made him already one of the most popular Hudson Valley politicians despite his young tenor. Undoubtedly the area’s landscape has seen a dramatic change over the last two months and though circumstances surrounding the spread of COVID-19 are tragic, Mayor Johnson’s message of strength in community bonds holds even more weight now for those among us who find themselves in social isolation. “The isolating nature of COVID-19 is taking an even greater toll on seniors, people living alone, and those living with depression, anxiety, and addiction,” says Johnson. “That is why it is extremely important for our social media initiative, #Take5ForHudson, to connect with those members of the community.”

Mayor Johnson’s Take 5 For Hudson campaign, which he began in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while statewide lockdowns were causing mass uncertainty, has challenged Hudsonians to take five minutes every day to call, text, or direct message a loved one, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance. The purpose of the campaign is a direct reflection of the heart of the Mayor’s time in office thus far — a time spent building connections, “Covid-19 has had an effect on every person in our community. The less social connections we have the more alone people are going to feel.” Mayor Johnson says, “The purpose is simple, to take 5 minutes out of your day and just say ‘hey how are you,’, ‘do you need anything?, or even just chatting to boost morale.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the response to Mayor Johnson’s #Take5ForHudson has spread quickly, “the county (Columbia) has reached out to me and is interested in starting a Take 5 for Columbia County campaign. Some of the Hudson City School District administrators have gotten involved as well.” Mayor Johnson says, “I believe social media movements like this can achieve a small morale boosting impact but, at the same time, you never know how much taking 5 minutes out of your day, every day, for someone could mean  — perhaps 5 minutes could save a life.”

Mayor Johnson’s passion for lifting those in the community who are less fortunate doesn’t end with social media. In early May, The Spark of Hudson and Humanity Forward announced a collaboration to launch a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot program in Hudson later this year. The program, called HudsonUP, will provide 20 Hudson residents $500 per month for five years. The Spark of Hudson is a learning and training center in Hudson dedicated to reinventing education in the area. Founders Albert Wenger and Susan Danziger have launched and funded a variety of other projects to better the greater Hudson community and beyond. Humanity Forward is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization founded by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. The organization is dedicated to continuing the movement inspired by Yang’s 2020 presidential campaign and to making its core ideas a reality, one of which includes Universal Basic Income. “I met the CEO’s of The Spark of Hudson at an event I was invited to while campaigning,” says Johnson. “They hosted a space dedicated to discussing ideas on what to do with their newly owned property and wanted it to serve the community in various ways. Since that meeting, I have been working with the Spark of Hudson on a number of initiatives.”

The organizations say they are working closely with the community to design the project’s recipient selection process and implementation method. “Right now, we have assembled a steering committee to help create the selection process,” Mayor Johnson says. “We have also been in touch with a team based out of Stockholm, California who have also implemented a form of the project in their community. We hope to ensure the money has the highest positive effect on its recipients without endangering benefits or housing.” The inclusion of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang has already bolstered the hopes of success in the city of Hudson. “The folks at Spark of Hudson have a strong relationship with Andrew Yang and when their inclusion in a possible Hudson pilot partnership became a reality, Yang’s organization Humanity Forward came on board as well making our efforts significantly more possible.” Mayor Johnson says, “Ultimately, no matter who is involved, as this city’s Mayor, it is my goal to bring forth exciting new initiatives to Hudson. So when I was approached to be a part of this pilot program and champion it, I was excited for the members of this community.” As for the UBI program’s potential impact, Mayor Johnson says, “I definitely believe it will have a huge impact. We have single parents who are working an extra job and not able to spend the time they would like to with their children. We have people that just need some kind of cushion to get ahead. We have entrepreneurs that this program will allow for the creative space and financial backing to chase their dreams. Financial difficulties are one of the major causes of stress and depression, I believe that help of any kind would be greatly appreciated for those selected.”

For more information on the #Take5ForHudson campaign click here

For more information on The Spark of Hudson visit

To learn more about Humanity Forward visit

Images courtesy of Mayor Kamal Johnson’s Facebook Page