Tag Archive | "sustainability"

Environmentalists Look to Renewable Energy for the Future of Southampton Town

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By Mara Certic

Hours after environmentalists held a Rally for Renewables at a LIPA board meeting on Thursday, residents and elected officials gathered at the Hampton Bays Community Center to discuss the future of renewable energy in the Town of Southampton.

The Southampton Sustainability Advisory Committee hosted its fourth annual public forum, which focused on “Green Power: Renewable Energy for Southampton’s Future.” Gordian Raacke, Clinton Plummer and John Francheschina gave presentations on their various expertise and answered questions from the public.

Co-chairs of the committee Dieter von Lehsten and Scott Carlin moderated the event, which was organized to provide Southamptonites more information about local and regional energy issues.

Mr. Raacke, president of Renewable Energy Long Island, spoke about East Hampton’s goal to provide 100 percent of the town’s energy from renewable sources and its relevance to Southampton.

According to Mr. Raacke, East Hampton’s decision to power all of its community-wide electricity needs with renewable energy by the year 2020 came after a close look at the town’s carbon footprint.

The majority of the town’s carbon emissions are from electricity consumption, Mr. Raacke said, hence the decision to conquer that sector first. It will focus on using renewable energy for its heating and transportation sectors by the year 2030.

“Obviously, we need to start where we have the greatest impact,” Mr. Raacke said, adding renewable technology for heating and transportation has “still a little ways to go.”

On December 17, LIPA is scheduled to decide whether or not it will go forward with proposed plans for large solar farms and a plan for an offshore wind farm 30 miles east of Montauk Point.

“LIPA will be facing a choice of going with business as usual,” Mr. Raacke said, “or with zero emissions, which will keep more of our energy dollars in the local economy.”

“If LIPA chooses fossil fuels, they’ll be burdening Long Island,” he said. The price is known and is fixed for renewable energy, he explained, whereas future gas and oil prices remain a mystery.

Clinton Plummer from Deepwater Wind then discussed the company’s proposal for a 35-turbine wind farm out in the Atlantic Ocean, invisible from the shore.  The East End’s population has grown rapidly in recent years, Mr. Plummer said, which has put a huge strain on the electricity grid.

“When you have a hot day here on Long Island, offshore wind is producing at its absolute greatest,” he said. Deepwater ONE would increase Long Island’s supply of renewable energy by 47 percent, which, in turn, would decrease oil and gas usage by 7 million barrels a year, Mr. Plummer said.

A smaller pilot program off the coast of Block Island is on track to be in the water and fully operational by 2016. That will be the first offshore wind farm in the United States. The world’s first offshore wind farm, Vindeby in Denmark, has been fully operational since 1991.

On Thursday morning, 80 people showed up at a LIPA board meeting to show public support for the Deepwater ONE project. LIPA’s final meeting of the year will be on Wednesday, December 17. Mr. Plummer said he expects to hear the final verdict on the offshore wind farm by then.

Mr. Francheschina is the manager of residential efficiency programs for PSEG-LI, and gave a detailed presentation on some of the more affordable things homeowners can do to shrink their carbon footprints.

“The load is growing on the South Fork,” Mr. Francheschina said. “Either we need to lower the load or add more generation.”

In addition to rebates for geothermal systems and solar arrays, Mr. Francheschina described some of the ways Long Islanders can lower the demand for electricity. He explained rebate programs for less expensive products such as air purifiers, clothes dryers and even light bulbs.

PSEG-LI is currently holding a refrigerator recycling program that has a $50 rebate and also offers those who participate the chance to win an iPad, he said. PSEG-LI, with NYSERDA, also has a free home energy audit, where qualifying residents can learn specific ways to make their houses more energy efficient.

For more information about the efficiency programs, visit psegliny.com/efficiency

East End Towns and Villages Pursue Regional Ban on Bags

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After much discussion and gentle encouragement from local sustainability committees, the mayors and supervisors of several East End municipalities announced today they would pursue a coordinated effort to implement a regional ban on single-use plastic bags by Earth Day, April 22, 2015.

Elected officials from Southampton, East Hampton, Riverhead, Sag Harbor, Sagaponack, North Haven, West Hampton Dunes and Quogue agreed to either hold work sessions on the subject or to introduce the legislation within the month, in order to seek out public comment.

“Environmental protection is always a priority for the Village of Sag Harbor, and the proposed ban would be yet another measure to help ensure our beaches, woods and waterways are protected from one of the most common and detrimental forms of litter.  If we can implement the initiative on a larger, regional scale, it will only be more beneficial,” said Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride.

“Worldwide, the accumulation of plastic pollutes miles upon miles of shoreline and extends to all depths of the sea, harming our environment and ourselves, as well as marine and other wildlife.  Without this regional effort among local towns and villages, the plastic bags targeted by this initiative would only continue the detrimental build-up of litter across the East End and beyond,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell.

North Haven Village Mayor Jeff Sanders added, “The Village of North Haven lends its full support to the plastic bag ban effort and urges other municipalities to do the same.”

East Hampton Plans to Ban Plastic Bags By Earth Day

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By Mara Certic

While banning plastic bags may not be the lynchpin in solving the world’s environmental crisis, according to East Hampton Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby it is at least a step in the right direction.

East Hampton’s celebration of Recycling Awareness Month was in full swing at their first work session of the month on Tuesday, October 7, when Ms. Overby discussed a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags.

“It’s a small step, it’s not going to solve all the problems,” Ms. Overby said. “It will be something that I think is going to be important to start making those steps,” she said.

The towns of Southampton, Southold and Shelter Island have all put their support behind a regional ban on plastic bags, the world’s largest consumer item. Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said last month the town will hold a public hearing on the ban the first week in December, and the idea is to implement a regional ban by Earth Day, 2015.

John Botos of East Hampton’s Natural Resources Department has been working with Ms. Overby on the draft legislation. Using data from the EPA, Mr. Botos estimates the town – excluding the village, which banned the bags back in 2011 – uses approximately 10 million bags a year.

Frank Dalene, president of the East Hampton Energy Sustainability Committee gave a few statistics from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment: the plastic offenders are used for an average of 12 minutes, he said, but they never fully break down, just becoming smaller and smaller particles of petrochemicals.

According to Mr. Dalene, 2.2 billion pounds of fossil fuels and 3.9 billion gallons of fresh water are needed to make the 100 billion plastic bags that American consumers use each year. As it stands today, there are approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean, he said.

Ms. Overby has been working closely with business-owners, and added “We’re really delighted and happy because we really worked well with the business community.”

In fact Catherine Foley, who with her husband Stuart owns Air and Speed Surf Shop in Montauk, spoke up during Tuesday’s work session to lend her support to the ban. “The public is ready,” she said, “they just need continued encouragement, guidance and support.”

East Hampton Town Trustee and Chair of the Litter Committee Deborah Klughers did an online poll regarding the ban, she said, and found that 92-percent of her sample of the community were in favor of the ban. “It’s looking really good, it would be good for the planet,” she said.

Ms. Overby said she is still working on a draft of the public hearing for the ban, but welcomes anyone interested to take a look and give the board some feedback on it as written. In the meantime, the town is dedicated to helping to educate the public and business-owners about the ban and about the BYOB initiative – “bring your own bag.”

Ms. Klughers discussed some of the other activities going on in conjunction with recycling awareness month on Tuesday.  A “Kids Can Recycle” campaign has students in East Hampton Town competing to see who can collect and recycle the largest number of aluminum cans; the winning school will win an evergreen tree.

The last week of October will be dedicated to recycling cardboard, she said. Businesses, residents and even out-of-towners are invited to drop off their (flattened) cardboard at the town recycling centers during that week.

Ms. Klughers also announced the Trustees have begun a new, very different recycling campaign. “Don’t chuck it if you shuck it,” is the motto for the Trustees’ new seashell recycling initiative. Bivalve-enthusiasts are asked to drop off their clam, oyster and scallop shells for the town to reintroduce to the local waters in order to provide habitats for other sea creatures.

Mr. Botos announced the town has been awarded a $13,000 grant to install an electric car charging station outside town hall. Work on that, he said, may begin next month.

The town is working on different ways to educate the public about energy conservation and sustainability. Mr. Botos said their main priority now is to educate people about “phantom-load energy,” which is the energy used by appliances that are not running, but are plugged in.

Although a microwave might only be on for a couple of minutes a day, he explained, if it is plugged in, it is still drawing out energy and costing the homeowner. The Natural Resources Department is looking to use social media networks to spread this message and will be using the hashtags #unplugeasthampton and #unplugeh.


Bridgehampton CAC Strikes an Environmental Chord with Planned Discussions on Local Issues

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The Bridgehampton CAC will host environmental discussions on local issues relevant to all of the East End such as water quality. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

The Bridgehampton CAC will host environmental discussions on local issues relevant to all of the East End such as water quality. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

The Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee has invited the East End community to presentations and discussions on local environmental issues with a series of guest speakers, kicking off this Monday, September 22.

On Monday, Dieter von Lehsten, the co-chairman of Southampton Town’s Sustainability Committee, will visit the CAC to discuss the environmental impact of plastic shopping bags. On Monday, October 27, Kevin McCallister, founder of defendh20.org, will discuss local surface waters and on Monday, November 25, Bob DeLucca, President of the Group for the East End, will discuss the historical evolution of groundwater protection, clearing restrictions and the effect on surface waters.

The Bridgehampton CAC will be inviting the CAC’s of Noyac and Water Mill to the meetings.

The CAC meets the fourth Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Bridgehampton National Bank’s Community Service Room in Bridgehampton.

Jeremy Samuelson

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By Mara Certic

Jeremy Samuelson is the executive director of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, a grassroots environmental organization. Here he discusses issues that will come up in an upcoming panel discussion CCOM is hosting on Saturday, September 20, about sustainable fisheries.

Why is CCOM concerned about sustainable fisheries?

For the last couple of years CCOM has been working on sustainable fisheries issues to try to find a way to move past some of the old conversations that don’t really seem to define where we need to go with striking a balance between fishing families making a living wage and a need to ensure the fisheries resource is sustainable. The old conversations didn’t serve the need going forward in identifying solutions. So we’ve partnered with Dock to Dish, members of the fishing community, fisheries scientists, the slow food movement, to try to find a way to have a new conversation that focuses on solutions.

As you said, CCOM has partnered with Dock to Dish. Do you think it’s better to get your fish from a CSF than from a local fishmonger?

The real change we are hoping to see is customers knowing where their fish is coming from, and getting it as directly as possible. That can be a model that is supported through any distribution network. You don’t have to be a member of a CSF to engage around sustainable fisheries issues. It’s just one model. So really what we’re hoping here is that no matter how somebody gets their seafood, whether that’s in a shop or a restaurant or from a wholesaler, we all are asking the same questions. What is my fish, where did it come from, was it caught sustainably, am I a part of the solution, or am I a part of the old business? If we are successful in our work, in a few years’ time, customers will always be asking themselves what is my fish, where did it come from, did the fishing family that landed this fish get paid a fair price? If people are asking those questions going forward then this movement will start to take hold, and we will see some changes in the industry that will benefit all of us.

There are many who say current landing regulations are outdated and must be revisited, where do you stand on that?

It’s true that the United States has the most regulated fishery in the world, but regulation is not the same thing as effective management. We need to collectively determine what are the best management strategies that allow fishing families to stay in business while we make sure we have robust fish stocks. There’s a balance that’s needed here and until we strike that balance it won’t be possible for us to have fish in the sea and for fishing families to make money. And if either one of those things fail, we’ve all failed.

What are some of the things you are looking forward to about Saturday’s panel discussion?

I think it’s going to be very interesting to see if we can all focus on the road ahead. The assumption for the last couple of decades has been that conservationists, scientists, fisheries, producers, regulators can’t have a unified approach to managing fisheries. I believe firmly that if we’re going to have honest science-based conversations that account for human need and strike that balance we’re seeing, there’s a way forward. And I’m really hoping that Saturday focuses on identifying and fleshing out what that way forward looks like.

“American Catch: Sustainable Fisheries, Getting it Right” is a series of panel discussions moderated by bestselling author Paul Greenberg. The free event will feature conversations on sustainable shellfish, sustainable seafood in the restaurant industry and creating sustainable fisheries. The event, which will be held at the Coast Restaurant, 41 South Euclid Street in Montauk, will also feature sustainably caught seafood prepared by the restaurant and a cash bar. Reservations are required. To make a reservation e-mail Deborah Klughers at dklughers@preservemontauk.org.

East End Weekend: Highlights of What to Do August 15 to 17

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"Pont de Tournelle" by Stephen Wilkes is on view at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor.

“Pont de Tournelle” by Stephen Wilkes is on view at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor.

By Tessa Raebeck

Art, films, and alternative energy; there’s plenty to do on the East End this weekend:


“Water 2014″ opens at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor on Saturday, August 16, with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m.

The annual exhibition features contemporary and classic photography “depicting life in and around the most powerful force of nature,” said the gallery. Dan Jones, Karine Laval, Herb Friedman, John Magarites, Blair Seagram, Tulla Booth, Anne Gabriele and Jay Hoops will show their work at the gallery, which is located at 66 Main Street in Sag Harbor.


Furthering on your water weekend, visit the Parrish Art Museum for the Maritime Film Festival, a 70-minute screening of short film selections, on Friday, August 15, at 7 p.m.

The program includes a brief talk by artist Duke Riley, a live musical performance and a special sampling of Sag Harbor Rum.

The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, call (631) 283-2118.


Hosted by Alec Baldwin, the Hamptons International Film Festival presents “Last Days in Vietnam,” on Saturday, August 16, at 7:30 p.m.

The documentary, produced and directed by Rory Kennedy,  follows United States soldiers during the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, when the North Vietnamese Army was closing in on Saigon as the South Vietnamese resistance crumbled.

A question and answer session will follow the screening, which will be held at Guild Hall, located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call the box office at (631) 324-4050.


The East End Climate Action Network will host its first annual Sustainability and Renewable Energy Fair on Saturday, August 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the grounds of Miss Amelia’s Cottage in Amagansett Village.

The event features exhibitions from leading companies in the sustainability and renewable energy fields, as well as informal lectures from energy and environment experts, local food and fun games and other activities for kids. Local artists will perform at the end of the day.

Tony award-winning John Glover will read "The Tempest" at two outdoor performances for the new Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative.

Tony award-winning John Glover will read “The Tempest” at two outdoor performances for the new Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative.

There will also be opportunities to get involved in local sustainability and climate change efforts, including solar energy consultations, beach clean-ups and membership sign-ups for local environmental groups. For more information, visit Renewable Energy Long Island.


Celebrating the launch of The Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative, Bay Street Theater will present two outdoor staged readings of The Tempest starring Tony award-winner John Glover as Prospero, on August 16 and 17.

On Saturday, the first performance is a VIP benefit held on a private waterfront estate on Shelter Island. The evening, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails followed by a 7 p.m. reading, includes a reception with the cast.

Sunday’s reading, which is open to the community free of charge, also starts at 7 p.m. at a thus far undisclosed location. There will be bleacher seating, although guests are encouraged to bring chairs, picnics and blankets. The reading will take place as the sun sets, with the stars coming out as Mr. Glover reads Shakespeare’s most beloved plays.

For more information, call the Bay Street box office at (631) 725-9500.

Renewable Energy STEM Center Earns Funding

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A two-story, 33,792- square-foot Renewable Energy and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Center on the Suffolk County Community College Michael J. Grant, Brentwood campus—the first of its kind in the state community college system—moved closer to reality when the Suffolk County legislature appropriated funding for design and planning of the new facility on May 13. Fifty percent of the $19.5 million center’s funding comes from New York State.

The new facility will house laboratories and classrooms to teach installation, maintenance and repair of solar, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal and other green power technologies, according to Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Shaun L. McKay who said plans call for the building to be solar-powered with geothermal heating and would contain a prototype solar house on rails that could be used indoors or rolled outside to test various renewable energy materials.

“Importantly, “McKay explained, “the second floor of the facility will serve as an incubator in conjunction with Stony Brook University, as well as space for cybersecurity educational and development opportunities.”

McKay said the new building will be sited next to the College’s Workforce and Development Center on the Michael J. Grant Campus.

Ross School in East Hampton Unveils New Marine Science Program

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Students from the Ross School working aboard a SoMAS research vessel.

Students from the Ross School working aboard a SoMAS research vessel.

By Tessa Raebeck

One scientist is looking at the medical applications of 3D printing technology, another is working on a Hydrogen-powered fuel cell and a third is developing an inexpensive way to have a prosthetic limb that responds to brain control. What do the three scientists have in common? They’re all in high school.

The projects are just some examples of independent research taking place in the Innovation Lab at the Ross School. Now in its second year, the program is adding marine science to its curriculum, which already includes diverse subjects like engineering, computer programming, woodworking, metalworking and welding.

“The Innovation Lab is a unique program that uses applied science and education to meet current problems of our society,” explained Paul Flagg, a teacher at Ross who was brought in to lead the marine science program. “So we are going to be working locally, regionally and globally in our efforts.”

In addition to the Ross School core curriculum, students in the Innovation Lab spend an extra hour at school each day working on their independent projects, which they choose and design themselves.

“The students are given a lot of latitude to select a project that they’re interested in,” Dr. David Morgan, the director of the lab, said. “What I tell students is if they’re not looking forward all day to when the Innovation Lab time comes around and they get to work on their project, then they probably chose the wrong project.”

“I really want the students all working on something they’re passionate about,” he added, “that is the kind of thing they would be doing anyway if they weren’t in school. Those are the kinds of students we’re looking for and the kinds of projects we try to steer them towards.”

Drawing on local resources and global ideas, the marine science program aims to broaden the Innovation Lab past engineering-type sciences to include life sciences and allows students to choose their focus from a large and diverse field.

“I think of the marine science program as more broadly than just fishing and plankton,” said Dr. Morgan. “It’s about global environmental issues. It’s about sustainability.”

“There’s room for students,” he added, “who are interested in genetics. There’s room there for students who are interested in resource management, fisheries, oceanography, computer modeling of global climate change…it’s a pretty big field.”

Flagg, who has an extensive background in fisheries and marine biology, designed the new program’s first course, “The Earth and its Oceans,” which is focused on physical oceanography and marine theology, currently in the fourth of 12 weeks.

Students are building a ROV (remote operated vehicle), “basically a robotic submarine,” said Dr. Morgan, and developing data collection packages to test the water for things like salinity and dissolved oxygen content.

In all projects, students are encouraged to look at problems in an interdisciplinary fashion.

Following the course, 22 students and five faculty members will travel to Mo’orea, a remote island in French Polynesia, for 20 days during the Ross School’s midwinter term.

In collaboration with National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institute, they will conduct field research for a bio-code project at University of California at Berkeley’s Richard Gump Research Station.

“It’s an inventory of all life that exists” in Mo’orea, said Flagg. “We’re working on that inventory, including the genetic identity of each species, and so far the project has been going for five years and we’re coming to support it.”

Dr. Morgan said such trips are going to be an important part of the program.

“Getting students working not just in our local waters,” he said, “but getting them to experience environments that they might not otherwise get a chance to experience.”

Some students, he said, are conducting research on using the oceans to generate power through wave and tidal power generation or generating electricity from the temperature difference between the surface water and water 100 meters below.

“[We are] looking at the oceans as a source of energy and not just a place that we pull things out of to eat,” said Dr. Morgan, adding that the Ross School encourages students to think about global environmental impact in all their projects and “how this technology might be able to help mitigate things like environmental effects of human existence on this planet.”

The Ross School is offering three full tuition merit-based scholarships, including stipends and support for all four years, for marine science students from the local community.

Two scholarships have already been awarded to Evi Kaasik Saunders and Liam Cummings, but one is still available. To apply for the remaining scholarship, visit ross.org/apply or email admissions@ross.org.

“We feel committed,” Flagg said, “to supporting the community with research and students that are interested and would like to be involved in matters of local concern — such as the effects of sea-level change, effects of mismanagement of fisheries — so we think there’s a lot of opportunity for high-level participation and support of local resource management in the marine environment.”

Although students are doing work on a global scale, the program is committed to the local community.

“We feel that we’re part of a community that has a long relationship and dependence on the ocean for its survival,” said Flagg.



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By Gabrielle Selz

We are a community shaped and surrounded by water, bounded on one side by the Atlantic Ocean and on the other by the Peconic Bay and the Long Island Sound; we inhabit one of the most beautiful and highly developed regions of coastal land. However, despite increased awareness of the issues of global climate change, most of us on the East End are still unaware of the vulnerability facing our immediate area. 

Not only are sea levels rising, the rate is accelerating. Projections of sea level increases vary from, on the conservative side between 2 to 5 inches by the year 2020 to a more realistic estimation of 12 inches if rapid ice sheet melting is taken into account. Even with variance in forecasting, authorities agree that any amount of sea level rise is alarming. Additionally, because of the rising temperature of the upper level of the ocean, hurricanes are predicted to be more powerful and to last longer: Homes could be damaged, access roads flood and salt water intrude into the ground water aquifer system. 

Though there may be a discrepancy in the degree, the change in sea levels will reconfigure the nature of our landscape within the next decade no matter what we do. The question then becomes, how do we plan for a problem that encompasses uncertain projections, sudden and devastating storms as well as incremental changes happening over long periods of time?

It’s easy to visualize the impact of a major storm. We’ve seen the images of the devastation wrought by Ike and Katrina and some of us even remember The Great Hurricane of 1938, which created the Shinnecock Inlet. Though such storms are historically rare, they are occurring with greater frequency and severity. However, it’s the gradual impact over decades from the incremental rise in sea level, that are harder for us to encompass and prepare for, and yet these are the changes that will affect our lives and communities.

The news isn’t all grim. The slow and insidious nature of the problem of rising sea levels gives us a window of opportunity to plan, both for gradual change and for the catastrophic event of a major storm.

At this point, local decision makers in our communities have been unable to effectively integrate sea level rise and coastal hazard risk into any kind of policy that would protect our human communities, our natural resources and shape land use management. Even the recent new flood maps implemented by FEMA were confusing to individual homeowners as well as town officials and land use authorities. 

The fragility and beauty of our environment, combined with the highly developed nature of the area, offer unique challenges to the East End. We are now faced with the task of advocating for an approach to adaptation. This will take tremendous support for public policies that address sustainability.

In order to implement the changes that are necessary for a resilient community, we must come together as a society. We need to change land use policy and manage our resources, to acquire open space on the coast, to restore habitats as natural buffers, to move public structures, such as the Montauk Lighthouse which is an historic treasure and still dangerously situated, to change our wetland laws and, in the event of a catastrophic hurricane, to develop a post storm redevelopment plan that does not offer perverse incentives that keep people in harm’s way. All this takes time. 

A forum to address these issues is being held over the weekend of March 27th on the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University. The 1st Women’s Conference on Sustainability, co-hosted by WISE (Women’s Initiatives for a Sustainable Earth) along with Stony Brook Southampton and the Stony Brook University Center for Wine, Food and Culture is designed to empower, inspire and educate. The conference is open to women, men, professionals and novices and includes information, discussion and entertainment all focused on the issues of climate change and creating resilient communities. One of the speakers, Sarah Newkirk from The Nature Conservancy, will demonstrate an interactive map server that works much like Google Earth in helping East Enders to visualize, pinpoint and generate predictions of sea-level rise and hazards to individual homes.

Other speakers include Richard Leakey (the anthropologist who lives in Kenya on a self-sufficient farm), Patti Wood (Grassroots Environmental Education), Sara Gordon (trained by Al Gore for the Climate Project), and many more.

Designed to flow from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, with one price of $165 for the entire weekend, attendees are still free to pick and choose from the events that interest them most.

Personally, the flood of problems we face sometimes overcomes me. Yet the truth is that there are simple steps we can take. Passivity is often the result of not knowing how to participate. The conference offers us the opportunity to come together, educate ourselves, learn grassroots leadership practices, understand how change happens, and move toward action and advocacy. 

For more details and to register for the conference, go to www.sowise.org.


Gabrielle Selz is a freelance writer living in Southampton. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, More Magazine and Art Papers. She’s writing on behalf of WISE and The 1st Women’s Conference on Sustainability.

Films With Green Theme Underscore College’s Mission

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By Marianna Levine

With movies ranging in subject from butterflies and turtles to building in an eco-friendly way, Stony Brook Southampton’s First Annual Green Film Series was started as a way to further celebrate and communicate the campus’s focus on sustainability. It features a free film about environmental sustainability each Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. and was  the brainchild of interim Dean Martin Schoonen, and the Avram Theater’s manager Leonard Ziemkiewicz. 

For the past two years Stony Brook Southampton has billed itself as a “green campus” and even offers a major in sustainability. In fact, according to Mr. Ziemkiewicz, it is one of the first colleges in the country to offer such an academic focus. 

The film series’ primary goal, according to the school’s media relations manager Darren Johnson, is to get the community, along with students and faculty, involved in serious and lively discussions about the varying aspects of sustainability and how it impacts everyday lives. 

The word “sustainability” has become a popular catchall phrase recently, but in this case it refers primarily to the idea that the Earth’s resources should be replenished at the same rate as they are used. However with today’s economic and environmental complexity one cannot just study ecology without bringing in economic and social issues.  Therefore the film series covers a number of topics including this week’s documentary, “Buyer be Fair,” a film that examines fair trade certification throughout the world.  Another film shown on  March 19th, “Black Diamond” explores all aspects of the diamond trade from the miners to the jewelry dealers.

After each viewing, the college hosts a discussion about the featured topic with one or two of Stony Brook Southampton’s teachers. Faculty members Heather Macadam, a writer, and Dr. Arlene Cassidy, the director of sustainable studies, will host this week’s discussion. 

“Sometimes the discussions last longer than the movie,” Mr. Johnson relates.  He notes that most of the films are just about an hour in length. Mr. Ziemkiewicz has been told that the students who attend the screenings bring the discussions into the classroom soon thereafter. 

However he notes, the crowds haven’t been entirely made up of students and faculty.

“We get a good mix of students, professors, and the general public attending each screening,” said Mr. Johnson. Which is exactly what the series’ founders were hoping would happen. Mr. Ziemkiewicz is hopeful the series will become an annual event, and stresses that he “really wants to get the local community involved in the discussion.”

Other upcoming films include, “The Monarch, A Butterfly Beyond Borders” and “Water First and Turtle World.” 

The film series will end with a film entitled, “Build Green,” which features Canadian environmental activist, David Suzuki, showcasing various environmental buildings and architects from around the world. This film should be of interest to the local community as Southampton Town has been trying to revamp its own building codes more recently to effectively comply with current green building standards.

Above: A scene from “Buyer Be Fair.”