September 24, 2001

New Outreach Program Comes To City of Ithaca

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Beginning tomorrow, the Cornell Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy (CRESP) will welcome expert speakers to Cornell University, Ithaca College and the local community to take part in a dialogue series on environmental reform.

The series will be a community-outreach program focused on “creating a just and sustainable society, starting from where we live,” according to organizers.

According to Elan Shapiro, coordinator of the community sustainability project, the series is focused on determining a common vision for the long-term self-sufficiency of Ithaca and its people.

The free series — part of CRESP’s community sustainability project that began this past summer — boasts over a dozen academic and local civic co-sponsors that reflect the program’s mission, according to Shapiro.

“The speaker series is a great example of the innovative work that can be done in this community,” said Anke Wessels, CRESP executive director. “CRESP organizes various programs both abroad and locally that deal with issues of sustainability in the environment. We used some extra funds for this speaker and dialogue series to inform Ithaca of what a sustainable community could look like.”

Lectures that are part of the series will explore how to best organize Ithaca, create cooperative relationships and look at the future of Ithaca from a global slant aimed at decreasing inner city decay among other objectives.

The intention of the dialogue series will be to spark thinking and care in creating a local economy and culture based on, “creative partnerships, economic justice, ecological design and policies and lifestyles that foster diversity and long-term well being,” Shapiro said.

The lectures series kicks off with “Steps to a Sustainable Ithaca: Success Stories and Strategies,” a talk by Prof. Robert Young, city and regional planning. Young, who will speak at the Unitarian Church in Ithaca tomorrow, runs a zero-emmission organic farm in Van Etten, N.Y.

“We are looking to preserve the elements of Ithaca that make it special and foster progressive economic growth,” Young explained.

He praised the open dialogue downtown and mentioned communities that are in similar circumstances across the country where the cost of living is relatively low.

“There are many grass roots organizations here that have great ideas but don’t have city policies backing them. Unless you have government assistance, it’s an uphill battle,” he added.

John Barney, University conservation planner, will be offering a lecture with David Kay, regional planner of Cornell’s local government program, on October 10. The program will focus more on where Ithaca currently fits in the development puzzle, describing its patterns of land usage with an outlook toward the future.

The speaker series is sponsored through the University Department of Rural Sociology, the Cornell Center for the Environment, EcoVillage at Ithaca, the Student Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Ithaca College Department of Environmental Studies, the Ithaca College Environmental Society and the Alternative Federal Credit Union with additional support from other organizations in and around Tompkins County.

Shapiro noted that CRESP hasn’t yet finalized how to incorporate results from the series, but hopes to issue a report describing the outcome.

“Ithaca has a long history of supporting local agriculture and industry. There is still a lot more work to do,” Wessels added.

CRESP will hold the presentations at various times and locations in downtown Ithaca, Cornell University and Ithaca College through Nov. 28.

Archived article by Chris Westgate