Sustainability and justice is at the heart of vision
By DICK RISELING
Everyone agrees that our region is going through very dramatic and profound change. The key issue is achieving the ability to design and plan that change and to set our core values that define our vision at the center of all change.
I suggest that these values are justice and sustainability, the two most important requirements of all economic development.
Here is a list of a few very practical projects that embody these vision principles.
1. The Performing Arts Center and Bethel Woods complex, considered worldwide as sacred and the most famous site in our region, could become a world institution by deeply embedding sustainable designing into every phase of its development. Every building, every material, every source of energy could be renewable and biodegradable, and in every way emulate the great gifts of music, dance and other forms of artistry we expect. This design is more affordable than conventional construction, material use and finance.
2. The Concord Resort could be purchased and developed as a residential-convention-resort community. Purchase could be arranged through a consortium of financial parties on terms that alleviate most debt service. This community project could provide a very substantial convention business, housing and living wages (starting at $15 or more per hour) to several hundreds of residents now living in poverty and inferior housing, and could be governed and managed as a private-public partnership.
3. The Grossinger Resort could become a health spa complex featuring locally grown food and provided services, a research-education center on healthy living, green building and energy technologies.
4. The landfill problems could be ameliorated by hiring community organizers to assist households and production and sales businesses to reduce the generation of landfill material. The county leadership could provide coherent, competent, and honest accounting and reporting, and renewable energy technologies could be integrated on a priority basis to reap existing energy and cost savings.
5. Sullivan County Community College could have a two-year degree program in renewable energy technologies.
6. A regional, renewable energy and technology plan could be initiated that would build a consensus for adopting building codes that require progressively higher rates of green technologies and materials in all new construction. A first step would be hiring a full-time renewable technology staff member for the Division of Planning and Economic Development.
7. Wind farms could be installed in several parts of the region known to have significant wind resources. Solar electric (photovoltaics) could be installed on public sector buildings as demonstration and cost-saving projects that improve economic bottom lines as well as human and environmental health.
Many other practical, affordable projects are not listed here for lack of space.
Each offers substantial job creation with significant wages, alleviates the number one problem of our area, poverty, and provides a very effective regional promotional campaign that will ensure economic development that enhances the welfare of all.
Details on all of these projects are available.
[Dick Riseling is a farmer and community activist in Callicoon Center, NY.]