Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Activists Share Sustainability Skills

Activists from across the state will gather Aug 10-12 for a weekend sharing sustainability skills and visions at NY Green Fest. Workshops at locations in Ithaca and Cayutaville will address how to build a small wind turbine, bake in an earth oven, build a green roof, live off the grid, practice permaculture, live job free, build local food networks, practice liberation ecology, build new media outlets, and use third party politics to effect social change. Green Fest has been organized by an ad-hoc group to promote sustainability and is a benefit for the Green Party of New York. The festival is open to all who are interested in sustainable living and sustainable politics.

Exhibitors include VoxPop, the Climate Change Action Group of Central New York, Democracy School, Farm Sanctuary, SOA Watch, Cures not Wars, the Citizens Environmental Coalition, Eco Books, the Shopping Bag Action group, Sustainable Tompkins, Community Energy, Indigo Summer, MyshellaZ Art, Joey Gates henna body art, a veggie car and a small wind turbine. Musicians include the Native Earthling Band playing on their solar-powered stage, Deborah Magone, Dan Hill, the Peacesmiths and Burnin' Hearts.

The weekend offers many opportunities for sharing visions of sustainability.

Green Fest begins Friday evening, August 10, with a program on the politics of sustainability at the Community School auditorium, 330 E. State St., Ithaca from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. Three speakers will address the power relationships that promote sustainability. Art Weaver from Renovus Energy in Ithaca, will speak on social change and its connection to renewable energy, Virginia Rasmussen from Alfred, a founder of the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy, will speak on the politics of sustainability, and Dan Hill, the Cayuga Nation representative to the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force, will speak on sustainability for the long term. Dan will open and close the program with native flute music.

Saturday’s programs take place at Cayuta Sun, an off-the-grid permaculture homestead at 2962 Swamp Rd. in Cayutaville, 15 miles southwest of Ithaca. The workshops begin at 8:30 am with a bread baking workshop in the earth oven at Cayuta Sun lead by Lois Hilton from Tickletown Trust & Trade in Humphrey. Lois will also join Saturday’s panel on building a local food network, along with Matthew Glenn from Muddy Fingers Farm in Hector, editor of Southern Tier Farm to You Local Food Directory, Gwen Quigley from Keuka Cookin’ in Bath, Josh Dolan from EcoCity Ithaca and Michele Danels from East New York Farms in Brooklyn.

Living job free living and minimizing the need for money with ecological frugality and resourcefulness will be presented by Ed Haffmans and JoAnn Myers from the Catskills. A permaculture workshop will be conducted by Michael Burns and Steve Gabriel from the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute. Grassroots organizing for sustainability is the topic discussed by Gay Nicholson from Sustainable Tompkins, Mike Sellars, Mayor of Cobleskill, from Sustainable Cobleskill, and Tony and Mary Lipnicki, the founders of a monthly discussion group in Andover, NY. Two off-grid pioneers, Steve Nicholson from Ithaca and Tony Moretti from Hammondsport will offer advice on living off-the-grid.

How to build a small wind turbine will be demonstrated Saturday afternoon by Barry Miller, a mechanical engineer from Hinsdale, New York. Barry has spent 20 years in the wind energy business. For nine years he operated a wind farm in Altamont Pass west of San Franciso. Four media activists, Sander Hicks from Brooklyn, Carl Lawrence from Brooklyn, Bill Huston from Binghamton and Deborah Magone from Rochester will discuss getting media access for alternative viewpoints. Carl, Bill and Deborah produce cable access television programs. Sander is editor, publisher and reporter of New York Megaphone, the founder of Soft Skull Press and the proprietor of Vox Pop bookstore.

Saturday evening Rafter Sass will present ideas for a Liberation Ecology. His topic is refusing to choose between social justice and sustainability. Rafter lives and works at the Germantown Community Farm, a collectively-run community food security project in the Hudson River Valley.

A Cob for Kids workshop will run throughout the day on Saturday. Lunch and dinner including local foods will be served on Saturday. Sunrise yoga at 7:00 am with Ann Eagan from Sunnyside, Queens begins the day. Deborah Magone will perform gutsy blues at 1:00 pm. The Native Earthling Band will perform from 4:30 to 6:00 pm, and Burnin' Hearts will perform in the evening.

On Sunday, August 12, Green Fest moves to the Ithaca Commons in downtown Ithaca with a series of speakers and musicians at the Bernie Milton Pavilion in the center of the Commons. Lexie Hain from Motherplants will show how to make a green roof. Ilonka Wloch, the editor of Positive News in Ithaca, Craig Seeman from Third Planet Video in Brooklyn, and Cyril Mychalejko from Upside Down World in Vermont will discuss building new media outlets that address sustainability issues. Helene Williams, Susan Blake and Leonard Lehrman from Peacesmiths will perform political songs.

Using third party electoral activism to foster social change and challenge the underpinnings of corporate power will be discussed by Howie Hawkins, SKCM Curry, Tony Gronowicz and Jason Nabewaniec. Howie was the 2006 Green Party candidate for US Senate from New York and is a current candidate for Syracuse Common Council. Tony Gronowicz, the 2005 Green Party candidate for Mayor of New York City, teaches at the City University of New York. His most recent book is Grand Illusion: American Democracy from its Roots to the Present. Jason Nabewaniec from Batavia is a Co-Chair of the Green Party US. Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza-Curry from Los Angeles is a Green Party candidate for Vice President of the US.

Sunday’s program concludes with a discussion of campus organizing for sustainability led by Ethan Rainwater, Sustainability Intern at Cornell University, Peter LaVenia from the Albany University Campus Greens, and Krista Carlson, a student at Alfred University.

$35 admission for Friday and Saturday, includes Saturday lunch and dinner, Sunday free. Camping available for an additional charge. Green Fest is a benefit for the Green Party of New York. For a detailed schedule, directions, registration forms and more information, visit or call 607-569-2114.

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