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Lupardo, Desu focus on potential for ‘green’ economy

Environmental focus, initiatives would benefit region, residents

Broome County should embrace its evolving “green” economy, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo told a lunchtime crowd April 30 on campus.

The area’s historic strengths of innovation and creativity, paired with the low cost of living, could help Greater Binghamton go “green,” which will in turn attract new residents and benefit those already in the area.

“What I think is missing is a common language,” Lupardo said, noting there’s already the beginning of an environmentally friendly movement locally.

She hopes to create opportunities for farmers, manufacturers, government leaders, planners and the media to talk about their efforts and find ways to collaborate. A green economy summit organized last week is j

ust the first step, she said.

Lupardo’s appearance was unusual in that the politician spent almost as much time listening to the ideas of people in the audience as she did speaking. She noted that she has been pleased to find a use for her undergraduate degree in philosophy, which allows her to sit back and hear a variety of arguments before identifying the underlying theme or concept.

Her talk, held the day after Earth Day celebrations on campus, was sponsored by United University Professions, the Civil Service Employees Association, the Environmental Studies Program, Campus Climate Challenge, the College Democrats and the Student Environmental Action Coalition. Seshu Desu, dean of the Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, also spoke.

Lupardo, sponsor of the State Green Building Act, which will mandate environmentally friendly mater

During an Earth Day Celebration held April 22 at the Dickinson Amphitheater, D. Andrew Merriwether, associate professor and graduate director in the Anthropology Department, feeds one of two alpacas that he and his wife, Ann Merriwether, a lecturer in the
ials and practices for state projects, said one of her concerns is ensuring that tradespeople, engineers and other experts are ready for the demands of such work.

She expects state grants will support this particular element of workforce development, she said, and has high hopes for a new SUNY central initiative in conjunction with the Broome County Urban League that has a “green collar” component.

The Staten Island native said she’s also trying to get better educated about agricultural issues, including reading Civic Agriculture by Thomas A. Lyson, a Cornell University faculty member who died late last year.

“No place has a community decided to frame itself around this work,” Lupardo said, which is why Broome County has an opportunity to set itself apart by doing so. She urged members of the audience to dedicate themselv

es to a “green” philosophy and make it part of their personal way of life.

Desu took the podium next, discussing ways in which the Watson School and the University as a whole can support developing “green” technologies. He said sustainable engineering may soon become a concentration or even a minor, thanks to student demand for such a program.

Desu said he believes food and water should be locally produced and locally consumed. Once one accepts that idea, he said, it’s easy to see how a comparable decentralization of technology may also make sense.

There’s a “100-mile diet” in which people commit to eating food produced no more than 100 miles from their homes; a similar plan would encourage connections among local suppliers and manufacturers to reduce shipping costs and boost the area’s economy.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08