By Jeanne Sager
FERNDALE February 7, 2006 Sullivan Renaissance isnt one of those exclusive clubs.
If anything, theyd like to be an EOE, an equal opportunity encourager.
This Saturday will officially kick off the fifth year of Sullivan Renaissance with the 10th Winter Forum at the CVI building in Ferndale.
Started 10 years ago as a Sullivan First gathering, the forum has blossomed into an expo with training sessions, introduction of the Renaissance season to come and a place to brainstorm.
But it isnt just the Sullivan Renaissance Winter Forum.
Whether youre involved in the dozens of beautification projects funded by Gerry Foundation grants or you just live and work in Sullivan County, you can be a part of Sullivan Renaissance, says foundation spokesman Glenn Pontier.
We love it when people take part in our projects, but our projects arent the goal, he explained. Theyre just the vehicle to the goal.
The goal is to bring about a rebirth in Sullivan County, a renaissance.
The goal is to have every homeowner mow their lawn in the summer and every business owner replace their bad siding.
We want to reach out beyond our projects to the community, to say to folks, if you want to volunteer, that would be great, Pontier explained. But you dont have to do that to be involved in Sullivan Renaissance.
You can do that by planting a garden, you can do that by hanging a window box, you can do that by painting your door, he continued.
Its interesting, in places where theres litter, people litter, Pontier noted. It works in reverse. If someone cleans up an area, someone can say, Hey, I can paint my house, or I can at least paint the trim.
So this years Winter Forum is about Sullivan Renaissance, in every way the county has grown and can grow.
Sullivan First Achievement Awards will be given out eight awards are going to individuals or groups that have nothing to do with the actual Renaissance projects.
Workshops will be held with some project-based ideas that can be put to use at your home or business.
A code enforcement officer and an assessor will be able to speak to just what you can improve around your house without risking a jump in taxes or what has to be done to make sure your house meets proper codes.
A landscaping teacher from BOCES will go back to the roots of gardening to explain how to plan out what to grow.
And, of course, there will be seminars on attracting volunteers and getting youth involved, as well as a workshop about the new Sullivan 2020 comprehensive plan.
Visitors to the forum will be asked to vote on the first-ever Sullivan Renaissance poster contest.
To help promote Renaissance in the community, students at BOCES and the Monticello High School were asked to submit posters with the theme Its Show Time.
The winner will be announced on Saturday and their poster will begin promoting Sullivan Renaissance across the county.
The theme is perfect, Pontier said, because after five years there really is a lot to show for Renaissance.
The place really does look good, he said.
With the Gerry Foundations other big project Bethel Woods Center for the Arts slated to open in July, the county is going to be getting some national media attention, and its ready.
Lets put our best face on, Pontier said. When youre inviting people into your home, your community, you want to look your best.
And its good for community pride, community spirit. . . its pretty terrific to be part of this, and everybody can be.
Doors will open on the Winter Forum on Saturday at 7:45 a.m. at the CVI Building.
The program will begin at 8:45 a.m., and the keynote speaker will be Sullivan County Clerk George Cooke, longtime chairman of the countys LitterPluck.
Vendors will keep the expo portion of the days activities open through 1 p.m.
Applications will be available for Sullivan Renaissance 2006, and this years new rules and plans will be revealed.
Applications are due March 20, and grants will be awarded March 30.
To register for the forum, call 295-2445 by Friday.