Leni Santoro | Democrat
KELLEY GIPS OF Woodridge, center, with black sweater, talks with a visitor in front of her award-winning garden at last Saturday’s Sullivan Renaissance Winter Conference and Expo at the CVI Building in Ferndale.
Making our county
'A place worth
By Leni Santoro
FERNDALE Sullivan Renaissance kicked off its ninth year this past Saturday February 20 when the 2009 Sullivan Renaissance Winter Conference and Expo took place at the CVI Building in Ferndale. The theme this year is “Celebrating Sullivan County A Place Worth Caring About.”
Hundreds of people attended workshops on celebrating the bicentennial and historic preservation, Sullivan Renaissance programs, green and sustainable resources, gardening, youth activities, beautification and community development efforts.
Following the presentation of the Sullivan First Achievement Awards (see sidebar), keynote speaker James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency and more recently World Made by Hand, a novel set in upstate New York in a not too distant future, began his presentation by focusing on the issues of an oil consuming populace.
Speaking to the depletion of fossil fuels in our time, he enumerated the many ways that the suburbs created after World War II do not work. From oil and other fossil fuel depletion crises to the ways in which we shop and interact, he portrayed a dire situation.
Utilizing a PowerPoint presentation he showed the audience slide after slide of overcrowded highways, poorly designed buildings and even more poorly designed public spaces.
“We are suffering hugely in the United States from having places to live in that are not very rewarding,” said Kunstler. “We have squandered our post-war wealth building an infrastructure for daily life that has no future.”
And this, according to Kunstler, includes; superhighways, strip malls, tourist attractions and more.
Kunstler said that depletion of fossil fuels will require a return to smaller-scale communities and the need to focus activities more locally. He showed examples of walk-able communities to illustrate “places worth caring about.”
After his presentation people were invited to remain in the auditorium for a one-on-one dialogue with the speaker or they could attend any of the 10 workshops planned for the day, which included presentations by Sullivan County Historian John Conway on the history of the county, gardening tips by Catskill Harvest Market owner Will Foster and learning the tools critical to recruiting and retaining volunteers, fundraising and project management presented by Christine Ahearn, Dave Moore and Susan Runnels of Renaissance.
Also included in the day’s activities were displays set up around the conference center where people could get information on ways to involve young people, planting, gardening, landscape design, signage and playground supplies.
Attendees began the process of selecting a Sullivan County flower as part of the Bicentennial Celebration. Mountain laurel received 60 votes; sunflower was a distant second with 24; day lily followed with 21; and daisy with 18. Voting will continue in the Sullivan County Democrat. See a profile of each flower in Tuesday’s paper.
Gardens by Kelley was recognized by attendees for creating the best spring garden display, and will receive free advertising in area newspapers. Sullivan County Division of Planning was second with its rain garden display.
Other highlights included a light breakfast prepared by Erin Lipsky and staff of Granite Associates and served by culinary students from Delaware Valley Job Corps Center; food and paper waste composted by Bee Green Community Garden at Morningside Park in Fallsburg; students from Tri-Valley and Fallsburg schools, and the Sullivan Home Educators assisted throughout the day.
Details of the 2009 Sullivan Renaissance Grant Program were unveiled and applications were made available. Deadline for submission is March 30. Grants will be awarded on April 16; projects must be completed in August.
Sullivan Renaissance is a beautification and community development program principally funded by the Gerry Foundation.
For info call 295-2445 or visit www.sullivanrenaissance.org.