Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper Oren Lyons
Published May 18, 2018
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – What happens when eleven local, regional, and statewide environmental and justice organizations work as a team to plan a Climate Solutions Summit in Syracuse? A justice-oriented Summit focusing on inclusive, intersectional, big-tent thinking and energy system transitions in ways that benefit everyone.
The Summit will be held Saturday, May 19, 2018 at the Public Service Leadership Academy at Fowler High School in Syracuse, New York, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Keynote speakers include Faithkeeper Oren Lyons (Onondaga Nation), Former EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, and sustainability advocate Eric Walker of Buffalo. The meeting, drawing hundreds of people from across the state, is designed to provide information about the initiatives already underway and inspire people to take action.
“The ice has been melting in the north for over 30 years. The time for business as usual, especially for fossil fuels, is over. If we have a love for our children, a love for the future, we have to change. We need value change, for survival,” Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, said.
“Climate change is often framed as a global issue, but the effects are felt at a local level. It’s on our community to do what we can, not only as residents of Syracuse but as citizens of the world, to take actions that address it,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, as he welcomed the Climate Solutions Summit to Syracuse in a press conference on May 17. “I’m proud to say that we’re working towards a healthier and more sustainable community through measures like completing four action items to earn designation from the state as a NYSERDA Clean Energy Community and converting our street lights to LED. We also have organizations like Onondaga Earth Corps and programs like PEACE, Inc. Weatherization contributing to our community’s impact.”
At the recommendation of local Southside residents and environmental justice activists, the Climate Summit is being held in a public high school in Syracuse, accessible by public transportation, offering tickets on a “pay-what-you-can” scale, and hiring a local woman-owned, minority-owned caterer. The summit is offering child care and ASL interpretation, and turning the dial away from single-use plastics so common at public events toward a “zero waste” goal. The Climate Solutions Summit wants to focus on not what’s going wrong but what’s going right and how we can all -students to grandparents – join the movement.
The Summit’s opening panel, titled “Successes at the Local Level,” will feature elected officials from across the region highlighting successful clean energy and sustainability projects in their municipality or community. Panelists include Sam Gordon, Director of Planning and Zoning, Town of Dewitt; Mike Baden, Supervisor, Town of Rochester; Irene Weiser, Councilmember, Town of Caroline; Amanda LaValle, Department of the Environment, Ulster County; Joe Wilson, Erie County Environmental Management Council; and Joe Driscoll, Councilmember, City of Syracuse.
The Summit features case studies and workshops in renewable energy such as solar, wind, renewable heating and cooling- ground source (geothermal) and air source heat pumps; energy efficiency; electric vehicles; clean mass transit; green jobs; sustainable land use; and environmental justice. Breakout sessions will focus on technical skills, communications, movement building and opportunities for networking with members of the climate movement. Speakers will range from local, grassroots, state and national organizations. There will be an all day Tabling Expo featuring non-profit organizations and businesses.
Presenters include: Chris Carrick, Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board; Mark Lowery, Department of Environmental Conservation: Anne Reynolds, ACE New York; Jessica Azulay, Alliance for a Green Economy; Chris Bolt, WAER; Emily Pomilio, Sierra Club; Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, Sustainability Strategist; Twiggy Billue, National Action Network; and more from local, state and national organizations. A full list of presenters can be found at ClimateSolutionsSummit.org/program