Now We’re On The Vangaurd...
Just as so much of the rest of the nation’s gone all weird
and boorish, talking about socialism, communism, as well as
how we’re not ready for mass distribution of a new British
film about the life of Darwin because his views about evolution
are just too darned controversial, the Catskills seem to have
stepped into the vanguard of what will surely be our next partisan
bugaboo… climate change and how to deal with it.
It turns out that despite continuing protests against the facts
of global warming elsewhere, our very own Catskill Watershed
Corporation, founded out of our region’s grassroots protest
movement against Big Government regulations on the part of New
York City, is currently taking registrations and finalizing
plans for the upcoming Ninth Annual Catskills Local Government
Day to be held Thursday, Oct. 15 at Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.
.. on the theme of “Climate Change Made Local.”
The event, as advertised, will feature presentations on the
science of climate change along with discussions of its potential
impacts on municipal and community infrastructure and on the
economy of New York and the Catskills. And the audience? Local
town officials, of all parties… drawn together by a realization
that changing flood patterns, shifts in stormwater activity,
and other phenomenon need addressing quick.
Remember how, just a few years back, there were some in these
hills still scoffing about the state’s requirement that
the Belleayre Resort environmental review and other key developmental
matters in the region, from the Schoharie Dam repairs to the
decision to straighten Route 28A to the City’s decision
to reopen a spillway for the Ashokan Reservoir? Now the very
CWC board is helping promote a workshop for town board members,
highway department heads and other municipal officials that
will focus on examining the vulnerability of community infrastructure
– from buildings and parks to sewer plants, water systems
and street lights, plus a seminar entitled “Green Means
Business” that will look at how businesses can save money
using sustainable practices, and the potential for jobs in the
renewable energy field. The day’s featured lunchtime speaker,
Mimi Katzenbach, will explain the Transition Movement by which
communities work towards locally-based energy, economic and
social systems as “a strategy for meeting a future of
weather extremes, fossil fuel depletion and other challenges.”
This is the sort of story national cable news should be picking
up on… both in terms of the distance we’ve managed
to come to now be on the same page discussing these issues,
as well as looking forward into what seems to be an increasingly
progressive future… at least in terms of the worries being
batted about in Washington these days on similar subjects.
On a similar footing, we are also enthused by the growing efforts
by the Central Catskills Collaborative in finally moving the
entire Route 28 corridor towards submission of a Scenic Byway
nomination to the state, with commendable openness and involvement
by all in the seven affected communities from Hurley to Delhi.
Given the increasing tourism and funding successes being generated
by the Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway along SR 44/55 farther
south in the county, which the state just expanded by almost
6 miles, as well as the growing state and county sense of commitment
to rail trails and development of the New York City reservoir
system’s tunnels for electrical generation, we’re
starting to get the sense that the region’s longterm future
may be in much better shape than any of us thought.
Why’s that, you ask?
Hey, we’re in a time when those at the vanguard of major
changes, be they the digital age or new energy, are bound to
get funding help, strong publicity, and the sorts of added attention
that draws new inflow into the region, as well as increased
opportunities for those willing to retrain themselves in the
new ways… which fortunately, our local schools and colleges
are also leaping into leading positions for.
Early birds and worms, you could also say. Whatever... It all
adds up to interesting times, as well as a fascinating new backdrop
by which to view the upcoming elections, which we will start
covering in our October issues.