Does the climate crisis leave you feeling that anything you can do is futile? Or do you look away and live as though it’s not happening? Frustration, avoidance and rage, beside being unproductive of solutions and harmful psychologically, are not going to get us past this very big bump in our collective road.
We are fortunate to live where we do. Saugerties is leading the way in a direction that’s positive, hopeful and proactive. You can find out about these possibilities at the Go Smart Go Green Fair at the Greco Senior Center this Saturday, May 4 from noon to 4 p.m.
Back in 2009, Saugerties was the first town in Ulster County to take the Climate Smart Communities Pledge back in 2009. The Conservation Advisory Commission (CAC) formed a climate smart task force in March 2018. for the purpose of getting Saugerties certified by NY State as a Climate Smart Community, According to town board member Mike MacIsaac, who serves as board liaison to the task force, the goal was to get the state to certify Saugerties certified as a Climate Smart Community. “We are well on our way to achieving that and will become the second municipality in Ulster County after Kingston to do so,” says MacIsaac.
CAC chair Mary O’Donnell says the program provides a systematic and effective way for local governments to take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “The main work of the task force is evaluating and then advising the town government with strategies leading to the reduction of our carbon footprint,” explained Mike Harkavy.
The greenhouse gas inventory prepared by the task force provides a comprehensive assessment of the town government’s annual energy use, the cost of that energy, and the 1,225.60 metric tons of carbon emitted as a result, said task force member Patti Kelly. The town board unanimously adopted the inventory at its April 17 meeting. The inventory will be a tool in the continuing efforts to reduce carbon emissions from town facilities and the town’s vehicle fleet, and to meet renewable energy goals.
The inventory is available on the town’s website for the public to review. The results along with recommendations will also be on prominent and colorful display at the May 4 event.
According to Carole Furman, principal recommendations include changing over 400 street lights to LEDs; replacing the chiller at the ice arena with a more energy-efficient chiller (when there is funding for that); replacing some of the police vehicle fleet with pursuit-ready plug-in hybrid vehicles, replacing other vehicles at other departments with plug in-electric vehicles, and purchasing new vehicles for the highway department with those with better mileage efficiency; and purchasing up to 40% solar credits from East Light solar at the landfill.
The Go Smart Go Green Fair is intended as a way to communicate the Climate Smart agenda to Saugerties residents so they become more involved at the individual and household level. It has been largely organized by chamber of commerce chair Mark Smith, who feels that his organization “has a responsibility to encourage and enhance the commitment towards sustainable resources, thereby helping to preserve our quality of life while capitalizing on cost-saving alternatives.”
A number of local businesses and agencies with energy-saving products and services to offer will have information and exhibits at the fair. Retired engineer and electric vehicle enthusiast Steve Wehr has arranged for electric vehicles to be on display for attendees to get a hands-on look at.
There will be a table promoting the community composting project that’s up and running at the Saugerties transfer station, and another exhibit showing alternatives to single-use plastic and other plastic containers, as well as information about new regulations regarding plastic recycling.
Multiple agencies will provide information on water conservation. The village tree commission will provide information about the importance and value of planting trees, how to properly plant and care for trees, and choosing the right tree. On the same note, a representative of Drawdown, a global project to reverse global warming, will answer questions about the most important actions individuals and local communities can take.
“The opportunity to join in the efforts to get the Town of Saugerties certified as a Climate Smart Community has given me a real sense of empowerment,” said Skip Arthur, “in that I have been able to work with the town in taking significant actions in lessening our carbon footprint.”
Children’s activities will be included, and the event is intended to be family-friendly. Urged Saugerties artist Elizabeth Shafer, “People of any age who want to learn more about practical, cost-saving environmental solutions to the climate crisis should attend the Go Green Go Smart Fair.”
The event is free to the public. The first 50 people to sign in at the door will get large cloth shopping bags. For information, visit the website at climatesmartsaugerties.org.