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March 7, 2014

In Your Opinion: Let's all work to sustain 'positive energy'

The Daily Star

---- — One person said he was “blown away” by it. Another called it “extremely gratifying.” A third said, “There was a real lot of positive energy.”

Mark Conchie, Dick Miller and Robert Wood were speaking about the recent Oneonta Sustainability Summit, which drew about 120 people to SUNY Oneonta on a cold Saturday morning. 

The summit was an effort to brainstorm ideas to put the town and city of Oneonta on a path to a greener future. Ideas discussed during the summit included developing bicycle and walking paths; promoting energy audits of buildings and follow-up conservation measures; and establishing networks and marketing support for diversified farm and niche agricultural products. Also, identifying alternative fuels and electricity sources, purchasing hybrid vehicles and applying for state grant money for projects.

This gathering was only a first step. As Oneonta City Manager Michael Long said, “The whole idea is to start the conversation.” And start it they did, with enthusiasm. 

We’re excited to see the city and town working together on these ideas, and taking this crowd-sourcing approach to getting the ball rolling. 

Melissa Allen, a participant in the water resources group and director of financial aid at Hartwick College, said the attendance showed a commitment to determining steps that will make the community more sustainable.

“I was heartened to see the large turnout today from all sectors of the community,’’ Allen said.

Of course, talk is cheap; it’s one thing to sit around and discuss doing these things, and quite another to get them done. But we have no doubt that the organizers of this effort are well aware of that fact. 

The summit is only one component of a longer process that began with the Oneonta Sustainability Task Force and its Oneonta 2030 project. And the effort will continue as committees are formed to start refining and tackling some of the projects that were proposed. 

It would be easy to be cynical and wonder how many people will stick around to see these proposals through to completion, or how many suggestions will die on the vine. But that’s not the point. 

The point is that more than 100 people took time out of their Saturday because they wanted to be involved in this effort. 

The point is that our local governments are reaching out to people in the community for input about Oneonta’s future.

The point is that there are passionate and dedicated people who want to improve the quality of life in this community for everyone. 

We’re excited to see what comes out of this initiative, and we encourage everyone with any interest to get involved. As Margaret Mead is quoted to have said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”