|Board of Directors|
Ruth Negron-Gaines: President
Kevin McDonald: Vice President
The Nature Conservancy
Charlotte Biblow, Esq: Secretary
Farrell Fritz, P.C.
Lauren Furst: Treasurer
Albanese Organization Inc. ---------------
Capital One Bank
Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III
SUNY College at Old Westbury
Dr. Miriam K. Deitsch
State University at Farmingdale
North Shore - LIJ Health System
Mitchell H. Pally
Long Island Builders Institute
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On Friday, March 4th our 5th Annual Sustainability Conference was held at the Carlyle on the Green in Bethpage State Park. "The Rally for Resources" focused on where communities could find funding opportunities for local projects and plans. We would like to thank all those involved - our sponsors, exhibitors, restaurants, keynote speakers, panelists, moderators, the Carlyle on the Green, the board and staff of Sustainable Long Island, and the 400 plus attendees who made this event a great success! Below find our recap of the day and much more.
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|"The Rally for Resources"|
"The Rally for Resources," featured keynote speakers Steve Israel, U.S. Congressman, Thomas DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller, and Woody Tasch, President of Slow Money, a nonprofit dedicated to building networks and products to invest in small, local businesses.
"This conference focused on utilizing financial and other resources in an era of dwindling government funding," said Sarah Lansdale, executive director of Sustainable Long Island.
The morning kicked off with New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli discussing ideas on how to invest in local and state projects while remaining socially responsible. The Comptroller also touched on Brownfield Opportunity Areas and the New York State Budget.
"In order to broaden our term of sustainability, we must challenge ourselves on certain issues," said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. "How we spend our money would be that number one issue."
Slow Money President Woody Tasch , who also delivered a morning keynote, discussed the concept of Slow Money - catalyzing the flow of investment capital to small food enterprises and promoting new principles of fiduciary responsibility that support sustainable agriculture and the emergence of a restorative economy. He was followed by a panel of Long Island leaders who shared their expertise on the potential impact Slow Money could have on Long Island.
"It's going to take a revolution," preached Woody Tasch. "One million people investing 1% of their assets in local food enterprises would enhance food security and food safety and promote cultural and ecological health and diversity."
|5th Annual Sustainability Conference Highlights|
Attendees participated in interactive workshops on a range of topics featuring brownfield redevelopment, infrastructure implementation, food project financing, open space preservation, and much more. An array of discussion took place including how to harness public and private investment for local projects, how to leverage federal, state, and local funding, exploring various financing options for different community plans, and ideas on how to protect our natural resources.
Following the workshops, a networking lunch featuring a taste from dozens of Long Island's premier restaurants was held in the conservatory. Restaurants from across the region presented "Sustainable Samplings" of their signature dishes which ranged from Bison Chili to Palak Paneer to Cajun Salmon. Local produce and beverages were a big hit with delicious sliced apples offered from Milk Pail Farms and variety of wine tastings provided by Bedell Cellars.
The program concluded with the "Getting It Done" awards, which honored those who moved beyond the talk toward implementation. Award recipients, including representatives from Dark Horse Restaurant in Riverhead, Gateway Park Community Garden in Huntington Station, The Patchogue Loft Apartments, and Spinney Hill Apartments in Great Neck, were honored for their accomplishments which have energized diverse downtowns and communities.
The award winners were preceded by Congressman Steve Israel's afternoon keynote which touched on communities and municipalities coming together to advance local projects from paper to progress.
For more photos from the event: Check out our Facebook album.
|If we think locally, we all benefit|
Guest Column by Chris Kempner, Director, Riverhead Community Development Agency, in the Riverhead News-Review
Sustainable Long Island honored Main Street investor Dee Muma last Friday with a "Getting It Done" award at the 5th Annual Rally for Resources Conference. She received the award - designed to recognize those who walk the walk rather than just talk - for her work revitalizing a vacant building at 1 East Main Street in Riverhead.
In her acceptance speech, Ms. Muma observed that Long Island's mom-and-pop downtowns have been gutted by big box competition and need some guided reinvention and imagination to thrive once again.
Ms. Muma's concept is to attract people back to downtown through food-sourcing from local farmers while supporting the revolution in thinking about buying locally that has taken place over the last 10 years.
At last week's conference in Bethpage, keynote speaker Woody Tasch, author of "Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money" and founder of the "slow money" movement - an offshoot of the "slow food" movement - delivered a basic message urging us all to contemplate the lifestyle we desire.
And then to put our money behind it. What do we teach our children? Education. Cooperation. Partnerships. Commitment.
Well, why not live what we teach?
The slow money goal is to drive local social and capital investment into local systems - the people and places we know, which include local businesses, small food enterprises, organic farms and local food systems. A panel of Long Island experts that included East End notables such as Ms. Muma, Joe Gergela, Andrea Lohneiss, Dave Calone, and Marguerite Smith, discussed how slow money concepts apply to Long Island.
Mr. Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, questioned the federal government's 75-year "cheap food policy" because, he contended, cheapest may not be best for the economy, community or our owns bodies and well being.
Rattling off a wealth of statistics, he noted that 37 percent of food is imported and 9 percent of incomes are spent on food. Mr. Gergela's suggestion is to learn about food that is locally grown.
Mr. Gergela, through the farm bureau, has created something great for the East End and particularly the North Fork, where true agricultural heritage is stronger than ever, called the Long Island Grown campaign. This is a grass roots branding effort that includes food, water, products, values, family and roots of the Peconic region.
And while the Long Island Grown campaign encourages consumer awareness about where each dollar goes in terms of food production - and slow money concepts tell us we need to take a good idea and run with it - the campaign does not pertain to just food. In the same way slow food concepts affect production and consumption, slow money can change our future.
We need to think about Long Island Grown for as many products and services as possible.
Mr. Calone, who chairs the Suffolk County Planning Commission, observed that when the middle class began to invest money it tended to be on Main Street, in the local stores and businesses. Now ,with a global economy, most people can invest oversees with a click of a mouse, basing their choices solely on quick returns.
Slow money is investment based in part on social ideals - how we relate to the world around us. And while it wouldn't be fair or appropriate for government to compel social investing, the government can lead the way with incentives (or as in the case of Riverhead Supervisor Walter, wear out a few pairs of shoes by rolling out the red carpet for businesses looking to locate downtown).
Ms. Lohneiss, my predecessor in heading Riverhead's Community Development Agency, touted the $30 million Empire State Development New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund. This is good investment because statistics show better-fed students perform better in school and make better life choices when they understand that some of their food is grown locally.
Similarly, the New York State Main Street grant program (which has graciously awarded 3 grants totaling $900,000 to improve properties in downtown Riverhead) encourages contextual local investment. So while government should not compel social investing, any government policy that values local resources, such as local businesses, people, water and food, is good long-term planning.
But Mr. Tasch stressed that we need to create a culture of the willing to keep the jobs and money here on the North Fork as a common-sense investment in our own communities. Mr. Tasch disputed that everything comes down to pricing and related the cheap food/cheap calories concept to America's obsession with cheap products. Most all of us can afford to buy locally grown food and products from local businesses , but maybe we just choose to spend our extra dollars on fancy sneakers from another continent.
Simple ideas are not always simple to implement, but Tasch noted, "Hard work can be rewarding."
Downtowns are our homegrown victory gardens. The East End has the opportunity to lead the way with real, livable communities with sustainable mind-sets. We know our neighbors, our business owners, our food, our water. We even know our old buildings. Heart-centric development is long-term investment that provides a connection to community that money alone can't buy. How do you use your energy, time and money?
Ms. Kempner is director of the Riverhead Community Development Agency and a Greenport Village trustee.
|Long Island Index and Sustainable Long Island Launch Interactive Food Access Map|
In partnership with Sustainable Long Island, the Long Island Index has released an interactive food access map detailing the existing food retail environment across Long Island. The map is intended to bring attention and problem-solving ideas to the issue of food equity. This food access map, available on the Long Island Index's website at www.longislandindexmaps.org, shows locations where supermarkets and large grocery stores exist across Long Island and where there are gaps in, or areas without, the availability of these stores.
"Supermarkets are a relatively permanent source of a wide variety of food, including items essential for healthy eating, such as fresh fruit and vegetables as well as economic development engines for local communities that provide jobs," said Sarah Lansdale, Executive Director, Sustainable Long Island. "We've examined data looking at the availability of food options and this food access map project will help explore multiple solutions for bringing fresh food into currently underserved communities."
"The Long Island Index is pleased that in working with Sustainable Long Island we were able to jointly develop a new layer of rich data to help citizens better understand their communities," said Ann Golob, director of the Long Island Index.
The information presented on the food access map can be used to develop solutions suited to each community, from land use recommendations in community plans to project implementation. For example, supermarket locations can be compared on the map with concentrations of households with no cars, or low income housing, or areas poorly served by public transit - or all of the above. The data can help identify communities that may benefit from projects designed to increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables, such as creating farmers' markets and grocery stores.
Access to fresh, healthy food depends on a variety of factors, one of which is the location of food stores. Another factor is the availability of transportation to the stores for local residents. When viewed with other layers included in the Long Island Index map (i.e. bus routes, income, car ownership information), supermarket locations can paint a more complete picture of food access.
"By adding information on supermarkets, Sustainable Long Island has enhanced the Index maps in an important way, shining new light on local food access and ways of understanding how to improve opportunities for fresh food across the region," noted Steven Romalewski, director of the CUNY Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center. "We look forward to working with the Index and Sustainable LI to leverage ways to use interactive maps to help address this important issue facing Long Island."
This is the first time this invaluable information has been made available for the public. The interactive map combines a rich amount of information coupled with easy-to-use tools so users are presented with a valuable indicator of gaps in food access.
"We applaud Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Index for releasing their interactive food access map," said Andrea Lohneiss, Long Island Regional Director, Empire State Development Corporation. "This map has the potential to be an important tool for local communities, supermarket operators, and property owners to demonstrate gaps in the fresh food access network and help strengthen applications from Long Island 'food deserts' for funding under the Healthy Foods Healthy Communities Program. We look forward to continuing the momentum of this program here in Long Island."
Supermarkets and other full-service food retailers can be economic development opportunities for the communities they serve, creating healthier communities as well as jobs. In 2010, the Healthy Food Healthy Communities Fund was launched - making $30 million in grants and loans available to "facilitate the development of healthy food markets in underserved communities throughout New York." The fund is administered by Empire State Development with partners The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), The Reinvestment Fund, and The Food Trust. Funding is available to healthy food market operators or developers online at http://www.empire.state.ny.us/BusinessPrograms/HealthyFoodHealthyCommunities.html
"I applaud Sustainable Long Island and Long Island Index for shining a light on this important issue," said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who, as the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Agriculture and Nutrition Committee in nearly 40 years, is helping lead the fight in the Senate to combat child obesity and promote good health. "Millions of New Yorkers do not have access to fresh, healthy food. This new resource will help bring new grocery stores to underserved areas across Long Island"
"I commend Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Index for teaming up to apply new mapping technology to study an age-old problem: access to healthy food," said Congressman Steve Israel. "With user-friendly information, policymakers can work towards eliminating food deserts and building healthier children, families and communities."
"Hempstead Town is proud to work with Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Index in their effort to bring attention to the importance of having food markets readily available in local communities," said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray. "In fact, we have worked with ShopRite to accommodate their re-entrance to the Uniondale community. We are currently working to bring an easily accessible grocery store to the heart of downtown Elmont."
"Long Island is facing a food crisis, with many areas of Nassau and Suffolk Counties underserved by supermarkets and grocery stores. The Interactive Food Access Map will allow working families to locate stores that sell fresh and healthy food near their homes or workplaces," said John Durso, President, Long Island Federation of Labor. "The map will lead to economic development by pointing to areas in need of the construction of food retailers. I commend Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Index for making this wonderful tool a reality for all Long Islanders."
"A growing number of communities around the state, and country, are working to improve residents' quality of life by improving the food environments in neighborhoods - but lack of accessible information on the extent and nature of food disparities is a common challenge," said Dr. Samina Raja, Associate Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning School of Architecture and Planning at Buffalo. "Sustainable Long Island is to be congratulated for their leadership in documenting and publicly disseminating information about food access with residents of Long Island."
"I think it's important that communities have the ability to view an interactive food access map. This allows them to get a good picture of how underserved their community is when it comes to access to fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as, access to healthier options for their families," said Sandra Smith, Co-Chair, Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development. "The access to healthier options, in addition to, the economic opportunities that a supermarket can bring to a community, such as Elmont, is definitely needed and well deserved. I applaud Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Index for providing such critical information to the public."
Additional partners and funders for this project include Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Town of Brookhaven & Greater Bellport Coalition, The Jaggar Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, The Levitt Foundation, The Long Island Community Foundation, Nassau County, New York Council on the Arts, The William E. and Maude S. Pritchard Charitable Trust, The Rauch Foundation, Suffolk County, and The Verizon Foundation.
|EPA proposes adding LI Waste Sites to Superfund's National Priorities List|
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed last week to consolidate contaminated areas in Hicksville, New Cassel, Westbury, Hempstead and Salisbury into one site and add it to the Superfund National Priorities List of the country's most hazardous waste sites.
EPA will solicit input from the public before reaching a final decision on whether to add the area to the Superfund list.
New York State had been examining a number of areas contained in the newly proposed site individually, and determined that the contamination would be better addressed as one large site. Ground water testing by EPA in 2010 confirmed the presence of elevated levels of VOCs in 11 public water supply wells, six in Hicksville, four in Hempstead and one on Westbury. The impacted towns have installed treatment systems to remove VOCs from the contaminated ground water before it goes into the water distribution systems, and to monitor water quality and the treatment systems regularly.
|LI's former Peace Corps workers look back|
Newsday Feature Article - 03/06/2011
Earlier this month, Newsday published an article on the 50 year anniversary of the Peace Corps. Sarah Lansdale was highlighted in the piece and discussed parallels with her work today as Executive Director of Sustainable Long Island and previously as a volunteer in the Peace Corps. Below is an excerpt of the article, which you can read in its entirety on our blog.
Sarah Lansdale, 36, executive director of Sustainable Long Island, went to Guatemala in 1996 as an agricultural extension agent, working with farmers to install irrigation and produce cash crops. Lansdale, of Huntington, says her father's military service inspired her to serve the country.
She was also influenced by Peace Corps commercials:
"I still remember the image of people digging a well and the voice-over saying, 'The Peace Corps, the toughest job you'll ever love.' "
In her seven years as executive director of Sustainable Long Island in Bethpage, Lansdale said she has used her Peace Corps experience to encourage community leaders and elected officials to "rethink, rebuild and renew communities across Long Island."
She draws a parallel with her work in the Peace Corps: "There, as here, I worked with communities to identify their needs and imagine what that future world could look like."
|Expand access to LI's local produce|
Sarah Lansdale's Opinion Piece in Newsday - 03/04/2011
Food is one of the most basic needs known to mankind. And when it comes to choosing what we eat, more people are thinking about being socially, economically and environmentally responsible.
The growing "slow food" movement - a conscious rejection of our "fast food nation" - focuses on small and local options. It takes into account the environmental, economic and social impact of where our food comes from, how it's made and how our everyday choices affect where we live.
But this approach to food is still largely a luxury enjoyed by the affluent. On Long Island, even though we have well-developed systems to deliver food throughout the two counties, there are still basic problems of food accessibility and affordability in some of our communities. According to a recent study by Feeding America, a national hunger relief organization, an estimated 285,000 Long Islanders face the possibility of going hungry every day.
Long Island also has an agricultural heritage and many farms, but local farmers' markets and farm stands are few and far between, particularly in lower-income communities. Too many Long Islanders are unable to take advantage of this alternative way to feed their families, turning instead to neighborhood convenience stores, even though they have limited offerings of fresh foods, often at high prices.
The economic crisis put a growing number of Long Islanders at risk for hunger, limited food access, and the related social, economic and health consequences. That's why the need for Long Islanders - and people across the nation - to have the option of eating locally is as strong as ever.
Every time we choose what we eat and where we eat it, we send a message. Awareness of our food choices, or lack thereof, cannot only improve our individual health, but boost our local economy and strengthen local communities.
Access to locally grown and sold food has become one of the biggest economic drivers for many low-income communities. Just take a look at a recent study from the University of Wisconsin, which found that if just 5 percent of food was bought directly from local farms within that state, it would create $39 million per year for local economic development. According to a WorldWatch study, if were to get just 20 percent of its food locally, the city's economy would receive a $1-billion boost annually.
Keeping agriculture local can cut down on the carbon footprint of food production, reducing both transportation costs and pollution. In addition, it preserves open space: Land that may otherwise remain underdeveloped or become blighted over time can be preserved and maintained as a local farm.
Community-based farmers markets are one way to connect local food to local residents. In North Bellport and Roosevelt, such markets, centered in the heart of each community, have filled the void left by a lack of supermarkets. A pilot project launched last year in partnership with the Long Island Farm Bureau, the markets resulted in more than $28,000 in sales and served over 5,000 people. Long Islanders spent Long Island dollars in a Long Island business, which was stocked with Long Island produce grown by Long Island farmers. This model has created a real buzz, and communities such as New Cassel, Wyandanch and Flanders have reached out to start their own community-based farmers markets.
The uneasiness of food insecurity - when food prices affect how much you can eat or feed your family - is reduced by the presence of local markets like these, which offer a variety of produce at an affordable price. The prices are often cheaper than what's found in grocery stores because the produce is delivered directly from the farm to the markets. And the markets - which typically run weekly from early summer to mid-fall - are never short on variety, receiving fresh fruit and vegetables the week they are in harvest.
At their core, these ideas are about connecting local people with local options and supply: a win-win for community members and local farmers. Communities across the country are beginning to realize that focusing on local food sources and investing in small agricultural businesses makes sense economically and environmentally.
|LI's Organic Farmers, Gardeners, Local Food & Food Justice Advocates Unite|
Together Launch Island-Wide Campaign to Promote LI Small Farm Summit
In an unprecedented partnership that demonstrates the growing power of Long Island's local food movement, three organizations representing the diversity of the local food movement - Slow Food Huntington, Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) - have united to launch a grassroots campaign to raise awareness of local food. The goal of the campaign is to connect Long Island's diverse food communities at the LI Small Farm Summit on April 15th
at SUNY Old Westbury.
The campaign seeks to unite in all of the co-producers of Long Island's sustainable food system including farmers and fishermen, gardeners and homesteaders, chefs and restaurateurs, food distributors and food retailers, beekeepers and chicken-keepers, land owners and land seekers, local foodies and food justice advocates, community organizers and elected leaders.
The campaign seeks volunteers committed to growing the Long Island local food movement and who are able to volunteer for one week to one month on the grassroots campaign. Organizers also seek to partner with the local business and nonprofit community to extend the reach of its campaign. The campaign will officially launch on March 15th and culminate at the April 15th LI Small Farm Summit. The campaign headquarters will be based out of Nick Martielli's Aquarian Acre Homestead, a 1-acre suburban property in Huntington featuring an extensive garden with vegetables, herb, berries, fruit, and flowers, 6 laying hens, honey bees, and a solar-powered house. Campaign Manager Lisa Mitten of NOFA-NY will coordinate the volunteer-driven campaign and forge partnerships with local business and nonprofit leaders. The campaign will work closely with the staff of the North Shore Land Alliance, a local land trust serving as lead sponsor and organizer of the Small Farm Summit. To join the campaign as a volunteer or partner, contact Lisa Mitten at LisaMitten@gmail.com or call 631-678-2195.
The campaign is one of many that seek to unite Long Island's diverse food communities at the First Annual Long Island Small Farm Summit on April 15, 2011. The summit will include workshops and panels featuring organic farmers, food entrepreneurs, community organizers, nonprofit leaders, elected officials, and civil servants. The keynote speaker will be Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in Virginia, a pastured-based, "beyond organic" livestock operation. Salatin has become a national spokesperson for the local food movement and has been featured in documentaries such as Food, Inc.and Freshand the best-seller Omnivore's Dilemmaby Michael Pollan.
The Long Island Chapter of NOFA-NY is a community of consumers, gardeners and farmers working together to create an ecologically sound, economically viable regional food system. NOFA-NY members are deeply connected to the production of local food; they grow their own food for their family and community and seek out sources of good, clean food from other local food producers. NOFA-NY members have established organic farms, gardens, homesteads, farmers markets, wineries, value-added products, food cooperatives, CSAs, and community gardens across Long Island. For more information about the LI Chapter of NOFA-NY, contact Lisa Mitten at LisaMitten@gmail.com or call 631-678-2195. For more information on NOFA-NY, visit www.nofany.org or contact Lea Kone at 585-271-1979, x502.
Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment. Slow Food Huntington educates conscious eaters and food producers about the challenges of and opportunities for the local food movement through its Food-on-Film series at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington. In 2010, they supported the LI-Community Agricultural Network in establishing Gateway Community Garden in Huntington Station. For more information about Slow Food Huntington, contact Bhavani Jaroff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 516-238-3616.
Sustainable Long Island launched a food equity program in 2009 after recognizing that food access was a recurring challenge and an important economic driver in low-income communities. In 2010, Sustainable Long Island launched two successful youth-run farmers' markets in North Bellport and Roosevelt with local community partners and the Long Island Farm Bureau. Sustainable Long Island's Food Advisory Committee, which comprises leaders from across the regional food system, has worked to identify initial issues in food access on Long Islandand think through project strategies. Advisory committee members were important partners in the Farmers' Market pilot project, identifying the need for local food access mapping, and alsorecently discussed, alongside Empire State Development Corporation, the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund, part of the State's Healthy Food Healthy Communities Fund and created a set of recommendations and food access mapping to make sure the program met the needs of Long Island. For more information about Sustainable Long Island, contact Donna Boyce at 516-873-0230 or email@example.com
The First Annual Long Island Small Farm Summit will be held on Friday April 15, 2011 at SUNY Old Westbury from 8:30 to 5:30. Tickets for adults are $25 each, including breakfast and lunch. Students are free, excluding meals. To register for the conference, contact Andrea at the North Shore Land Alliance at 516-626-0908 or visit www.longislandsmallfarmcentral.com.
|Working toward a sustainable LI|
Newsday Business Section - 2/28/2011
Long Island has made strides in becoming sustainable - that is, green and environmentally conscious - but it still has a long way to go, says Sustainable Long Island executive director Sarah Lansdale.
"People can see there's been an improvement in the quality of life" on the Island in the past 10 years, Lansdale said. "But we still have a lot of work ahead of us."
Lansdale applauded projects that have helped upgrade downtowns in Patchogue and other places, but she lamented the Huntington Town board's recent decision to reject the Avalon Bay housing project.
Where should the Island be headed? "That depends on Long Islanders," Lansdale said. "I don't think there's ever going to be an end product. The Island is going to continue to evolve."
|Want community updates on various planning projects? Exciting tidbits on events, meetings, and engagements in your neighborhood? Exclusive information and the latest feedback about everything Long Island?
Sarah Lansdale, Executive Director
Sustainable Long Island