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Kentucky college to host sustainability conference April 21-23

Seven Kentucky colleges and universities, along with 13 state and community organizations throughout the region have organized a conference that speaks to the severe and imminent threats to sustainability that face our nation.

The Campus--Community Partnerships for Sustainability Conference, which will take place April 21-23 at Berea College, is unique in that it is the first one in this area to recognize the extensive resources available within our communities and campuses and to encourage people to work together to find local solutions to broad-scale problems.

“In the face of climate change, farmland loss, depletion of our resources, degradation of our water, land, and air, increasing budget and trade deficits, we must build up the infrastructure of our communities and become better informed about what we need to do,” said Richard Olson, associate professor and director of the Sustainability and Environmental Studies Program at Berea. “The solution to the problems we face is not going to come from a national or global level. It must come from within our communities.”

The conference includes two nationally known speakers who are leaders in sustainable community development - Pat Murphy of The Community Solution of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and economist and attorney Michael Shuman of Baltimore, Md., author of “Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age” and the forthcoming “The Small-Mart Revolution: How Your Community Can Beat the Global Competition.”

In addition to the two keynoters, conference participants will be able to select from 18 presentations and a series of hands-on workshops designed to help people share ideas, brainstorm new projects, and develop lasting partnerships. Topics will include solar energy, energy conservation, alternative fuels, community gardens, ecovillages, green building, transportation alternatives to cars, fostering local businesses, developing a local food system, partnering with local government and native landscaping.

“We want to learn from people on college campuses and in communities throughout the region what people are doing, what is working and what projects people would like to work on,” said Jason Fults, a recent Berea College graduate and coordinator of the conference. “We want colleges and communities to pool their resources and work together for the good of the community and region.”

Co-sponsors of the conference with Berea College are Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Centre College, Eastern Kentucky University, Hazard Community and Technical College, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest, Berea Outpost, Community Farm Alliance, Envision Franklin County, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Heartwood, Kentucky Jobs with Justice, Kentucky Sierra Club, Kentucky Solar Partnership, Louisville Peak Oil Group, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), and Partners for Family Farms.

Early registration is encouraged as space is limited. For information about the conference, including registration form, accommodation options and program details, visit www.berea.edu/SENS/CCP, or call 859-985-3593, or e-mail sens@berea.edu.

Editorial Notes: A poster for the conference is online at the conference website (PDF). The press release is at Berea public relations website. -BA

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