By Traci Bisson (LNH '17), Founder of ChangeStartsWithMe.org
Per the website, the Center was built in the old New England post and beam style barn, and has several sustainable design features, including a geothermal heating and cooling system and composting toilets.
Cory Riley, reserve manager, started off the day by explaining how the Center works to educate and involve the community about water quality and land use issues.
“There is no separation from us and the environment,” said Riley. “Everything we use comes from the environment.”
Commissioner Thomas Burack (LNH '97) of the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), praised Riley for her work at the Center and echoed her thoughts in his presentation saying that “it really is the environment that sustains us.”
He went on to say that “NHDES recognizes that a strong economy and a healthy environment go hand in hand.”
In his presentation, Commissioner Burack presented strong visual images and what if scenarios. What will happen if we cut down all the trees? What will happen if we develop the shorelines? What will happen if we fill in the wetlands? What will happen if we have a major drought? He spoke about the Federal Clean Water Act while showing images of the Nashua River in the 1960s vs. the Nashua River today.
Commissioner Burack concluded by saying that NHDES is working with the community to find harmony, adding that “many changes we will find by looking in the mirror.”
Our discussion continued with Steve Poggi (LNH '12), New England regional manager for Waste Management, Inc. who challenged us to think of ways individuals, businesses and NH can decrease waste and increase recycling. Suggestions included purchasing bulk foods or foods that come in recyclable packaging, reducing consumption of bottled water, pay as you throw program, recycling bins in offices, co-op composting program, and more.
After lunch, Jed Callen, Esq. of BCM Environmental & Land Law, facilitated two panels of outside, and LNH class of ’17, experts to address NH’s sustainability needs.
The first panel discussed the power struggle that is occurring in NH between balancing sustainability and energy needs. They touched upon energy needs for the state now and in the future and how households can take actionable steps to help contribute to community resiliency. Josh Arnold (LNH '17), founder and director of Global Awareness Local Action (GALA) advised us to “vote with every choice we make.”
“Straight from the Tap: Are we in a Water Sustainability Crisis?” was the topic discussed by the second panel of experts. Charlie Head (LNH '17), CEO of Sanborn, Head and Associates, informed the class that water is a global issue. He discussed 1.) water vulnerability, 2.) how the water infrastructure is decaying and there are currently no funds to replace, and 3.) how we must build resiliency against weather and climate effects.
In his parting words, Callen advised that people and government need to work together to solve issues – NH, my responsibility!