Annual Congress

Published on May 15th, 2017 | by GrowWNYAdmin

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Recap: WNYEA 2017 Annual Congress

A special thank you to everyone who joined us for the 2017 Annual Congress, on Tuesday, May 9th! We were pleased by the turnout of our member organizations and community supporters who came to hear the stimulating presentations of Dr. Barry Boyer and Judith Enck.

The evening kicked off with an update of the current state of the WNY Environmental Alliance, and all of the great work we have been up to in the past year. Several of the Alliance board members updated the audience on the new Strategic Plan, the Dynamic Shared Space study, the current administration, and the progress being made working with youth and climate change.

Dr. Barry Boyer, former Dean and Professor Emeritus of the UB School of Law, opened up the presentations with a discussion on how the presidency works, and what the potential impacts will be on environmental issues of concern. He began with a thought provoking question: “Are we headed back to the 1950’s,” and all that went wrong during that era. Dr. Boyer went through a thorough explanation of what exactly President Trump has been able to accomplish and what we can expect in the future, summarizing those actions as “a broad and deep assault on 50 years of environmental protections”.

To recover from the difficult content, Dr. Boyer did share some words of advice. What can we do? he asked. We can protest in the streets. Dr. Boyer shared great enthusiasm for the recent Women’s March and the various marches for climate change and science. Compared to the 1950’s, we need to step up our activism; we need a movement, not another march. Dr. Boyer wrapped up his presentation with a call to action: “What ever you do, do it with all your might. We need all hands on deck.”

Judith Enck, a former EPA Region 2 Administrator under President Obama and now a visiting Scholar at Pace University, focused her remarks on an environmental review of President Trump’s first 100 days. She joined us via Skype and prepped her audience with Dum Dum suckers in hopes of distracting us from more dismal content. Enck described those first 100 days as nothing other than an “unmitigated environmental disaster”. After exhausting, day by day, all of the alarming actions President Trump has taken, Enck reminded us that this is a real opportunity to educate our communities about what is at stake before final budget decisions are made on September 30th.

Enck also offered a positive note at the end of her presentation, urging us to “take care of yourself, get rest, hydrate, and fight like you’ve never fought before”. She questioned what our “airport moment” will be for environmentalism, similar to when immigration lawyers gathered at airports across the country to confront President Trump’s travel ban.

Overall, both speakers observed that while President Trump is upsetting the environmental movement, his actions have inspired a great number of people to get involved and pay attention who might not otherwise. The WNY Environmental Alliance would like to say a great thank you to all of the community members who attended our presentation, as well as a special thank you to Senator Gillibrand’s office for sending a representative. Senator Gillibrand was the only local office to respond to our outreach for political involvement.

We hope that everyone who attended enjoyed themselves! Any questions or comments? Feel free to email us at info@growwny.org.

Interested in catching up on Dr. Barry Boyer’s presentation? You can view his slides here!

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