Focus the Nation to explore sustainability issues

SUNY Oswego will be part of Focus the Nation efforts to inform campuses and communities about environmental issues and advocate for a green emphasis in the first 100 days of Barack Obama’s administration.

Focus the Nation aims to motivate students, civic leaders and elected officials “to actively seek ways to reduce our carbon footprint and to create sustainable communities,” said Nola Heidlebaugh, the college’s civic engagement coordinator.

A Student Town Hall, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, at Rice Creek Field Station kicks off campus Focus the Nation activities. “This is focused on students and what they are doing and would like to be doing on campus,” Heidlebaugh said. “We identified students involved in ‘the greening of Oswego’ and wanted to bring them together, along with members of the college’s Climate Academic Steering Committee, to bolster campus-wide efforts.”

Discussion would include student-led initiatives such as a composting proposal, ways the college is trying to reduce its carbon footprint and brainstorming for how to do more, Heidlebaugh added.

Attempts are under way to recruit student involvement in Power Shift 2009, a national weekend of training and lobbying for energy policy in Washington, D.C., in late February/early March.

“The significance of the first 100 days is to keep these issues before the new administration and Congress,” Heidlebaugh said. “We’re looking to help interested students attend and report back to the college community.”

A Community Town Hall, March 26 in the Sheldon Hall ballroom, will invite interested members of the college and community to meet with elected city, town, county and state officials to discuss Oswego’s energy future. Part of the college-led Science Cafe series, its featured speaker is Bob Bechtold, who uses renewable and self-produced energy to run his Rochester-area company Harbec Plastics.

Plans for a tree-planting activity—in late April, around Earth Day or Arbor Day—are starting to take root.

Focus the Nation activities will partner with some existing programs, such as the March 17 campus talk by Elizabeth Kolbert, author of the Oswego Reading Initiative selection “Field Notes from a Catastrophe,” and Quest presentations on April 22—which is also Earth Day.

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CONTACT: Nola Heidlebaugh,

(Posted: Feb 04, 2009)