Seventh Annual Sustainability Conference “The Road to Recovery”

Friday, April 12, 2013 | 8:00AM – 2:00PM
Carlyle on the Green at Bethpage State Park

Sustainable Long Island held its Seventh Annual Sustainability Conference on Friday, April 12, 2013 at the Carlyle on the Green, in Bethpage State Park, highlighted by keynote addresses from Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Texas A&M University-Commerce Professor Jonathan Bergman, interactive workshops, and the 3rd Annual “Getting It Done” Awards. “The Road to Recovery” themed event provided an opportunity for attendees to discuss how to rethink, rebuild, and renew our region moving forward after Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy came ashore last October and changed the lives of thousands of residents and businesses throughout Long Island. It brought some of Long Island’s most pressing issues to the forefront and demanded our attention. Many of us today may think of one word when looking back on the Hurricane: tragedy. It was a tragic event with tragic consequences, the likes of which we may never see again. But from that tragedy comes opportunity.

The Seventh Annual Sustainability Conference was filled with opportunity. The opportunity to raise awareness. The opportunity to motivate the masses. The opportunity to stimulate action. The opportunity to come together and spread hope.

The event kicked-off with a morning keynote address from Jonathan Bergman, Assistant Professor of history at Texas A&M University-Commerce, who discussed the parallels between the New York Hurricane of 1938 and Hurricane Sandy.

Following Professor Bergman’s informative keynote address was “The Road to Recovery” morning plenary. The plenary delved into the day’s theme by exploring ways we could:

  • Rethink what worked and what failed in the days following the hurricane
  • Rebuild storm-afflicted communities throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties
  • Renew the Long Island region by planning for a sustainable tomorrow

The plenary panelists fielded questions from the audience that covered topics ranging from the need for better cellphone service after the storm to the severe lack of rental housing on Long Island.

As the morning plenary concluded, attendees made their way to one of the four interactive workshops taking place during the day. These workshops detailed how Hurricane Sandy highlighted the many great needs across our region that must be addressed.

For example, the “Profitable Partnerships and Funding Resources” workshop analyzed various funding sources that have creatively approached how best to serve those affected in the aftermath of the storm. The popular “Infrastructure Improvement” workshop highlighted what must be repaired from a structural standpoint, as well as how working together collaboratively to make these changes happen has become a necessity. The “Health, Healing, and Housing” workshop explored ways health and housing groups worked in unison and focused on how lessons can be expanded upon in order to develop more organized and efficient responses for the future. The “Food System Challenges and Solutions” workshop strategized on enhancing our food-related partnerships and how a change in our emergency food response and policies is needed.

As attendees continued their spirited discussions and dialogue from the workshops, it had become apparent that this was not just another conference where registrants would come, listen to speeches, and then go home and forget about what they had just experienced. This event was about CHANGE. It was about making a DIFFERENCE.

During the afternoon portion of the event, Amy Engel, Executive Director of Sustainable Long Island, briefly touched upon what the opportunity brought about by Hurricane Sandy means in terms of sustainability. Said Engel: “Moving forward in a sustainable manner is essential to the future improvement, growth, and success of our region. It is critical we make sure we are developing plans, projects, and initiatives in a more resilient, viable way. Sustainable Long is proud to have been doing its part – working on recovery, relief, and redevelopment efforts throughout Long Island, specifically in the City of Long Beach.”

Engel also added “I hope each of (the attendees) feels challenged, motivated, and inspired to take action; regardless of how big or small. Every single action matters in a time like this…. It’s about mobilizing, together with the expert leaders, business owners, and community members throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties. If there is only one thing you take away from this conference, I hope it is the renewed belief that no matter how big or how small – you can make a difference!”

An afternoon keynote address from Nassau County Executive Ed Magano detailed how Nassau County took the lead during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy; facilitating countless forms of assistance, distribution, and relief to thousands of residents. The County Executive continues to raise funds, influence Sandy relief decision-makers, and connect those in need to the resources and tools available to help in recovery.

The County Executive advocated for Congress to pass the necessary funds for residents to begin to rebuild in storm ravaged areas, which has been critical to their recovey

The day concluded with the 3rd Annual “Getting It Done” Awards. The awards honored those who mobilized our communities and provided disaster relief across our region in the wake of the storm. Sustainable Long Island spotlighted individuals, municipalities, and service groups who came together and implemented recovery efforts that supported hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders over the past few months.

Our first honoree was Camp Bulldog of Lindenhurst, New York.

After Superstorm Sandy hit our region, the volunteers of Camp Bulldog set up a staging area in Lindenhurst to provide relief to affected residents in the form of hot food and supplies. These resources provided immeasurable help to those in need, yet the real support was felt through the unity and harmony Camp Bulldog brought to community members.

Their quick and decisive action has benefited the recovery effort in countless ways and they continue to serve as a beacon of comfort for friends, families, and strangers. While many organizations took days, weeks, and even months to offer assistance, Camp Bulldog was erected by members of the Lindenhurst Village community almost overnight—becoming a welcoming presence to the residents of one of the hardest hit areas of Long Island.

Acting as a general clearing house for resources, Camp Bulldog offered assistance in many ways, but most importantly by providing hope for the hardest-hit victims.

Our second honoree was Project Coastal Care of North Shore-LIJ Health System.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the North Shore-LIJ Health System dispatched a mobile medical van service, as part of Project Coastal Care, to the neighborhoods of Long Beach, Nassau County and Broad Channel, Queens.

Recognizing that post-storm circumstances made even the simplest of daily tasks beyond challenging, Project Coastal Care firmly believed in providing free primary and urgent medical care, medical assessments, and vaccinations to community members no matter how it needed to be done. They ensured that affected individuals did not have to add a lack of medical care to an already incredible list of burdens caused by the storm.

Project Coastal Care also helped relief and recovery volunteers who had been injured, became ill, or needed chronic disease management during their time serving in the areas affected by the hurricane.

Serving beyond the walls of a normal hospital system, Project Coastal Care became a symbol of aid and access delivered directly to those in need.

Our third honoree was Project Pay It Forward of Long Beach, New York.

As the dust settles after Hurricane Sandy, there still are plenty of businesses in Long Beach who have struggled to re-open.

With this knowledge, the Long Beach Surfer’s Association, Earth Arts, Swingbellys, and the law firm of Janet Slavin quickly partnered up to form Project Pay It Forward.

Understanding that different businesses may have different needs, this collaboration donates their time and efforts to help each storm-damaged store, shop, or restaurant; expedite their reconstruction through methods such as rebuilding infrastructure to hosting fundraisers; and even offering legal assistance.

Volunteers work to restore one business at a time, after which they recruit owners to “pay it forward” and assist them with future restoration efforts.

The positive energy and helpful hands resonate throughout the community, as this group of thinkers and doers continue to go above and beyond to help local businesses get back on their feet.

Our fourth honoree was The Town of North Hempstead and the “Yes We Can” Community Center.

The North Hempstead “Yes We Can” Community Center, already a recreational, business, and cultural hub for New Cassel, served as one of many emergency management headquarters in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Once the storm hit, the center housed hundreds of State Troopers at the state’s request, as well as countless out-of-town utility workers. The Town even sent dozens of employees down to the City of Long Beach to help clean up the devastation that was brought to the South Shore.

Even when the Red Cross Shelters closed after the actual storm, North Hempstead decided to open up Town buildings as comfort stations with electricity and hot showers, none more welcoming than the “Yes We Can” Community Center. Feeling as they could do much more, the Town sent out personnel to knock on the doors of seniors and other residents who were without power and were not responsive to calls from family and friends to ensure their safety.

The numerous methods of communication and ongoing support united the Town and its residents in the face of adversity; keeping with the trend of positive collaboration that the “Yes We Can” Community Center has continuously exhibited since its opening last September.

Our final honorees of the day were three organizations that represent the Long Island Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (LIVOAD).

Disaster planning and response has always been important on Long Island, but recent events have made it a top priority. It is clear that more formalized coordination is crucial to the future of our region and that’s where the LIVOAD steps in.

LIVOAD works to foster an organized approach to disaster recovery, identify what services are needed, and develop efficient ways to deliver them.

LIVOAD is made up of regional nonprofit, for-profit and governmental agencies and the following three of them accepted a “Getting It Done” award on their behalf.  

First up was the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI). The HWCLI, in its role as a coordinator of LIVOAD, facilitated communication between countless nonprofit agencies in the days after the devastation; providing assistance to storm victims and emergency management officials from the local, state, and federal governments.

HWCLI convened the LIVOAD’s Long Term Recovery Group, leading the way in providing opportunities for health and human agencies to assist storm-affected families months, and possibly years, into the future. Through their efforts they manage disaster response in key areas, including case work, home cleanup, housing, volunteering, and the special needs of the undocumented population.

Since the storm, HWCLI has not, and will not rest until all vulnerable individuals and families are on the pathway to recovery and self-sufficiency.

Second was the Long Island Volunteer Center (LIVC). LIVC was in a unique position to take on a leadership role within the LIVOAD following Superstorm Sandy; focusing on volunteer recruitment, management, training, and deployment.

LIVC facilitated hundreds of thousands of volunteers who contributed to the regional response; helping not only their friends and neighbors, but disadvantaged strangers who needed support the most. When the storm hit, LIVC had a system in place to accept offers from individuals volunteering as well as to capitalize on opportunities from local agencies.

LIVC worked with LIVOAD members in deploying volunteers quickly and effectively and has overseen a significant increase in volunteer registrations since Sandy.

The commitment to serve those who suffered most during the storm is just a small example of how the LIVC is a driving force for community service Island-wide.

The final honoree for the LIVOAD was the United Way of Long Island (UWLI). UWLI used their knowledge, abilities, and partnerships to play a vital role within the LIVOAD’s Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG); serving as Executive Committee member, fundraiser and overall resource before, during, and after Superstorm Sandy.

However their most critical role was raising an initial $1 million for the LI Hurricane Sandy Unmet Needs Roundtable, a funding collaborative which brings together donors to create a pool of funding that can be used to meet the unmet needs of thousands of victims whose insurance and FEMA disbursements fell short of covering rebuilding costs in full.

In addition, UWLI coordinated the 211 system, which was created as a single point of entry for families and individuals impacted by the storm to connect to vital services, including emergency food and shelter, assistance with home muck out and clean out, home reconstruction and rebuild, and the STEP project in Suffolk County.

This telephone hotline and online system has received thousands of calls for assistance since October 29 and is just one of the many ways the UWLI offers high impact solutions through efficient, effective, and transparent initiatives.

Community members and activists, government officials, planners, builders, decision makers, and other stakeholders were among the hundreds of attendees gathered for the daylong event, which also featured a “Hall of Exhibitors” highlighting their green businesses and services, including our very own High School Fellows discussing the projects they’ve been working on over the past year.

Sustainable Long Island hopes all in attendance at the Seventh Annual Sustainability Conference: “The Road to Recovery” were able to come away with the hope and inspiration that we can and will move forward in a more efficient, resilient, and sustainable way.

Future storms will come and go, but the time to plan for a better tomorrow is now. We cannot, and at Sustainable Long Island we will not, waste this opportunity to grow, plan, improve, and prepare.

Participating Restaurants

American Classic Ice Cream – American Culinary Federation of Long Island (Team Long Island) – Ayhan’s Shish Kebab – Bedell Cellars – Butera’s – Chartwells – Dark Horse Restaurant – DiMaggio’s Trattoria & Bar – Gino’s Pizza and Restaurant – Mama’s “The Original” – Page One Restaurant – Papa Razzi – Springbrook Farm – Taste 99 – Uncle Bacala’s – Verona Ristorante


Participating Exhibitors

511NY Rideshare – Cornell Cooperative Extension, Suffolk County – Empower Solar – Grassroots Environmental Education – Gerald J. Ryan Outreach Center – Economic Evaluation Group, Inc. – Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone LLP – New York Institute of Technology – Operation Resilient Long Island – PowerUp Communities – Seatuck Environmental Association – Sustainability Institute at Molloy College and LI Green – Sustainable Long Island’s High School Fellows – Transit Solutions – U.S. Green Building Council-LI – Waldorf School of Garden City

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