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Green conference looks to 2050

GREENFIELD — Six years ago, the Town of Greenfield committed to becoming a sustainable community by 2050.

In about a week, the group that helped inspire that commitment will hold a conference and ask participants, “If you had the chance to influence Greenfield’s future, would you take it?”

Greening Greenfield will hold its second “Creating Greenfield’s Future” conference on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the dining commons in Greenfield Community College. The registration fee of $15 will cover the cost of lunch and refreshments.

This time, the conference is called, “Visions for 2050,” and organizers hope to make people think about their lives today, while considering what they need to do to meet the 2050 goal of becoming a sustainable community.

Participants will also have the opportunity to discuss what “sustainable” means in the broadest sense.

“This is a perfect time to be asking ourselves this question and working toward our goals,” said Susan Worgaftik. “The town is in the process of updating its Master Plan. Our ideas could be incorporated into that document, which will lead the town through the next 10 to 15 years. That’s a start.”

Worgaftik said the conference will look 37 years into the future to get people thinking beyond the master plan.

“We’ll be talking about energy, but we’ll also be talking about agriculture and food, buildings and transportation, schools and education, and health care, just to name a few subjects,” she said. “We have to look at things in a broader sense. All of these things are interconnected.”

“I believe we owe it to our children and grandchildren to think deeply about what we need to change now to create a sustainable future,” said Becca King, a member of Greening Greenfield and the Creating Greenfield’s Future organizing committee. “This is a great opportunity to continue the conversation that was started on March 9 at the town’s Master Planning workshop.”

The conference will begin with four short presentations by area experts in the fields of food security, schools and education, health services, and buildings and energy.

The larger group will then break into smaller groups to discuss those topics in more depth.

“This event is a great opportunity to think about how our work will change in 30 years,” said John Waite, executive director of Franklin County Community Development Corp. “I expect that the presenters will challenge some of our assumptions and give us some new ways of moving forward.”

Worgaftik, King and Louise Amyot said they hope to see teens, young adults, and young families attend the conference.

“It’s their future that’s going to be affected by decisions made today,” said King. “This isn’t about us — it’s about them and their kids and grandchildren.”

The organizers said the conference will be about resilience in many areas of life.

“It’s about making the town all it can be,” said Worgaftik.

They said they want everyone who attends to feel comfortable bringing up any subject they are interested in.

“We are going to listen to everyone and every idea,” said King. “There are probably as many visions for the town as there are people living here. Bring it on.”

The women said the only way for everyone to be heard is to attend the conference and put every idea on the table.

“Then, if we can’t do something about it, or we can’t figure out how to, we can find the people who can,” said Worgaftik.

“Every idea has value,” said Amyot. “They are all worth hearing. It’s a matter of figuring out which ones should be pursued and what will work for the entire community.”

Presenters will include Abrah Dresdale, head of the Food and Farm Systems programs at Greenfield Community College, Joshua Hornick, a teacher at the Four Rivers Charter Public School, Donna Stern, a registered nurse at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, and Ben Weil, professor of building systems at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Students from Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School will share their visions of the future through a musical performance.

The conference is being cosponsored by Franklin Community Cooperative, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, CDC, Greenfield Business Association, Greenfield Planning Board and Just Roots, and is being supported by New England Grassroots Environmental Fund.

To register, visit: www.greeninggreenfield.org. Mail a check, with contact information, for $15 made out to Greening Greenfield to 45 Forest Ave., Greenfield, MA 01301.

For more information, call 413-773-0228.

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