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Conference discusses sustainability with state, national leaders


Caitlin Harrison March 19th, 2009

Dialogue on sustainable living will unite the community as business professionals, government leaders, agricultural producers, professors and individuals gather at a conference Friday and Saturd...

Jeff-Tate-Sustainable-Edmon

Dialogue on sustainable living will unite the community as business professionals, government leaders, agricultural producers, professors and individuals gather at a conference Friday and Saturday. 

The eighth annual Oklahoma Sustainability Network Conference, hosted by Sustainable Edmond, will include discussions from national and statewide leaders on sustainable daily living on topics ranging from transportation and energy to agriculture and education.

"It really is a way to network groups in who might otherwise not realize that they have common interests and to educate people on sustainable ideas," said Jeff Tate, Sustainable Edmond chairman. "We are trying to more cut it down the middle as far as of business, government and individual, too."

Friday will feature keynote speaker William Greider, national affairs correspondent for The Nation. His latest book is "Come Home America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country," an address of the nation's financial and economic crisis.

"It goes across the board describing the ditch we are in as a country," said Greider, former national affairs editor at Rolling Stone and assistant managing editor at The Washington Post. "Many of the things we have both enjoyed and assumed about our position in the world and our society are "¦ literally collapsing."

MODEL OF SUSTAINABILITY
Trathen Heckman will address those striving to live more sustainably. The founder and executive director of Daily Acts, a California-based organization that educates individuals on green living, will discuss sustainable options for daily living, such as personal practices and community involvement. Heckman, a model of sustainability himself, raises chickens, cultivates an edible flower garden and even makes his own beer.

"I feel pretty strong on doing my best to live our message as well," Heckman said. "I do everything to reduce my environmental footprint."

Robert Wegener, Oklahoma's secretary of energy, will center his talk on energy. He will focus on energy alternatives such as natural gas, cellulosic biofuels and wind, and how they connect to transportation and electric generation issues.

"Certainly, having a dialogue on energy issues is timely and important," Wegener said. "Understanding the energy is the economic engine behind understanding the state's economy. I think Oklahoma is positioned to have a sustainable energy plan, and it's nice to have a conference to be able to come and discuss that."

Other conference highlights include city leaders from Greensburg, Kan., who will discuss their sustainable reconstruction of the city after a May 2007 tornado. In addition, Attorney General Drew Edmondson will speak on protecting water resources, and Jay Yowell, the University of Central Oklahoma's sustainability coordinator, will discuss sustainable campuses.

"It's really well-rounded," Tate said. "We did that on purpose to get the groups there who wouldn't normally interact, and hopefully they realize once you get together and start focusing on actual issues "¦ that really we all have some common goals."

A reception dinner and acoustic concert by musician and environmental activist Garrett Brennan will follow the conference Friday evening. Single-day conference admission is $42.50, and two-day admission is $75. The conference will be held at UCO's Nigh University Center, 100 N. University Drive."Caitlin Harrison

 
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