Transitioning Back to a Carbon Neutral Future: Waterways Reskilling Anchors the Vision for a New Story

By Pamela Boyce Simms

Imagine waking up tomorrow in a future, post-carbon, environmentally sustainable and transitioned Mid-Hudson Valley. What in your surroundings on the banks of the Hudson River, the Esopus, Sawkill, Fishkill or Rondout Creeks has changed as you open your eyes to greet the new morning? What sights, scents and sounds fill your senses upon rising? Take a long, slow breath. Is the texture of the air entering your lungs different? How will you travel, to what type of work environment? What transformations will have occurred in New York waterways, and in your relationship to them in a transitioned future?

Once upon a time, commerce, power generation, and the stunning beauty of New York rivers, tributaries and estuaries breathed life into our towns. As we put the brakes on environmental degradation, we are called to create new stories and prioritize: slower, lower-tech, smaller-scale, relationship-driven ways of living in harmony with the magnificent waterways that have supported generations of New Yorkers. What kind of
sustainable waterways culture do we want to foster?

A Waterways Reskilling Anchors the Vision of a New Story

Envisioning a transitioned future is key to its manifestation. Consider what slower, lower-tech, smaller-scale use of New York waterways would look like and how we might reshuffle our priorities to usher that vision into reality. Rest your mind on a fresh, healthy, simpler, vibrant quality of life lived on pristine waterways teaming with nutritious fish, carrying carbon neutral commercial transport vessels, powering homes and hamlets with renewable energy. Whatever we can clearly see in our mind’s eye we are empowered to create.

A reskilling facilitates visioning by bringing us, “back to the future.” Reskillings turn back the clock to offer hands-on experiential engagement with heirloom skills and technologies that we can reactivate and refine in order to protect the environment in the future. A Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) Waterways Reskilling on November 23 will showcase the vast renewable energy generation and carbon neutral commercial transport potential of New York waterways, and the work of those who safeguard them. The Reskilling will anchor the vision of revitalized sail-freight, the use of wooden sailing barges for the transport of goods along the inland waters of river valleys, and micro-hydropower generation that exemplify ecologically sound, micro-scale technologies. We know these methods work. The deeper challenge the Reskilling takes on is empowering our neighbors to embrace lifestyle changes needed for these powered-down approaches to be viable.

To that end the Waterways Reskilling will feature the work of way showers who walk the talk. Hudson Riverkeeper Paul Gallay will propose ecologically sustainable “fisheries of the future” operated with river-protecting technologies of the past. Erik Andrus, founder of the Vermont Sail Freight Project, whose 39.5 ft sailing barge, the Ceres graced ports along the Hudson River this October delivering 15 tons of shelf-stable
farm goods, will inspire us with his vision of reconnecting family farms to sail transport.

Master woodworker and boat-builder Jim Kricker, owner of Rondout Woodworking will demonstrate his artistry. Micro-hydropower projects will be front and center.

Homesteader and Neighborhood Micro-hydropower

The Transition movement fans sparks of passion into flame under local homesteaders and groups of neighbors who are fired up about personal off-grid autonomy in environmentally resilient communities. It is therefore at the homestead and community level that the Reskilling will explore micro-hydropower. Catch the vision. Hold nearby creeks, steams, estuaries and rivers in your mind’s eye.

Consider that micro-hydro systems:
• are set up on waterways capable of producing up to 100 kilowatts of electricity; enough to power your home or a small business facility.
• can generate direct current, charge batteries for peak use times and emergencies, and fill in for solar power in the winter months.
• do not involve dams or reservoirs, rely on minimal water flow and civil construction work, and can maintain enough water in the power source for aquatic life to thrive.

This translates into a relatively low environmental impact. Inspired by the legacy and potential of our noble waterways, let’s vision and
pragmatically usher in the new story of a resilient future now.

November 23, 10:00AM-5:00PM
The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) & the SUNY New Paltz Environmental Task Force: Waterways Reskilling at SUNY New Paltz Lecture Center features sail freight, hydropower, boat-building, and sustainable fisheries; demonstrations, film, music, and food.

The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) in collaboration with the SUNY New Paltz Environmental Task force brings together those concerned with the quality, and carbon-neutral use of waterways.

Speakers include: Hudson Riverkeeper Paul Gallay, Clearwater Environmental Director, Manna Jo Green, NY/NJ Baykeeper, Andrew Willner, and Radix Center Executive Director Scott Kellog.

Neighbors, waterkeepers, environmentalists, watershed activists, boat builders, students, hydropower resource persons, woodworkers, and concerned citizens are invited to: Get inspired. Raise public awareness about your work. Exhibit your projects. Share your materials and passion
for protecting and safely using our majestic waterways with colleagues and the public. Enjoy learning heirloom skills, music, films, engaging conversations and information sessions about micro-hydropower, sail freight, woodworking and boat-building. Educate, advertise, exhibit,
participate and consider Transitioning..... to a superb-quality, carbon neutral future among friends.

Contact: transitionmidatlantic.org, (646) 241-8386

Photos (from top): Silver Bay, Ceres Heads Out.
 

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