Posts Tagged ‘Clarkson University’

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Update: Rural Broadband and the Adirondacks

Last year, Clarkson University launched its Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, known colloquially as Forever Wired. I’ve been following this with interest partly because it has the potential to change the economic and cultural dynamics of the Adirondack Park and partly because it’s an intriguing and ambitious way to more closely link my alma mater to the region.

The Almanack has offered some good coverage of the initiative, as well as pointing out the difficulty of finding concrete data related to broadband usage and access inside the Blue Line.

With the Park threatened by expected deep cuts to the public sector workforce on which the region’s economy is heavily dependent, expanded broadband access will become even more critical to boosting the region’s private sector.

In this context, it seems fortuitous that the Federal Communications Commission recently launched and has heavily promoted its National Broadband Plan.

The FCC views universal broadband access as critical “to advance national purposes such as education, health care, and energy efficiency.”

The plan “recommends that the FCC comprehensively reform both contributions to and disbursements from the Universal Service Fund to support universal access to broadband service, including through creation of the Connect America Fund.”

The Commission has recently put particular focus on increasing broadband access in rural areas. A 2009 FCC report described broadband as “the interstate highway of the 21st century for small towns and rural communities, the vital connection to the broader nation and, increasingly, the global economy.” The 2009 ‘Stimulus Package’ provided some $7.2 billion for broadband projects.

As with cell phone and cable television coverage, broadband access faces particular challenges in sparsely populated, often isolated rural areas. But it will be interesting to see if the FCC’s plan and Forever Wired can help expand this infrastructure many see as critical to expanding economic opportunities in the Adirondacks.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: First Adirondack Youth Climate Summit

Registration for the 2009 Youth Climate is closed but schools, universities, parents and children can follow the two-day event via a live stream. Conceived by then 17-year-old Zachary Berger of Lake Placid after attending the Adirondack Climate Conference last year, this year’s summit illustrates to all young people that their opinions and ideas can make a difference.

After much anticipation the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit will be held November 9th and 10th at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The 24 attending high schools and colleges will each send a team of students, educators, administrators and facilities staff to develop a feasible carbon reduction plan that decreases energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to bring back to their schools and communities.

Zachary Berger, inspired by the Adirondack Climate Conference held at The Wild Center in 2008, contacted conference planners to organize a similar gathering exploring climate change and its effect on the Adirondacks for the youth of the region. In early 2009, a steering committee, comprised of students, educators and The Wild Center staff, formed to bring Zach’s vision to fruition.

Berger says, “At the [Adirondack Climate] Conference there were over 175 community leaders, business owners, and others, all with a concern for the environment, but there were only about 10 students, representing only one university, and one high school. From my point of view this under representation led to things being overlooked such as the lack of environmental education in public schools.”

The Youth Climate Summit’s goal is multilevel, according to ADKCAP (Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan). The Summit will hold educational plenary sessions where research-based information will be presented about the economic and ecological effects of climate change. Participants will learn strategies to address climate change in the Adirondacks and how, when applied, communities will benefit monetarily.

Workshops are scheduled throughout the two-day event pairing students with experienced personnel to develop training skills to inspire participants to engage others to “green their schools and communities.” Through hands-on activities members will learn team-building skills in the hopes to engage classmates and coworkers in a grassroots effort to make their schools energy-efficient. During this process teams will develop a carbon and cost reduction plan to bring back to each school.

The following high schools and colleges are attending this inaugural year: Chateaugay Central School, Clifton-Fine Central School, Colton-Pierrepont Central School, Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School, Green Tech Charter High School, Heuvelton Central School, Keene Central School, Lake Placid High School, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Minerva Central School, Moriah Central School, Morristown Central School, Newcomb Central School, Northville Central School, Ogdensburg Free Academy, Plattsburgh High School, Potsdam High School, Saranac Lake Central School, St. Regis Falls, Tupper Lake Central School, Clarkson University, Colgate University, North Country Community College, Paul Smiths College, St. Lawrence University and SUNY Potsdam.

These institutions will serve as models in energy efficiency, sustainable energy usage, building maintenance, landscaping & grounds management, school & community garden planning, and how to affect the current science curriculum in schools. (The Summit is aligned with NYS Commencement Level MST Standards.)

The Adirondack Youth Climate Summits are scheduled through 2011 to monitor the success of each climate action plan. There will also be the opportunity for those Adirondack schools that watch the live web stream to participate in future summits. The complete schedule information is available here.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Forever Wired: Small Adirondack Business 101

Here at the Forever Wired Conference at Clarkson University there are a lot of folks in suits and sporting bluetooth. Aside from some of the workers building what Clarkson President Tony Collins called “our stimulus project”—a new student center—there are few beards, and fewer bluejeans than an Adirondacker would normally like to encounter. Is it a mark of a changing local economy?

I just got out of a session with about 60 attendees entitled “My Adirondack Business 101” led by Marc Compeau, Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship programs here at the university. Compeau’s presentation is designed to be given over four weeks but he covered the basics in about 45 minutes.

Compeau noted that even though the Adirondack region has limited access to the Internet, limited marketing channels, and mostly seasonal brick and mortar businesses, the Big Three of building a sustainable business are still important: building market share, maintaining growth / sustainability, and accessing capital.

Compeau stressed the importance of laying out a plan, marketing (even if you don’t have the Internet at home, your customer does), good people management (through building a workplace culture) and managing change.

I think the big lesson at the session was that just because we are not as wired as the rest of the state (or country, or developing world!) doesn’t mean that we should forget about the wired audience. According to Compeau, 78 percent of homes in the Untied States have a PC and 79 percent of adults use the internet.

www.helpmysmallbusinesstoday.com is Clarkson’s portal for local business people to get free help from the university to help sustainably grow their enterprises.

I’ll post again later today.


Monday, September 7, 2009

The Almanack Reports: Forever Wired Conference

Tomorrow, Mary Thill and I will be headed up to Clarkson University in Potsdam for The Adirondack Initiative’s Forever Wired Conference. According to the event’s organizers the conference’s goal is “to advance creative work and lifestyle choices by promoting technology and services that encourage commerce and entrepreneurship with negligible impact on the natural environment.” The general idea is to “preserve the unique character of the communities that share the Adirondack Park with wildlife and recreation enthusiasts alike” by fostering exsisting trends in wired work.

More than 200 telecommuters, entrepreneurs, business people, educators, economic developers, government representatives, news media and others will be there (including New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli) to encourage regional economic growth in green tech commerce. That means widespread broadband, professional development and educational opportunities geared toward entrepreneurs, telecommuters, working professionals and others interested in responsible and sustainable economic growth in the Adirondacks. The goal of the Adirondack Initiative is to add (by 2019) 2,019 “corporate telecommuters, mobile workers, and working wired entrepreneurs to the region in support of green tech commerce and new economic opportunities that will grow the base of regional residents.”

In a series of posts tomorrow Mary and I will consider some of the challenges, report on what we learn, and offer route suggestions for the path toward growing a technological future in the Adirondacks.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Major Renewable Energy Project For Wild Center

The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is planning to install a large-scale wood gasification heat system that will combine sustainably sourced wood biomass with a solar collector system to heat the 54,000 square-foot Center. The project is being touted as “one of the most efficient and modern gasification/solar systems in the United States.”

According to press release issued today: “The system has potential application for large buildings, including schools throughout the region, and the technology has the potential to boost the economy of the Adirondacks by creating demand for a sustainably produced local fuel source.”

Leading representatives from the Forest Products industry, system manufacturers, Clarkson University (which will help monitor the test system), and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which is co-funding the project, will make presentations to the press on Thursday, July 23rd.

The Wild Center project includes programs to monitor system performance and measurements of emissions as well as a full exhibit on the system for the public, including a see-through series of tubes that will let visitors see the fuel being delivered to the system.

Take a look at the Wall Street Journal slide show on the new technology.


Monday, August 25, 2008

OPINION: Lower The Drinking Age

I recently read that as many or more people are killed crossing at marked crosswalks than jay-walking. It got me thinking about all those jay-walking stings – you know, where the police lay in wait for people to cross the street.

In July more than 100 college presidents took an important step toward backing away from that kind of criminalizing barrage on Americans by suggesting we lower the drinking age to 18. It’s called the Amethyst Initiative and it was begun by John McCardell, the former President of Middlebury College in Vermont.

The website says:

These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the 21 year-old drinking age is not working, and, specifically, that it has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses.

The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. Amethyst Initiative presidents and chancellors call upon elected officials to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and to invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.

Those locally who have supported the idea include (1, 2, 3):

  • Paul Smith’s College President Dr. John Mills
  • Clinton Community College, Interim President Dr. Frederick Woodward
  • Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins
  • St. Lawrence University President Daniel F. Sullivan
  • Hamilton College President Joan Hinde Stewart
  • Plattsburgh State President Dr. John Ettling “feels the idea deserves serious consideration”

Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Robert Clarke and University of Massachusetts System President Jack M. Wilson also signed on.

MADD is, well, mad. They still argue that raising the drinking age in 1984-1988 is what has reduced alcohol related deaths among 16 to 20 year-olds (why 16 and not 18?) some 60 percent since 1990 – though they have risen over the past ten. I’ll bet the cause is more likely the stricter DWI enforcement and penalties – the bottom line is young people need to learn from their elders what responsible drinking is about.

Chicago’s Mayor Daley (son of Richard “the policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder” Daley) is also mad:

You think the president of the university is gonna open a beer hall in his house? Do you think the coach of the baseball team or football team will open it up? They should raise their standards and think that drinking is not part of college life. … Everybody has responsibility on this and drinking at universities isn’t something you should be proud of. … You don’t send your son or daughter to learn how to drink at universities. You send ‘em for an education.

According to the more civilized discussion points in the piece:

More than 40 percent of college students reportedly show at least one symptom of alcohol abuse or dependence. And every year, more than 500,000 full-time students at four year colleges suffer injuries tied in some way to excess drinking.

I’ll go with Peter McWilliams – a man who really understood these issues and who once wrote:

It is the law’s job to protect innocent people from likely harm to their person or property. It is not the law’s job to protect adults from the risks of their own consensual acts.

In case you still have any doubt that criminalizing drinking will make any real cultural difference, here is an article from the Ticonderoga Sentinel on backsliders in the Schroon Lake Temperance Society in 1884:

C. T. Leland has found an old book giving the facts concerning the organization
of the Schroon Lake Temperance Society in the year 1884, and gives the names of all members, business transacted, record of back-sliders, etc.

At the start 185 persons joined, altho we find that beside many names are written the words “withdrawn,” “older,” “drank,” “intoxicated” giving exact dates of each slip-up, while beside one name appears this amusing inscription “Mr. Benthusen,” “drank every time any body asked him,” and below that information some one had added these words, “Who could blame him.”

Who could indeed. Abstinence and enforcement have failed, it’s time for another approach.