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Earth Matters

Earth Matters: Nyack 2030. Are You Ready?

Earth Matters focuses on conservation, sustainability, recycling and healthy living. This weekly series is brought to you by Maria Luisa Boutique and Strawtown Studio.

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by Marcy Denker

“We’re being asked to rethink our practices and review our assumptions in every area of life,” said Upper Nyack Mayor Karen Tarapata at the Nyacks 2030 workshop. Nyack Mayor Don Hammond convened this first meeting on climate action for public officials and local advocates from the three Nyack river villages and school district, Rockland Community College, the Nyack Library, civic organizations, and non-profits last month to begin to work as a team to lower our emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

With Our Changing Planet: Farmer, Banker, Soldier, Spy – Perspectives on a Warming World

Come to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory on Wed Dec 4 at 6p hear how climate is changing, how we know that this change is mostly due to human activities, and what the near future looks like. The scale and urgency of the challenge ahead is daunting, but there are both near- and long-term solutions that will be highlighted. RSVP your reservation to 61 Route 9W, Palisades.

Nyacks 2030 plans to set aggressive targets on greenhouse gas reductions for the coming decade. A climate action plan will help our community contribute to the state-wide targets set this year in the NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act — targets that are among the most aggressive in the country. At the same time, a community-wide coalition will become organized to carry out the plan. The initiative will formally launch early next year.

That will mean real change in every sector–transportation, building energy, and waste management for more efficiency, alternative energy, and conservation. The plan will help the community protect and enhance natural resources, including soils, plants, wildlife, and water and help us adapt to rising temperatures, sea level rise, increased flooding and the extreme weather that have begun to affect the health, safety and property here in the Nyacks.

Speakers Present Current and Future Projects To Combat Climate Change

The summit featured ten community community leaders who shared progress on current projects and future plans to address the impacts of climate change.

Paul Gallay climate change

Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay at the People’s Climate March. Photo: Susan Hellauer

  • Nyack Library Director Angela Strong outlined the library’s sustainability planning and readiness to be a key partner in building community knowledge.
  • South Nyack Trustee Andrew Goodwillie and Upper Nyack’s Green Committee chair Judy Ryan both described village projects–from e-waste and trees to LEDs streetlights– that have involved the beginnings of the kind of inter-village sharing and support that’s needed.
  • As leader of the Sierra Club of Rockland and a member of the Upper Nyack Green Committee, Peggy Kurtz has taken a lead role in promoting Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) in Upper Nyack and other Rockland communities. The three Nyack villages have worked closely to assess and advance this exciting opportunity to dramatically increase green electricity supply in our communities.
  • Ongoing education and broader, more effective outreach will be key at every level and in every organization.  Nyack Schools Superintendent and School Board are ready to support the initiative in a variety of ways that include projects, outreach and curriculum.
  • Urgent action is needed, and Nyack High School sophomore Emmy Udry made the case for it. She is Vice President of the NHS Environmental Club, a coordinator for Extinction Rebellion Youth Rockland, and a communications director for New York Youth Climate Strike, the NY branch of US Youth Climate Strike.
  • Nyack High School’s Environmental Club, whose projects this year will include school assembly on Climate Change. Science teacher Tom Perry leads the group and also runs an organic garden at the high school where he composts food scraps from Grace Episcopal Church and the kitchen at the new RCC Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center.
  • Chef Chris Spezial runs that RCC kitchen and he’s passionate about food waste. He practices what he preaches in his zero-waste kitchen, and he’s ready to share his knowledge and passion with Nyack’s restaurant owners.
  • Calling Nyack “the village that floods in both directions,” J.C. Brotherhood detailed the challenges ahead for waterfront and upland properties due to severe weather, increased precipitation, sea level rise and storm surge.
  • Sonia Cairo, Executive Director of Keep Rockland Beautiful, showed how her organization had organized thousands of individuals in various programs across the county in efforts that deepen their understanding of the importance of protecting the environment.

Everyone came with a different focus, but all agreed that building an ongoing partnership with the schools, businesses, houses of worship, civic organizations and other community groups will make our efforts stronger.

We will all have to work together…and reinforce each other…because the culture shift required to make the necessary impact won’t be easy to achieve. “It will be very upsetting to many people who have enjoyed the conveniences of modern life,” said Upper Nyack Mayor Tarapata.  She called for urgent action and flexibility– the importance of “a lot of informal discussion with residents,” and the willingness to try things out and to adapt as we need to.

We need to share knowledge and support, make our actions count more, build momentum.  To become part of Nyacks 2030, email Nyack Sustainability Coordinator Marcy Denker at

Fri Dec 6 Worldwide Climate: Nyack Edition

On Fri Dec 6, millions of students and adult allies all around the globe will be striking for climate justice and to put pressure on world leaders to take immediate action on the climate crisis. At 11a at the Veterans Park Gazebo on Main St in Nyack, hundreds of youth and adults from XR Youth Rockland, 350 NJ/Rockland, RCAN, and the Rockland Sierra Club will turn out for this rally. For more info, read Rockland Residents Join Worldwide Climate Strike.


Earth Matters, a weekly feature that focuses on conservation, sustainability, recycling and healthy living, is sponsored by Maria Luisa Boutique, and Strawtown Studio. Read Earth Matters every Wednesday on Nyack News And Views, or sign up for the Earth Matters mailing list.


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