Sarah’s Snippets 9/15/2015
Geneva, NY was the site of the 2015 Agriculture Resiliency Summit sponsored by Cornell this week. SALT was asked to present the story of the Schoharie Valley’s response and recovery from Irene and Lee, as well as SALT’s work to build resiliency. The attendants were from various upstate NY locations and ranged from Cornell researchers, to active farmers, to cooperative extension specialists.
A quick survey of the room revealed that many participants had experienced flooding, usually as responders or having had low-lying flooding of some fields. Two individuals in the audience had actually experienced flooding in their house. I shared not only the factual details about recovery, but stories of personal loss, courage, and resilience to illustrate what recovery looks like “from the inside” view. I also shared my admiration for our residents who have maintained their positive attitudes and commitment to renewal as they continue to work toward a revitalized region.
The morning included numerous other presenters following the SALT story. During several presentations others mentioned the positive influence that our story has had on them. SALT’s work in the recovery effort and the positive results that have been achieved in a relatively short time have stimulated others to become involved in the field of recovery and resiliency. Cornell put renewed energy into the development of their EDEN program, to join the national EDEN project, because of SALT. Research projects into agricultural resiliency for the NY State agricultural industry increased because of the needs and successes in the Schoharie Creek Basin. The Cooperative Extension offices are looking for more ways to ensure they are prepared to engage more fully when disasters or major weather events happen in their counties.
It is true that we often have no idea how far-reaching our sphere of influence is. Last week became an opportunity for insight into the ripples our SALT experiences have created. My day ended as one of the attendees who had experienced flooding in his home tearfully thanked me for sharing the personal stories. As he said, “People need to know what it is like to go through something like this, so we can work to reduce the suffering in the future.” I agree.