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Miller Downer ’21 helps Hamilton achieve Climate Smart Community certification

By Upstate Institute on June 29, 2018

Written by Miller Downer ’21

Miller Downer ’21 in front of the Village of Hamilton office.

This summer, I am working alongside the Town and Village of Hamilton to achieve Climate Smart Community Certification for both municipalities. Along with their usual governmental operations, the Town and Village aim to operate in a sustainable manner that can dissipate throughout the community, adopting green practices that ultimately aid the population at large. CSC Certification would only prove the lengths that the Town and Village are willing to go to create a sustainable community in cooperation with Colgate University, and by completing tasks that would aid Hamilton at large (and to an extent, its neighboring villages), the municipalities would become recognized in New York for their actions and endeavors to work towards a greener future as well as to become eligible for competitive funding to further their sustainability goals. Overall, the municipalities serve the people of Hamilton and neighboring communities, improving quality of life through eco-friendly practices.

My experiences with the Town and Village offices have been nothing short of eye-opening and extremely enjoyable; my co-workers have been extraordinary in welcoming me and listening to my thoughts on how we should proceed with the certification process. Both the Town and Village may be closely related, but their populations are of different concentrations; for example, the Town covers a majority of the farmland outside the Village, which covers a more commercial populace. Because of this, the processes used for the Town usually cannot apply for the Village and vice-versa. Thus, while the CSC Certification has become more streamlined in recent months, the processes by which the Town and Village achieve certification remain individual. In addition, actions working towards CSC Certification may be complete, but to receive credit for said actions, proper documentation, such as memoranda or resolutions, must be uploaded prior to an application due date.

My job is to organize their documentation and ultimately upload all recorded evidence that aligns with Climate Smart Community actions so that they receive credit towards their certification. While the process of gaining certification is a long haul, I’m hoping to initialize practices that can be continued after my time with the Upstate Institute is done so that the data will be ready to submit by next summer. Because the goals for the Town and Village are different, I plan to streamline the actions which are most beneficial to each municipality. Overall, my aim is to speed up the process so that the Town and Village can achieve CSC Certification as soon as possible. The most important contribution I can make will be to capitalize on actions that the Town and Village may have already completed but have yet to document, while also working alongside government representatives to tackle larger goals in the works.

As an Environmental Biology major, the work with the Town and Village ultimately introduces me to a more administrative perspective of sustainability and how practices can be employed in local governmental bodies to better small communities. I hope to learn how I can use this managerial outlook to apply green practices, and to understand the inner workings of government to better organize approaches that have green solutions and apply them to other small communities that may benefit from simple actions like recycling or managing waste production.

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