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10th Anniversary of the Northeast Sustainable Communities Workshop - By and For Brownfielders

10 Jun 2019 1:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
By: Sue Boyle, GEI Consultants and Executive Director, BCONE and Barry Hersh, NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate

The genesis of the NSCW was the realization that brownfield redevelopment was a regional market; metro New York including NYC and suburbs and parts of CT, NJ and PA. NSCW founders also saw early, before Superstorm Sandy, the connections between sustainable and resilient communities and brownfield redevelopment. A predecessor was called Tri-State Brownfield Conference, but NSCW founders wanted real, free-flowing participation; with many panels, time for discussions, and minimal use of PowerPoints. NSCW is self-sustaining, by and for Brownfielders; affordable- especially for community organizations and government officials, led by significant volunteer effort, with limited contracted staff assistance. 

NSCW's goal has always been to break new ground, offer new ideas and new concepts on the topics of sustainability, collaboration and leverage, contamination, resiliency, redevelopment challenges, remediation technology, and their impact on community revitalization. Attendees include a vibrant mix of representatives from communities, government, higher education, professional organizations, and laboratories, as well as attorneys, developers, contractors, and consultants. 

NSCW was never about "stars," but over the years we’ve heard from some notable leaders; the inimitable Charlie Bartsch, Mathy Stanislaus then new Assistant Administrator at USEPA’s OSWER, Ed Chu then of White House Council on Environmental Quality, David Lloyd and others from USEPA. Also numerous NJ, NY and CT State commissioners, New York City’s first OER Director Dan Walsh several times, plus other officials and private brownfield redevelopers such as Joe Cotter, George Vallone and Alexander Durst. For our 10th anniversary we are, as we did the first NSCW, having a representative from the Federal Reserve Bank. 

Who were the pioneers who created NSCW? Let’s start with Lee Ilan of NY and Sue Boyle NJ, who have volunteered to plan and implement all ten NSCWs and the three Tri-States that preceded. Other original team members over the decade plus include Michael Taylor CT, Colleen Kokas NJ, Gary Rozmus NY, Larry Schnapf NY, Barry Hersh CT, Beth Barton CT, Lee Hoffman CT, Brian Clark PA, and Jill Gaito PA. NJ Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP) was the “official” organizational backstop for contracts in the early years and the long-time sponsor of the networking receptions each year thanks to Jeanne Mroczk

Thank you to all of the current, multi-year volunteers, especially Elizabeth Limbrick and Rick Shoyer. Joining them: Jeff Entin, Wanda Monahan, Geoff Forrest, Alan Miller, Sharon McSwieney, Jen Carling, Rob Crespi, Ben Alter, and Trevan Houser. Others who were multi-year, active volunteers in the past include Shira Gidding Shaul and Sarit Platkin of NY, Cristin Mustillo NJ, Hannah Moore NY, Tim Kinsella NJ, Rick Gimello NJ, Jim Mack NJ, Chelsea Albucher NJ, Lya Thoedoratos of USEPA Region 2, Steve Danyew, and Skelly Holmbeck.

NSCW always sought locations with good mass transit: 2009 and 2010 were held at NJIT, Newark NJ; we experimented with a half-day session in 2011 at Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport, CT; and 2012 returned to the Big Apple at John Jay College as NSCW, not Tri-State. The goal was to move around geographically in the region, but it also became clear that the location needed to be close to the core group of volunteers, which is why NJ is the most frequent location. BCONE as an incorporated non-profit organization took NSCW under its wing 2014 for contractual, financial and other infrastructure necessities and added limited but important contracted professional staff resources to supplement our tireless volunteers. NSCW returned to NJ in 2014 at the Liberty Science Center, Jersey City; we crossed the Hudson River again in 2015 to hold NSCW downtown at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, New York City (both were spectacular venues); and we found our home at NJIT for 2016 - 2019. NJIT has been a supportive partner for NSCW and BCONE, thanks to Colette Santasieri, Sean Vroom and Elizabeth Limbrick. Our volunteers and contracted staff are primarily based in NJ so the location works well for their busy schedules. BCONE welcomes events in CT, NY and/or PA if there is volunteer infrastructure to support the event location.

NSCW began its annual awards in 2017, only a couple of years ago. We also began providing Continuing Education Credits in multiple states thanks to the Rutgers Continuing Education program’s Pamela Springard-Mayer.

So this 10th Anniversary is worth a walk down the NSCW memory lane and a slice of cake!

Thank you to Lee Ilan, Colleen Kokas, and Elizabeth Limbrick for providing their memories and electronic files!

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Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast is a nonprofit organization 501(C)(3) and all gifts are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
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