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CALLING ATTENTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE: Geneva’s Climate March

A community’s charge for climate change recognition and reconciliation culminated on Friday when more than 150 activists congregated along Seneca Lake for Geneva’s Climate March.

Geneva Women’s Assembly organizers scripted lyrical rhymes and chants that reveled environmental activists’ voices, echoing along the city’s Lakeside Park.

Ward 4 City Councilor Ken Camera projected some initial remarks through a megaphone, citing the novel Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants that was written by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Camera recited passages and perspectives from the Indigenous writer who cares about protecting and preserving the environment through bestowing lessons from tribal communities to the rest of society.

Although Camera believes that the climate change cause has much progress left, he reflects on Geneva’s history in creating gradual changes to redress environmental degradation.

“You have hope. You’re not starting from scratch,” Councilor Camera said.

Camera shared that the City of Geneva’s water treatment plant is one of the most advanced in New York state.

He noted that all downtown lighting has been recently transferred to LED solely.

While 277 cities and towns are registered as climate-smart communities, Geneva has been awarded the bronze certification as one of 32 communities throughout the entire state of New York; and Camera does not plan to stop there, hoping to secure a silver certification, a high distinction that only two communities have accomplished thus far.

He also mentioned that by the end of this year, Geneva shall possess one of the largest of vermiculture composting facilities for food waste in the region.

Camera then shared some observations and advice for activists to transform protest into progress.

“Remind them of your concerns,” he stated.

Camera advocated for activists to share their comments with Tom Reed, NY-23, Geneva’s congressional representative.

“Let’s engage not only the current congressman, Tom Reed, that means being in his office, protesting the stupid ideas that he supports and keeping his staff educated,” Camera said.

Camera also calls for activists to explore Democratic candidates in Tracy Mitrano and Scott Noren, who he believes shall both have environmental policy platforms that are in alignment with the marchers. 

“Keep your grassroots projects coming,” Camera stated.

The community garden beds were an example of this grassroots project coming into fruition, but it was never easy. 

“I am proud to say I always supported these, but City Council never made it easy for them to get started,” Camera said.

In closing, Camera believes that this upcoming January may allow for a new chicken-keeping ordinance to be passed.

Democratic Party At-Large Councilor candidate Tamarie Cataldo and Democratic Ward 5 candidate Laura Salamendra were both in attendance, offering support and inspiration alongside activists before heading-out on their toxic tour of Geneva.

Standing in solidarity, Republican mayoral candidate Mark Salvatore Pitifer stood and marched beside activists during the event.

As the mass of marchers arrived to Community Garden on State Street, Salamendra asked for the public to be present at this upcoming Wednesday’s public budget hearing in an effort to demand for the full-funding of the garden program through Blueprint Geneva, a budget-line item that has been yet to be decided for the 2020 municipal budget.

“Every time this city council meets, they declare war on the poor,” Salamendra concluded.

The 2020 municipal public budget hearing will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 2 at the Public Safety Building, 255 Exchange Street.


– Reporting & Photos by Gabriel Pietrorazio

An undergraduate student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Pietrorazio has written for the Town Times of Watertown, Connecticut and Finger Lakes Times in Geneva, New York. He’s currently a reporter for FL1 News, and can be reached at [email protected].

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