It isn’t easy being green
April 16, 2014 —
That was my thought process last week as I headed out the door to check in at the 2014 Green Tourism conference in Callicoon, NY (www.DelawareHighlands.org/greentourism), but in fact, it’s easier than one might think. That was one of the topics of conversation that came up when I stopped to chat briefly with working group coordinator Adrienne Picciano. Even though it was still early in the day, the conference was already being heralded as a success. “It all came about from a conversation with friends and folks at the Delaware Highlands Conservancy (DHC),” Picciano told me. “We thought the time was right to invite people and businesses from both sides of the river to get together. A lot of small, independent businesses don’t have the time or resources to reach out to others, and this conference gives us all the opportunity to convene, share ideas and band together as a unified group. Tourists don’t stop at the river; they cross the bridge.”
With more than 40 vendors offering “green” products and services, 12 workshops and four green certificate trainings, over 200 registered attendees milled about the halls of the Villa Roma Conference Center, participating in a “Taste of the Region” reception, showcasing locally produced food and beverages and a farm-to-table luncheon featuring keynote speaker Laury Poland, president of the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association (www.fingerlakeswinecountry.com). I spotted Sustainable Solutions’ Stephen Stuart bobbing and weaving through the crowd and flagged him down, curious to know if he was leading a focus group. “No, I’m pretty busy making sure everyone is complying with our Memorandum of Understanding,” Stuart told me. Seeing the confusion on my face, he explained. “We just want to make sure that the conference as a whole is as green as possible,” he explained. “There are no Styrofoam cups here,” he continued, “you know, containers for cream and sugar, cloth napkins, recycling taking place… It’s the little things. Environmental responsibility has gotten a bad rap,” Stuart continued. “People are afraid of ‘Greenies,’ thinking it’s difficult to achieve sustainability and that we’re all fanatics. We want to dispel that myth.” Noting that there is already a “save the date” in place for next year (April 14, 2015), I made a mental note, whistled for the pooch and sallied forth.