Why I created this blog…

This blog will eventually become a conversation around the possibility of developing a sustainability-focused community building intiative in the Utica, NY area. I am a Utica native who has been living in Portland, Oregon for the past few years. Currently, I’m finishing up my masters in social work at Portland State University. My plans after graduation include a return to the Utica area to live closer to family and the place I will always call ‘home.’

My experiences in Portland and my studies at Portland State have put me in contact with some very innovative community development projects that simultaneously strengthen neighborhoods, support their local economies and promote environmental sustainability. These initiatives seem to be faring well in Portland, and I want to know if other communities are interested in learning about them and creating something similar for themselves.

Personally, I am excited about the possibilities that these initiatives might hold for the Utica area in terms of building better relationships in neighborhoods, creating a supportive local economy and fostering environmental sustainability. I see great potential for the Utica area to become a model of a sustainable town; a haven for those who value a commitment to people and place.

In mid-November, 2010, my brother, Matthew Ossowski (a Utica-based filmmaker and musician) will join me in Portland to produce a short film about Portland’s approaches to community development. This will be an informational film about the possibilities inherent in cultivating similar projects in Utica, NY. Drawing on first-hand experience and training in the field of social sustainability, and featuring interviews with Portlanders doing some innovative work in the field, the film will encourage the viewer to answer the following questions:

  1.  Will people in Utica be interested in undertaking projects like the ones described in the film?
  2. Will these projects do well in Utica?
  3. What adaptations will the community in Utica make to these projects, if they adopt any of them?
  4. Will these projects be part of a movement that builds a critical mass of people making a long-term, sustained investment to the Utica community?

A final note: this will not be a film about how to “fix” Utica. Nor will it suggest that Portland does everything perfectly. Instead, it is intended to describe a model that seems to be a success in terms of strengths-based, sustainable community development.

I welcome any comments and I am looking forward to the conversation generated by this project!

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3 Responses to Why I created this blog…

  1. Matthew and Melanie Durr says:

    Very much looking forward to this commentary, hopefully, fellow “Utican’s” will acknowledge and accept new ideas that will help bring this city back up to “snuff” and move forward together to create an environment worthy of all of us, in all categories suggested. An open mind and a beautiful city, sounds like progress to us.

  2. Joanne Green says:

    I liked the video! This video should be shown throughout the entire world!

  3. Ray Bepko says:

    Just watched the video and liked it very much. I do hope the idea catches on here but, honestly, I think it will be a lot harder to generate the support than in Portland. The reason is simple and mentioned in the film: Uticans tend to look back to “the good old days” rather than to the future and what might be. Changing that attitude will be the key to reUtica. We’re making a small effort in that regard with our blog http://mybroken-downupstatecity.blogspot.com/. It focuses on everything about living in Upstate New York—in Utica to be specific—including restaurants, neighborhoods, politics, landscapes, seasons, streets, towns and villages, culture, famous and infamous citizens, history, events, and a certain amount of writing and philosophizing of our own about life here. We will put links to reUtica on our blog as they are posted here. Great job with the film! Thanks for doing it!

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