A Community Conversation: Unpacking the Nano and Transport Possibilities in Tompkins County

Sustainable Tompkins is organizing a panel discussion chested by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, and in conjunction with the Unpacking the Nano exhibition, on possible scenarios for transportation in the coming years in Tompkins County.

The panel will offer a primer on the assumptions behind our current transportation plan and a look at local initiatives to buffer our car-dependent system. But will this be enough? Do we have time to redesign our communities and adopt new technologies to reduce our vulnerability? Or is it already too late for that and we must instead adapt mobility needs to current infrastructure and what will become fierce competition for remaining oil supplies?

Panelists include Aleksandr Mergold, visiting assistant professor of architecture at Cornell; Fernando de Aragon, executive director of the Ithaca Tompkins County Transportation Council; Jennifer Dotson, executive director of Ithaca Carshare; Rob Morache, principal of New Earth Strategies; Jon Bosak, editor of TC Local; and Gay Nicholson, president of Sustainable Tompkins.

The theme of the conversation is "Mad Max or the Jetsons? Getting Around in Tompkins County as Oil Prices Climb Higher." Mad Max is a 1979 Australian film that was followed by sequels in 1981 and 1985 -- all very profitable over time -- and all very much dystopian. The 1973 oil crisis was cited as inspiration for the first film by its screenwriter who "wrote the script based on the thesis that nations would not consider the huge costs of providing infrastructure for alternative energy until it was too late." The Jetsons is best known as a half hour cartoon shown Sunday nights for only 24 episodes, September 1962 to March 1963. These episodes whimsically conveyed an imaginary and comfortable American science fiction future circa 2062. These pop-culture contexts suggest a counterpoint that Ithacans might reference. The audience for this event will be welcome to add their insights to the discussion.

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