East Hill Notes: Town-gown conference a success

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Cornell’s Office of Community Relations held its annual regional town-gown conference last week, with a focus on transportation. It was a spectacular success.


In welcoming remarks with City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, Joel Malina, Cornell’s vice president for university relations said, “Transportation is so critical to the work that Cornell does in partnership with the city and with our surrounding communities. We’re pleased so many of you are traveling to be here today to celebrate partnerships and to learn from each other.”


Among many stellar conference components, with a local connection:

  • A presentation by Scot Vanderpool and Matt Yarrow from Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, who noted how our award-winning transit system is the backbone of connectivity among an array of needed alternatives so users can easily figure out how to get from point A to point B. Vanderpool and Yarrow touched on their hopes for a potential pilot program - “First-Mile/Last-Mile,” – that would get residents “door-to-door” by using such services as Gadabout and Way2Go, in combination with TCAT.
  • David Orr, executive director of the Cornell Local Roads Program (CLRP), gave an overview of this longstanding community resource, which holds workshops across the state for highway and public works departments on topics like paving, drainage, engineering, and highway maintenance. He was joined by City of Ithaca engineer Eric Hathaway, who sang the praises of CLRP, which provides local governments with road maintenance assessments and plans. In 2015, a partnership between CLRP and the City of Ithaca’s Department of Public Works featured Cornell student interns collecting pavement condition data and producing a maintenance schedule for the city. The CLRP and City of Ithaca received a Town-Gown (TOGO) Award that December for their work.
  • In a closing panel discussion on e-bikes and scooters, Steve Patterson, mayor of Athens, Ohio (home of Ohio University), discussed “Electric Scooters in Town-Gown Environments: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” looking at infrastructure modifications and potential ordinances that scooters may necessitate, prompting a robust conversation, as scooters are being considered in Ithaca. Both Mayor Patterson and Malina, Cornell Associate Vice President for Community Relations, are members of the International Town-Gown Association itga.org which will hold its annual conference in May at State College.


Willard Straight Hall occupation – 50th anniversary
On April 19, 1969, dozens of members of Cornell’s Afro-American Society and several Latino students occupied Willard Straight Hall for 36 hours to call attention to what they perceived as the university’s hostility toward students of color, its student judicial system and its slow progress in establishing an Africana studies program.


Fifty years later, the university community will examine the event’s significance and its part in the broader civil rights movement. A series of events are being coordinated by a steering committee consisting of faculty, staff, students, and alumni. For a full list of events and details, visit the 50th Anniversary of the Willard Straight Hall Occupation site.

The featured events, which are free and open to the public, are:
• A film screening of “Agents of Change” by filmmakers Frank Dawson ’72 and Abby Ginzberg ’71, April 16 at 7 p.m. at Cinemapolis, which touches on Cornell ’69. Dawson and Ginzberg engage in a Q&A following the screening.
• “Social Justice: A Conversation with Harry Edwards,” April 18 at 8 p.m. in Bailey Hall, will feature Dawson, who participated in the occupation as a first-year student, in conversation with Edwards, Ph.D. ’73, who at the time was a sociology Ph.D. student.
• Students and alumni will lead a commemorative walk and reception, “A Cultural Remembrance of the 1969 Occupation of Willard Straight Hall,” April 19 at 5 p.m. at the Africana Studies and Research Center. The narrated walk will stop at the nearby Wari House and the former site of the Africana Center before proceeding to Willard Straight Hall.

East Hill Notes are published the first and third Wednesdays of each month in Tompkins Weekly.

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