Omega in Action

Omega in Action highlights inspiring people and organizations making meaningful change. From protecting the environment to empowering women, healing veterans, and serving nonprofits, you'll find fresh perspectives, trending news, and the latest information on noteworthy events here at Omega and around the world.

Keep Power Lines Within Current Footprint

2 months 2 weeks ago

Continuing their campaign against proposed power line expansion plans in upstate New York, Scenic Hudson and Omega Institute have had a letter to the editor published in the Albany Times Union. 

Signed by Omega CEO Robert “Skip” Backus and Scenic Hudson president Ned Sullivan, the letter says any plan to expand the state’s electricity transmission infrastructure must ensure power lines remain “within the footprint of existing infrastructure,” and urges “the [Public Service Commission] to accelerate selection of bidders that fully meet these goals.”

Doing so will allow farm, home, and business owners, whose properties abut or are in the viewshed of proposed utility expansion corridors, some much needed clarity on how their lives and properties will be affected in the future. 

Read the full letter to the editor.

Learn more about the Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

OWLC Attends the UN Commission on the Status of Women

3 months 2 weeks ago

Omega Women's Leadership (OWLC) director, Michele Bertran, recently attended the UN Commission on the Status of Women at the UN headquarters in New York City. This was the fifty-eighth annual session and included representatives of Member States, UN entities, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from all over the world. This year's theme was "Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls."

The OWLC attended a pivotal session, "Open Dialogue on Beijing + 20," a discussion about the progress made in the almost 20 years since the 1995 UN Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China. The session solidified a call to all duty bearers for unprecedented will and commitment to end gender inequality. It also highlighted UN Women's plan to create a "forward looking process that will galvanize diverse stakeholders: governments, parliamentarians, civil society, media, opinion leaders, the UN system, and the private sectors" around the following specific core objectives:

  • Renew political will, commitment, and concrete action by governments and all partners to accelerate implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action
  • Enhance social mobilization, awareness-raising, and revitalized public debate across all sectors of society
  • Strengthen evidence to increase knowledge and understanding of the structural causes of gender-based discrimination and inequality and of solutions and best practices
  • Invest in sufficient resources for achieving gender equality, women's rights, and women's empowerment
 
 

OWLC in Denver for Mediation Training

3 months 3 weeks ago

Omega Women's Leadership Center (OWLC) director, Michele Bertran, participated in a conflict resolution training with InAccord Justice Centers to share information about Omega and the OWLC with others working for peaceful solutions and just outcomes. Held in Denver, Colorado, the training was attended by 22 participants from the United States and Nigeria interested in honing their mediation, arbitration, and restorative justice skills. Bertran said Omega's holistic worldview "that the well-being of each is connected to the well-being of all of us" really resonated with those who are actively working for peace and justice.

InAccord Justice Centers provides services and training in mediation, arbitration, and restorative justice through a collection of centers located globally. Their procedural conflict resolution model was developed by Mediators Without Borders. An "empirically based technique," it offers empowerment, transparency, and fairness, and incorporates research in achieving solutions to conflict.

Founder of InAccord Justice and Mediators Without Borders, Shauna Ries, organized the event and led the training. She and Michele Bertran are cofaculty for the upcoming OWLC workshop, Leading with Emotional Courage: How Empathy Can Heal, Inspire & Create Breakthroughs, from May 23-26.

Learn more about the 2014 OWLC workshops

Thank You: The PSC Responds to Community Input

5 months 1 day ago

Dear Friends,

I want to thank all of you who took the time to post a comment concerning the construction of transmission power lines. The Public Service Commission (PSC) has clearly heard and responded to our concerns.

The PSC will encourage transmission line developers to conform their proposals to Governor Cuomo’s policy that any new power lines stay completely within existing developed corridors.

While this is a move in the right direction, there is still a long process ahead of us with what I am sure are many twists and turns. I honor the PSC’s commitment to open process and their desire to reach the highest and best solution, keeping in mind our concerns for both the economy and the environment.

Thank you once again for your commitment to protecting the Hudson Valley's natural assets, communities, and businesses. I will stay in touch as this important issue unfolds.

With appreciation,


Robert "Skip" Backus
Chief Executive Officer
Omega Institute 

Omega Rises for Women

5 months 1 day ago
On February 14th, the Omega Women's Leadership Center (OWLC) participated in Hudson Valley Rising's 2nd Annual One Billion Rising event at State Universtity of New York (SUNY) New Paltz. The event was held in conjunction with V-Day's worldwide One Billion Rising, calling for the end of violence against women and girls, and provided an opportunity for local students to come together with residents of all ages in the community to stand up for a common cause.  
 
Co-organizer Mary Goggin was inspired to found Hudson Valley Rising when she heard Eve Ensler's public announcement of One Billion Rising at Omega's Women & Power Conference in 2012, where Goggin was a partipant. Co-organizer Johanna Longbotham noted that the event took root in the community this year. "There were boys and men here. I feel the impact deepening."
 
More than 250 men, women, and children of all ages were in attendance. Families, coworkers, and community activists milled and danced before Goggin enthusiastically welcomed attendees. Assistant District Attorney of Ulster County Elizabeth Culmone spoke about the predicament of women and children facing domestic violence, a One Billion Rising video was played depicting global women rising in collective survival and triumph, and a flashmob of the anthem "Break the Chain" was led by SUNY Residence Life Director Corinna Caracci. Finally, Drew's Energy Dance Company from Kingston offered dance lessons and Hudson River Playback Theatre reflected on attendees' experiences of the event through improvisational theater and music. 
 
OWLC manager Sarah Urech said that in spite of "enormous piles of snow everywhere," the event was a success. She continued, "I feel so moved to be part of it, as an OWLC representative, a dancer, a supporter, and a performer with Hudson River Playback Theatre. RISING feels different than fighting, or protesting. All of these actions are important, but there is something about framing this as RISING that makes my heart sing, lifting me out of the sorrow and rage, and letting my spirit soar." 
 
 

CEO Request: Immediate Action Needed on Behalf of Omega & the Hudson Valley

5 months 4 days ago

Please help preserve Omega’s Campus and the environmental health, cultural heritage, and beauty of the Hudson Valley.

Every voice counts—especially now!

Dear Friends:

As the CEO of Omega Institute, I am writing to urge you to stand together with us to protect the Hudson Valley and the Omega Rhinebeck campus. You can help by adding your voice to the public comments before Thursday, February 20, by clicking on the link below in the “What You Can Do” section of this email.

First, let me explain. We have joined the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition to avert the new construction of outdated high-voltage power lines that could forever damage the Hudson Valley’s natural assets, communities, and businesses—including Omega’s Rhinebeck campus. Four proposals are in a competitive process, seeking to build power lines with towers that could reach a height of 165 feet. In total, the proposed projects could span 150 miles and pass through 13 counties and 38 towns—including 24 towns in the Hudson Valley.

One of the proposals under consideration would run new lines through the Omega campus, taking down tree lines and impacting the overall natural beauty of our Rhinebeck home.

Community feedback to the Public Service Commission (PSC) is critical at this juncture. The PSC will meet on Thursday, February 20, to decide how and if the proposed Hudson Valley projects will comply with the Governor's recommendation to keep power upgrades within existing power lines footprint.

What You Can Do

I am asking you as a member of the Omega community to add your voice to the public comments Here are three easy ways to help by using our model comments below (electronic submission is fastest):

  • Submit comments electronically—post your comments here, and see others' comments here
  • Email the PSC at secretary@dps.ny.gov
  • Mail comments to the Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, New York State Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350.

Model Comments:

Please send comments below as is—or increase the impact of your comments by putting them in your own words.

  • I agree with Gov. Cuomo's recommendation that transmission upgrade projects should remain entirely within existing rights-of-way in length, height, and width. If power lines must be constructed, this is clearly the best way to minimize landowner and environmental impacts.
  • I urge the PSC to solicit proposals for demand-side management, newer micro-grid technology, and environmentally sound local power generation in the lower Hudson Valley and New York City to replace the need for more traditional power line infrastructure.

Thank you! Your effort means a lot and we appreciate you helping Omega protect and preserve our Rhinebeck campus and the Hudson Valley.

By submitting your comments you're joining concerned citizens who know that a healthy and beautiful Hudson Valley is important for our quality of life and for lasting economic opportunity for us and future generations.

With appreciation,


Robert "Skip" Backus
Chief Executive Officer
Omega Institute



Omega Celebrates International Women's Day

5 months 4 days ago

On March 8th, the world will once again honor International Women’s Day, celebrating women's achievements while also acknowledging the challenges that women still face. 

Calling for solidarity as women continue to work for equal rights, the Omega Women’s Leadership Center is cosponsoring the 4th Annual International Women’s Day Walk at the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, New York. Organized by the Women's Leadership Alliance of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the event will begin on the Poughkeepsie side of the bridge at 9:00 a.m.

Inspiring Change is this year’s celebration theme. A theme that Mecca Santana, the newly appointed New York State Chief Diversity Officer, will address in her remarks prior to the bridge walk. We invite you to join us as we walk in solidarity with women across the globe. 

Register for the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce's event at Walkway Over the Hudson

Learn more about International Women's Day 


Women & Power Participant Develops Go Beyond Greatness Programs

5 months 1 week ago

The Kingston Times recently featured 2013 Omega Women’s Leadership Center’s (OWLC) Women & Power Retreat participant Ashley Knox and the Go Beyond Greatness educational and empowerment workshops she was inspired to develop for both children and adults. Knox credits her time at Omega with helping her move ahead, and inspiring her to help others do the same. 

Sarah Urech, OWLC Manager, met Knox during a workshop at Omega’s Women & Power Retreat. “The retreat theme this year was Find Your Own Strength, and it inspired Ashley to offer a series of workshops to stimulate personal growth and communication skills,” said Urech. “I really enjoyed her workshop—she is so full of enthusiasm for life and belief in people’s capacity to enhance their own well-being. She skillfully guided people through a series of exercises and left people wanting more. With her natural talent for community building, I’m excited to see what she does next.”

Knox explains, “The purpose of ‘Go Beyond Greatness’ is to inspire people to bring out their best qualities to achieve personal and academic goals…Our program offers skill development training for college and career readiness with an emphasis on critical thinking and good decision-making for greater results in academic achievement and life success. [The program] specializes in leadership development, effective communication, and social awareness to motivate people to place passion, pride, and commitment toward themselves and the communities they live in.”

Read the full story

Learn more about Omega Women's Leadership Center

Omega's Chief Executive Officer Speaks at the Net Positive Energy + Water Conference

5 months 2 weeks ago

Robert "Skip" Backus, chief executive officer of Omega Institute, spoke about the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) at the Net Positive Energy + Water Conference hosted by the Living Future Institute. The event, which took place February 4–5 in San Francisco, California, brought together leading experts from around the world to develop net-zero energy and water concepts through the restorative framework of the Living Building Challenge, the world's most rigorous green building standard.

Learn more about the Net Positive Energy + Water Conference

Learn more about the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL)

Offshore Freshwater Aquifers: Which Law Will Apply?

5 months 2 weeks ago

This past December, vast groundwater reserves were discovered off the coasts of China, Australia, North America, Greenland, Suriname, Nigeria, and South Africa, raising hopes that these resources could offer a solution for water-scarce regions. However, there are technical and legal issues that must be resolved before these transboundary aquifers can be used.

Renee Martin-Nagle, a visiting scholar at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC, and secretary/treasurer of Omega's board, addresses the pressing legal implications.

Learn more about these transboundary aquifers

Pages