Who We Are


    We are a group of community leaders who gather once a month to organize events and discuss sustainability for Cortland County.  Representative from SUNY Cortland, Cortland Soil and Water Conservation District, Seven Valleys Health Coalition, the Cultural Council of Cortland County, the area Farmers’ Markets, among others, and other groups make up what we call “Sustainable Cortland,” a project that originated from the Sustainability Track. 

Beth Klein and Brice Smith are the co-chairs of the Sustainability Track. 

Sara Watrous is the Program Coordinator/Americorps Volunteer with Sustainabe Cortland.

Organization History

In the fall 2009, SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum brought together a group of Cortland area community leaders to discuss the issues of climate change, energy depletion, and economic instability.  As a result of this meeting, the group pledged to work together to address these issues.  One outcome was the development of a fifth Track to the Cortland Counts Assessment Process, the Sustainability Track, which began in January 2010.  The co-chairs of the Sustainability Track are Beth Klein and Brice Smith, both SUNY Cortland professors.

The sustainability track held a number of community meetings to outline key issues and strategies to address critical sustainability issues.  One main strategy was to increase the education of Cortland County residents on sustainability issues.  This initiated the development of the organization, Sustainable Cortland in July 2011.  Since establishment of Sustainable Cortland the organization has worked to:

  • connect and work with various Cortland County groups working on related issues, especially support for local foods

  • educate area residents on climate change, energy issues, and other sustainability related issues

  • reach out to other sustainability groups in surrounding counties to collaborate on regional initiatives

Because of its continuing growth and increased need for addressing these issues in our community, in December 2011 Sustainable Cortland hired its first full-time program coordinator, Sara Watrous, through the SUNY Cortland Americorps program. 

Sara Watrous

Sustainability Outreach and Program Coordinator

Americorps Volunteer

    In an effort to support Sustainable Cortland and more firmly establish it within both the SUNY Cortland campus and local community, SUNY Cortland has provided the organization with office space, and supported the agency contribution for the Americorps position. While this has allowed Sustainable Cortland the benefit of a solid infrastructure, the organization also remains committed to deepening its presence in the community, and continues to hold meetings at various locations to ensure maximum exposure in the community, including Main Street SUNY Cortland (9 Main Street, Cortland) and the NYS Grange Place (Cortland).

    Further, Sustainable Cortland plans to take concrete action to address concerns that have been identified by members of the community in the near future.

    In the summer of 2012, three Summer Youth Employees interns with Sustainable Cortland for 6 weeks.  They produced a 5 minute promotional video for the Downtown Cortland Farmers’ Market, organized events for Sustainable Cortland, including the Community Garden Tour, and many other things.

Qassem Winbush, Cassondra Hathaway

& Olivia Card

To see what the early ideas for the organization were, look at our Past Meeting Minutes.


Want to Contact Us?

E-mail: sustainablecortland@gmail.com