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Bulletin News

Onondaga Nation Litigator Joe Heath to Speak


Joe Heath, the general counsel for the Onondaga Nation since 1982, will team up with a musical SUNY Cortland faculty member to focus attention on the local politics of fracking and the fight against natural gas storage under Seneca Lake Thursday, April 7.

Joe Heath
Joe Heath

Heath, an attorney since 1975, and Colleen Kattau, an associate professor of Spanish in the Modern Languages Department, will present “What Porter Ranch Can Teach Us about Seneca Lake” at 7 p.m. in Jacobus Lounge.

Her talk continues SUNY Cortland’s yearlong program of lectures, panel discussions, exhibitions and concerts themed on “Where Are We?” Events are free and open to the public.

Heath’s most visible work for the Onondaga Nation has centered on environmental protection, particularly under the Clean Water Act and focusing on Onondaga Lake and Onondaga Creek.

He also has represented the Onondaga people in the areas of archeological site and unmarked burial site protection; Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act repatriation and litigation; Indian Child Welfare Act litigation; hunting and fishing rights; treaty rights; excise tax issues; and land rights.

Heath, who has spoken to landowners in more than 40 towns, will share his knowledge of the many different environmental dangers created by fracking based on his research with community groups over the last six years. For four of those years, he also educated landowners on how to terminate their leases and manage the many questionable ways gas companies are seeking to extend old leases.

Heath previously gained extensive experience in civil rights litigation as one of the four lawyers representing the class action against New York state for the 1971 Attica prison assault and brutality. He also has worked with criminal defense; constitutional law and protection of free speech and assembly; protection of abused and neglected children; and fighting domestic violence.

Heath is an active member of Veterans for Peace.

Kattau, a singer-songwriter, has produced several compilation benefit CDs including “Singing Clear: Clean Earth, Air, Water Round Here.”  

Colleen Kattau
Colleen Kattau

She will perform songs influenced by the movement for alternative energy and against hydraulic fracturing and fracked gas storage in New York state and beyond.

Kattau, who specializes in Latin American literature and culture, is interested in nueva canción or ‘new song’ social movements as they relate to Latin American culture, and translation.  She has written published articles on the new song movement and on women writers, and has created multimedia presentations on art and activism.  

She is active in a sister city partnership between Central New York and Cajibio, Colombia where both communities work together to face similar problems and environmental challenges brought on by corporate incursion.  

“Music has always been an important part of social change activism,” Kattau said. “I will offer two or three songs from the organizing efforts to stop fractured gas storage in Seneca Lake and from the larger movement to make New York state frack-free and wholly powered by renewable energy. In these movements everyone sings — so be ready to sing along!”

Policymaker to Discuss Community Nutrition Planning

A University at Buffalo researcher considering the role of planning and policy in building sustainable food systems and healthy communities will discuss “Planning Communities as if People Eat” on Monday, April 11.

Samina Raja, an associate professor in the University’s Urban and Regional Planning Department, will speak at 4:30 p.m. in Sperry Center, Room 104.

Samina Raja
Samina Raja

Raja serves as the principal investigator of the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab — the “Food Lab” — research involving her own team in partnership with collaborators nationwide.

Raja currently directs Growing Food Connections, a comprehensive five-year initiative funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to build capacity of local governments to strengthen food systems.  

Locally, Raja works with partners in Buffalo and surrounding communities to advance the state of food systems planning and policy. She has worked closely for the last 10 years with the Massachusetts Avenue Project to document how its community-based efforts can strengthen food systems and inform food policy and planning.

Raja is a steering committee member of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities-Buffalo coalition, led by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc., which strives to encourage policy and environmental change promoting healthy eating and active living in Buffalo. She currently serves on the Buffalo-Erie Food Policy Council, the first city-county food policy council in New York state. 

Immigrants Young and Old to Tell Stories

Students and families of recent immigrants from the H. W. Smith Elementary School in Syracuse, N.Y., will tell their stories in a variety of formats on Monday, April 18.

The program, “Through My Eyes” Café Night, will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Jacobus Lounge.

For more information, contact Brian Barrett, a SUNY Cortland associate professor of foundations and social advocacy.

Screening Set for ‘I Learn America’

A film about five resilient immigrant teenagers in New York City will be shown Monday, April 25.

“I Learn America” will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Sperry Center, Room 104.

The International High School is a New York City public school dedicated to serving newly arrived immigrant teenagers, with more than 300 students speaking two-dozen languages from 50 countries.

The movie shows how these youth come together over a year at the International High School at Lafayette and struggle to learn their new land. The students strive to master English, adapt to families they haven’t seen in years, confront the universal trials of adolescence and search for a future they can claim as their own.

The purpose of the film is that, through the stories and struggles of these five vibrant young people and their willingness to open their lives and share them with us, viewers can “learn America.”

Performance to Tell of Refugees, Family and Faith

Dylan Fresco’s “Welcoming The Stranger,” a 30-minute solo performance weaving together true stories of refugees, family and faith will be presented on Tuesday, April 26.

The presentation, commissioned by Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, starts at 7 p.m. in Jacobus Lounge.

Fresco shares stories of changes in identity, language, and food through the prism of immigration and acculturation in America. He makes links between his own family’s past experience of diaspora with stories of people he’s gotten to know in the Twin Cities who have arrived as refugees in the last decade.

Dylan Fresco
Dylan Fresco

“Welcoming the Stranger” has been performed for theaters, youth groups, colleges, religious organizations and employees of a mental health center. The presentation has been described as “teaching cultural competency in three dimensions.”

By holding an annual series on a different intellectual theme, the CICC committee aims to generate common topics of discussion and to establish traditions of intellectual discourse on SUNY Cortland’s campus. The series encourages faculty and staff to infuse the theme into their course curricula, engage in classroom discussions and debates around the theme, and propose campus events or speakers on topics connected to the theme.

The series also is sponsored by Campus Artist and Lecture Series grants, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs’ Office, the President’s Office, the Cortland College Foundation, the Project on Eastern and Central Europe, the Foundations and Social Advocacy and the Art and Art History departments, the Clark Center for International Education, the Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies and the Cortland’s Urban Recruitment of Educators Program.

For more information, contact CICC co-chair Scott Moranda, associate professor of history, at 607-753-2052.