The Society of Environmental Journalists’ (SEJ’s) 23rd Annual Conference, will take place on October 2-6, 2013 in Chattanooga, TN. Chattanooga is born again. Once forgotten as a smog-obscured and industrially polluted backwater, this city cradled by the Tennessee River is sought out today as a showplace of green technology and as an outdoor mecca offering a lifestyle increasingly in sync with Tennessee’s hardwood-ribboned hills, deep hollows and plains.
Part of Chattanooga’s draw for creative young people and ecofriendlier industries is the city’s own state-of-the-art, multi-faceted fiber optics program that includes a smart grid and fully networked energy-saving street lights that can double as air monitors, surveillance, spotlights and emergency alerts.
Sustainability is a byword here, but just how sustainable can a city be? And what are the best practices? That’s what this conference is all about, and in Chattanooga, we’ll show you efforts aimed at that high standard.
You’ll view robotics in the tightly controlled Volkswagen factory that incorporates cutting-edge technology to reduce emissions and waste and keep employees healthy. This world’s first platinum-LEEDcertified auto assembly plant has its own solar farm that generates 12 percent of VW’s power-hungry manufacturing needs.
You will experience within a day’s reach of most of the Southeast and a couple of hours from major airline hubs, such as Atlanta, an amalgam of some of the world’s richest biodiversity, thorniest energy issues, and warmest down-home hospitality. And, you’ll return home with solid new sources and sure-fire ideas for stories that will stoke editors and readers alike.
The central location — with the Appalachian Mountains and the Tennessee Valley Authority headquarters nearby – will allow trips to a nuclear plant, hydroelectric dam and a landscape analysis lab on the Cumberland Plateau that is helping to save the keystone tree of the Appalachians.
Activities will include tours to:
Snorkel the crystal-clear Conasauga River for colorful darters that live in only one place on the planet and understand the uncompromising link between wilderness areas and water health.
Walk the giant hemlock-lined Fiery Gizzard Creek gorge of the Cumberland Plateau, which is threatened by invasives and development.
Visit Oak Ridge, key to the Manhattan Project that yielded nuclear bombs and power, a legacy of pollution and a world-class research center today looking into climate change.
Inspect the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant in Soddy-Daisy, 20 miles north of downtown Chattanooga, and see the site of the 2008 Kingston ash spill where TVA is in final stages of removing coal ash from 400 acres of what was once farmland and the Emory River.
Watch a drone used in journalism fly, and talk with SEJ members working on the technology and applications in advance of FAA rules for commercial drone deployment.
We’ll also explore the world-famous Tennessee Aquarium where you traverse an Appalachian world — from the highest mountain stream to the bottom of the Tennessee River — with giant catfish, roe-producing paddlefish and a bit of old cans and debris as well.
The conference will coincide with major music and outdoor festivals — including the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival and River Rocks Festival — so you’ll see the fun in sustainability, too.
We welcome you to Chattanooga and to the 23rd Annual Conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Don’t miss it. SEJers were inspired by the Chattanooga story 15 years ago, and there’s far more to learn now.
Discount available for those who register by August 1, 2013.
To register click here.
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