2016 a Year in Review

The birth of Good Ground’s non-profit

As a new year dawned the words reclaim, recreate, reflect, regenerate, renew, remember, repair, restore, reveal, revive arose during mealtime conversations at an old farmhouse in Hampton Bays. We decided that an ethos of restoring the best practices of the past and adopting the most regenerative principles of our time at the local level was essential to facing the challenges of the twenty first century. The notion of taking action, putting together a core group of individuals to undertake the work of conserving the fabric of our community and ensuring a healthy ecosystem for those who will inherit it lead to the formation of a new non-profit organization – the Ecological Culture Initiative (ECI).

With the help of local attorney Adam Grossman, ECI was incorporated as a 501(c)3 not-for profit corporation on February 17, 2016. The Department of the Treasury assigned an Employer Identification Number on February 19, 2016 and ECI became a legal entity – able to undertake the work of creating a culture worth consuming.

Board of Directors
As a means to bring life to ECI a Board of Directors was established. Marc Fasanella (President) contributed his skills as a disciple of ecological design, Mia Fasanella (Secretary) contributed her insights as a budding anthropologist, and Anne Moyer (Treasurer) offered her expertise as a social psychologist with an eye toward wellness initiatives.
On March 24, 2016 we created bylaws, opened an ECI checking account at the Bridgehampton National Bank, and began to recruit summer college interns to analyze the resources and challenges facing the Hamlet of Hampton Bays.

Advisory Board
As the year progressed and our conversation with the community expanded, our Advisory Board grew from one initial member, Richard Casabianca (Historian, Preservationist), who’s insights provided much of the initial inspiration for our work, to four members who bring great breadth and depth to our undertaking: Jennifer Garvey (Associate Director, New York State Center for Clean Water Technology) is a savvy administrator and political aide, Dan Gulizio (Executive Director, Peconic Baykeeper) brings his legal mind, background in urban planning and leadership skills, and Laura Luciano (Graphic Designer, Slow Food Advocate) brings her community activist, writing and networking acumen.

Web Site
A web site was established with the domain name: www.eciny.org, updating the community on the work we undertake and featuring essays written by ECI staff. Originally built by the outstanding web-designer Ted Delano, our Media Director, Jeff Schultz has broadened and refined the site and worked with ECI Secretary Mia Fasanella to establish an active social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

Tax-Exempt Status
Exemption from state taxes was granted May 18, 2016 and exemption from federal income tax was granted August 10, 2016. All donations to ECI are fully tax-deductible.

Activities and Accomplishments

ECI staff led a series of weekly Hamlet-wide natural and architectural resource tours for local administrators, politicians and non-profit directors to deepen local knowledge of the work we hope to undertake preserving and adapting the community of Hampton Bays (the Good Ground Restoration Project). Specific attention was drawn to the deplorable condition of the Hamlet’s Oldest Structure The Squires House and due in part to ECI’s advocacy on behalf of this structure efforts are underway to place the Squires House on the National Historic Registry and fund its full restoration.

A series of small group presentations and lunch work sessions were made to town and county officials regarding the selection of an appropriate site (or group of sites) for the creation of the Good Ground Center for Field Ecology and Regenerative Design including one during a televised Work Session of the Southampton Town Board, on May 19, 2016.

Healing Troubled Waters, Cleaning Toxic Land: 10 Thing You Can Do to Restore the Local Ecosystem – ECI made a community wide presentation on personal and social practice that can lead to the reduction of pollutants in our ecosystem hosted by the Hampton Bays Civic Association on Aug 29.

The Comfortable Hamlet – ECI made a presentation to the Hampton Bays Beautification Association membership on September 12, regarding how to create regenerative landscapes – this presentation has led to a close collaboration between the two organizations on the establishment of rain gardens as a central feature of the Hampton Bays landscape.

A Regenerative Hamlet – ECI made a presentation to the Southampton Town Sustainability Committee on September 20, regarding how to establish an ethos of regenerative neighborhood design for the hamlet of Hampton Bays.

Good Ground: Preserving Pieces of Our Past – ECI made a presentation to the Board of the Hampton Bays Historical and Preservation Society on October 6, attempting to enlist support for an ECI hamlet-wide initiative to advocate for the designation of additional landmark properties and historic easements.

The Good Ground Restoration Project: Nurturing Stewards of the Local Ecosystem, hosted by the Hampton Bays Parent Teacher Student Association on November 10, addressed how we can create an educational community based in knowledge of our ecosystem

Throughout the summer of 2016, we had five interns from three Universities working on various projects for ECI, Mia Fasanella as a Foodway, Culture & Historic Resource Analyst, Seneca Cornelius, a graduate of Stony Brook University’s (SBU) program in Environmental Design Policy and Planning (EDP) as Land Analyst and Map Consultant, Sarah Matero, an SBU EDP student working as a Novel Ecosystem Analyst, Gloriana Mejias an International Relations major from SUNY Oneonta serving as a Global Permaculture Education Analyst, and R.J. Theofeld an SBU EDP senior as Land Analyst and Permaculture Designer.

During the fall our staff grew when we were joined by two outstanding individuals from the community of Hampton Bays whose involvement has proven essential to the growth and continued success of ECI: Jeff Schultz our pro-active, keen eyed, talented and deeply committed Digital Media Director, and Rachel Stephens our encyclopedic, effervescent, highly effective, adept Agro-ecology Director. R.J. Theofeld also transitioned to a professional level staff member creating detailed Geographic Information System maps and Computer Aided Design landscape plans for the community of Hampton Bays. Scott Holmes a senior SBU Environmental Humanities Major joined ECI as an Ecotourism and Novel Ecosystem Analyst. We also now have three outstanding and committed Hampton Bays High-School interns: Olivia Dimijian Agro-Ecology Apprentice, Michael Fasanella Restoration Carpentry Apprentice and Jhoan Castro, Restoration Carpentry Apprentice.

The Eco-Shack
Also this fall local resident, Dr. Bruce King, donated a beautifully constructed cedar-sided structure to ECI. This small building will serve as a demonstration kiosk - modeling residential construction and landscape practices endorsed by ECI. Channing Daughters Winery chipped in a stout oak barrel that will be used to demonstrate rain harvest and irrigation systems.

Our Visual Identity
Initially forged in discussions with Ted Delano of Madebysea, Kim Piccoro the Creative Principal of Wynck Design and her husband - designer John Einemann refined our look and created Erythemis our strikingly beautiful Dragonfly Logo.

We Were in the News!
Hampton Bays Professor Founds Nonprofit Dedicated to Improving Environment • September 26, 2016 • Southampton Press
by Amanda Bernocco
Nonprofit Will Bring Seed Library to Hampton Bays: The Good Ground Seed Library • December 12, 2016 • Southampton Press by Amanda Bernocco