3:44pm

Wed June 1, 2011
Politics

The "state of upstate" by the numbers

Every conference sets out to reinvent the wheel: to revamp the way we think, and to talk about the big questions in a field.

"The State of Upstate Conference" in Syracuse this month will be no exception. On a mission to inject facts into the discussion of the state's most pressing concerns, Cornell researchers have released a book of statistics.

Let's dive in!

The upstate "chartbook" maps everything from jobs and taxes, to people's opinions about jobs and taxes (go figure, they tend toward the negative).

Andy Fagan, for one, thinks keeping track of those numbers is important.

Fagan runs one of Cornell's community extension arms in Tioga County, and he'll be posing questions to a panel at the State of Upstate conference.

"With limited resources, we can't continue to do what we've always done," he observes. "We need to assess: Are these really making the changes that we really need to make?"

Fagan's too cheerful a guy to say he's frustrated outright, but it's clear he wishes he was having more of an impact.  The Cornell extension services works with New Yorkers one-on-one, on issues like food choices and health.

"[We] ask people to make better choices to be healthier, but there are barriers in the community that prevent them from being healthy ... there's no place to walk or they can't buy fresh produce anywhere."

So Fagan's hoping the data aggregated for the conference will help his peers - and people above his pay grade - to see the structural challenges that make changing things upstate tough - and work to address them.

"We need to step back and look at the larger picture," Fagan says.

The State of Upstate conference is being put on by Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI), a department of Cornell that tackles New York policy issues. 

Events get underway in Syracuse June 8 and 9 - you can read the agenda here.

Read the chartbook below: