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Salon series on “The Climate, the Market, and the Commons” well received

April 17 Gay and speakers

Sustainable Tompkins has concluded its well-attended series of spring salon discussions on “The Climate, the Market, and the Commons.” The salons featured guest speakers and group discussions that addressed the role of business, government, and the citizenry in dealing with climate change.  The salons were held at the Sustainability Center and attracted crowds of 65-85 people.  After initial presentations by guest respondents, the attendees moved through sets of discussion questions related to the evening’s topic.

The first salon in our series addressed the question of “Why are we stuck in climate denial?,” exploring the hurdles of even beginning to address the issue in a meaningful way.  The second salon, “Can business and technology save us?,” contrasted reasons for optimism for a “bright green” technological shift with evidence for a likely economic and ecological system collapse before a transition to clean energy can be completed. “Will government intervene?”, the third salon, brought together representatives from local, state, and federal government to discuss the public sector’s role in addressing climate change. And the last salon took up the question “Is it Up to the People?” with a focus on the clear need for leadership from the grassroots to help shift the market and push government to protect the commons.

You can view videos or listen to podcasts of the salons in the ‘The Climate, the Market, and the Commons’ series:

  • Why Are We Stuck in Climate Denial?    video / podcast - April 17, 2014
  • The Market and the Climate.     video podcast  - May 11, 2014
  • Will Government Intervene?    video podcast - June 5, 2014
  • Is it Up to the People? video / podcast – June 19, 2014

Many thanks to our video sponsors (Home Green Home and PPM Homes) and to Crooked Carrot Farm and Ithaca Bakery for catering donations. Thanks also to the Park Foundation, the guest conversants, the volunteers who worked hard to make the evenings run smoothly, our members, and all of the people who contributed to make the Salons possible.


“Is it Up to the People?” Our final “The Climate, the Market, and the Commons” series salon

April 17 Final SetupAcross the Finger Lakes region, hundreds of people are realizing that it isn’t enough to just be concerned about climate change and the threats posed by the fossil fuel industry. As they watch the paralysis in Albany and Washington DC, they understand that they dare not remain passive, and must move into focused and dedicated action. But they also understand that they need thousands more to join them.

We invite you to join us for “Is It Up to the People?”, the final salon in our “The Climate, the Market, and the Commons” series, on Thursday, June 19, 7 pm, 111 N. Albany St.  We will be exploring the essential roles each of us must play as voter, consumer, taxpayer, and community member if we hope to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Miranda Phillips, Sustainable Tompkins board member and Chair of the Ithaca Chapter of Citizens Climate Coalition, and Reed Steberger of Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative will join Gay Nicholson as speakers to share their experiences in organizing for climate protection.  They will explore ideas for mobilization, identify barriers, and share examples of local initiatives.

The first salons in our series addressed the questions of “Why are we stuck in climate denial?,” “Can business and technology save us?,” and “Will government intervene?” and attracted large audiences for lively discussions. At the last salon, we will take up the question “Is it Up to the People?”

Thursday, June 19, 7 pm, 111 N. Albany St.

You can view videos or listen to podcasts of previous salons in our series on ‘The Climate, the Market, and the Commons’:

  • Why Are We Stuck in Climate Denial?    video / podcast - April 17, 2014
  • The Market and the Climate.     video / podcast  - May 11, 2014
  • Will Government Intervene?    video / podcast – June 5, 2014


Exploring the Connections: The Climate, the Market, and the Commons

Speaker at May 8 climate salonIf we want to calm the climate, if we want energy democracy, if we want to reform our governments and our economy…. this is the time to prioritize those goals above our private endeavors.  We invite you to join us at The People’s Salon on Thursday, June 5, 7 pm, 111 N. Albany.  It’s time we talked about reclaiming our government on behalf of the public good.

With thanks to Ithaca Bakery for catering and Home Green Home for sponsoring the video recording, we also welcome our guest respondents Mayor Svante Myrick, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, and Professor Tony Ingraffea to the June 5 salon at the Sustainability Center.

We have been compiling some reading materials that may be useful to our shared conversation about what the climate situation requires of us as consumers, voters, taxpayers, and community members.  Check out the list below.  You can also access the video and a podcast of our first salon on climate denial, or the second salon video and podcast on the role of business and technology.  If you have suggestions to include, please email

Reading Resources for The People’s Salon: Conversations that Matter to Your Future



Governance, Sustainability, and Evolution.  John M. Gowdy. 2014.  Ch. 3 in Governing for Sustainability: State of the World 2014.  Island Press.

The Too-Polite Revolution: Understanding the Failure to Pass U.S. Climate Legislation.  Petra Bartosiewicz and Marissa Miley. 2014.  Ch. 11 in Governing for Sustainability: State of the World 2014.  Island Press. Read more…

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Signs of Sustainability
Rachel Carson: A Sustainability Pioneer

Tompkins Weekly 8-25-14

By Richard W. Franke

Rachel Carson might never have used the word sustainability, but her well-known book “Silent Spring” sounded a warning that uncontrolled and careless overspraying of chemical pesticides could damage the web of life. Indeed, the very title of her book refers to the first chapter: She describes a fictitious town in which spring arrived but no birds sang. Read more…

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The Keeling Curve and Global Warming

Tompkins Weekly 8-18-14
By Richard W. Franke

In 1946 the U.S. Navy sent Commander and oceanographer Roger Revelle to the Bikini Atoll in the Western Pacific to study the possible effects of atomic weapons testing on the corals in the lagoon. Among other research over the next ten years Revelle tried to calculate the amount of carbon in the water. Around 1956 he came to a startling conclusion: the complex set of chemicals in sea water was balanced in a way that made it likely that as CO2 molecules were absorbed from the atmosphere, they would push other CO2 molecules back out. Or they would be prevented from being absorbed. Read more…

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On the March for Climate Change Action

Tompkins Weekly 8-11-14

By Richard W. Franke

Journalist, author and climate activist Bill McKibben and thousands of others are organizing the largest ever climate justice demonstration to coincide with the United Nations Climate Crisis Summit that will take place starting September 23 at UN headquarters in NYC (

The mass march will be the culmination of a week of climate change protest and actions in NYC. Details for the actions will be available on the website ( that will also provide information about the route of the march that is currently being negotiated with the City. Read more…

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With artic ice melting at great speed, and climate disruption happening a hundred years sooner than expected, climate change is promising to be the biggest challenge of the 21st century.  Not often talked about, at least in mainstream media, are the psychological and spiritual aspects of this challenge – among them, fear, guilt, and grief that make it difficult for us to act and act fast. Read more…

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My colleagues and I surveyed the faculty of Cornell University to identify how scientists from different disciplines thought about the most pressing crises facing humanity[1]. Respondents brainstormed 116 diverse crises, sorted, and ranked them in terms of importance and solvability. We applied multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis to their answers to the simple question, “What is the crisis?” Read more…

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