Sustainable Tompkins is a citizen-based organization working towards the long-term well-being of our communities by integrating social equity, economic vitality, ecological stewardship, and shared responsibility.

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Solidarity in the Garden

West Hill Garden with Yayoi copyThe harvest season in local community gardens has wound down, except perhaps for lingering beds of hardy kales and leeks. But a different kind of harvest persists all yearlong, arising out of the intertwined relationships of the gardeners with the broader community. Yes, the gardens are for food production and improved nutrition, but they also are about solidarity, sharing, and a shift to more sustainable lifestyles.

Sustainable Tompkins has invested repeatedly in these relationships over the past seven years. Dozens of their Neighborhood Mini-Grants have been awarded to community volunteers to purchase essential equipment and building materials to get the gardens up and running. It can be difficult for one person to start a program or garden for the community without easy access to supplies or money. Deer fencing is perhaps the most common request, but tools and sheds and raised beds and watering systems are all necessary too. Without this infrastructure, it would be hard for the volunteers to get their gardens growing. Read more…

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Applications for Neighborhood Mini-Grants Due on December 1

Wood's Earth-Salad harvest 2012Another round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants will be made in early December by Sustainable Tompkins. Mini-grants have provided critical seed money to launch several ongoing and successful bike clinics, community gardens, youth leadership groups, and more. It’s people power making a difference locally!

Since 2008, the Neighborhood Mini-grants program has awarded nearly $60,000 to support 147 innovative, grassroots projects throughout Tompkins County. Our goal is to support and stimulate resident-based, “bottom-up” initiatives that improve the quality of life of residents by building capacity, resilience, and leadership through collaborative projects.

Applications for the next rounds of grants are due on December 1, 2015. All residents, citizen groups and non-profit organizations of Tompkins County are eligible to apply. Proposals must demonstrate a community benefit. Awards range from $150 to $750 for non-staff project expenses. To obtain an application form, make a donation in support of the program, or get more information, contact Sasha Paris or call (607) 272-1720. Read more…

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‘Seal the Cracks’ Campaign Success!

Seal the Cracks Campaign BadgeWe have good news to share – we have surpassed our goals for the Seal the Cracks campaign! Thanks to the inspiring leadership of 93 local businesses, nonprofits, campus groups, and residents, we have raised $12,214 and offset 611 tons of greenhouse gas as of Election Day.   In addition to these contributions, we were also supported by over $2,000 of donated services and goods from a dozen area businesses and nonprofits. Thanks to all the media support and our events, hundreds of county residents have learned about our local carbon offset program and all the good it does in our community.

Thank you all!!

We’ve already notified area contractors that we have grants available from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund. And our little campaign team has met to identify next steps to keep building support and movement toward our goal of having carbon offsetting as much a part of our local lifestyle as recycling.

Special thanks to Ellen Harrison for chairing our campaign committee and to Anna Odell for being our exceptionally able project assistant. We’re so grateful for your energy, leadership, and dedication!

Signs of Sustainability
Gifts that Increase the Durability of our Community

Tompkins Weekly 11-30-15

By Devan Rosen

Although each day holds many things to be thankful for, it is the chilly days approaching the winter solstice, and the holidays that surround it, that create a particularly welcome milieu for warm thanks. Expressing our thanks and love to the many people that enrich our lives is one of the most valuable things we can do, and having a time of the year where so many cultures and communities use the confluence of celebration and introspection to shine a particularly bright light on the act of expressing these thanks creates a large vessel. Read more…

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Do We Have the Courage to Experience Thanksgiving?

Tompkins Weekly 11-23-15

By Eric Clay

This Thanksgiving, we need new foods to feed our families. The old comfort foods won’t sustain us in a world of refugees, terror, race and class issues, climate disturbances, and partisanship.

Social psychologists and anthropologists have made significant progress in documenting how our prejudice and distrust may be overcome within seemingly intractable conflicts. Read more…

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Ethical Fashion Respects Workers and the Environment

Tompkins Weekly 11-16-15

By Wendy Skinner

Millions of consumers enjoy shopping for clothing in large chain stores full of inexpensive frippery. There is so much to be had, for so little money! The truth behind most mass market clothing is less attractive.

For example, Joe Fresh is a brand of trendy clothing sold in hundreds of stores across North America. Joe Fresh is the brand that was being made the day of the 2013 factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 workers. Read more…

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Older Posts

Fracking: What Are We FOR?
Sustainability is a Society of Systems Thinkers
Don’t Thank an Antifracktivist

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Energy and Equity Go Hand in Hand


Urgent challenges being addressed in Tompkins County

Extreme income inequality, persistent racism, and increasing climate disruption are undeniable plagues of our time. We are fortunate that many people in Tompkins County are working on these issues. Some are advocates for racial and economic justice, such as creating living-wage jobs, removing barriers to reentry from the prison system, and ensuring affordable housing for all. Many others are involved in initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, such as, stopping gas infrastructure development, switching from fossil fuels to renewable sources, and conserving energy in housing, transportation, food, water, and waste. Read more…

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Home Rule and the Greater Good

Screen shot 2015-06-17 at 6.56.25 PMAfter hours of discussion at the June 16th county legislative meeting, the vote on the fate of the Old Library ended in a stalemate of 6 in favor of a large apartment complex for seniors (TravisHyde), and 6 in favor of a smaller adaptive reuse condo project (Franklin Properties) which had hundreds of petition supporters and inspired dozens of citizens to show up and speak in favor of the Franklin proposal.

The vote was pretty much split along geographic lines with those representing the urban/suburban core of the county (Chock, Shinagawa, McBean-Clairborne, Burbank, Kiefer) backing the project that had widespread neighborhood support (along with Klein from Caroline/Danby). Those supporting the large 63-unit apartment complex came from the more rural parts of the county (Dryden, Groton, Lansing, Ulysses, Enfield/Newfield). These rural reps stressed the need for adding housing to try and relieve the incessant demand that has driven up the price of shelter. Residents of the historic DeWitt neighborhood around the old library spoke strongly about the importance of adding density appropriate to the scale and character of the location, and pointed to other Read more…

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How to Get Active on Climate? Even More Locally

By Miranda Phillips

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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