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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Speaking Up Against Fossil Fuel Dependency
The promise of wind energy.

We must transition now!

Sustainable Tompkins submitted the following statement to the Tompkins County Planning, Energy, and Environmental Quality Committee on October 15.  The committee heard from the Chamber of Commerce president that they are in full support of the build-out of gas pipelines in our community.  Gay Nicholson joined 4 other members of the local group opposing the Dryden pipeline in speaking to the committee about our concerns:

In 2008, our Tompkins County legislature adopted a goal of reducing county greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 as part of its Energy Element amendment to the county comprehensive plan.

For any county goal to be meaningful, we have to make sure there is alignment with our other goal-setting, policymaking, and budgeting activities. We especially need greater coordination between our energy and climate goals and our economic development strategy. Tompkins County needs to insist on full-cost accounting and risk assessment whenever proposals to expand fossil fuel-dependency are brought forth.

TCAD is our county’s official economic development agency and is supported by county taxpayers. Yet it continues to advocate for “business as usual” fossil-fuel dependent development in our county such as the repowering of the Cayuga plant and the addition of gas pipelines.  This creates a number of risks for county taxpayers and residents, and is in direct conflict with the goals of our county comprehensive plan.

It seems ethically irresponsible to oppose fracking in our county, but embrace an expanding and long-term dependency on fracked gas.  It seems financially irresponsible to force ratepayers to invest in gas-dependent pipelines and power plants when gas prices are forecast to rise in coming years, and become uncompetitive with renewables, efficiency investments, and demand management.  Lastly, it seems ecologically irresponsible to accelerate the pace and scale of climate disruption by procrastinating on the necessary transition away from a dependency on fossil fuels.

County taxpayers face both direct climate impacts and a growing tax bill at the federal, state, and local level to pay for climate damage. The poor and working classes are always the most impacted by severe weather and rising taxes. Let’s focus our policymaking and economic development efforts on reducing their vulnerability and their dependency on fossil fuels. We can develop our local economy in a much more responsible manner.

Temporary Office for Sustainable Tompkins
Karen and Irene in our first meeting at the new office.

Karen and Irene in our first meeting at the new office.


Sustainable Tompkins has had to move out of our beloved office at 109 S. Albany St.  Taitem Engineering is growing so fast that they need their former building back to house their new employees.  We’re delighted to see Taitem thriving, but unfortunately our new space on Elmira Road won’t be ready for several more months.

We were going to “float” for the next few months in several locations, but thanks to Stu Staniford, one of our Finger Lakes Climate Fund supporters, we were able to relocate to his office building at 317 N. Aurora St.  (Next to the big yellow house where United Way is located.)  It’s a lovely historic house and we’ll be occupying the two front rooms to the end of December.  We’re so grateful for the cohesiveness that a single office space provides for our staff and office volunteers.  Come by and visit us!


Join us to watch “Disruption” on September 7 at 6:45 pm

Sustainable Tompkins is hosting a free public screening of “Disruption” — a new, fast-paced cinematic journey through the wild world of climate change: the science, the politics, the solutions, and the stories that define this crisis at this pivotal point in human history.

Screen shot 2014-09-03 at 4.02.21 PM

The movie is about an hour long, and after we will discuss the upcoming People’s Climate March in NYC on September 21, and what’s percolating on the climate and energy front in Tompkins County this fall.

If you’ve been thinking about doing more, NOW is the time!  There are so many initiatives underway, but they will need many more of us helping if we are to be successful and get them done in a timely way.  Come discover what you can do or, come share what you are doing!  Bring your friends and family and help them get engaged in this movement.

Watch the trailer here.  You can register to attend here.  Or just show up!  The event will start at 6:45 pm at the Sustainability Center at 111. N. Albany St – at the intersection with State St.

Signs of Sustainability
Making Connections: Sharing Rides, Sustainability and Successful Students

Tompkins Weekly 10-20-14

By Sophie Somerfeldt

Many of us remember that mix of feelings as fresh fall breezes and turning leaves usher in a new school year. To help make the year a successful one for students and their communities, several local partners are making new inroads around transportation, and you can play a part, too. Read more…

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Healthcare: Discovering our way to well-being

Tompkins Weekly 10-13-14

By Eric Clay

For Stu, it was the moment he realized how much he depended on the letter carrier and the cashier at the nearby convenience store. These nearly unknown neighbors had his back. They noticed when he was not healthy or sounding confused and encouraged him to go to the doctor or take better care of himself. Stu did not like the interference of family and tolerated feedback only from the closest of friends. Read more…

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Where Do We Go From Here?

Tompkins Weekly 10-06-14

By Nick Goldsmith

On September 21, the world made climate change history. Not in the form of unprecedented CO2 levels.  Not in the form of extreme weather. We’ve experienced those unfortunate events before, and we’ll face them again. When 400,000 global citizens of every race and religion marched on the streets of New York City, joined by tens of thousands more in over 2,600 events around the world, we made climate history – this time in a positive way. Read more…

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Older Posts

Don’t Thank an Antifracktivist
Sweltering Heat and Drought
Mindfulness Practice and Sustainability

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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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Fracking: What Are We FOR?

 Fracking: We Know What We’re Against. What Are We FOR?
by Maura Stephens

As antifracktivists, we are often accused of being against fracking but not offering any alternatives to “natural” gas. That’s completely wrong. Our NO message is adamant and comprehensive, to be sure: Read more…

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Sustainability is a Society of Systems Thinkers

by Derek Cabrera

What is the Crisis?

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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