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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Project Growing Hope Gets Practical Help from Sustainable Tompkins

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 6.06.38 PMFor hundreds of people in all walks of life, the Ithaca Community Gardens between Route 13 and the Cayuga Inlet provide a place to affordably grow food, learn gardening skills, and connect with diverse members of their community. In 2015, the gardens became more user-friendly for everyone with the first-time rental of a handicapped-accessible portable toilet funded by a $500 Neighborhood Mini-grant from Sustainable Tompkins.  The toilet was welcomed by all and the membership made finding permanent funding for it their #2 priority for 2016.  Some were especially appreciative of the time-saving convenience — “As a pregnant mom with a squirrel bladder, gardening at the community gardens would have been virtually impossible for me without a toilet during summer 2015!!”

The Neighborhood Mini-grant Program provides seed money to diverse initiatives to build environmental, economic, and social resilience and well-being in Tompkins County. In turn, we need your support! Please donate today and help us support more wonderful citizen-driven projects to improve life in our community.

Summary: Earth Day Ithaca Teach-In on Housing

2016 Earth Day teach-in on housingSustainable Tompkins hosted a community conversation on the housing system in Tompkins County at their April 23, 2016 Earth Day event held at The Space@GreenStar. About 60 people attended including elected representatives from Ithaca City Council, Ithaca Town Board, Tompkins County Legislature, and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton. Several people from planning departments and the building sector also participated.

We focused on this topic because of the increasing strain the housing shortage is putting on individual households and community relations. There was a lot of friction in 2015 over specific development projects, and many are uncertain that we are solving the housing shortage in a way that matches our values and goals as expressed in our local comprehensive plans. There is a lack of recent data to document the scale of the problem, but it is clear from anecdotal evidence that demand is greatly exceeding supply at all income levels, and that the downward pressure on the system invariably has had much harsher impacts on lower-income residents.

Our objective was to create a space for critical thinking about how our current housing system works and how it might be redesigned. Read more…

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Mini-Grants Help Support Civic Engagement
The crew at Eco-Defense Radio live at WRFI.

The crew at Eco-Defense Radio live at WRFI.


Thanks to Ken Zeserson for his article on our Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program in the May 15, 2016 edition of Tompkins Weekly.  For this article, we focused on three recent grants that supported local citizens in their efforts to create a stronger democracy by telling local stories:

–EcoDefense Radio covers local environmental issues.

–Hot Potato Press provides a platform for everyone to talk about local food issues.

–Tompkins County Workers Center is sponsoring creative ways to illustrate the importance of a living wage.

Our next deadline to apply for a mini-grant is June 1.  Email for an application.


Signs of Sustainability
Many Alternatives Available for “Going Solar”

Tompkins Weekly     7-18-16

By Terry Carroll

Solar energy is rapidly growing across New York State, creating new opportunities for consumers who want to go green, save money and become energy independent.

There are many different paths to “going solar,” with several new models developing over just the past year. The first step to knowing how to harness the power of the sun is to learn what your options are and how they work.

The traditional solar ownership model is still the most popular. In this model, the consumer owns the solar panels and they are placed on their own property, either on the roof of a structure such as a house or garage, or they are mounted on poles and placed within a short distance of the house.

Read more…

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The Pollin Plan for Addressing Climate Change

Tompkins Weekly 7-11-16

By Richard W. Franke

In the May 2 edition of Tompkins Weekly, I introduced the background and context of economist Robert Pollin’s plan for meeting the 2035 goals of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to reduce anthropogenic (human-induced) CO2 emissions by 40 percent below current levels—from 33 billion tons to 20 billion tons.

This plan is outlined in Pollin’s 2015 book “Greening the Global Economy,” published by MIT Press. His plan fits well into the Paris agreement of December 2015 with one major caution: he requires that world investment in energy efficiency and clean renewables increase immediately to about three times its current level.
Read more…

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Harvest Dinners Benefit Healthy Food For All

Tompkins Weekly     7-4-16

By Elizabeth Karabinakis

Fingerling salt potatoes in lavender butter, field greens with smoke-dried sungold tomatoes drizzled with aged balsamic and herb-infused truffle oil, spit roasted Piggery porchetta stuffed with rosemary, black pepper and garlic served with fennel jus, handmade gnocchi in pesto cream sauce, peach cobbler with vanilla bean creme anglaise—this is a sampling of just a few dishes featuring local foods made to taste extraordinary by the best chefs to support a great cause.

Every growing season, from June through November, Healthy Food For All partners with select restaurants, wineries and breweries to offer harvest dinners on farms, each with a unique menu. Guests dine amongst the fields, savoring food harvested from just steps away, paired with award winning Finger Lakes wine and handcrafted ciders and beers.

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


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

After 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. 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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