ST in the News
Sustainable Tompkins is making waves. Check out our coverage in the local news.
April 3, 2013
On March 26, 2013 we heard from the Park Foundation that they will renew their support to Sustainable Tompkins with a gift of $85,000. We are extremely grateful for their continuing support for our organization. Since our inception the Park Foundation has been our largest benefactor and their gifts to Sustainable Tompkins have made it possible for us to continue our work to convene, connect and catalyze both individuals and policymakers so that our community can successfully cope with global influences such as climate change and energy descent. The 2013 grant, through our fiscal sponsor, Social Ventures, will be used to continue our work to expand our base of support, to recognize achievements in sustainability through our Signs of Sustainability program, to provide Neighborhood Mini-grants, to build the Finger Lakes Climate Fund and to partner with grassroots organizations to promote the Finger Lakes Energy Challenge in Tompkins County.
August 17, 2012
(Published in Tompkins Weekly, September 3-9, 2012, p. 4)
Beth Mazur cast an appreciative eye on the purposeful jumble of insulation equipment surrounding her country home in Enfield. On a sunny and beautiful summer’s day, Beth was already contemplating winter’s cold winds – this time without concern for her family’s health and well being. Thanks to a $2000 grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund and the dedicated efforts of Phil Allmendinger and James Dulle of Snug Planet, the Mazurs can relax and enjoy their home in all four seasons.
Beth and her two daughters loved the green vistas and rural charm of their new place, but like so many of us they discovered that the house itself was poorly designed in terms of energy and moisture management. Then, to make matters worse, the old furnace ended its life with a sooty fire in its basement chamber. Beth knew it was time to get some expert help with managing their energy needs.
The folks at Snug Planet did a thorough energy analysis of the house, and proposed a work scope involving major insulation and air sealing, a high efficiency boiler and water heater, and ventilating fans to address mildew and rot problems. The good news was that the Mazurs qualified for a $5,000 grant from NYSERDA for the work; but it was still going to be a big investment for a single mom to handle. Beth wasn’t sure what to do, but Snug Planet had an idea.
“We were so excited when we got Sustainable Tompkins’ email announcing the opportunity to apply for a grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund,” said Elizabeth Harrod, general manager for Snug Planet. “We knew that the Mazur house would be perfect for their program.”
The Finger Lakes Climate Fund is a local carbon offset program run by Sustainable Tompkins. Donors to the program are concerned about climate change and want to take responsibility for their unavoidable fossil carbon emissions. They use the Fund’s carbon calculator to determine the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from their air and car travel or building electricity and heating, and then make a donation that will pay to offset an equal amount of carbon by improving energy efficiency in the homes of lower-income residents. In the case of the Mazur home, Snug Planet estimated that the improvements they made would eliminate 100 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This qualified the Mazurs for the maximum grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund which prices carbon reduction at $20 per ton.
“There’s quite a bit of corruption and misuse of funds in the global carbon credit markets, but we do need a way to put a price on carbon that reflects its true costs to our society and our planet,” noted Gay Nicholson, President of Sustainable Tompkins. “That’s why we created the Finger Lakes Climate Fund – we wanted our community to be able to take responsibility for their carbon footprint through an honest broker that would make sure the funds went to those who need it and that the carbon emissions really would be eliminated.” The Fund also benefits the community by helping support green jobs in locally-owned energy firms like Snug Planet and by making recipients of grant awards more financially secure because of lower energy bills.
The crickets are still in full chorus outside, but as the days begin to shorten, one more local family joins the ranks of those secure in their homes as they anticipate winter’s chill. Thanks to the generous and responsible donors to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, Tompkins County has moved just a bit closer to true energy security.
(Pictured: Above – Beth Mazur and her dog take a break during the work process. Right – Phil Allmendinger of Snug Planet fills the insulation chute in the Snug Planet truck while James Dulle sprays it into the Mazur attic.)
June 21, 2012
As more predictions for a turbulent stock market emerge, the community capital movement is organizing to create local opportunities for investment that are based in the Real Economy and help build a sustainable and just community. A group of local citizens supported by Sustainable Tompkins is exploring the creation of a Local Investing Opportunity Network (the Cayuga LION) as a means of connecting local entrepreneurs with potential local investors.
The third gathering of the Cayuga LION will be on Tuesday, June 26, from 5:30-7:30 at the Lot 10 Lounge at 106 S. Cayuga St. in Ithaca. Participants will get acquainted with each other, learn more about how a LION works, and hear about additional local investment opportunities. Please rsvp by June 23 to Fred Schoeps at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is an entry fee of $7 to cover refreshments. Cash bar available.
The featured speaker will be Greg Pitts of Natural Investments providing a brief overview of how to evaluate risk in investments, and the process of the LION. You can learn more about the Cayuga LION at www.cayugaLION.net. The Entrepreneur Spotlight will feature Jackie Richardson of Fruits and Roots Juice, Terry Kelleher of Lucienne’s Chocolates, and Melissa Madden of The Good Life Farm.
Fruits and Roots Juice is all about providing our community with fresh, all-natural, and healthy drinkables. They strive to serve their customers pure, juicy, revitalizing, nutrition that is free of harmful chemical pesticides. Their smoothies are 100% real fruit and have no added sugar, dye or additives. Their juice is guaranteed fresh as they press daily, on-site, and use seasonally harvested organic produce. Fruits and Roots Juice supports responsible and sustainable farming practices by sourcing locally and organically whenever possible, and they strive to be eco-minded by composting all of their veggie pulp and using compostable cups, lids and straws. Fruits and Roots Juice can be found at farmers markets, local festivals, and catered events.
Lucienne’s opened in late 2009, making gourmet biscotti and chocolates. Founded by Lucienne Cruvellier and Terry and Diane Kelleher, Lucienne’s has developed an exclusive line of premium chocolate bars, featuring Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa. Lucienne’s products are available through resellers and through their web site, www.luciennes.com. Their chocolate bars may be found at cafes and gift shops in Ithaca and throughout the Finger Lakes region. Lucienne’s has also developed a unique sugar-free chocolate, using all-natural ingredients and sweetened with stevia. It is suitable for diabetic diets and is available at natural food stores and wellness centers across the country.
Melissa Madden farms with her partner, Garret Miller, at The Good Life Farm. Located in the heart of the vibrant Finger Lakes, their young farm produces perennial fruits, vegetables, and pastured poultry. They benefit from the guidance of local farming mentors, as well as act as mentors for other aspiring farmers through the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming.
April 19, 2012
Weaving Sustainability into the Fabric of Community
Monday, April 23, 3 pm, 209 Stratton Hall, Wells College, Aurora
Gay Nicholson, President and Program Director at Sustainable Tompkins, presents Weaving Sustainability into the Fabric of Community, as part of Sustainability Celebrating Scholarship and Engagement, a day-long event for Wells College students and members of the community.
WALMART Community Connect
Saturday, April 28 10 am -3 pm, Ithaca Walmart
Sustainable Tompkins will be one of several community organizations participating in Walmart’s Community Connect event. We’re looking for volunteers to help us conduct a brief survey with Walmart customers about their personal sustainability practices and knowledge of Sustainable Tompkins. This is a great opportunity to expand our visibility in the community and introduce new people to our work. To volunteer for 2-hour shifts please contact Karen@SustainableTompkins.org.
Finger Lakes Bioneers Presents: An Ecology of Mind
Saturday, April 28, 1-4 pm, Cinemapolis, 120 E Green St, Ithaca
Part of the international tour by director Nora Bateson will introduce her new documentary An Ecology of Mind to the local community. The 60-minute film presents a richly engaging profile of the very relevant ideas and spirited outlook of her father Gregory Bateson — an influential figure in a number of arenas of thought and applied research related to systems thinking. The afternoon event will include Nora and other panel members in a stimulating exploration of themes related to systems thinking, biomimicry, indigenous wisdom, and the interwoven economic, political, and environmental problems we face. Panelists include Derek Cabrera of ThinkWorks and Dana Levy of NYSERDA’s Industrial Research Program.
Thanks go out to NYSERDA, Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, andSustainability at Ithaca College for support of the programming. Visitwww.wemakeourfuture.org for details. Tickets available at the door (discounts for ST members).
February 2, 2012
Wendy Skinner is the recipient of this year’s Debra S. Newman ’02 Community Recognition Award, presented by The Cornell Tradition. The award honors individuals in the local community who have demonstrated a strong commitment to public service and leadership. Skinner is one of the early co-founders of Sustainable Tompkins and served as our first chair of the ST coordinating committee.
Skinner was recognized for her work as the founder and coordinator of SewGreen, a not-for-profit organization located in downtown Ithaca. SewGreen operates a reuse shop for sewing materials and provides sewing education to the community. Programs include a free teen apprenticeship program, jobs for lower-income youth and older workers, college internships, and sewing classes for all ages.
Among others, previous recipients of the award include Gay Nicholson, president of Sustainable Tompkins (2008); Mary Grainger, an active volunteer with a number of local human services organizations (2009); and Noel Desch, for his volunteer work with the Rotary Club of Ithaca, the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, and other charitable groups (2004).
The Cornell Tradition is a fellowship program that recognizes and rewards outstanding students dedicated to work, service, and scholarship. Debra Newman was a Cornell Tradition fellow who exemplified these ideals. Newman died in an automobile accident in 2002. Shortly after, the Community Recognition Award was renamed in her memory.
Skinner’s nomination was reviewed by a committee of students, alumni, staff, and community members. The award also includes $1,000 to be designated as a charitable contribution to an organization of the recipient’s choice. Skinner announced that the award will go into a college internship fund at SewGreen.
For more information about The Cornell Tradition, visit www.commitment.cornell.edu or contact the office at 607-255-8595. For more about SewGreen, visit www.sewgreen.org or call 607-319-4106.
December 21, 2011
This vision was first created in images by over 100 local residents at the Building Bridges workshop on November 15-16, 2011. The pictures showed people of all ages, in the city and in rural areas, celebrating life, experiencing an abundance of local food, engaged in a thriving local marketplace rich in culture and diversity, using renewable energy, and connecting across former divides.
In words, we envision a community that is earth-centered, people-centered, fair, and equitable. We envision a Tompkins County that identifies itself by its human rights and ecojustice values, and exemplifies for other regions and communities throughout the nation how to live by these values. In this vision, all citizens can be heard, recognize their interdependence and are active in shaping the priorities of this community. Our commitment to Tompkins County is not isolationist; rather, it is made with a view toward maximizing the benefits of our actions with respect to other communities, ecosystems, and people across the world.
Our social economic and political structures are based on equality, inclusion and fairness. This means:
• Everyone has a purpose, is valued, feels safe, cared for, included and is able to get basic needs met.
• Structural poverty, racism, and other forms of discrimination are eliminated.
• All of our educational institutions have eliminated achievement gaps across lines of race, class, gender, and disability status, and support all students to achieve their full potential.
Our social, economic and political decisions are framed by respect for the earth and our local and regional ecosystem. This means:
• All have sufficient water and air that is clean and safe.
• Energy comes from renewable sources to the extent possible.
• Waste is eliminated or minimized and managed in an ecologically sustainable way
• Our carbon emissions have been reduced to a level that our ecosystems can safely process
• We have a countywide transportation system that is energy-efficient, accessible, and convenient.
• We use sustainable methods to grow much of our own food for local distribution.
Our economy supports the well-being of everyone who lives or works in Tompkins County including previously marginalized communities and individuals. This means:
• We have full employment at a wage that sustains a high quality of life.
• Our workforce development and preparation systems are efficient, effective and ensure that everyone who wants to work will find a job.
• We invest our money locally and support local businesses and entrepreneurs.
• Local money and skills are used to the degree possible.
• Housing is affordable, safe, and energy efficient.
A major new collaborative initiative on a sustainable economy was launched last month by Sustainable Tompkins, Dorothy Cotton Institute, Ithaca College’s Committed-to-Change Program, Groundswell Center, Alternatives Federal Credit Union, Multicultural Resource Center, Center for Transformative Action, Dryden Solutions, and CCE-Tompkins’ Environment Program, Natural Leaders Initiative, Whole Community Project, and Green Jobs Program.
On Nov. 15-16, over 100 community members — representing government, business, community programs, individual entrepreneurs, foundations and investors – came together to strengthen relationships, develop a shared vision, and identify ways to build bridges between local sustainability and social justice efforts that will result in a socially just, resilient regional economy that preserves and maintains our natural environment.
The initiative identifies equity as the preferred driver of both economic development and ecological sustainability, and prioritizes jobs for low-income people both in the city and in rural towns. The ultimate goals are eliminating structural poverty and racism, creating a local economy that works for everyone, and protecting the ecosystems that sustain the region.
The response to this two-day effort was very positive. Participants built new relationships and made many concrete commitments to new or renewed action, while also acknowledging the serious challenges and real work ahead. The planning group is committed to maintaining the momentum from the Building Bridges workshop and drawing more people into the initiative. More information about what happened at the workshop and some of the commitments that were made to move this agenda forward are available on the Dorothy Cotton Institute website. Breakthrough Communities, a national organization that advocates an inclusive green economy, helped design and conduct the two-day event.
November 16, 2011
A recent Guest Viewpoint in the Ithaca Journal accused anti-fracking activists of moral hypocrisy. The writer assumed that those wanting to ban shale gas drilling in New York were not doing anything to reduce their own fossil-fuel consumption and were therefore willing to push the negative effects of producing coal, oil and gas onto communities in other parts of the world.
It’s true that if we did nothing about our dependence on fossil fuels, it would be hypocritical to not want its infrastructure in our own backyards. But many concerned citizens are reducing their reliance on fossil energy by taking the time and making the necessary investments in energy efficiency and renewables.
People face significant barriers to changing their energy consumption patterns, and Sustainable Tompkins and other groups are helping to lower those barriers so our entire community can make the transition to a clean energy system.
Our Finger Lakes Energy Challenge is an online platform that gives homeowners, tenants and businesses a place to show their commitment to clean energy by pledging to take specific steps to improve their energy footprint. Along the way, they are connected to the information and support resources they need to take those steps.
As part of the Energy Challenge, we hosted an Energy Teach-In for leaders of various anti-drilling groups, and many of them have made significant progress in home energy improvements.
We’ve also held an annual Energy Fair for the past two years for the anti-fracking movement, where we feature updates on community progress toward clean energy.
We advocate that everyone do his best to wean himself off fossil carbon, but we understand that there are limits to what we can do as individuals embedded in a system based on “cheap” fossil energy.
That’s why we created the Finger Lakes Climate Fund so people can still take responsibility for their unavoidable energy use by offsetting their carbon emissions locally. Donations to the fund are redistributed to local modest- income households to help pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to their homes. The net effect is to zero out or “offset” the carbon associated with an individual’s travel or building use. Our new partnership with the Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport will make it easier than ever to make the skies above us a bit more climate-friendly.
Our community is facing an uphill battle against becoming the next national sacrifice zone for an unsustainable and inequitable fossil energy system. Tompkins County is a recognized leader in the push for a clean energy economy, but we need everyone to get involved in dismantling the old fossil economy if we are going to be both effective and morally justified in demanding a fracking ban in New York.
Our Energy Challenge and Climate Fund are just some of the tools available to help fracking opponents avoid charges of hypocrisy and NIMBYism. A large coalition of local groups is launching the countywide Get Your Greenback Tompkins campaign in an unparalleled effort to improve our energy security through conservation, efficiency and renewables.
We need everyone to actively choose a better future by helping to drive both the market shift to clean energy and the political shift to a more equitable and sustainable energy policy. A concern for moral integrity is not misplaced, but let’s use that concern to guide us toward true energy security, not as an excuse to allow the gas industry to wreak havoc on our homelands and then export the gas to outside markets.
Go online to www.sustainabletompkins.org to learn more and get involved.
Nicholson is president of Sustainable Tompkins.
October 16, 2011
The Center for a New American Dream recently interviewed Sustainable Tompkins President Gay Nicholson to share some of the history of our local sustainability movement with their national audience. The Center for a New American Dream helps Americans to reduce and shift their consumption to improve quality of life, protect the environment, and promote social justice. Their goal is to cultivate a new American dream—one that emphasizes community, ecological sustainability, and a celebration of non-material values, while upholding the spirit of the traditional American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Gay joined their Board of Directors in 2008 after having served as an outside consultant to the organization.
Check out the interview and get some of the background on ST’s history and aspirations for the future.
October 5, 2011
The Finger Lakes Bioneers, in association with Sustainable Cortland and SUNY Cortland, present the Cortland premiere of FREEDOM, a 90-minute documentary film by Josh and Rebecca Tickell this coming Monday, October 10 at 7:30 pm. The film explores an array of greener fuel solutions and technological alternatives to address the dilemmas of our fossil fuel-dependent society. The national tour of the “Freedom” eco-bus, visiting around 50 cities, is stewarded by Boise Thomas, a young Cortland native who went west and has developed and hosted programming for Discovery Communications’ channel Planet Green and for the G Living lifestyle network. He will participate in the audience Q&A after the film along with representatives from Sustainable Tompkins and Sustainable Cortland. Other local groups advancing the community conversation about our ecological ‘footprint’ will be tabling.
The 90-minute film will screen at 7:30 PM Monday, October 10th. Public is invited and admission and parking is free. Location for both events is the Corey Union on the campus of SUNY Cortland. From 6-7:30 the traveling bus, which doubles as a clean-energy laboratory and a “green” mobile entertainment system, will be open for tours in front of Corey Union.
The “FREEDOM TOUR” (http://thefreedomfilm.com) is a nearly four-month excursion across the US that focuses on displacing gasoline with renewable alternatives. The “FREEDOM BUS” is traveling to movie theaters and colleges across the US and into Canada supporting the release of the “FREEDOM” film. The bus has been retrofitted to carry 18 solar panels, an E85 bio-fuel engine and power generator, energy efficiency, wind, solar and water displays, eco-building materials and a projection system for outdoor viewing and presentations. The film is produced by the filmmakers of the 2008 Sundance Audience Award winning film “Fuel.”
There will also be screenings of the film and visits by the bus at Cortland High School where Thomas graduated and at Onondaga Community College which he also attended. These will occur on Friday, October 7th. The film screens on the OCC campus at 1:30 PM in Storer Auditorium. The bus will be parked there for tours. Boise Thomas will be available to meet with public and press at all events.
There may be more screenings in the area so stay tuned to the Finger Lakes Bioneers website: www.wemakeourfuture.org for updates.
Finger Lakes Bioneers has hosted two regional conferences and helped link central New York audiences to the work of Bioneer innovators (www.Bioneers.org). This year’s film series in Auburn, Cortland, Elmira and Watkins Glen seeks to connect communities across our region on topics related to our shared future.
The 22nd annual Bioneers conference will be held October 14-16 in Marin County, California. It is a leading-edge forum and environmental conference that brings together social and scientific innovators. This year’s speakers include Phillipe Cousteau, Amory Lovins, and Gloria Steinem.