Signs of Sustainability

We have a long way to go, but we're making progress. Here are some signs that we are moving towards sustainability.

March 30, 2015

Cancer Resource Center Contributes to Community Sustainability & Resiliency

Tompkins Weekly 3-30-15

By Fran Spadafora Manzella, LMSW

The Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes (CRC) is a local non-profit serving people living with or affected by cancer in Tompkins and surrounding counties. We provide a number of services to help preserve the energy and resources of individuals going through and following cancer treatment and those who care for them including one to one assistance at our offices on State Street in Ithaca and at Cayuga Medical Center. Other programs include support groups, wellness activities such as gentle yoga, caregiver support, and a free boutique offering wigs, head scarves, hats, prostheses, bras, etc.

A more recent program, our Financial Advocacy Program, serves individuals with cancer who may have financial questions and challenges related to their cancer diagnosis. We can help organize medical bills, sort out insurance issues, complete forms, identify resources, and provide advocacy.

CRC provides many of its services in collaboration with other organizations. Due to our partnership with Cayuga Medical Center (CMC), CRC volunteers and staff are present in both the radiation and chemotherapy suites providing patients with snacks, access to information on our services and those of other cancer support organizations, and most importantly, emotional support and empathy. Our presence at CMC helps the medical staff to focus on their roles as health care providers and provides patients and their family members easy access to our support and information.

Another valuable partnership we have is with Cornell University who graciously offers our clients free trips to medical facilities in New York City on the Cornell Bus as well as parking at no cost in one of their lots.  We also have a monthly group with Cornell doctoral students who facilitate discussions on different cancer research topics for the public in lay person’s terms.  Our yoga classes are held at Island Health & Fitness and Ithaca Community Acupuncture offers a sliding fee to individuals with cancer. Each year our organization benefits from the goodwill of many community partners who donate to support our programs and services, sponsor fundraisers or volunteer at our events or with one of our programs. Together we create a strong network of support for those who have cancer and those who love them, sustaining a fabric of resiliency, comfort, and care.

For assistance from one of our financial advocates or to connect with one of our other support programs, please stop by our office, call us at 277-0960, or send us an email at

We also invite you to visit our Web site at, which provides an overview of all our services as well as other resources and information about cancer along with information on our volunteer opportunities. We truly believe that “no one should face cancer alone” and encourage you to connect with our welcoming community of support.

Fran Spadafora Manzella, LMSW is Associate Director Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes



March 23, 2015

Sustainability and Community

Tompkins Weekly 3-23-15
By Susan Rausch

Camp Earth Connection (CEC) is a Natural Campground, a Retreat Center and a Children’s Summer Camp.  CEC offers people a safe space for meaningful connections in a beautiful natural environment.   When CEC writes about community in its brochures, web page or programs, CEC is talking about an inclusive community.  One which includes for example, people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, different family types, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered) folks and families with limited financial resources.   For a community to be truly sustainable, it must be inclusive and representative all of  the members of the community.  The minority must always have a voice and be heard in an equitable way and must also be part of the decision making.  If  the “Sustainability Movement”  does not have representation from all of it’s community, who is the community sustainable for and what is it sustaining?  CEC LogoAt CEC, sustainability is about the planet and all creatures great and small that live on it.  In order for the planet to be sustainable, there must be balance: balance in our eco-system, balance with humans’ relationship with the land and the many other creatures we share it with, and balance amongst each other.  Some might call this balance amongst each other social justice.  The basic needs of each of us can be met by our planet if we stay in balance.   Sadly, most of our “systems” do not operate on balance.  They operate on a fear of scarcity and success is defined as profit and acquisition instead of community and meeting the basics need for all.

I am the creator of Camp Earth Connection and many of its programs.   When I started my first children’s camp programs, I wanted to make sure that the program was designed so that all children and their families would feel safe (both physically and emotionally) and have wonderful inspirational outdoor experiences in nature.  In order to do that I needed to connect with the different communities in and around Tompkins County.  Over the last 30 years I have had the opportunity to do so in many ways.  While attending Cornell, I began volunteering at Greater Ithaca Activities Center(GIAC).  That relationship has lasted all these years and resulted in a program called Village Camp that was created 15 years ago.  Village Camp is an inclusive and diverse outdoor community camp which helps kids build relationships with nature and each other.  For 14 years Village Camp has received community support and grants to make sure there would be transportation and financial assistance so that families at GIAC and the surrounding areas could participate in the program.   Because the problems of poverty and disproportionate wealth continues, the need to seek funding continues in order to provide all families with opportunities such as Village Camp.

In addition to Village Camp  CEC is offering other specialty camp programs for children and their  families this summer.  In July CEC is teaming up with Hammerstone Carpentry School for Women to offer a Girls Carpentry and Healthy Living Camp.  Hammerstone is committed to empowering women to use their bodies and minds for creative and useful ends. Girls will also learn healthy living practices including organic gardening and vegetarian cooking along with yoga and meditation practices.  CEC will also offer a Mountain Biking and Healthy Living Camp for teen girls in July.

In August, CEC is collaborating with GIAC, the Multicultural Resource Center and other Ithaca Community Members to offer another village camp program for local youth called Project RISE (Resiliency in Spite of Everything.)  Project RISE is an empowering  program for children who have a parent incarcerated; it will be a free program for eligible youth.  Both Village Camp and Project RISE depend on public and private financial support to offer scholarships to families with limited incomes.   For more information about making a financial contribution to sustain these programs visit the Project RISE page at the website

This Spring, on June 1st, 2015 Camp Earth Connection will open a Natural Campground with Cabins, Rustic Cabins, Tent-sites and Lean-Tos.  The facility will provide hot showers, compost toilets and solar showers.  CEC is committed to making this campground a safe space for people from all backgrounds.  This facility is drug and alcohol free, and provides a diverse staff that can relate and support folks who might not have had prior pleasant experiences at campgrounds.  There will be fun and educational programs on Saturdays as well as local performers for all campers.

Camp Earth Connection is located adjacent to the Hammond Hill State Forest trail system in the town of Dryden.  CEC offers a Natural Campground, Specialty Children’s Camps and Retreats.  For more information, contact Susan Rausch at or call (607)844-3178.

Susan Rausch is the creator of Camp Earth Connection.

March 22, 2015

Vote today in the People’s Choice ‘Signs of Sustainability’ poll

Who inspired you over the past year with their efforts to create a more sustainable Tompkins County?  Do you know a young person bucking the trend of consumerism? A business looking out for the broader interests of the community? Perhaps a senior citizen speaking up against pollution? Or an organization making progress on the interlinked goals of community well being, ecological stewardship, and a resilient local economy?

You can honor their work by nominating them for recognition in our annual community sustainability awards.   The People’s Choice Signs of Sustainability will be selected through an online poll of community members who nominate those they believe made a contribution in the past year toward making ours a more sustainable and just community. Nominees and the top vote getters will be announced at the annual Earth Day Ithaca celebration on Sunday, April 19, 12-5 pm, at The Space.  Read more about the Signs of Sustainability program.

Voting is simple. Categories are for sustainability-enhancing activities by a 1) Organization, 2) Business, 3) Individual(s) or 4) Youth (<21).  We will be looking for nominees in a wide range of sectors: Transportation, Food Systems, Energy & Climate, Buildings & Infrastructure, Democracy & Social Justice, Arts & Culture, Health & Well Being, Waste Reduction, Resilient Economy, Community Development, and Natural Resource Conservation.  You can vote up to 5 times.  Polls will be open March 23 through April 8.  VOTE HERE.