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.

April 13, 2015

Earth Day 2015: Voices Past, Voices Present

Tompkins Weekly 4-13-15

By Joey Diana Gates and Susan A. Weiner

In honor of the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, Sustainable Tompkins will again host the Earth Day Ithaca celebration on Sunday, April 19, from Noon to 8PM, bringing the community together for a day of education, celebration and eco-activism.

This year the event is co-sponsored by a Tompkins County Community Celebrations Grant and GreenStar Cooperative Market, and will be held at The Space (at GreenStar,) one of the greenest structures in town, featuring local inspirational speakers, musicians, poets, earth-friendly exhibitors, and more. This year the program has been expanded to include the Earth Jam/Poetry Slam, with the voices of today’s poets, rappers, and small music acts to perform 10-minute sets.

Do you remember your first Earth Day? How did you celebrate? This year, community members are invited to contribute their past Earth Day experiences. Perhaps you worked on environmental issues and have a story to tell. Please contact us so that these invaluable memories can be displayed in media form and shared at the celebration and join us for this educational, impactful, and super fun event as we celebrate Earth Day Ithaca-Style!

Looking back, Gerald Torres, Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law at Cornell University and Vice Board Chair of the Earth Day Network, tells us that Earth Day, “…did not spring up overnight. It was built on the ferment in American politics of the day, on the consciousness that was raised over the preceding decade beginning with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and on the emerging environmental ethos of the time. Senator Gaylord Nelson is largely credited with launching the idea of a national “environmental teach-in” to capture some of the energy of the anti-war movement and combined with Congressman Pete McCloskey to begin the planning. They hired a young law student Denis Hayes who assembled a staff of 85 and together they mobilized groups across the country to make the teach-in into Earth Day.”

Locally, Sandy Wold, Wally Woods, and Steve Calkins, now deceased, were the coordinators in the late 1990’s. Then as now, the celebration enjoyed strong community support. Wendy Skinner, founder of Sew Green, reflects on what Earth Day means to her. “For me personally, a comment by Sandra Steingraber was pivotal. She advised that everyone could participate in protecting the planet, utilizing the talents they already possess. My brief inventory included art and design, journalism, events management — and a long-buried interest in fashion. Valerie Rockney was similarly inspired and together we invented Reimagine Fashion and held a marvelously successful refashion contest, culminating in a show at the 2005 Ithaca Earth Day celebration. From that single initial event, SewGreen was soon born. Now eight years in existence, SewGreen comprises a retail reuse store for textiles, a sewing education program, youth apprenticeships and jobs for teens.”

Again per Gerald Torres, “Earth Day is no longer just an American event. It is now the largest non-religious holiday in the world.” Our local event will start with an opening ceremony by Travis Knapp, award-winning musician and organic farmer, as in tune with musical rhythms as he is with the rhythm of the seasons. A champion of environmental stewardship, Mayor Svante Myrick, will follow up with a talk on Ithaca’s latest initiatives. Mayor Myrick has brought recycling bins to Collegetown, opposes hydrofracking, and consistently advocates public transportation. Mark Dunlea of the Green Education and Legal Fund will present on the growing coalition behind the Campaign for 100% Green Energy in NYS by 2030.

Also sharing the celebration will be the People’s Choice ‘Signs of Sustainability’ Awards. Each year since 2006, Sustainable Tompkins has kept watch for “signs” of sustainable decision-making, practice and action emerging throughout our community. All told, 1,617 awards were given out between 2006 and 2013. This year the awardees 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. Top vote getters for Individual, Youth, Organization, and Business categories will be announced at Earth Day Ithaca. (See for details.)

Other musical acts include Little Voices Music & Motion a children’s favorite, local activist Eric Banford and EcoArise!, the amazing duo of Angie Beeler and Leon Arguello, and newly debuting Rena Guinn and Friends. In community tradition, visitors can learn about sustainability-related education, services and products offered by local organizations and businesses that share Earth Day values, and enjoy food from Paulie’s Global Kitchen, which specializes in fine local and organic fare. More exhibitors are welcome, with sliding scale registration fees ranging from just $10.00 to $50.00.

At 5 pm, One Heart Drum Circle, an open drum circle based in Ithaca, will present a healing performance. Local drummers are welcome to bring their own drums, shakers, or bells and join in. At 6 pm, cheer on local performers as the Earth Jam/Poetry Slam begins. MC Errth Boy will usher in musicians, poets, singers, and rappers who will give voice to their feelings about the Earth and the issues surrounding its care. In the lineup are Melissa Tuckey, environmental educator Sasha Paris, Poco Bowers and the Young Voices; punk musician Jonathan Hausrath; poet Remstar who will present a sunset salute; singer/song writer and rapper Cozmic Theo, Greensprings Natural Cemetery Represents and wrapping up with Rudy Nuῆez, director of Howl Studios.

Would-be exhibitors are encouraged to reach out for more information and to reserve a spot. Information can be found at: Please contact Joey Diana Gates at or call (607) 644-5525, for more information.

April 7, 2015

Growing Groton Delivers Fresh Food

Tompkins Weekly 4-6-15

By Sara L. Knobel

Groton is Growing – join us in expanding our healthy food options/education! Find us on Facebook @ Growing Groton or ask to join our email group. We are a dedicated group of people with a committed community.

There is a real need for fresh food in Groton and we are working towards reducing this need as much as possible with the following:

– Communal/Community Garden

– Healthy Tuesdays program

– Subsidized CSA (community supported agriculture) Shares

– Market Boxes for Limited Income Households

– Teen Sustainable Agriculture Series

– Educational classes at the Library

– Groton Farmers Market

– Groton Food Providers Pantry

Our communal/community garden is located across from the Groton Central School District on Village property with full support from both the school and the Village. We now boast a garden shed built by Science teacher Chad Devoe’s students – yes that’s right – students built the garden shed. We have a water retention system build by Boy Scout Jason Jenks to earn his Eagle Scout. Our locust board raised beds are cut and ready to be assembled this year so we will have 21 raised beds. We are all getting antsy to get planting – plans to add blueberries this year to increase our sustainability – oh pear trees too – we already have apple trees.

The Healthy Tuesdays program runs every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Library. Buried Treasure organic farm stops after the Ithaca Farmers Market and drops off fresh produce to give away for free. In addition this will be our second year as a Neighborhood Food Hub for Friendship Donation Network (FDN) where we receive a huge portion of our food to give away and take any food donations from local gardeners and farmers. Have extra produce in your garden or CSA, donate it to a food hub – there are eight hubs throughout Tompkins County including one in Groton. This program is free and open to all.

Buried Treasure, an organic farm in Groton will offer Subsidized CSA (community supported agriculture) Shares for the second year. This program is supported by CCE’s Health Food for All (HFA). A qualifying low income family can purchase a share from Buried Treasure (or other participating farm) and only has to pay half the cost of the share – this can amount to under $15 a week for a huge box of fresh picked produce – a remarkable deal. We had three families take advantage of this fabulous deal last year and this year Buried Treasure is offering even more shares.  This is a wonderful opportunity to receive organic produce at a great price – go to to sign up or get more information.

Market Boxes for Limited Income Households coming this year for the first time from Rocky Acres Community Farm. This is a brand new program and Groton is thrilled to be a part – the farmer will ask the participants what they want and will then grow that, giving the families what they want most. More details coming soon.

Groton Teen Sustainable Agriculture Series coming this summer at the Tapped Earth Farm in Freeville. This is just for teens. It will be three days where they will learn about raising chickens; greenhouse growing; farm carpentry; green architecture; cooking/heating with wood; growing fruit, veggies, flowers; real world skills; and ending with a 100% locally sourced lunch. This will be a wonderful opportunity for our teens to get hands on experience. Each day will end with time for reflection.

This summer the Groton Public Library will host a series for cooking classes on at least one Tuesday a month during our Healthy Tuesdays program. Each class will use a recipe from the “Good and Cheap – eat well on $4/day” by Leanne Brown. This cookbook will be available to limited income households for free as long as we have copies. The recipes will be easy, healthy, and inexpensive to make – and oh so yummy (I speak from experience).

The Village has the Groton Farmers Market located right by the senior housing. The market runs on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. starting early July and running until mid-September.

The Groton Food Providers is our local food pantry and is open on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month and one Tuesday a month the mobile food truck is there. The Groton Food Providers is located at 102 McKinley Avenue. For more information, call 898-5263.

For more information on any of the anything mentioned – email Sara at or call 898-5055. Don’t’ forget to find us on Facebook at Growing Groton or ask to be added to our email group.

“Avoid food products containing ingredients that are A) unfamiliar B) unpronounceable C) more than five in number or that include D) high-fructose corn syrup”
― Michael PollanIn Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Sara L. Knobel is library manager at the Groton Public Library.

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