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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Call for Earth Day Artists and Exhibitors 
Sustainable Tompkins will be celebrating Earth Day this year on Sunday, April 22nd from Noon-6pm at the Space @ Greenstar, 700 W Buffalo St. in Ithaca.  The theme this year will be how the arts help us frame, express, and shape our concerns about climate change and the transition to more sustainable ways of human social and economic activity. Registration for exhibitors and performers at the 2018 Earth Day Ithaca event is now open.

Cathleen Banford writes “Artists are among the disciplined observers of our world. Artists see stories, perspectives, context, emotion, reaction, impacts, and subtle truths all around us. The art we create has the power to bring deeper understanding, hope, and direction to the lives of countless others.”

Do you have a song to share? A poem, a dance, a skit, a painting? Do you want to share what your organization is doing on behalf of a healthy planet? Exhibitors are welcome to table indoors from 12-3 while hands-on activities for families will be offered. The exhibitor fee to offset insurance and other costs is $25 for nonprofit groups. Registration fees for businesses and government entities are $45. (Reduced fees are available for those in need.) From 3-5, we’ll pause for performances by local artists and the annual Signs of Sustainability Awards (be sure to nominate your favorites at  

For more information or a registration form, please contact Joey by April 1 at or call (607) 644-5525. All are welcome.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Supports Portals to Peace Mural

Photo by Sasha Paris

In a healthy and resilient community, people of all religions and ethnicities are welcomed and respected. The murals proliferating across the city of Ithaca, coordinated by the organization Ithaca Murals, have engaged and celebrated a wide array of cultures. Amid a nationwide rise of anti-Muslim hostility and stereotyping, three local organizations — the Multicultural Resource Center, Al-Huda Islamic Center, and Greater Ithaca Activities Center — sought to make Ithaca’s Muslim community of about 750 people feel welcome and increase cross-cultural interaction with the creation of a mural celebrating their culture. In December 2016, the Multicultural Resource Center received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to purchase paint and other supplies.

Designed by local Muslim artist Lachlan Chambliss, the intricate Portals to Peace mural depicts five doorways showing scenes and symbols of Muslim culture across the world. Located at the entry of the Green Street parking garage, beside a busy street, it is seen by hundreds of people each day. Nearly 200 volunteers of all ages and diverse religious backgrounds, mostly non-Muslim, worked to create it throughout 2017.

Read more…

Grants Available to Youth Groups to Tackle Climate Change

 Sustainable Tompkins is announcing a Youth Climate Challenge open to middle and high school students in Tompkins County. The long journey back to climate stability will take several generations of sustained effort and innovation as we transition our economic and social systems to meet human needs without upsetting Earth’s life support system. We will need leaders of all ages on this journey. The Youth Climate Challenge will provide $5,000 for small grants up to $1,000 to support projects that reduce CO2 emissions or spread awareness of how climate change will affect the Finger Lakes Region. Funds can be used for equipment, supplies, or services such as printing. School classes and clubs, as well as local youth groups, are encouraged to take up the Challenge and see what kind of climate impact they can have by reducing dependency on fossil fuel, changing wasteful habits, or inspiring others to commit themselves to action on global warming. Read more…

Signs of Sustainability
The Resilience of Stewart Park

Tompkins Weekly     3-12-18

By Diana Riesman

The fireworks in Stewart Park shall shine extra brightly on July 4, 2021, as that date marks the centennial of Ithaca’s main lakefront park becoming a public park. Stewart Park, a historic and iconic place, is open to one and all for free. No entrance fee or parking fee to enjoy this waterfront gem.

There will be much to celebrate in 2021 and Friends of Stewart Park (FSP), committed stewards of the park’s next 100 years, plan to involve everyone in the community in the festivities.

Since 2011, FSP has been leading park revitalization efforts in Stewart Park – known as Renwick Park until 1921 – as a nonprofit with a mission to improve, enhance and revitalize the park in partnership with the City of Ithaca. This public/private partnership has energized the process of breathing life back into the park through thoughtful renovation, restoration, and landscaping.

Read more…

Ithaca Families Gift Economy: Gifting, Reusing, and Being a Community

Tompkins Weekly      2-19-18

By Cassandra Kent

Ithaca Families Gift Economy is a Facebook group that has expressed community to the fullest- the characteristic of helping each other when times are rough. IFGE welcomes Ithaca residents & those in the surrounding area. Ithaca Family Gift Economy is more than just a group – it’s a family, that is about supporting each other with lots of love and supplies. It’s a group that helps people who have wants or needs or people who have goods to offer or want an opportunity to give a gift. Regularly gifted items include beds, toys, and clothes!

Not only does it help provide material goods to families, it brings area residents closer, making connections that may not otherwise be made.

Read more…

The Cayuga Lake Watershed Restoration & Protection Plan

Tompkins Weekly     2-12-18

By Hilary Lambert

It is a challenge to unify the administratively complex Cayuga Lake watershed for restoration, conservation, and protection. This 785-square mile watershed includes:

• Three counties on the lakeshore (Cayuga, Seneca, and Tompkins) – and smaller upland portions of three more (Cortland, Tioga, and Schuyler).
• 45 municipalities (cities, towns, and villages).
• Numerous regional, state and federal agencies.
• Development pressures that pull the south end toward the Southern Tier and New York City; and the north end toward Syracuse, Rochester, and Lake Ontario.

Read more…

ST Blog

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Fracking: What Are We FOR?
Sustainability is a Society of Systems Thinkers

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Help ST Finish What We Started on Dryden Pipeline

Everyday you are probably getting 2 or 3 calls to action to help stop some new outrage. It’s important to help wherever you can, but it’s also important that our movement follow through on earlier efforts to make positive change and head toward greater stewardship and justice in our communities. We’re asking our supporters to take a minute today and help us complete a critical step in our community’s shared commitment to protect the climate and stop new fossil fuel infrastructure from being built in our county.

Three years ago, in the early summer of 2014, we began to hear about a proposed new gas pipeline to run through West Dryden to provide heating fuel for new development in Lansing. The large capacity of the pipe would mean that Tompkins County would be unable to meet its goal of 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.

ST helped organize local opposition to the project and teamed up to present several workshops on viable alternatives to the pipeline to meet Lansing’s energy needs. A countywide task force on energy and economic development eventually came to the same conclusions and recommended to the Public Service Commission (PSC) that NYSEG address reliability concerns for existing Lansing gas customers by adding pressure boosters to the current pipeline. In addition, NYSEG would provide incentives to developers to build new structures in Lansing using smart design and ultra-efficient heat pumps to meet commercial and residential heating loads. (Many industrial processes can be powered with electricity rather than gas as well.) Read more…

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…

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…