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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Carbon Offset Cruise This Wednesday! 10/6

You heard that right… the first EVER ūüõ≥Carbon Offset Cruiseūüõ≥ is on the horizon!

Wednesday, October 6th @ 6 PM to be exact, which also just happens to be Energy Efficiency Day.

Join us as Discover Cayuga Lake celebrates the summer-long contributions cruise-goers have made to offset the carbon emissions of their trips – whether it be learning about lake algae, taking samples, or at Club Cayuga! ‚õīūüźüūüéß

It’ll be a wonderful chance to learn more about the sustainability & climate justice movement right there in the Finger Lakes while on the water!

This is a FREE eco-tourism community cruise. All are welcome. No previous sustainability knowledge necessary – just come ready to learn and relax on the Teal.

The boat is docked at the end of Marina Drive, across from the Park Police building. Look for the big boat that says MV Teal. There is plenty of parking available. Oh, and don’t forget to BYOB. See you soon!

Sign up to secure your free spot.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Applications Due October 1

Do you have an idea for a project to make our community more sustainable, resilient, or inclusive? Need a little help in covering the costs? Sustainable Tompkins is accepting applications for our fall 2021/winter 2022 round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants.

The Sustainable Tompkins Neighborhood Mini-Grant program supports initiatives improving environmental sustainability, equity, and environmental, economic, and social justice in Tompkins County. Since it began in 2008, it has awarded more than $81,000 in 205 grants for innovative grassroots projects throughout the county.

Grants range from $150 to $750 and support initiatives promoting sustainable food systems, alternative transportation, waste reduction/reuse, energy conservation/fossil fuel use reduction, and environmental education, and addressing social and economic inequality.

Proposals are reviewed biannually by a team of community members. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Natural Investments, Fingerlakes Wealth Management, Craig Riecke, and local donors.

Individuals, organizations, and neighborhood groups are welcome to apply, as are local microbusinesses seeking to green their operations or extend their products or services to low-income clientele. Priority is given to new and/or small entities with relatively few sources of support.

 Successful initiatives supported by Neighborhood Mini-Grants in recent years include the founding of the Freeville Farmers Market, establishment of the Finger Lakes Toy Library as a lending collection of environmentally-friendly toys, creation of an Ithaca Murals equipment lending library for artists and community members creating murals that reflect the demographics, values, and stories of Ithaca’s residents, and restoration of a disused and overgrown trail in Dryden.

Applications must be received on or before October 1, 2021. To request an application form, or if you have questions, please call (607) 272-1720 or email

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Funds Observation Board Celebrating Six Mile Creek

Photo by Sasha Paris.

Flowing through forested gorges and farmland, winding through the City of Ithaca to Cayuga Lake, Six Mile Creek is the city’s water supply and a part of home for people in diverse communities. Titus Triangle Park in Ithaca’s Southside now hosts an observation board celebrating the creek and those who live along it, created as a collaborative project led by Southside resident Adrianna Hirtler and supported by a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins.

Along with new materials purchased with the grant, the board and its supporting structure are largely built from donated and repurposed materials, including a border of stones gathered along the length of the creek from headwaters to mouth.  Anyone may contribute to its ever-changing collage featuring observations and photos of plants and animals, stories and kind messages to the community, and more.

The board was presented to the public in a gathering on August 28, 2021, attended by roughly 30 people. Adrianna thanked the many neighbors and community members who contributed materials and time to its creation, and Gayogoh√≥:n«ęňÄ (Cayuga) Faith Keeper Stephen Henhawk gave opening words.

Visit this website for more information about the board and a growing gallery of photos.

The Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program provides seed money to diverse initiatives to build environmental, economic, and social resilience and well-being in Tompkins County. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Craig Riecke, Natural Investments, Fingerlakes Wealth Management, and local donors. Please donate today and help us support more wonderful citizen-driven projects to improve life in our community.

Signs of Sustainability
Pushing for Food for All in Tompkins County

Tompkins Weekly     10-13-21

By Cathleen and Eric Banford

How do we realize the vision of living with zero food insecurity in Tompkins County? What does this look like in relation to sustainability and Ithaca’s Green New Deal? What is our untapped potential? How do we coordinate and balance our county’s needs regarding food security and food sovereignty and simultaneously support ecological regeneration?

On Sept. 29, the Tompkins Food Future (TFF) team hosted a free community event where results of the Tompkins County Food System Baseline Assessment were shared at the Ithaca Farmers Market.

Over 75 community members were in attendance, with people representing many sectors of the food system and the community. Interestingly, TFF’s last public meeting was in late February 2020 just before the pandemic hit, and many in attendance commented on how nice it was to be together in person once again.

Read more…

NY Potential in Perennial Nut Crops

Tompkins Weekly        9-22-21

By Eric and Cathleen Banford

New York State has a long history of nut growing and harvesting, dating back at least 6,000 years. Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in this nutritious, perennial crop as part of our agricultural systems. Samantha Bosco, a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University’s School of Integrated Plant Science, recently gave an inspiring and informative talk on the history and potential of nuts.

The talk was titled ‚ÄúNut Production in New York: Past, Present, Future‚ÄĚ and is available on the Cornell Small Farms YouTube Channel, along with other talks from the current series. Bosco covered the history of nut tree cultivation in the area and how their local production can help meet climate resilience and social justice goals.

Cornell‚Äôs Agroforestry website explains that ‚ÄúAgroforestry describes a wide range of practices that integrate trees, forests, and agricultural production. These systems preserve and enhance woodland and tree landscapes and are an important solution to climate change and in developing healthy farm economics. Agroforestry is rooted in both Indigenous knowledge from around the world and in the work of numerous individuals who have conducted research and engaged as practitioners over centuries.‚ÄĚ

Read more…

Tompkins Food Future Hosts Gathering

Tompkins Weekly        8-8-21

By Katie Hallas and Don Barber

Food Policy Council (FPC) of Tompkins County is a grassroots Good Food advocacy group created in 2016 with representatives from all facets of our food system: production, food access and security, retail, consumption and waste.

In 2020, in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, we embarked on the development of a communitywide planning process to develop Tompkins County’s first-ever Community Food System Plan (FSP).

This two-year planning process, titled, ‚ÄúTompkins Food Future,‚ÄĚ aims to lay the foundation for a more sustainable, equitable, affordable and healthy food system for all residents of Tompkins County.

Read more…

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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…

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…

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 ‚Äď among them, fear, guilt, and grief that make it difficult for us to act and act fast. Read more…