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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Neighborhood Mini-Grant Application Deadline December 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 winter round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants. Applications are due December 1.

The Sustainable Tompkins Neighborhood Mini-Grant program provides support for initiatives promoting environmental sustainability, equity, and environmental, economic, and social justice in Tompkins County.

Grants range from $150-$750 and have been awarded to diverse entities for locally-based initiatives 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 quarterly 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.

Successful initiatives supported by Neighborhood Mini-Grants in recent years include textile-making courses and workshops at Luna Fiber Studio, creation of a pop-up farmers’ market in Freeville, establishment of the Finger Lakes Toy Library as a lending collection of environmentally-friendly toys, and establishment 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.

Applications are due on or before December 1, 2018. To request an application form, or if you have questions, please contact me at sasha@sustainabletompkins.org.

 
Our 25th Climate Fund grant helps Caroline family

Our 25th Climate Fund grant award went to Brandon and Lyla White and their charming daughter Rosemary. The White Family lives in a 70’s era home in the Town of Caroline. Like so many houses of that time, it was poorly insulated and still had the same really expensive electric baseboard heat of those ‘cheap energy’ times. After they moved in a couple years ago, they got their first shockingly high electric bill and knew they had to make some changes.

Snug Planet helped them come up with a plan to address their biggest energy problems and had them apply to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund for assistance. They put their $1291 grant toward the removal of 52 tons of CO2 by sealing and insulating their attic and the cantilever over the basement floor and toward a new Air Source Heat Pump that is heating AND cooling their home for pennies compared to the high price of the baseboard heating system and an old style window air conditioner. (Listen to them tell their story here.)

Thanks to all of our carbon offsetters for helping the Whites improve their home’s carbon footprint!  We are in our usual ‘Seal the Cracks’ fall campaign where we ask you to think back over the past summer and remember all the travels you took.  Then go to our FingerLakesClimateFund.org and take responsibility for the emissions associated with that travel by making an offset.  It’s quick, easy, and affordable – plus you will get to be part of the community that is helping families like the Whites shrink their carbon footprint while making their household economy so much more resilient.

 
Neighborhood Mini-Grant Supports Recycling by the Family Reading Parnership

Photo provided by the Family Reading Partnership

Sometimes a small investment can have a large impact on an organization or business’s operations, raising efficiency while reducing environmental impacts. The Family Reading Partnership, a Danby-based organization devoted to distributing children’s books throughout Tompkins County, has long taken its recyclables to the Tompkins County Recycling and Solid Waste Center, a 14-mile round trip made by the volunteers who also provide vital program assistance and administrative support. In September 2017, the Family Reading Partnership received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to purchase two heavy-duty lidded recycling bins in which large volumes of material — primarily cardboard from shipments of books – could be securely left outdoors for curbside pickup.

This has reduced the organization’s carbon footprint and freed its volunteers to focus their time on its programs, facilitating more book distribution. A strengthened commitment to recycling has inspired successful efforts to reduce the amount of recyclable waste produced.

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. We need your support so we can help more citizen leaders act on their values. Please donate today and help us support more wonderful citizen-driven projects to improve life in our community.

 
Signs of Sustainability
Lack of Regulation Leads to Courthouse Showdown

Tompkins Weekly    11-12-18

By Cayuga Lake Environmental Action Now

Cayuga Lake is at risk. Our beloved lake provides drinking water for over 40,000 people residing in at least six municipalities, not to mention the numerous private wells along the entire shoreline. However, the quality of Cayuga’s waters is threatened by nutrient-loading manure from large farms, Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), contaminants leaching from several coal-ash landfills, salt from our heavily salted roads, and brine from an extensive under-lake salt mine with its associated permitted and unpermitted discharges to the lake.

What can we do to protect this invaluable resource?

One major step is to ensure that environmental protocols are being followed and when they are not, we must STAND UP FOR CAYUGA LAKE. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is supposed to be the watchdog that ensures that our resources are being protected, but the DEC is severely understaffed, under-budgeted, and lacks expertise in some areas. Most importantly, the DEC has never required the level of environmental review for the Cargill mine that would be required for equivalent or much smaller projects.

Read more…

Uh Oh, Here Comes Winter

Tompkins Weekly 10-22-18

By Anne Rhodes

Winter – the season that challenges us to heat our homes without heating our planet. Everyone wants to stay warm and comfortable in their home, and luckily there are lots of strategies and solutions to help us do just that – including some that won’t add to our climate woes.

What’s preventing us from being warm in our homes? Conduction and convection. If a house is cold and drafty it is because heat is escaping through uninsulated walls and attics (conduction), and through holes and gaps that let air in (convection). The process of warm air escaping from the interior of your house to the outside is called the “stack effect.” It’s what happens when you heat the interior of your home but that heated air escapes upwards (because hot air rises!) causing a vacuum drawing cold air in from cracks and gaps in your basement. Then you heat up that new, cold air, and when it’s hot, it rises and escapes!

Read more…

Home Composting

Tompkins Weekly   10-8-18

By Adam Michaelides

Fall is an excellent time of year to compost. Dead leaves are becoming abundant once again. These “brown” materials are just what the outdoor compost needs throughout the year to feed microorganisms, and provide adequate airflow. If you compost outdoors, take the time to squirrel away bags of dry leaves to use in the compost until next fall. You’ll be happy you did!

Composting at home in the backyard, or indoors using a worm or bokashi bin, is a super sustainable practice. Your food, yard, and garden discards are kept on your property instead of transported somewhere else and then mechanically processed. This saves on fossil fuel use, and wear and tear on roads and vehicles. Landfilling food scraps and other organic discards can cause all sorts of problems – from added carbon emissions through fossil fuel use, to methane generation for decades to come. Composting these materials on a large scale is a lot better; however, environmentally-speaking the most sustainable way is to compost right at home.

Read more…




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Fracking: What Are We FOR?
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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

WHY WE NEED TO JOIN EFFORTS TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT WITH EFFORTS TO ELIMINATE POVERTY AND RACISM

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…