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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Polls are Open for 2017 ‘Signs of Sustainability’ Awards

Now more than ever, it is time to make your voice heard, reaffirm our values, and connect with fellow activists.  The People’s Choice Signs of Sustainability Awards are selected through an online poll of community members who nominate those they believe made a contribution in the past year.

Voting is simple.  You can head to the online voting booth at  to show your support for the people that stepped up in the past year to make ours a more sustainable and socially just community.  You can vote up to 5 times for a mix of your favorite sustainability heroines/heroes. Polls will close on April 15.  Nominations can be made in four categories (Individual, Youth, Organization, Business) and voters are asked to note which sectors were impacted and to provide contact information for their nominee.

Nominees and the top vote getters will be announced at the annual Earth Day Ithaca Celebration on Saturday, April 29, 4:00 to 4:30 pm, at The Space. Thanks to sponsorship by Beck Equipment, our Earth Day 2017 program will include a Rally and March for Climate, Jobs & Justice, workshops, music, food and lots of camaraderie.

Earth Day Ithaca & People’s Climate March

Sustainable Tompkins will be hosting this year’s Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 29 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Special thanks to Beck Equipment for being a major sponsor again!  Thanks also to SewGreen for being one of our Climate March sponsors!

This year we are very excited to be holding our Earth Day event in conjunction with the national March for Climate, Jobs and Justice with the People’s Climate Movement in Washington DC. The day’s events will kick off with an open space event at 10 a.m. facilitated by Joey Gates and Cathleen Banford. We will explore the question of, “What are your barriers to living an environmentally sustainable life?” Topics will be proposed and explored by attendees and can be anything related to this central question. For example, a topic could be finding affordable housing that is also on a bus line. From there, at 11:30, we will head over to the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Commons for music by Colleen Kattau and Burns & Kristy and to rally for our sister People’s Climate March down to the Space @ Greenstar. There, we will be greeted by more music, exhibitors working on local sustainability solutions, as well as have a chance to eat lunch from one of our local food vendors. Read more…

Mini-Grant Brings Bike Racks to Book Sale

Thousands of people attend the book sales hosted by the Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library every May and October, and its facility in Ithaca’s West End is within bicycling distance of many residents. But visitors have long had to insecurely chain their bikes to nearby fences, signposts, or trees. In March 2016, Sustainable Tompkins awarded the organization a Neighborhood Mini-Grant for buying bike racks.

Six racks were installed over the summer, largely by volunteers. They were constantly full during the October sale, and used in all seasons by the volunteers planning the sales and donors dropping off items to sell. Facilitating fossil-fuel-free transportation and exercise, making bicyclists feel welcome at the sales — which support literacy programs along with the local and regional libraries —  and protecting the trees whose bark had been regularly damaged by bike chains, they will continue to bring benefits near and far.

The Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program provides seed money to diverse initiatives to build environmental, economic, and social resilience and well-being in Tompkins County. In turn, we need your support! Please donate today and help us support more wonderful citizen-driven projects to improve life in our community.


Signs of Sustainability
Go Solar Bringing Information, Solutions to County Residents

Tompkins Weekly          3-12-17

By Guillermo Metz

February, 2017. Temperatures in the 50s, 60s and even 70s. More sun than we’re accustomed to in upstate New York in February. It’s been pretty nice, but for those of us working on energy issues and the underlying causes of climate change, it’s been very alarming.

There is one thing you can do, though, to capitalize on all that sun and address one of the primary causes of climate change: Go solar. Transition as much of your energy as possible to clean electricity produced by your own solar panels.

Read more…

Build Me a Better Sewing Machine, Please

Tompkins Weekly     2-27-17

By Wendy Skinner

Build me a better sewing machine, please. And while you’re at it, a better refrigerator, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, and for Pete’s sake, a pencil sharpener that actually works.

Consumers are at the mercy of manufacturers who produce low-quality household goods that will be sent to landfills in record time, leaving us little option but to buy the same item again. Just a few decades ago, we had a choice to spend more on a high-quality item if we wanted to. These days, a lot of high-quality household items simply don’t exist.

Read more…

New Roots Education Grounded in Sustainable Thought

Tompkins Weekly     2-13-17

By Tina Nilsen-Hodges

A horticulture major and women’s rugby team player on the Dean’s List at Cornell. A female diesel mechanic. An Evergreen College student and future teacher studying child labor laws in Nepal. A photographer who shoots equestrian sports. An inspired local cook with a passion for farm-to-table food. A computer scientist who chose a small college with an innovative, project-based curriculum. An award-winning barista who aspires to run her own shop. A student at the nation’s top entrepreneurial college invited to direct a play by the college’s theater department. A doctoral student in Earth Systems Science studying mathematical modeling and climate change. A horse trainer with a BA in Animal Science. A slam poet on scholarship studying sociology.

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

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