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 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/winter 2020 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 $74,000 in 191 grants to innovative grassroots projects throughout the county,

Grants are $150-$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 localf 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 founding of the Freeville Farmers Market, establishment of the Finger Lakes Toy Library as a lending collection of environmentally-friendly toys, distribution of the Paleontological Research Institution’s Teacher-Friendly™ Guide to Climate Change to all public high school science teachers in Tompkins County, and 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.

Applications must be received on or before October 1, 2020. To request an application form, or if you have questions, please call (607) 272-1720 or email sasha@sustainabletompkins.org.

 
Neighborhood Mini-Grants Support Indigo Dye Workshop and Native Tree Planting

Even in the COVID-19 pandemic, Tompkins County residents are growing initiatives to build resilience, environmental stewardship, community, and social justice. In April 2020, two Neighborhood Mini-Grants totaling $1,000 were awarded to Luna Fiber Studio and Trees Up Tompkins.

Luna Fiber Studio is hosting De-colonizing Dyes, an indigo seed-to-fiber workshop with underserved teenagers in the Youth Farm Project’s summer program. Participants are growing indigo plants at the Youth Farm Project farm (pictured at left; photo provided by Sarah Gotowka), in preparation for a day-long workshop in late August, where they will learn to harvest the leaves, make dyes, and dye handkerchiefs and bandanas. The workshop will cover the inequalities and environmental impacts of the global textile industry, along with personal actions to reduce or improve them. A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will cover the costs of dye preparation materials, fabrics, and workshop handouts.

Trees Up Tompkins formed in Spring 2019 during a Project Drawdown workshop series, and is devoted to planting native trees at sites in Tompkins County for carbon sequestration and community education in environmental stewardship. The group will replace invasive privet with native trees at Lighthouse Point, an area between Fall Creek and the Cayuga Inlet at the south end of Cayuga Lake, in collaboration with the Cayuga Bird Club, in September 2020. A Mini-Grant award will support the purchase of trees and supplies for this planting event.

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 More Than Doubled our Goal for the Climate Fund!

Thank you to the 54 donors who helped us race past our goal of raising $2500 for the Finger Lakes Climate Fund in May in our ‘Climate Justice in the Time of Corona” campaign! Besides the $4,121 we raised on GiveGab, two other donors sent us $1,679 via our Climate Fund website, and checks totaling $1,000 came in for a grand total of $6,800!! We are all just delighted to be able to refill the Fund, and this will probably be enough to do 3-4 more projects in the homes of lower-income residents. THANKS to all of you bringing heat pumps and clean energy to everyone in our community!

 
Signs of Sustainability
Trees Up Tompkins: Working for the Common Good

Tompkins Weekly 10-14-20

By Patricia Ladley

Do you remember your mother’s instruction, so often repeated: “Eat your vegetables. They’re good for you”? Mother Earth also has something to say to her children: “Plant trees. They’re good for you!”

These amazing beings we call trees not only provide beauty and support biodiversity, but they also filter air pollution, help manage stormwater runoff, lower temperatures and draw down CO2 from the atmosphere. In short, trees improve the health and well-being of the local communities in which they are planted, valued and nurtured to maturity.

In the spring of 2019, the Museum of the Earth hosted a course presented by the Pachamama Alliance, a global community with the goal to create a sustainable future for all, called “Drawdown — the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.” The course was based on the book of the same name, edited by Paul Hawken. (Learn more at the Project Drawdown website.) At the completion of the course, eight of us decided to continue the conversation.

Read more…
Fall Composting for Sustainability

Tompkins Weekly 9-23-20

By Adam Michaelides

It won’t be long until it’s time to clean up the garden and prepare for the next growing season. In just a few weeks, our yards, sidewalks and streets will be littered with leaves. Before the snow flies, we have the opportunity to set ourselves up for the colder months ahead. This includes the home compost.

Though the garden has slowed down, your compost will stay active until winter sets in. One trick for keeping our decomposer friends in the compost happy is to feed them more. A larger, more substantial pile of fresh material will generate heat. Also, cutting things up into smaller pieces will provide more surface area for the decomposers, which will in turn keep the compost active.

Read more…
Energy Audits: The First Step to Savings

Tompkins Weekly 9-9-20

By Phil Cherry

An energy audit is not like an IRS audit. It’s nothing to be afraid of, and in fact, it may actually save you money.

An energy audit is also often called an “energy assessment” because it assesses the energy efficiency of your home and identifies areas where your house is leaking heat on cold days or cool air on summer days or maybe wasting electricity on outdated lighting or older refrigeration equipment.

Audits are done by professional contractors trained by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) to conduct such studies. There are other certifications and rating systems for homes and raters, but the BPI certificate is likely the most common.

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…