ST in the News

Sustainable Tompkins is making waves. Check out our coverage in the local news.

August 24, 2017

Mini-Grant Supports Textile Education at Luna Fiber Studio

The Trumansburg Elementary Afterschool Program visits the studio

Knowledge of textile creation is often overlooked as part of a self-sufficient, resilient community. Sarah Gotowka, weaver and owner of the Earth Grown Shades natural dye business, has taught weaving and dyeing workshops at widespread venues, but recently sought to create a permanent learning space. After founding Luna Fiber Studio in Trumansburg, she needed to supply it with looms which could not have been used in traveling workshops. In September 2016, Sarah received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to purchase essential equipment for use with four donated looms.

Since opening in October 2016, Luna Fiber Studio has hosted classes on weaving scarves, shawls, tapestries, and rag rugs, introductory weaving, and the creation and use of dyes from cochineal and locally-grown plants. Master dyer, weaver and spinner José Buenaventura González Gutiérrez, from Oaxaca, Mexico, taught the tapestry and cochineal workshops. Other events included periodic drop-in weekends open to all, private lessons, group visits, and a Painting Adoption Weekend forging a community of youth adoptees art making and dance. Students attest to the value of the experience:

Read more…

August 10, 2017

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Applications Due September 1

Do you have an idea for a project to make our community more resilient or more inclusive? Need a little help in covering the costs?  Sustainable Tompkins is accepting applications for our fall round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants.  Applications are due September 1.

The Neighborhood Mini-Grant program provides support for initiatives promoting environmental sustainability and social and economic vitality in Tompkins County. Individuals, neighborhood groups, and organizations are welcome to apply, as are modest-income owners of micro-enterprises seeking to green their operations or extend their services to low-income clientele.

Successful initiatives supported by Neighborhood Mini-Grants in 2016 and 2017 include textile-making courses and workshops at Luna Fiber Studio, creation of a “pop-up” farmers’ market in Freeville, bike rack installation at the Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library book sale headquarters, and the 2017 Farm to Plate Conference run by the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming. Mini-Grants were most recently awarded to the Varna Community Association for water-saving toilets and signage at the Varna Community Center and to OAR of Tompkins County for creating a vegetable garden and fruit tree grove at its new Endeavor house for men transitioning out of prison.

Grants range from $150-$750 and have been awarded to diverse entities for locally-based initiatives supporting sustainable food systems, alternative transportation, waste reduction, energy conservation, renewable energy production, environmental education, social justice, and community building. Proposals are reviewed quarterly by a team of community members. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Natural Investments, Finger Lakes Wealth Management, Craig Riecke, and local donors.

Applications are due on or before September 1, 2017. To request an application form, or if you have questions, please contact sasha@sustainabletompkins.org.

March 23, 2016

Op-Ed Series on Housing Focuses on Affordability, Neighborhood Quality

Sustainable Tompkins organized a series of “thought pieces” for the Ithaca Times this spring exploring some of the issues associated with Ithaca’s housing imbalances.  Data and statistics are scarce, but we’ve been hearing for a while about the extremely high cost of housing in the Ithaca area, along with many anecdotes about lower-income people, even long-term residents, being forced out of the city because they can’t afford the property taxes or the ever-increasing rents. Others who are anxious to buy a home and start a family can’t find anything on the market.   Read more…

December 21, 2014

Climate Fund Grant Comes Just in Time for Christmas

Dan and Kolleen Fenner

Santa came a little early in 2014 for young Kolleen Fenner and her family, thanks to donors to our Finger Lakes Climate Fund.

The Fenners’ 1920 bungalow home in Newfield suffered from lots of air leaks coming in from the crawlspace and garage door, making their 45-year old furnace labor to keep them warm.  Tompkins Community Action let Daniel Fenner know about the financial assistance they could get through NYSERDA’s programs, but the critical difference came with the Climate Fund grant of $2,247 from Sustainable Tompkins.

Their new high-efficiency propane furnace combined with steps to tighten up the house by sealing rim joists, insulating walls, wrapping pipes, and replacing the garage door will keep 112 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.  Donations from the Sustainable Newfield Fund and other community members provided funds for the Fenner award.

This is the eleventh grant from the Climate Fund bringing our total assistance to local households to $20,974.  Thanks to the savings from these energy improvements, the Fenner household budget will have a lot more room for holiday cheer!

November 10, 2014

Dryden Gas Pipeline Based on False Assumptions?

ST submitted these remarks to the Tompkins County Legislature on November 6, 2014:

It seems that our County has reached an important juncture in balancing our goals for the future. The issue of the Dryden gas pipeline is perhaps a surprising focal point for the conversation we need to have about how to guide ourselves. But its impact is larger than what we may think.

Those of us working on climate and clean energy want to affirm that we share these values regarding development in Tompkins County. We want to see:

  • Access to housing that is affordable over the long haul;
  • Opportunities for meaningful work;
  • Thriving and connected communities;
  • Resilience and self reliance; and
  • Responsible and coordinated development that examines how costs and benefits are distributed over time and in our community.

We understand that advocates for the pipeline are hoping to see a large addition of residential housing and business development in northeast Lansing because they want to expand the tax base in Lansing and satisfy the energy needs of residents and businesses.

But we believe that there are problems with the assumptions they are making about using natural gas to meet those energy needs. Read more…

October 24, 2014

Children of a Lesser God?

Protest at Crestwood site 10/24/14

Protest at Crestwood site 10/24/14

Sustainable Tompkins stands with the residents of the Finger Lakes Region opposing construction of Crestwood’s methane gas storage in the abandoned salt caverns under Seneca Lake –the heart of a regional economy based on tourism, wine, and farming.  But it seems the citizens of our region are “children of a lesser god.”  At least, employees at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seem to think so, as they’ve granted a permit to Crestwood for this risky project despite allegations of withholding critical geologic data.

Apparently, a majority of the Schuyler County legislature and Reading town board accept that their constituents don’t have rights to clean air and clean water as they have acquiesced to the interests of out-of-state corporations.  The rail and truck traffic forecast for the depot guarantees significant air pollution in the valley, and the risk of leaks and spills into groundwater or the lake is also very high.  In contrast, four county legislatures and nine municipal boards in the surrounding area have voted against the gas depot because it threatens the quality of life, health, and economic well being of their constituents.

A thorough risk analysis led by Dr. Rob MacKenzie (retired president of Cayuga Medical Center) was done at the request of a Schuyler County legislator.  The risk of a major accident or failure during transport or storage at the facility is estimated at nearly 40% over the next 25 years.  That’s an exceptionally high risk to force upon the residents of any region.   Read more…

October 20, 2014

Speaking Up Against Fossil Fuel Dependency

The promise of wind energy.

We must transition now!

Sustainable Tompkins submitted the following statement to the Tompkins County Planning, Energy, and Environmental Quality Committee on October 15, and the Lansing Star.  The committee heard from the Chamber of Commerce president that they are in full support of the build-out of gas pipelines in our community.  Gay Nicholson joined 4 other members of the local group opposing the Dryden pipeline in speaking to the committee about our concerns:

In 2008, our Tompkins County legislature adopted a goal of reducing county greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 as part of its Energy Element amendment to the county comprehensive plan.

For any county goal to be meaningful, we have to make sure there is alignment with our other goal-setting, policymaking, and budgeting activities. We especially need greater coordination between our energy and climate goals and our economic development strategy. Tompkins County needs to insist on full-cost accounting and risk assessment whenever proposals to expand fossil fuel-dependency are brought forth. Read more…

May 6, 2014

Video and Podcast of People’s Salon on Climate Denial Available

April 17 Final SetupThanks to Cris McConkey and his Crew, we now have the video and a podcast of our first salon in our series on ‘The Climate, the Market, and the Commons’ available.  They’ve done an excellent job of putting our conversation on “Why Are We Stuck in Climate Denial?”  together thanks to Cris’s hard work at editing and filtering the audio.  We hope you will watch it if you had to miss the salon, and share it with others who might be interested.

Thanks to a sponsorship by Home Green Home, we will be able to hire Cris and Company to film our second climate salon this Thursday, May 8, at 7 pm when the topic will be “Can Business and Technology ‘Save’ Us?”.  We’ll follow the same format of hearing from guest speakers (Karl North, Stu Staniford, and Marty Hiller) to help us frame up the discussion on the role of the Market in solving the climate problem.

Then we want to hear from YOU as we explore the topic and our options together.  Join us at the Sustainability Center, 111 N. Albany St., Ithaca from 7-9 pm this Thursday.

 

April 21, 2014

Climate Denial Salon Attracts Large Crowd

Screen shot 2014-04-21 at 11.48.37 PM

 

We were delighted to see over 80 people join us for the first conversation salon in our series on The Climate, the Market, and the Commons.  A team of local videographers led by Cris McConkey volunteered to film the event, and we’ll post the link to it once it is edited and uploaded.  Thanks to the Ithaca Journal for covering the event for us!

March 21, 2014

Purity Ice Cream and IC’s Net Impact Club Donate $4000 to Finger Lakes Climate Fund

Purity Ice Cream Donation at IC

 

Thanks to the generosity of Purity Ice Cream owners Bruce and Heather Lane, and the activism of the students in Ithaca College’s Net Impact Club, we have received a generous donation of $4000 to our Finger Lakes Climate Fund.  The Lanes joined Gay Nicholson of Sustainable Tompkins in the Park Center for Sustainable Enterprise on March 21 to meet with Net Impact students Rebecca Blondin and Lauren Goldberg, President Tom Rochon, Dean Mary Ellen Zuckerman, and Prof Hormoz Movassaghi of the IC Business school.  The story behind the “carrot mob” that resulted in the donation can be learned here.

The donation will be redistributed to the community in the form of Climate Fund grants to lower-income households needing help in making energy efficiency improvements to their homes.  Local energy contractors with clients in the Home Performance or Assisted Home Performance program can apply on behalf of their customers for the grants.  The Climate Fund has awarded 8 grants to a wide variety of households, a nonprofit, and a local business.  Awards are based on the tons of carbon emissions that are reduced through energy efficiency improvements, with a maximum grant of $2500.  Interested applicants are urged to get energy audits from local firms such as Snug Planet, Tompkins Community Action, Halco, and Fair Hands, and find out if they qualify for applying. Find certified contractors here. Read more…

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