Signs of Sustainability

We have a long way to go, but we're making progress. Here are some signs that we are moving towards sustainability.

November 8, 2023

A Love Story for My Country

Tompkins Weekly      11-8-23

By Sargent Joey Diana Gates

Patriotism is defined as love, pride and devotion one feels towards one’s land and country. Environmentalism is to be concerned about and to work for the protection of the environment, i.e. the land, air and water, and hence the health of all beings, to include humans. There are strong historic links between these two concepts, notably in the birth of the conservation movement. I will discuss these below in tracing my own trajectory and looking at the origins of the conservation movement.  My journey as an environmentalist began as an exchange student in Sweden but was cemented in my experiences in the US Army in the late 80’s to mid-90’s and has led me on a life journey of love, care and protection of the environment, and by extension, my country.

In the spring of 1986, while living in Sweden, I witnessed the horror of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident unfolding. It was April 26, the world was waking up from winter and farmers were preparing for spring plantings and allowing their cows to pasture. This spring however, they were advised not to let the animals graze as radioactive fallout had gone up into the atmosphere in Ukraine, traversed manmade boundaries, and fallen on the land across Scandinavia. In Lapland, the Sami people were advised to butcher huge swaths of their reindeer population, and not consume the meat due to the bioaccumulation of radiation in their bodies for the same reason. On a recent, 2018 visit to Sweden, friends told of giving up a recently hunted elk as it had too many becquerels in its body. Environmental damage to the land severely impacted the livelihood of the farmers and nations’ abilities to feed themselves.

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October 11, 2023

‘Common Ground’ For Us All

Tompkins Weekly       10-11-23

By Cathleen and Eric Banford

A new documentary called “Common Ground” is coming to Cinemapolis Oct. 13 to 19, and based on its Oct. 1 screening, it is a must see film. It’s the sequel to “Kiss the Ground,” which has been seen by over 1 billion people globally and inspired the United States Department of Agriculture to put $20 billion toward soil health. The hope is that this new film will have an even greater impact.

The film starts as a letter to the next generation, narrated by Laura Dern, Jason Momoa, Rosario Dawson, Ian Somerhalder, and Woody Harrelson. As any film with an environmental message must do, it outlines the many overwhelming problems caused by our current food system. Where this film differs is where it goes from there: solutions. Inspiring, achievable, common-sense solutions.

This is a really well researched, well thought out film. The problems are made clear. The history of corruption and mismanagement involving “Big AG” laid bare. And then we get interviews with experts in regenerative farming, with people doing the work of transforming their own farms and seeing amazing results. And by results we don’t just mean ecological improvements; we mean savings and profits! It means transforming farms from struggling enterprises with poor, exhausted soil into profitable ventures that also transform the landscape into a thriving ecosystem. The proof is in the doing.

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September 27, 2023

Electric Vehicle Meet and Greet

Tompkins Weekly   9-27-23

By Cathleen Banford, Eric Banford, and Holly Payne

On Saturday, October 14, 2023, from 10AM to 1PM, come to Stewart Park to check out a variety of the most affordable electric vehicles (EVs) on display and chat with EV drivers. Try Ithaca Bikeshare’s electric bikes, climb aboard electric buses (from our local public schools and from TCAT), or ride your electric wheelchair up the TCAT bus ramp to strap in. Join America’s transformative way of getting… everywhere!

Cornell Cooperative Extension is the event organizer, and EV show participants include TCAT Bus, ICSD School Bus Garage, Ithaca BikeShare, and participating Electric Vehicle owners.

New York State has set ambitious targets to reduce harmful CO2 emissions. Transportation is high on the list and responsible for spewing nearly half (47%) of the state’s CO2 into the atmosphere. What can we do at the local level? The most powerful individual contribution is to avoid driving alone! Can you get to your daily destinations on foot, by bicycle, by e-bike, by public bus (some of which are electric), or by combining those options?  If you live far away, can you creatively organize a carpool? (For more, see And last but not least, could your next vehicle be an EV?

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