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.

May 8, 2024

Justice As a Verb – Putting the Love and Belonging into Creating Sustainable Communities

Tompkins Weekly   5-8-24

By Gail Patrice Lockert Anthony

Most of us living in the United States have similar dreams, ambitions, cares, and concerns. We weep, laugh, and have pride in many of the same things. For some, though, (those who’ve been historically and systemically marginalized, brutalized, oppressed); we live in two separate nations. The first is where we are beautifully human and full of potential and possibilities. The second is about sustaining life itself in a country built for protecting and prospering whiteness and putting systems into place that  serve as gatekeepers against “other” being protected or prospering.

If we are choosing to do the work of putting justice in food systems…and operating for long term well-being; we must reassess our what, why, and how in the current food system. What makes a healthy food system accessible? Why don’t we already have healthy food systems accessible to all? What are the causal symptoms of the system’s inequities? And in the face of all of that, how do we create one which does serve us all? We should begin by asking ourselves what is the current social infrastructure that frames access to healthy food today? What kind of social infrastructure is needed to assure all ease of access to fresh nourishing food all the time?

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April 30, 2024

The Greenest Home in Ithaca

Tompkins Weekly     4-24-24

By Eric Banford

I recently received an invitation to a party at “The Greenest Home in Ithaca” celebrating some friends disconnecting their NYSEG gas line from their home. This self-proclaimed title of “greenest home” intrigued me, so I checked in with co-owner Todd Saddler about this bold statement.

“Back when we built the house, some friends of ours wrote an article about our home in Fresh Dirt Ithaca Magazine titled ‘The Greenest House in Ithaca.’ Instead of asking analytically if it was true, we just embraced it,” he shared with a laugh. “If it caught your attention then it’s serving its function, which is to get people to think about what we can do.”

Over the past few years, as climate change has become more problematic, Saddler and his partner Laurie Konwinski came up with a five year plan to “get off gas,” which was still being used for backup heat, water and cooking. Last September they were able to achieve “net zero,” which is when a home makes all of its own energy. “We installed a 400 amp electric panel, a demand electric water heater (for backup), heat pumps, a charger for our electric car, and an induction range,” said Saddler. “As of September we haven’t used any natural gas, and this week NYSEG disconnected our hookup.”

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April 13, 2024

Earth Day is Only a Place to Start

Tompkins Weekly      4-10-24

By Aaron Fernando

While traveling years ago, I made friends with perhaps the only person I know who has a negative carbon footprint.

He plants trees for a small stipend. He doesn’t own a vehicle, and when he needs to get around, he borrows a small motorcycle. Mostly, he walks. He has never taken a flight. His family lives in a dwelling made of cloth, scrap metal, and plastic. His home has no electricity, and when he charges his phone, he uses solar power from nearby buildings because the electrical grid has been non-functional for years. He has little education and no meaningful economic opportunities. His name is Krichna, and he is a 26 year-old Haitian.

If we focus on a simple, individualistic metric—the carbon footprint—Krichna is doing amazing. But if we understand the world in all its fullness and empathize with real people, we know that all is not right with this oversimplified understanding of sustainability. If you feel Krichna is not thrilled with his life, you would be correct. He wants to move to the United States, where our carbon footprints are massive. He wants this because the quality of life he experiences with a negative carbon footprint—in the inequitable and unjust world we have arrived at today—is completely untenable.

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