A New Year, A New Signs of Sustainability Series

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Tompkins Weekly 04/01/2013

By Jessica Santos

Each January brings us a fresh start, a clean slate, and a new Signs of Sustainability series.  For Sustainable Tompkins, that means that we will begin collecting citations for businesses, organizations, governments, and individuals who are doing sustainable actions in our community.  This will be the program’s seventh year; incidentally, we break our record for total awardees every year, with last year’s total arriving at over 300 recipients.

It seems like we aren’t the only one breaking personal records, though.  There are several notable businesses and organizations that are celebrating milestones.  The Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) is marking its 100th year as an organization.  CCE originally started working with farming and has since grown to include many other environmental and community endeavors.  Holt Architects, a local award-winning firm specializing in providing socially and environmentally responsible architecture, has begun its 50th year anniversary. The nation’s oldest wine trail, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with deals and festivities. The famous Great Downtown Ithaca Chili Cook-Off entered its 15th year, while SewGreen marked its 5th year as an organization.

But not all milestones come from age.  For example, the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit reported another record-breaking year in 2012; bus ridership in Tompkins County increased 4.7% last year, making this the sixth consecutive year that the TCAT set a new record for its total number of passengers.

Gimme! Coffee has received the prestigious “Macro Roaster of the Year” award by Roast Magazine, which is one of the highest awards in the specialty coffee industry.  Fun fact: Gimme! has started selling a “Fractivist Blend” of coffee. When a bag of this coffee is sold, $2 will be donated to Toxics Targeting, an Ithaca company known for its anti-fracking efforts.

Also on the anti-fracking front, Sandra Steingraber was Treehugger.com’s 2012 Person of the Year. It’s impossible to speak (or write) highly enough of Steingraber’s work and legacy, but we think that this award helps to give her some of the honor that she deserves for her environmental activism.

There is also a lot going on in the farm and agriculture front.  B & Y Farms in Spencer and High Point Farms in Trumansburg have both received Animal Welfare Approved certification, which holds farms to the highest animal welfare standards in the United States.

Groundswell Center teamed up with CCE-Tompkins and Alternatives Federal Credit Union to offer a winter Farm Business Planning Course for beginning farmers. Groundswell has done a lot of work for agriculture: they have recently reported that they have trained almost 250 aspiring farmers in their programs since 2010.

Of course, there are many, many more Signs of Sustainability in the community – unfortunately, I would need more than triple the space of this column to write about them all.  If you’re curious for more, keep in touch with Sustainable Tompkins: we’ll be reporting the final awardees at the end of the year.

If you know of any local person, business, organization, or government who is doing something sustainable for our community, let us know by shooting an email to Marian Brown at sos@sustainabletompkins.com! Your help will ensure that we recognize everyone who makes our already great community even better.

Keep up the great work, everyone!

Jessica Santos is the social media intern at Sustainable Tompkins.

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