Signs of Sustainability” Continue To Emerge

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Tompkins Weekly– July 30, 2012

by Marian Brown

Sustainable Tompkins continues to keep its eyes peeled for additional “Signs of Sustainability” emerging throughout our region: new sustainable enterprises, new sustainability-related organizations, and new sustainability activities by existing organizations or business. During the second quarter of 2012, we have discovered dozens more new examples of sustainable thinking and practice that enhance regional sustainable development. While space does not permit us to list the newest signs we spotted, we offer a taste of just a few of them. Plan to join us in December for our annual party to celebrate our years-worth of “Signs of Sustainability”, but this glimpse into what members of our community have already done may serve to spur some thinking about what might be possible for you.

We continue to enjoy sustainability leadership from our area higher education institutions. Tompkins Cortland Community College hosted the “Bioenergy Opportunities in Upstate New York” conference, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ithaca College’s Project LookSharp announced its latest free curricular kit on “Media Construction of Sustainability: Food, Water and Agriculture” for use in middle school through college level courses. The kit includes lesson plans, student handouts, student readings, ready-made powerpoints and digital media clips. Cornell University’s Beyer Sustainable Design series presented “People, Planet and Performance: A Conversation with Rick Fedrizzi”, the CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, the organization that developed the LEED (Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design) system.

As part of Governor Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities program, NYSERDA has funded a new sustainability planning effort for this eight-county region, titled the Cleaner Greener Southern Tier program, focused on identifying regional sustainability goals and priorities. Tompkins County Planning Department is leading this intensive, eight-month effort in partnership with the Southern Tier Center and Southern Tier East Regional Planning and Development boards.  Cayuga Medical Center has gone completely tobacco-free as has The Shops at Ithaca Mall.

The Stone Soup Supper Club is a community-supported kitchen dedicated to using local and organic ingredients to create delicious soup that is delivered to customers’ doors every week. The new Lot 10 Kitchen offers New American cuisine in tapas-style dining, making significant use of in-season local produce.

New solar company, Green Sun Solar N.R.G.S., extends its renewable energy services to residential, commercial, governmental, and non-profits clients to reduce energy use and help customers save money. The Cayuga LION (Local Investing Opportunity Network) is creating opportunities for people looking to invest in local start-ups or business expansions to learn about area entrepreneurs.

The new community garden at Wood’s Earth offers gardeners unique benefits such as drip irrigation, deer fencing, loaner tools, a greenhouse, free education, and a children’s garden. As part of a series of educational classes, Bakers Acres in Lansing hosted a class titled “Growing Organic and Using Beneficial Insects.” The course taught participants how to use insects instead of chemicals to manage pests. Baker’s Acres is also partnering with Gro-O, a local company providing small fruit and vegetable garden planters.

Nathan Shinagawa’s campaign for U.S. Congress has pledged to offset all of campaign travel using the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, the first such commitment from a political campaign. In honor of Earth Day, Singlebrook Technology used the Finger Lakes Climate Fund’s “Carbon Offset Calculator” to purchase carbon offsets for their staff, covering the CO2 emissions of their staff commutes and flights for the entire month of April.

Did we see your “Sign of Sustainability”? Make sure we know about your efforts throughout the year by emailing us at Keep up the great, sustainable work all year long!

Marian Brown is a member of the Board of Directors of Sustainable Tompkins and leads the way on the Signs of Sustainability program.

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