Ithaca Mayoral Candidates Speak Up On Sustainability

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Tompkins Weekly 8/29/11
by Abbie Webb

Do you feel that the City’s decision making balances human, environmental, and economic needs adequately?  If not, how would you change city operations to achieve this triple bottom line?

On Monday August 8th, over one hundred fifty people gathered downtown to hear the City of Ithaca’s Mayoral Candidates respond to these questions and others, focused on the long-term social, environmental, and economic sustainability of the City.

The theme of the evening was the “Triple Bottom Line” which is an understanding that true sustainability can only occur when we achieve social, environmental, and economic success. In other words, we can’t focus on any single one of these areas. We need a balanced focus on “people, planet, and profit” to build a truly thriving and resilient regional economy.

The forum was hosted by the Sustainable Enterprise & Entrepreneur Network (The SEEN), which is a growing community of businesses, organizations, and individuals working together to integrate Triple Bottom Line principles into their businesses and into our region’s economy.

“Ithaca is my hometown and I care about its future,” commented charter SEEN Member, Joel Rabinowitz of Greensprings Natural Cemetery. “This forum was a great way to hear the candidates talk about the variety of sustainability issues that affect the City of Ithaca.”

Ithaca resident, Ian Schachner enjoyed the opportunity to hear “how our new mayor is going to help meet our needs for responsible development, a living wage, and environmental safety, especially in these times when there is more economic pressure than ever to ignore all of these issues.”

Members of The SEEN created the event so candidates could describe how they would position the City of Ithaca to thrive in the emerging green economy. All seven candidates were invited, and six attended.

“The candidates talked about what they thought were the most promising green steps for the City and how these fit into their platforms,” observed Jennifer Dotson of Ithaca Carshare. “The SEEN’s hosting of the event was both homey and professional, and the great attendance really underscored the community’s commitment to the triple bottom line and beyond.” Ithaca Carshare is a charter member of The SEEN.

The SEEN had many partners in making the evening’s forum a success. The Women’s Community Building provided the perfect venue for the event. Fruit & Roots Juice and Feel Good Foods prepared delicious food and drinks; Friends of Stewart Park hosted a water station; and La Tourelle Resort & Spa donated two generous door prizes.

This November the City of Ithaca will elect a new mayor, and SEEN Members are proud to know that they have, at the very least, introduced a new phrase to the candidates’ vocabulary and broadened their understanding of sustainability. 

“As a result of this forum, all the mayoral candidates understand what ‘Triple Bottom Line’ means and have a clear vision for how to incorporate this philosophy into city government,” remarked Dominic Frongillo of CCE Tompkins, a new member of the SEEN. 

“I am very impressed with the candidates,” said Bob Rossi, who moderated the panel. “They are demonstrating that the future of Ithaca is something worth fighting for.  Regardless of the outcome of this race, individually and collectively they have already made and will no doubt continue to make a positive impact on Ithaca.”

The SEEN hosts monthly events, which are open to the public and focused on sustainability. The next event will be on September 12th at La Tourelle Resort and Spa. To learn more about the SEEN or this upcoming event, visit There you can also find photos and a full video of the forum.

Abbie Webb serves on the Board of the Green Resource Hub and is a charter member of The SEEN.

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