Members of Sustainable Tompkins Leading the Way

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Tompkins Weekly July 11, 2011. By Nicole Pion

This December, the board and staff at Sustainable Tompkins began our first membership program in our seven year history. We wanted to give our supporters a space to connect with one another and with our community as a whole. Historically, Sustainable Tompkins has done a lot of work at the systems level, focusing on building the infrastructure and social capacity for more sustainable ways of living and working. And, our membership campaign is certainly about the big picture.

Member benefits offer the ability to connect with cutting-edge ideas and concepts in sustainable living. They include ticket discounts to Sustainable Tompkins’s events and access to Sustainable Tompkins’s lending library. Our lending library offers the popular documentary “The Economics of Happiness” that explores eight ‘inconvenient truths’ of globalization. We offer access to DVDs of keynote speeches at the national Bioneers conferences (so you can hear from leaders like Jane Goodall and Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farms, to name just a few). And, we have a growing selection of relevant works that connect members to the sustainability movement on a local and national level.

Sustainable Tompkins membership also offers a personalized approach to living sustainably in our community. We offer member discounts with Snug Planet, Ithaca Carshare and Home Green Home. And, many of our members are early adopters who have been finding creative and simple ways of reducing their ecological footprints. Our Members on the Home Front profiles offer a more personal and individual view of the choices that our members are making in the name of sustainability. They’re practical approaches to sustainable lifestyles that reflect the personality of our members and our community.

For example, member Dale Brynner of Earth Arts shared her best practice for sustainable living: a simple and powerful habit called “sit spot” that connects people to the outdoor world and themselves.  This practice involves simply going to one natural spot to sit quietly and observe, connect with nature, and perhaps come to a greater appreciation of the natural world.

Member Dick Franke shares his love of gardening at Eco-Village. After writing about gardening and agriculture during his long academic career, he is enjoying the practice of community gardening. And, he reminds us that growing our own food (and eating local foods) can have a substantial impact on reducing our ecological footprints. Even if you’re not able to get out to a garden, member organization Challenge Industries offers the Finger Lakes Fresh program. The program employs individuals with disabilities or other employment barriers with the opportunity to provide our community with delicious, high quality, local vegetables year round. Grown in a zero discharge hydroponic greenhouse, their produce is environmentally and socially responsible.

Going literally to the ‘home front,’ Gay Nicholson, president of Sustainable Tompkins, shares her solar paneled woodshed home energy solution. Peter Bardaglio of TCCPI shares the details of his super energy efficient Greek revival home. Sustainable Tompkins board member Marian Brown shows us how she was able to purchase 100% wind power for her home through NYSEG’s “Catch the Wind” program (it’s a practice you can quickly and easily adopt!).

We know from Facebook, Twitter and an explosion of social media that not only do we like to know what our friends and neighbors are up to, but that they often have good ideas. Take a look at our Members on the Home Front profiles, complete with pictures to illustrate these best practices: Then, join us! Become a member of Sustainable Tompkins and share your best practices. We would love to feature the new and innovative (or the tried and true) practices of our community members.

Nicole Pion is the Director of Operations at Sustainable Tompkins.

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