SEEN Event to Explore Community in an Equitable Economy

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Tompkins Weekly 12/5/11

by Danielle Klock

During tough times in America, rugged individualism has been a common response. The term was coined by Herbert Hoover to inspire self-sufficiency after deep government involvement during and after World War I. After World War II, rugged individualism re-emerged in the form of individual buying power and suburban consumer-driven optimism. The middle class got their “chicken in every pot” and “car in every backyard,” and has expected it ever since.

But what about those who never got it? Despite great advancement in civil rights, the finish line is still in the distance. How do we merge the predominant privileged history with that of the economically marginalized to create a shared economically equitable future?

On Thursday, December 8, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., the Sustainable Enterprise & Entrepreneur Network (The SEEN) will bring together representatives from Get Your GreenBack Tompkins, eLab, and Building Bridges at La Tourelle for a panel presentation to share the power of community and address the issues that haven’t been solved by individualism — rugged or refined.

These initiatives are dismantling barriers, forming coalitions and reaching out to community members and organizations to make economic success possible for all within a sustainable environment.

Get Your GreenBack Tompkins will be presented by Sarah Reistetter and Jeff Bercuvitz. Reistetter is a human capital development and business sustainability consultant and the diversity and inclusion projects coordinator at the Multicultural Resource Center. Bercuvitz is the renowned president of SPARKS: The Center for Leadership, Innovation and Community.

Get Your GreenBack is a community-based campaign that brings together some 60 organizations to inspire all 42,000 households and every business in Tompkins County to take meaningful steps to save energy and money in the areas of food, heating and lighting, transportation, and waste. The demonstrate that everyone can put some money back in their pockets while contributing to a sustainable environment.

eLab will be presented by Eldred Harris. Harris is a graduate of Cornell Law School, owns Diaspora Gallery on the Commons, and serves on the Ithaca City School District board of education.

eLab stands for entrepreneurship, leadership and business development, and provides mentoring, coaching and a variety of business development needs for low-income residents and people of color. With Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCE-TC), eLab is currently working to train entrepreneurs to work on residential lightbulb replacements for NYSEG.

Building Bridges will be presented by Dee Gamble and Gay Nicholson. Gamble is a NYSERDA Energy $mart Communities Coordinator at CCE-TC, and Nicholson is president of Sustainable Tompkins and serves on the board of the Green Resource Hub of the Finger Lakes.

Building Bridges identifies equity as the preferred driver of both economic development and ecological sustainability, and prioritizes jobs for low-income people both in the city and in rural towns. Their ultimate goals are eliminating structural poverty and racism, creating a local economy that works for everyone, and protecting the ecosystems that sustain the region.

All are welcome at Thursday’s presentation, which will offer the opportunity to meet new friends and discover how each of us can contribute to and benefit from an equitable economy. Entry is $5 for SEEN members and $10 for non-members. Ithaca Hours are accepted.

The SEEN, an initiative of the Green Resource Hub of the Finger Lakes, is a growing community of businesses, organizations, and individuals working together to achieve ecological, social, and financial success. The SEEN hosts monthly events on topics relating to the triple bottom line principles of people, planet, and profit. For more information about the SEEN or this month’s event, please visit

Danielle Klock is the marketing director for the SEEN, a board member of Local First Ithaca, staff member at the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce and co-owns Think Topography, a software and marketing firm in Ithaca’s West End.

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