People who care about democracy, local rights, and healthy communities have reason to be concerned about the recent election results. The rapid expansion of shale gas and oil infrastructure across the country will face even fewer obstacles.  Utilities are making a grab for retaining control of the energy system, even as it becomes more distributed. The bill for climate damage is locked in now, and growing. It’s daunting, for sure.

But people are fighting back. They are organizing, learning the ropes, and getting involved. Some are getting arrested, and some are still trying to figure out the playing field. The point is that they are present and accounted for at this moment in history. And they are not alone. They are doing this with others. And that makes all the difference.

Sustainable Tompkins has been helping to organize “communergy circles” by supporting residents willing to act as host and facilitator for a series of conversations about local and state energy and climate issues. Several are underway now, and we are looking for more folks ready to step up and get involved. The process is very open-ended and each group will be different as its members decide for themselves what part of the climate/energy system to work on.

One circle has decided to focus on getting NY to pass the community-owned renewables bill, and for Tompkins County to play a lead role in developing microgrids of locally-owned and controlled renewable energy systems.  Another is exploring how to get their neighborhood enrolled in home energy efficiency and solar energy programs.  ST provides support with briefings on what is going on locally in the energy and climate arena, and resource materials to share with circle members.

Are you ready to step up and get engaged? Is there something you want to work on, or just to think about and explore with others? If so, please get in touch with Gay Nicholson ( to explore your interest and meet with other circle leaders. This is no time to be on the sidelines.