Under the leadership of Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, a coalition of Cortland and Tompkins County nonprofits, colleges, businesses, youth groups, and local governments formed in the fall of 2012 to support ongoing local planning and action on climate mitigation and adaptation. Their first project together was to produce and host a major regional conference on making our communities more climate friendly and climate resilient from April 18-21 in Ithaca and Cortland. Sustainable Tompkins served as the coordinator for the project.

Approximately a thousand people attended the events over the four days of the conference, and judging from the very positive written evaluations and verbal feedback, people were grateful, inspired, impressed, and energized by what they learned and how they experienced the community created by the conference. We hope that we have strengthened their resolve and attuned their focus to address the urgency of climate disruption.

We know our impact goes beyond those attending the conference. A broad and diverse outreach and marketing effort meant that thousands of people in our region were introduced to the reality of climate impacts in our communities. This is a critical step toward creating new expectations and new response plans.

Our coalition is exploring what various members will do next to deepen engagement on climate change in our region. We share a sense of urgency and concern about the unnecessary harm that fossil fuel dependency is causing the web of life on our planet, and we hope that many others will join us in concerted action. For now, we wish to thank once again our generous sponsors and supporting partners, our knowledgeable speakers and moderators, and our team of volunteers that made our events a smooth success.

You can watch videos of the keynote talk by Mark Hertsgaard, the opening plenary with four Cornell scientists, and an important session on insurable risks in a changing climate. In addition, most of the slide presentations and written documents from the conference are available at Sustainable Tompkins Slideshare.