Can we grow our population and economy while maintaining a sense of place and a sense of fairness?

Convene.  Connect.  Catalyze.  That’s been the formula for Sustainable Tompkins since we started 12 years ago.  As we seek greater justice, resiliency, and well being in our community, we have found that the first step is bringing people together to get a full picture of our current challenges so we can design solutions with everyone in mind.  Today we are asking for your support so we can once again help our community address a critical and complex issue.

2016 Earth Day teach-in on housingLately, we’ve been receiving thanks and acknowledgment from many of the folks who followed our op-ed series or attended our Earth Day teach-in on housing.  It was great to see so many elected officials from the city, town, county, and state join us for a conversation on this complex topic – along with developers, planners, and both urban and rural residents.

Solving our housing shortage in ways that prevent dislocation of modest-income residents, protect the rights of existing neighborhoods, and reduce our fossil-fuel dependency is going to require a great deal of collaboration, analysis, cooperation, and experimentation.

On April 23, we helped our community convene on this issue and begin to connect to each other while also “connecting the dots” to see more of the entirety of the housing problem with its many elements and variables.  After the county’s Housing Needs Assessment comes out in late May, perhaps we can host another stage in this conversation aided by better data.

We’d love to take our work on housing a step further toward catalyzing action, and we are asking for your support to make that happen.  Many of the sustainability shifts in our community of the past decade got their start in conversations hosted by Sustainable Tompkins, and we feel that this housing conversation needs to deepen before it will ripen into appropriate action.

We’ve been posting many stories on housing shortages and gentrification from across the country, along with updates on local development, on our facebook page, and we hope that our supporters will follow this topic on our page and take time to learn more about the forces influencing our local situation and how these parallel what is unfolding in other cities across the nation.

Progressives are often criticized for not being pragmatic about finding solutions to the problems they protest.  But elites are criticized for often solving problems to their benefit and overlooking the interests of everyone affected.  From the beginning, our objective for this housing conversation has been to create a space for mutual learning and respect for the concerns of all parties – even if over time each of us has to accept adjustments to our perspectives as we gain a better understanding of how to meet our housing needs in a way that is fair, inclusive, and sustainable.

Sustainable Tompkins is willing to step up and host additional focused conversations on our housing system and explore ways to prevent the kind of displacement, lost identity, and overburdened infrastructure that so often accompanies accelerated growth.  But we can’t step forward unless our supporters step up!  We invite you to make a donation today and we will put it toward our work to convene and connect, and – hopefully – catalyze solutions that equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development.

As always, we thank you for your support!