Even in the COVID-19 pandemic, Tompkins County residents are growing initiatives to build resilience, environmental stewardship, community, and social justice. In April 2020, two Neighborhood Mini-Grants totaling $1,000 were awarded to Luna Fiber Studio and Trees Up Tompkins.

Luna Fiber Studio is hosting De-colonizing Dyes, an indigo seed-to-fiber workshop with underserved teenagers in the Youth Farm Project’s┬ásummer program. Participants are growing indigo plants at the Youth Farm Project farm (pictured at left; photo provided by Sarah Gotowka), in preparation for a day-long workshop in late August, where they will learn to harvest the leaves, make dyes, and dye handkerchiefs and bandanas. The workshop will cover the inequalities and environmental impacts of the global textile industry, along with personal actions to reduce or improve them. A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will cover the costs of dye preparation materials, fabrics, and workshop handouts.

Trees Up Tompkins formed in Spring 2019 during a Project Drawdown workshop series, and is devoted to planting native trees at sites in Tompkins County for carbon sequestration and community education in environmental stewardship. The group will replace invasive privet with native trees at Lighthouse Point, an area between Fall Creek and the Cayuga Inlet at the south end of Cayuga Lake, in collaboration with the Cayuga Bird Club, in September 2020. A Mini-Grant award will support the purchase of trees and supplies for this planting event.

The Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program provides seed money to diverse initiatives to build environmental, economic, and social resilience and well-being in Tompkins County. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Craig Riecke, Natural Investments, Fingerlakes Wealth Management, and local donors.