By Gay Nicholson and Marian Brown, Tompkins Weekly

This is the latest installment in our Signs of Sustainability series. On Dec. 7, at its annual holiday party, the board of directors of Sustainable Tompkins recognized some of our region’s brightest “Signs of Sustainability” for 2007. For anyone not included on this list, please understand that we know full-well that this list is not all-inclusive. For2008, we will work to establish an open community nomination process with evaluation criteria. Meantime, these new sustainability-related organizations drew our attention this year:

Connect Ithaca, represented by Jake Roberts, Rob Morache, Joan Bokaer, Elizabeth Harrod, Frost Travis and Elan Shapiro. This group formed this summer to promote sustainable forms of development, alternative transportation, and transit oriented development. Connect Ithaca is actively working to bring Personal Rapid Transit to Ithaca in the very near future.

SewGreen, is the brainchild of Wendy Skinner. This new collective, which grew out of the successful ReImagine Style eco-fashion contest, is helping people learn how to express their creativity without burdening the planet. SewGreen is helping people learn new skills that will be important in a local economy.

Race Liberation Alliance, represented by Liz Field, Liz Karabinakis, Jhakeem Houltom and CalebThomas. This small but effective group has teamed up to help forge the connections between justice and sustainability and to bridge the unnecessary gaps between races in our community. In 2007 they organized a Summertime Block Party at the Greater Ithaca Activity Center (GIAC) with the theme of Justice and Sustainability.

Whole Community Project of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, represented by Shira Adriance and Judy Hoffman. Systems thinking is critical to finding our path to greater sustainability, and the good folks at CCE are making critical contributions to helping us solve complex problems at the systems level. The Whole Community Project hopes to help address the issue of childhood obesity, by linking up and supporting all the many people and programs that interact to influence the food habits and physical activity levels of young people.

Compos Mentis, represented by Shannon Haskins. This new organization opened its doors last spring near the Cayuga Nature Center, making the connection between supporting good mental health by helping people connect to nature and to the rhythms and responsibilities of gardening and caring for animals.

Ithaca South Hill Industrial Pollution (Ithaca-SHIP), representedby Regina and Ken Deschere. This citizens’ group organized to share information about the toxic contamination in the South Hill neighborhoods from TCE used in industrial processes in nearby manufacturing plants.

Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future, represented by FrankDiSalvo and Dan Roth. Cornell is taking a variety of steps to become more sustainable, and to help provide leadership locally, nationally and across the globe.

Shopping Bag Action Group (SBAG), represented by Tom Shelley. SBAG is another new citizens group that is educating and advocating on a particular topic — in this case the use of plastic shopping bags — but using that particular consumption issue to raise consciousness about our patterns of living.

Climate Change Action Group, represented by Sigrid Kulkowitz, Sylvester Johnson, Jeanne Fudala and Margaret McCasland. Last winter this group was spurred into action by Kulkowitz because of her concern over the oncoming impacts of global warming. They have been busy with educational efforts: library exhibits, tabling at events, and making presentations at venues across the region.

Teachers for a Sustainable Future, represented by Dan Flerlage and Tina Nilsen-Hodges. This group, which grew out of a study circle process of Sustainable Tompkins, helps develop curricula that teach other faculty, students and their families about living and working more sustainably.

Cayuga Sustainability Council, represented by Gay Nicholson, Dale Bryner, Jon Bosak, and BethanySchroeder. At a June meeting for the local sustainability movement organized by Sustainable Tompkins, ST was asked to help the movement stay connected. These four individuals worked to set up the first quarterly meeting of the Cayuga Sustainability Council, which will provide a venue for briefing other groups on current programming, and may also evolve to working with systems thinking tools to get the most impact from our work together.
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