The Future of Refrigeration is Green

Congratulations to Tilden Chao and Abigail Glickman of Keep it Cool Tompkins! for their well attended summit on green refrigeration on May 23. Our Youth Climate Challenge awardees surpassed all expectations with their educational campaign. We are all in their debt for bringing greater awareness to this key part of the climate puzzle.

Their panel of speakers did a great job covering from the basics to the alarming predictions if we don’t get it together to cool our food and our buildings and our cars without exacerbating climate change and ozone depletion. A video of the presentations will be available shortly.

Ted Gartland [E. Gartland & Associates, LLC, HillPhoenix, GreenChill], Professor Jeff Tester [Cornell University Engineering], and Terry Carroll [Cornell Cooperative Extension] presented to an audience of about 40 climate activists, municipal reps, and businesses.

Neighborhood Mini-Grants Support Bicycle Access and Garden Creation

As initiatives arise and expand to address overlooked issues for underserved populations, Sustainable Tompkins helps them meet the needs of all they serve. In June 2018, two Neighborhood Mini-Grants totaling $600 were awarded to Recycle Ithaca’s Bicycles (RIBs) and REACH Medical.

Recycle Ithaca’s Bicycles, a program of the Southside Community Center, offers bicycle-repair training to people who may take home the donated bicycles they repair. A Mini-Grant will pay for locks and lights to be provided free of charge along with the bicycles, making this mode of transportation safer and more secure for all participants, regardless of income.

REACH Medical, which opened in 2018, is Ithaca’s first medical practice to specialize in providing stigma-free treatment of addiction to opioids and other drugs. An onsite fruit and vegetable garden, tended by staff and patients, was created to provide community-building and food as well. A Mini-Grant will fund the purchase of materials to expand this garden.

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. We need your support so we can help more citizen leaders act on their values. Please donate today and help us support more wonderful citizen-driven projects to improve life in our community.

Call for Earth Day Artists and Exhibitors 

Sustainable Tompkins will be celebrating Earth Day this year on Sunday, April 22nd from Noon-6pm at the Space @ Greenstar, 700 W Buffalo St. in Ithaca.  The theme this year will be how the arts help us frame, express, and shape our concerns about climate change and the transition to more sustainable ways of human social and economic activity. Registration for exhibitors and performers at the 2018 Earth Day Ithaca event is now open.

Cathleen Banford writes “Artists are among the disciplined observers of our world. Artists see stories, perspectives, context, emotion, reaction, impacts, and subtle truths all around us. The art we create has the power to bring deeper understanding, hope, and direction to the lives of countless others.”

Do you have a song to share? A poem, a dance, a skit, a painting? Do you want to share what your organization is doing on behalf of a healthy planet? Exhibitors are welcome to table indoors from 12-3 while hands-on activities for families will be offered. The exhibitor fee to offset insurance and other costs is $25 for nonprofit groups. Registration fees for businesses and government entities are $45. (Reduced fees are available for those in need.) From 3-5, we’ll pause for performances by local artists and the annual Signs of Sustainability Awards (be sure to nominate your favorites at  

For more information or a registration form, please contact Joey by April 10 at or call (607) 644-5525. All are welcome.  Thanks to Beck Equipment for sponsoring our event!

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Supports New Freeville Farmers’ Market

As Tompkins County’s local food scene continues to grow, an expanding variety of venues are making it more accessible to buyers and sellers alike.

After encountering a “pop-up” farmers’ market in Hawaii, Lea Elleseff grew interested in starting one in the parking lot of the Freeville Firehouse where she lives. Unlike other farmers’ markets, pop-ups allow vendors to choose when to attend and how large or small a quantity of products to sell, barter, or give away. This opens them up to gardeners and other very small-scale producers.

But creating the market would require a certified produce scale, along with a few pop-up tents, tables, and chairs for vendors unable to provide their own. In March 2015, Sustainable Tompkins awarded Lea a Neighborhood Mini-Grant for buying this equipment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Housing is Key to Sustainability

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.  Read the rest of this entry »

Tompkins County Legislature Hears Comments on Local Climate Action

TC Legislature 12-15-15

(Fossil Free Tompkins organized a rally and speak-out to the Tompkins County Legislature on December 15 to encourage them to act boldly and quickly to eliminate fossil fuel consumption in our county.  More than 60 attended and 30+ provided comments.  Below are remarks by Sustainable Tompkins President Gay Nicholson.)

The Paris climate talks have concluded, and although we can celebrate this initial acknowledgment to stay below 2 C of warming and to at least measure and report emissions, we all know that much more needed to be accomplished at this point in the climate transition.

The next five years will be critical for global climate systems. The next two years of this legislative term must be used to start really digging into the detailed work of emission reductions. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Seal the Cracks’ Campaign Success!

Seal the Cracks Campaign BadgeWe have good news to share – we have surpassed our goals for the Seal the Cracks campaign! Thanks to the inspiring leadership of 93 local businesses, nonprofits, campus groups, and residents, we have raised $12,214 and offset 611 tons of greenhouse gas as of Election Day.   In addition to these contributions, we were also supported by over $2,000 of donated services and goods from a dozen area businesses and nonprofits. Thanks to all the media support and our events, hundreds of county residents have learned about our local carbon offset program and all the good it does in our community.

Thank you all!!

We’ve already notified area contractors that we have grants available from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund. And our little campaign team has met to identify next steps to keep building support and movement toward our goal of having carbon offsetting as much a part of our local lifestyle as recycling.

Special thanks to Ellen Harrison for chairing our campaign committee and to Anna Odell for being our exceptionally able project assistant. We’re so grateful for your energy, leadership, and dedication!

Ithaca Premiere of ‘This Changes Everything’ will be Capstone for ‘Seal the Cracks’ Campaign

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What if confronting the climate crisis is the best chance we’ll get to build a better world?

Sustainable Tompkins is partnering with Cinemapolis to support the October 24-30 Seal the Cracks campaign of the Finger Lakes Climate Fund by hosting the Ithaca premiere of This Changes Everything by Avi Lewis, based on Naomi Klein’s 2014 best-selling book of the same name.

Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change.

Seating is limited for the one-time screening of this film that explores how we must change our world to deal with the climate crisis.  We suggest you buy your tickets in advance HERE.

We also urge you to put the finishing touches on your carbon diet by offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from your air and auto travel and building energy use through the Finger Lakes Climate Fund.   Read the rest of this entry »

How Would You Spend a Carbon Tax? Join us at Science Cabaret!

Tuesday, October 27, 7:00 pm, SCIENCE CABARET, Coltivare

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WHAT IF NEW YORK PASSED A CARBON TAX?  Community Leaders Role Play the Future

MC:  Mark Sarvary

Host: Gay Nicholson, Sustainable Tompkins and the Seal the Cracks campaign

Premise:  NYS has passed a carbon tax after much debate.  It is one of the most aggressive and visionary in North America.  Each county will receive from the State a share of the collected tax after 60% of the tax is redistributed to low and moderate-income households to compensate them for higher fossil carbon energy prices.

In a stunning political compromise, the Cuomo administration agreed to forego collecting any of the carbon tax for use at the state level.  All of the 40% remaining refunds is to go to the counties to be used locally to both meet the State climate goal of 80% emission reductions by 2050 and to pay for any adaptation response needed by local communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Local Carbon Offset Week starts October 24!

Saturday, October 24th 12:00 – 5:00 pm, OKTOBERFEST, The Commons

Seal the Cracks Logo 3 flaviconHave YOU Got the Energy?
Join us at the Seal the Cracks booth at Oktoberfest. While sampling our local breweries, take part in our energy bike competition and scavenger hunt in Ithaca’s downtown!

We will be giving away fantastic local prizes and accepting pledges and offsets. Join us on the Commons from noon to 5 pm!