ST Events

Our ‘Keep It Cool Tompkins’ Team to Present Findings

Last spring we awarded our first Youth Climate Challenge Grant to Tilden Chao and Abigail Glickman for their ‘Keep It Cool Tompkins‘ project to educate local businesses about the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase out high global warming potential refrigerants. This amazing duo is doing upperclass college level work, and our team of climate professionals and teachers are immensely impressed by their vision, intelligence, and initiative.

Tilden and Abigail will be presenting their findings thus far to the monthly Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative next Friday, December 14, at 9 am at the county library.  TCCPI hosts a monthly meeting for local energy professionals and nonprofit groups addressing climate change and the transition to clean energy.  They’ll be sharing their plans for a ‘green chill’ summit for regional businesses later this winter.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Application Deadline December 1

Do you have an idea for a project to make our community more sustainable, resilient, or inclusive? Need a little help in covering the costs? Sustainable Tompkins is accepting applications for our winter round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants. Applications are due December 1.

The Sustainable Tompkins Neighborhood Mini-Grant program provides support for initiatives promoting environmental sustainability, equity, and environmental, economic, and social justice in Tompkins County.

Grants range from $150-$750 and have been awarded to diverse entities for locally-based initiatives sustainable food systems, alternative transportation, waste reduction/reuse, energy conservation/fossil fuel use reduction, and environmental education, and addressing social and economic inequality. Proposals are reviewed quarterly by a team of community members. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Natural Investments, Fingerlakes Wealth Management, Craig Riecke, and local donors.

Individuals, organizations, and neighborhood groups are welcome to apply, as are local microbusinesses seeking to green their operations or extend their products or services to low-income clientele.

Successful initiatives supported by Neighborhood Mini-Grants in recent years include textile-making courses and workshops at Luna Fiber Studio, creation of a pop-up farmers’ market in Freeville, establishment of the Finger Lakes Toy Library as a lending collection of environmentally-friendly toys, and establishment of an Ithaca Murals equipment lending library for artists and community members creating murals that reflect the demographics, values, and stories of Ithaca’s residents.

Applications are due on or before December 1, 2018. To request an application form, or if you have questions, please contact me at sasha@sustainabletompkins.org.

Our 25th Climate Fund grant helps Caroline family

Our 25th Climate Fund grant award went to Brandon and Lyla White and their charming daughter Rosemary. The White Family lives in a 70’s era home in the Town of Caroline. Like so many houses of that time, it was poorly insulated and still had the same really expensive electric baseboard heat of those ‘cheap energy’ times. After they moved in a couple years ago, they got their first shockingly high electric bill and knew they had to make some changes.

Snug Planet helped them come up with a plan to address their biggest energy problems and had them apply to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund for assistance. They put their $1291 grant toward the removal of 52 tons of CO2 by sealing and insulating their attic and the cantilever over the basement floor and toward a new Air Source Heat Pump that is heating AND cooling their home for pennies compared to the high price of the baseboard heating system and an old style window air conditioner. (Listen to them tell their story here.)

Thanks to all of our carbon offsetters for helping the Whites improve their home’s carbon footprint!  We are in our usual ‘Seal the Cracks’ fall campaign where we ask you to think back over the past summer and remember all the travels you took.  Then go to our FingerLakesClimateFund.org and take responsibility for the emissions associated with that travel by making an offset.  It’s quick, easy, and affordable – plus you will get to be part of the community that is helping families like the Whites shrink their carbon footprint while making their household economy so much more resilient.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Supports Recycling by the Family Reading Parnership

Photo provided by the Family Reading Partnership

Sometimes a small investment can have a large impact on an organization or business’s operations, raising efficiency while reducing environmental impacts. The Family Reading Partnership, a Danby-based organization devoted to distributing children’s books throughout Tompkins County, has long taken its recyclables to the Tompkins County Recycling and Solid Waste Center, a 14-mile round trip made by the volunteers who also provide vital program assistance and administrative support. In September 2017, the Family Reading Partnership received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to purchase two heavy-duty lidded recycling bins in which large volumes of material — primarily cardboard from shipments of books – could be securely left outdoors for curbside pickup.

This has reduced the organization’s carbon footprint and freed its volunteers to focus their time on its programs, facilitating more book distribution. A strengthened commitment to recycling has inspired successful efforts to reduce the amount of recyclable waste produced.

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.

Neighborhood Mini-Grants Support Storytelling and Gardening Gatherings

From addressing large-scale social justice issues to helping individuals grow their own food, organizations can bring people together to build more connected, resilient communities in many ways. In September 2018, two Neighborhood Mini-Grants totaling $600 were awarded to Civic Ensemble and the Floral Avenue Community Garden.

Civic Ensemble, an Ithaca-based theatre company devoted to exploring and addressing social, cultural, and political issues, has long used public story circles to develop its plays and programs while strengthening local communities. But its new story circle series Community Soup: Storytelling Toward the Beloved Community focuses on connecting people of all demographics, giving space for all voices and empowering the public to collaborate on working against discrimination and economic inequality. A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will support the first two of these monthly gatherings.

The Floral Avenue Community Garden on Ithaca’s West Hill will host a Community Perennial Planting Workshop in October 2018, where participants will receive education in cultivation and use of food-producing perennial plants, assist in planting the garden with them, and take home seeds and plantings, using a wide variety of herbs, bushes, and trees. A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will pay for the plants, fencing, and event promotion.

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.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Deadline September 1

Do you have an idea for a project to make our community more sustainable, resilient, or inclusive? Need a little help in covering the costs? Sustainable Tompkins is accepting applications for our fall round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants. Applications are due September 1.

The Sustainable Tompkins Neighborhood Mini-Grant program provides support for initiatives promoting environmental sustainability, equity, and environmental, economic, and social justice in Tompkins County.

Grants range from $150-$750 and have been awarded to diverse entities for locally-based initiatives sustainable food systems, alternative transportation, waste reduction/reuse, energy conservation/fossil fuel use reduction, and environmental education, and addressing social and economic inequality. Proposals are reviewed quarterly by a team of community members. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Natural Investments, Fingerlakes Wealth Management, Craig Riecke, and local donors.

Individuals, organizations, and neighborhood groups are welcome to apply, as are local microbusinesses seeking to green their operations or extend their products or services to low-income clientele.

Successful initiatives supported by Neighborhood Mini-Grants in 2016 and 2017 include textile-making courses and workshops at Luna Fiber Studio, creation of a pop-up farmers’ market in Freeville, establishment of the Finger Lakes Toy Library as a lending collection of environmentally-friendly toys, and the 2017 Farm to Plate Conference run by the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming.

Applications are due on or before September 1, 2018. To request an application form, or if you have questions, please contact sasha@sustainabletompkins.org.

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.

Local Teen Cooks for the Climate

Shea Nolan probably had one of the more sustainability focused childhoods in Ithaca. The father of this LACS graduating senior is the owner of Home Green Home on the Ithaca Commons, so Shea’s family was always checking out products for their performance and their ecological footprint. He now has the chance to share some of his homegrown expertise after winning the second grant award from Sustainable Tompkins’ Youth Climate Challenge program.

Shea’s project is to develop a curriculum packet to teach 4th and 5th graders how to use a solar oven to cook delicious meals while imparting the basic science behind their use. The $637 grant from Sustainable Tompkins will be used to purchase three solar cookers and print and laminate lesson plans. Local schools and nonprofit partners like Cayuga Nature Center will be able to sign up to use the ovens and curriculum materials.

Shea will get some help with the curriculum design from his mother Michele, the Principal of Alternative Education at TST BOCES and retired LACS biology teacher Dan Flerlage (a member of the Sustainable Tompkins grant team).  Shea will be testing out the new curriculum on Belle Sherman summer school students this year.  He’s not sure yet which of his favorite solar oven recipes they’ll make together, but roast chicken or cookies reportedly turn out great.

Earlier this year, Sustainable Tompkins announced a Youth Climate Challenge open to middle and high school students in Tompkins County who can apply for small grants up to $1,000 to support projects that reduce CO2 emissions or spread awareness of how climate change will affect the Finger Lakes Region. Read the rest of this entry »

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Helps Dish Truck Reduce Local Dishware Waste

Dish Truck place settings. Photo provided.

The use and disposal of paper and plastic dishware, which is mostly unrecyclable and not accepted by composting facilities in Tompkins County, is a large and persistent cause of resource consumption and garbage production. Dish Truck, a local organization founded in 2014 to address this problem with an alternative, provides and washes durable dishes, cups, and utensils at events throughout the area. In September 2016, Dish Truck received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant to purchase more dishware and thus serve larger events.

In 2017, Dish Truck served 15 events, from small private parties to the Greater Ithaca Activity Center’s Harvest Dinner and the GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance. This prevented thousands of disposable dishes and utensils from being used and discarded instead. Greenhouse gas emissions from its operations will be offset with donations to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, a program of Sustainable Tompkins, to support building renovations and construction that will help local households and businesses use less fossil fuel.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ithaca High Duo Receives First Youth Climate Challenge Grant

The first grant award in the Youth Climate Challenge from Sustainable Tompkins has been made to two Ithaca High School students, Tilden Chao and Abigail Glickman.  The students submitted their Keep It Cool: The Future of Refrigeration proposal in April, and received a grant of $990 to pursue their innovative and unique outreach and education program on containment and reduction of hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs) refrigerants.

HFCs replaced the ozone-destroying CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) refrigerants after the 1987 Montreal Protocol was ratified. This unprecedented global accord has secured the future of our protective ozone layer, but unfortunately the replacement HFCs have a greenhouse gas effect up to 23,000 times that of carbon dioxide. The students plan to develop a website and educational materials on alternative and safe refrigerants and host a summit for local businesses that depend upon refrigeration such as grocery stores, restaurants, and food distributors to learn about the alternatives. A new global accord, the Kigali Amendment, was adopted in 2016 to mandate the phase-out of HFCs starting in 2019. The students hope to help local businesses get a jump on both preventing leakage of HFCs and the transition to less harmful coolants.

“Our grants review team was mightily impressed with the quality of their proposal,” said Gay Nicholson of Sustainable Tompkins, “and we will be working actively with the students to help our business community lead the way in phasing out HFCs.”  Read the rest of this entry »