ST Events

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Applications Due October 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/winter 2020 round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants.

The Sustainable Tompkins Neighborhood Mini-Grant program supports initiatives improving environmental sustainability, equity, and environmental, economic, and social justice in Tompkins County. Since it began in 2008, it has awarded more than $74,000 in 191 grants to innovative grassroots projects throughout the county,

Grants are $150-$750 and support initiatives promoting 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 biannually 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 localf 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 founding of the Freeville Farmers Market, establishment of the Finger Lakes Toy Library as a lending collection of environmentally-friendly toys, distribution of the Paleontological Research Institution’s Teacher-Friendly™ Guide to Climate Change to all public high school science teachers in Tompkins County, and creation 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 must be received on or before October 1, 2020. To request an application form, or if you have questions, please call (607) 272-1720 or email sasha@sustainabletompkins.org.

Neighborhood Mini-Grants Support Indigo Dye Workshop and Native Tree Planting

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 summer 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.

We More Than Doubled our Goal for the Climate Fund!

Thank you to the 54 donors who helped us race past our goal of raising $2500 for the Finger Lakes Climate Fund in May in our ‘Climate Justice in the Time of Corona” campaign! Besides the $4,121 we raised on GiveGab, two other donors sent us $1,679 via our Climate Fund website, and checks totaling $1,000 came in for a grand total of $6,800!! We are all just delighted to be able to refill the Fund, and this will probably be enough to do 3-4 more projects in the homes of lower-income residents. THANKS to all of you bringing heat pumps and clean energy to everyone in our community!

Join Us at the Debate!

We are co-sponsoring the Assembly District 125 Environmental Candidate Forum with New York League of Conservation Voters on May 28th at 5:30 pm via Zoom! We’ve got a line-up of questions for them on the most pressing regional sustainability issues. Register today to reserve your spot and receive your Zoom credentials to get into the event: bit.ly/AD125Forum

We’re Doing SO Good! Let’s Not Lose Momentum!

Just as we were entering the covid-19 shutdown, our Finger Lakes Climate Fund had reached a wonderful goal: our 50th local carbon offset grant – this time to a family in Trumansburg. With this award – thanks to all of our offsetters! – we have collectively kept 4,300 tons of CO2 from our atmosphere by helping local families with more than $80,000 in Climate Fund grants to help make their homes more energy efficient and ready to run on renewable energy.
 
Recently we signed 3 more checks for almost $12,000 that will help single mothers in Newfield, Hector, and Groton convert from polluting fuel oil, firewood, and propane to clean and efficient heat pumps – lowering their energy bills and improving the health of asthmatic family members.
 
Of course, we are all on PAUSE right now. Our friends at Snug Planet and Halco won’t be able to do these projects and others in our pipeline until they are allowed to work again in people’s homes. But we wanted to reach out and share some of the stories of the people you’ve helped by taking responsibility for your carbon emissions and offsetting with our Climate Fund. (Thanks again offsetters!)
 
Through our partnership with HeatSmart Tompkins and NYSERDA, we’ve been able to combine additional incentives for heat pumps for lower-income households with our Climate Fund grants. Since we started last fall, we’ve given away $38,633 from our Climate Fund plus $43,000 from our special heat pump fund to 24 households in 5 counties. 
 

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Earth Day 2020: Connection, Solidarity, & Action

A local team is organizing an online Earth Day celebration, to be held on Wednesday, April 22, beginning at 2:00 PM. As a series of short performances and presentations by artists and non-profit organizations, it will be an opportunity to deepen our connection with others, share information on all the activities going on, reinforce the feelings and actions of solidarity that have arisen from the COVID-19 response, and make connections to others who might help. All parties interested in presenting at this event must fill out the online presenter interest form no later than Monday, April 13. If you have questions, please contact Karim Beers at kwb6@cornell.edu.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Applications Due April 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 spring/summer round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants.

The Sustainable Tompkins Neighborhood Mini-Grant program supports initiatives improving environmental sustainability, equity, and environmental, economic, and social justice in Tompkins County. Since it began in 2008, it has awarded more than $73,000 in 188 grants to innovative grassroots projects throughout the county,

Grants are $150-$750 and support initiatives promoting sustainable food systems, alternative transportation, waste reduction/reuse, energy conservation/fossil fuel use reduction, and environmental education, and addressing social and economic inequality.

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New Video Tells Story of the Climate Fund

Climate Protection on the Home Front tells the story of how our Finger Lakes Climate Fund works from the point of view of some of our carbon offsetters, grant awardees, and our partners at Snug Planet. Many thanks to Eric Banford for the music, and Fred Bertram, Lucienne Cruvallier, and David Way for the photos. Thanks to Bill Hecht for the drone video, and to David Way for making the video and editing all the pieces together. Check out our other Climate Fund videos on our YouTube channel!

Sustainable Finger Lakes platform launched

photo by Bill Hecht

In November, Sustainable Tompkins went live with our new Sustainable Finger Lakes web platform with its Map of over 700 sustainability-minded organizations. The platform will be a shared resource for activists, innovators, and entrepreneurs to find each other, discover resources in nearby communities, and organize more effectively around issues of community development. This will be a place to share your news and upcoming events, send out Calls for Action on diverse issues, and celebrate each other’s contributions to a better future. You can also post your events on our shared Calendar so that it will be easier to coordinate the timing of local events.

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Heat Pumps for All!

New Incentives Bring Clean Energy to Local Families

For a long time, there’s been a presumption that getting off fossil fuels was something only the wealthy could accomplish. But that is changing and there are growing opportunities for lower-income residents to lead the way by making their homes zero carbon via air-source heat pump heating systems and signing up for solar electricity.

The mission of the Finger Lakes Climate Fund (FLCF) run by Sustainable Tompkins is to make sure that nobody is left behind in the transition to a clean energy economy. And one of the best ways to do that is to lower the cost barriers for access to high efficiency equipment that can be run on renewable energy. The Climate Fund has been doing that since 2010 by giving grants to those who need help making energy improvements.

Wailin Phyo of Snug Planet installs a heat pump

Together, donors to the Climate Fund have funded 32 awards worth more than $53,000 that will prevent almost 2500 tons of CO2 from entering our atmosphere. Of course, the benefits to the grant recipients are multiple – safer, healthier, more comfortable homes with lower energy bills.  Not to mention the green jobs that are supported locally by making the projects possible.

During 2019-2021, Sustainable Tompkins will be partnering with HeatSmart Tompkins and NYSERDA to bring the positive benefits of heat pump technology to low-to-moderate income (LMI) families throughout our community. Over the past 3 years, the ultra-high efficiency of heat pump technology has been funded in over 70% of the Climate Fund grants awarded. But the upfront price of this technology still remains out of reach for many. A two-year grant from NYSERDA will provide funds to combine additional incentives for heat pumps with carbon offset grants to bring down the price and help dozens more families make their home energy clean, green, and affordable.

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