ST Events

Giving is Gorges 2021 – A Success!

Graphic with stats from 2021 Giving is Gorges campaign

Thank you for $8,310 from 84 donors!

Thanks to our amazing fundraisers and all of their outreach, we were able to raise $8,310 across 84 donors! That’s equivalent to over 3 full Climate Fund grants and is a HUGE help in keeping all of our programs running. We’re especially grateful for all of you who pushed us past our 2020 totals and earned us the “Greatest Leap” prizes: $250 for the organization that had the biggest increase in donations from the previous year.

Make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up-to-date on what we’re doing and the big things we have coming up for the Finger Lakes sustainability scene. We appreciate your participation on ALL fronts!






Give on June 23 For a Chance to Win an Upcycled Lamp

Giving is Gorges is TWO DAYS away! Even though early giving has already started, this year’s main event on June 23rd has something special in store for all Sustainable Tompkins supporters.

Our dear friend Jon Jensen has kindly donated a one-of-a-kind, fully functional upcycled lamp that will be raffled off to ANYONE who donates between 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on the 23rd.

Share our fundraiser ( on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and get an extra entry per platform!

The lamp up for grabs is this wholly unique “Escape Of The 20 Foot Barbie” piece, standing at 23” tall (only 20 feet tall in the Barbie universe). A perfect and useful talking piece, sure to impress dinner guests and children alike.

Donate here on the 23rd for your chance to win!

Giving is Gorges: A Vital Day for Grassroots Organizations

Giving is Gorges 2021 is underway! Even though the main event is June 23, early giving is open now. And the organization with the most raised funds before the 23rd will get an extra $250 from the Giving is Gorges sponsors.

This event is especially crucial to Sustainable Tompkins, as we have always been a grassroots initiative. Our mission is to uplift our community and make life in the Finger Lakes (and beyond!) better for everyone.

For large-scale regional change to continue happening, we need your support so we can continue to train the next generation of climate justice leaders and grow the infrastructure that will facilitate widespread action. Much of our work is often “behind the scenes” and not always easy to convey to the public, but our prolonged Neighborhood Mini-Grant and Finger Lakes Climate Fund programs have visibly enriched the community for over a decade.

New York State and the City of Ithaca have ambitious climate goals that rely on local-level organizations like Sustainable Tompkins to meaningfully enact. Will you join us in holding our officials accountable and engaging our neighbors in the fight?

Yes, I will give today

Neighborhood Mini-Grants Build Local Resilience

Indigo workshop 2020. Photo provided.

As restrictions on activities ease in Tompkins County, many groups and individuals are starting new initiatives to build the area’s long-term resilience and equity. In April 2021, Sustainable Tompkins awarded $3,850 to nine Neighborhood Mini-Grants supporting new shared gardens, bicycling infrastructure and education, mutual aid food sharing, community-building, and other projects.  

Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga will start a permanent program of instruction in machine sewing at A Place to Stay, their transitional supportive residence for homeless and recovering women in Ithaca, with machines and lessons provided by SewGreen. A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will pay for tools and materials.  

Local resident Claire Dehm will offer three free Women at the Wheel bicycle repair workshops at the Ithaca Farmers Market pavilion in summer 2021. These workshops will be open to women and non-binary residents of Tompkins County, and give extensive instruction on fixing flat tires, helping to make bicycling a more viable form of transportation for more local people.  A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will cover all costs of the workshops. 

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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 2021 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 $77,000 in 196 grants to innovative grassroots projects throughout the county.

Grants range from $150 to $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 local microbusinesses seeking to green their operations or extend their products or services to low-income clientele. Priority is given to new and/or small entities with relatively few sources of support.

 Successful initiatives supported by Neighborhood Mini-Grants in recent years include the founding of the Freeville Farmers Market, establishment of the Finger Lakes Toy Library as a lending collection of environmentally-friendly toys, 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, and restoration of a disused and overgrown trail in Dryden.

Applications must be received on or before April 1, 2021. To request an application form, or if you have questions, please call (607) 272-1720 or email

FLECA Campaign Expands Its Ranks

The tides are rising here in the Finger Lakes (in a good way… not the climate-change-kind-of-way)!  A new cohort of members have joined our Finger Lakes Enterprises for Climate Action coalition (FLECA)! Our team is ever-growing and building so much momentum with new team members from bookstores, glamping sites, farms and more! 

We have achieved over ⅓ of our goal, a huge checkpoint! We’re getting closer to offsetting $5,000 worth of emissions, securing two Climate Fund grants for families in need.

We are so enthused to welcome new FLECA business and organization members: Firelight Camps, Dailey Electric, Food Forest Farm, Leslie Danks Burke campaign, and Odyssey Bookstore. New members are offsetting emissions from the likes of campaign travel and the energy to heat and cool their businesses. And one of them has plans to keep the fire going – stayed tuned to find out!

Does your organization want to help Finger Lakes families stay warm this winter? Email for more information, including benefits of joining

Sustainability Calendar Available

February is here! Fend off the winter blues with some movement-building activities. But not to worry; most of these activities are virtual, meaning you can stay cozy and safe while learning, growing, and helping your community. Join the White Fragility book club that meets every Sunday, or attend the Envision Climate Summit – a 3 day event comprised of talks, panels, & workshops. Maybe even learn a new skill, like Woodland Mushroom Cultivation! Visit the Sustainable Finger Lakes Calendar to browse this month’s offerings and click the link under each event for more details.

Green Tips Resource on Sustainable Finger Lakes

Despite the challenges we currently face in shifting our industries away from pollutive, extractive, and destructive practices, living more sustainably is much easier than you think. Be sure to check out the new Green Tips page on our Sustainable Finger Lakes website for tips on how to practice sustainability as an individual, and as a community. Categories include Energy, Waste, Transportation, Food, Household Products, Water Protection, and Yard & Garden.

We all have a role to play in the green movement. Share some of your own Green Tips and ways you practice sustainability on our Facebook and Instagram pages. And if you have some regional connections that will make any of these Green Tips easier to do, please let us know and we’ll help folks connect the dots in our regional movement. We want to build this resource out together! Send your ideas to or find us on social media.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Funds Trail Renovation in Dryden

Tompkins County contains a wealth of trails, but some have fallen into disrepair and disuse without the care they need. A wooded trail in the Town of Dryden, between the Varna Community Center and the adjacent Hillside Acres Mobile Home Park, went many years without maintenance and became overgrown to the point of near-impassability. In 2019, Jonathyn Thornton took on renovation of the trail as an Eagle Scout project, leading a team of volunteers who cleared it, covered it with wood chips, and added benches, kiosks, erosion control bars in areas impacted by runoff, a bridge over a washed-out culvert, and a “Nature Nook” with benches and a table. Sustainable Tompkins awarded Jonathyn a Neighborhood Mini-Grant in October 2019 to pay for the bridge and the table. 

Now the trail is four feet wide and frequently used, offering pedestrians a scenic alternative to walking along a busy roadway between the community center and the mobile home park. The Varna After School Program at the community center uses the Nature Nook as an outdoor enrichment space. Future plans include supplying the kiosks with pamphlets on the surrounding flora and fauna.

Varna residents attest to the trail’s value:

“Having that trail open connects the Center much better to Hillside Acres.  We’ve seen people using it for walking and jogging. Especially in a time when outdoor activities are much safer, it’s wonderful to have it. Working on the trail was a great way to get closer to Varna’s natural beauty, and find out just how much is back there!”

“The outdoor Nature Nook has been a wonderful place for learning and exploring. We utilize this space for our students in the after school program to get them outdoors. The kids really enjoy being in the space and have stated it is cool to listen to the birds and seeing the deer walk across the trail when they are quiet enough. We have incorporated many new nature programs into our afterschool program now that we have this new space and the wonderful trail to walk.”

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Green Your Holidays with Alternative Gifts

Season’s “Greenings” from Sustainable Tompkins! 

One lesson that we can take from 2020 is that a culture of resiliency and strong community is vital to overcoming the major issues we are facing: the pandemic, systemic racism, climate change, and a divided nation. Now, it’s time to use this lesson to help shape 2021 and the years to come.  

That’s why Sustainable Tompkins is happy to participate in the annual Ithaca Alternative Gift Fair! This virtual event is a fun way to bypass the annual stress of holiday shopping and accumulation of “stuff” while honoring friends and relatives with donations to causes that fit their values. Since it began in 2004, more than $300,000 has been donated to local non-profit organizations, and tons of waste has been prevented from forgoing material gifts; and Sustainable Tompkins has been there from the start! 

When you make a donation in a loved one’s name, you will receive a holiday card that you can give to them, letting them know that you made a donation in their honor.

We are offering a range of small gift options to make it easy for everyone to show their love by supporting others in our community.

$5 to provide seeds and tools for a community garden
$10 to help a local family make their home climate-smart
$15 to promote sustainable enterprises across the region
$20 to support grassroots sustainability projects
$25 to offset ONE TON of carbon emissions from holiday travel
$Any amount:  to train the next generation of sustainability stewards

When you make donations in any of these amounts during December, we will send you the appropriate gift cards to bestow upon the recipients. If you prefer to make one donation for several gifts, just email with a list of the gifts you are buying and she will email you the gift cards to print or send digitally.

Just visit to make your gift, and visit our instagram and facebook pages to have fun with us!