ST Events

Help us Seal the Cracks this Winter!

(This article appeared in the 11/27/19 issue of Tompkins Weekly.)

Inequality and the climate crisis are our community’s biggest long-term threats. It may seem utterly overwhelming to try to address them at the same time, but together we can take action and make a powerful difference.

Sustainable Tompkins is running a Seal the Cracks winter campaign that provides everyone the opportunity to tackle both problems at the same time.  They run a local carbon offset program (Finger Lakes Climate Fund) that is aimed at making sure everyone is included in a clean energy, equitable future by using offset donations to help lower-income neighbors make energy improvements.  Now, more than ever, we need to come together as a community to build resilience in the face of the climate crisis and make sure no one is left behind. By offsetting your own carbon emissions, you can help others in our community.

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New Videos Promote Local Carbon Offsetting

Shira Evergreen, local videographer

Over the summer and fall, we worked with videographer Shira Evergreen to craft a series of ten videos that describe how carbon offsetting works in our Finger Lakes Climate Fund along with all the details for our new program to provide extra incentives for heat pumps to lower-income families along with our carbon offset grants.

Check them out on our ST YouTube channel! Thanks to Shira for her excellent work on site and in the editing booth.

We’re partnering with HeatSmart Tompkins and HeatSmart CNY to bring a fantastic package of incentives to lower-income folks to get their homes tightened up and running on uber efficient heat pumps — and hopefully also signed up for solar and wind electricity to make their homes Zero Carbon.

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Welcome Marisa Lansing!

Sustainable Tompkins is delighted to introduce Marisa Lansing, our new part-time program assistant for our Finger Lakes Climate Fund. Marisa worked for ST over the summer as one of our Clean Energy interns partially supported by NYSERDA, and devoted her time to promoting the Climate Fund and assisting videographers documenting our carbon offset program. 

In her new role as Climate Fund Coordinator, Marisa will be encouraging everyone to offset their carbon emissions, conducting outreach to inform LMI (lower to moderate-income) residents about the benefits of switching to heat pumps, and maintaining our social media accounts. She will be working with Gay in our partnership with HeatSmart Tompkins using funding from a 2-year NYSERDA grant to combine our carbon offset grants with new additional incentives for lower-income families to switch to heat pumps for heating, cooling, and hot water. These incentives will be offered in Tompkins and Chemung counties, as well as the adjacent towns of the surrounding counties. We’re also partnering with CNY HeatSmart on a similar program in Cayuga, Cortland, Onondaga and Madison Counties.

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Buy some java and support Sustainable Tompkins!

Do you brew your own? Check out Rally at Gimme! – for each bag sold they will donate $1 to Sustainable Tompkins this fall. You can get your buzz on while helping us in our climate work!

#climatechangeis real! Gimme coffee is partnering with us this fall to raise funds for climate protection. They’ve been focusing on supporting climate programs of local nonprofits. Check it out today!

This fairly traded organic blend is mild and smooth, with a comforting milk chocolate base. Crowd-pleasing flavor makes this the perfect blend to kickstart any rally.

Shade-Grown: Yes
Certifications: Organic, fairly traded

Since 2017, Rally has raised over $8,500 for nonprofit organizations.

Climate Fund featured nationally on radio!

Last summer, Gay Nicholson was interviewed by Yale Climate Connections about our regional carbon offset fund – the Finger Lakes Climate Fund. The radio spot started playing on October 10 on 500 stations across the country. Give it a listen!

Here’s a link to an interactive map at their website showing many of the locations. The radio program is also available through iTunes, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio … and all stories are accessible via their website beyond air dates.

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 round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants.

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 to $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 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, 2019. To request an application form, or if you have questions, please contact sasha@sustainabletompkins.org.

Our Climate Programs Featured in Ithaca Times

“Sustainable Tompkins is moving the needle.”

With the passage of the Ithaca Green New Deal, people are realizing how much work lies ahead to reach its goal of carbon neutrality for the City of Ithaca by 2030.

Sustainable Tompkins’ work on energy and climate was featured in Ithaca Times in the June 20, 2019 issue “Real Climate Action: Sustainable Tompkins and others are working locally now.”

We salute everyone in our local movement for their combined efforts to reduce emissions and become more climate resilient. And we thank our carbon offsetters who make the Climate Fund possible!

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Brings Electric Scooter to Wonderful Wheelchairs

The scooter displayed at the Finger Lakes Independence Center. Photo by Sasha Paris.

Mobility aids such as wheelchairs and scooters give many people vital access to their communities, but new ones have high prices in money and natural resources. Wonderful Wheelchairs, an Ithaca-based organization, repairs, loans out, and sells donated mobility aids at low prices, improving equity of access to them and keeping used ones out of the waste stream. It allows its patrons to try out devices, determining what best suits their needs. In March 2018, Wonderful Wheelchairs received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to buy a motorized Pride Folding Go-Go Scooter – an item in high demand and not locally sold – for patrons to try out before deciding whether to buy one from a faraway vendor.

The scooter has been in use since May 2018, displayed and loaned out onsite at Wonderful Wheelchairs and at local social service venues and events such as the annual Senior Living Expo and the first annual Community Carnival at Stewart Park. Wonderful Wheelchairs will continue to spread the word about it, at these venues and beyond.

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.

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.

Finger Lakes Climate Fund Donors Give Generously and Fundraise Further

Wes Ernsberger and Gerri Wiley

We welcome a great testimonial from a very generous Finger Lakes Climate Fund donor, Gerri Wiley:

“In addition to contributing to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund to offset our personal annual carbon use, my life partner, Wes Ernsberger, and I have encouraged members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Binghamton (UUCB) to follow suit. Last Spring, UUCB held a special collection for FLCF. It was an easy ask because hey… who wouldn’t want to know their carbon offsets are being used help local families to reduce and decarbonize their energy use?

“We like to think of ourselves as climate stabilizers, so ideas keep popping into our heads in this regard. This year I became an official old lady and thus was required to take a Required Minimum Distribution from my Traditional IRA. FLCF was the #1 good cause on my list and so this ‘requirement,’ unlike many other requirements, was not painful at all!”