ST Events

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 »

People’s Choice 2018 Signs of Sustainability Awards

The winners of the 2018 poll for leadership in sustainability and social justice were celebrated at Earth Day Ithaca on April 22.

Maddi Carroll, Annabella Mead-VanCort, Prachi Ruina, Eamon Nunn-Makepeace, and Ari Cummings of Students United Ithaca.

In the Youth category, student groups from Ithaca High School and Trumansburg High School were recognized for their activism. Students United Ithaca gained national attention for their courage in challenging casting decisions for their high school musical, which led to significant and fruitful conversations to address racism in the school district. A dozen students led by Trumansburg teacher Jane George and Gertrude Nolen of Words into Deeds participated in the United Nations Youth Voices on Climate Change, joining over 300 international students in sharing perspectives and drafting a consensus action plan to address global warming.

Whitham Planning and Design took first place in the Business category for their leadership in getting developers to achieve energy efficiencies as much as 40% better than code and for their efforts to involve the public in design issues for large projects in the Ithaca area. Ithaca Times, Tompkins Weekly, Liquid State Brewing, Nikki Green, Tiny Timber, Brookton Market were also recognized for their contributions.

Shawna Black came in first in the Individual category this year for her active leadership on social and environmental issues as a freshman county legislator, especially in helping raise awareness on addiction issues and develop new harm reduction programs. Nick Goldsmith and the Green Building Policy Advisory Committee were celebrated for their many hours of work developing new guidelines for more environmentally responsible development in the City of Ithaca.

Voters were enthusiastic about nominating OAR (Opportunities, Alternatives & Resources) for first place in the Organization category for their wonderful Endeavor House project. Their purchase and volunteer-led rehabilitation of a home is now providing transitional housing for the formally incarcerated. Ithaca Families Gift Economy, Get Your GreenBack Tompkins, HeatSmart Tompkins, and the Ithaca Chapter of SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) were also recognized for their outstanding work.

Earth Day Ithaca on Sunday, April 22!














Our local theme this year is Art & Sustainability, featuring local artists who help us frame, express and shape our concerns about climate change and living more sustainably. Join us from 12-3 for family-friendly hands-on activities with our exhibitors and local music. From 3-5 pm we’ll feature performances by Truth Speaker and other spoken word and musical artists followed by our annual Signs of Sustainability Awards.  April 22, 2018, The Space @ GreenStar, 700 W. Buffalo St. Read the rest of this entry »

Polls Open for Annual Sustainability Awards

Since 2006, Sustainable Tompkins has been celebrating the individuals and groups in our county that are improving our present and safeguarding our future, enriching our lives and making us better human beings. Our People’s Choice Signs of Sustainability Awards are selected through an online poll of community members who nominate those they believe made a contribution in the past year. Polls are open again and it is time to head to the online voting booth to show your support for the people, the businesses, and the organizations that stepped up in the past year to make ours a more sustainable and just community.

Voting is simple. Just go to and fill in the information on your choice. You can vote up to five times for a mix of your favorite sustainability heroines and heroes. Polls will close on April 12.

Nominations can be made in four categories (Individual, Youth, Organization, Business) and voters are asked to note which sectors were impacted, and to provide contact information for their nominee. Read the rest of this entry »

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 Portals to Peace Mural

Photo by Sasha Paris

In a healthy and resilient community, people of all religions and ethnicities are welcomed and respected. The murals proliferating across the city of Ithaca, coordinated by the organization Ithaca Murals, have engaged and celebrated a wide array of cultures. Amid a nationwide rise of anti-Muslim hostility and stereotyping, three local organizations — the Multicultural Resource Center, Al-Huda Islamic Center, and Greater Ithaca Activities Center — sought to make Ithaca’s Muslim community of about 750 people feel welcome and increase cross-cultural interaction with the creation of a mural celebrating their culture. In December 2016, the Multicultural Resource Center received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to purchase paint and other supplies.

Designed by local Muslim artist Lachlan Chambliss, the intricate Portals to Peace mural depicts five doorways showing scenes and symbols of Muslim culture across the world. Located at the entry of the Green Street parking garage, beside a busy street, it is seen by hundreds of people each day. Nearly 200 volunteers of all ages and diverse religious backgrounds, mostly non-Muslim, worked to create it throughout 2017.

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Grants Available to Youth Groups to Tackle Climate Change

 Sustainable Tompkins is announcing a Youth Climate Challenge open to middle and high school students in Tompkins County. The long journey back to climate stability will take several generations of sustained effort and innovation as we transition our economic and social systems to meet human needs without upsetting Earth’s life support system. We will need leaders of all ages on this journey. The Youth Climate Challenge will provide $5,000 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. Funds can be used for equipment, supplies, or services such as printing. School classes and clubs, as well as local youth groups, are encouraged to take up the Challenge and see what kind of climate impact they can have by reducing dependency on fossil fuel, changing wasteful habits, or inspiring others to commit themselves to action on global warming. Read the rest of this entry »

ST Website To Be Part of National Sustainability Archive

Ivy Plus Libraries has selected our Sustainable Tompkins website for inclusion in CAUSEWAY: the Collaborative Architecture, Urbanism, and Sustainability Web Archive. The Archive is a newly launched initiative developed by art and architecture librarians at Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale Universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Universities of Chicago and Pennsylvania. The project aims to preserve websites devoted to the related topics of architecture, urban fabric, community development activism, public space, and sustainability in order to assure the continuing availability of these important, and potentially ephemeral, documents for use by researchers and scholars.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Supports Creation of Finger Lakes Toy Library

Toys are an often-overlooked source of resource waste and resource inequality – bought and discarded in large quantities by some families, prohibitively expensive for others. Toy libraries, found across the nation and world, use lending collections and community play spaces to address these issues while fostering a culture of sharing and social connections. Finger Lakes Toy Library (FLTL) was founded in 2016 to bring this system to Ithaca and the surrounding communities. In March 2017, FLTL received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to purchase essential equipment along with several toys themed on environmental stewardship.

Since then, FLTL has become a flourishing local presence, with dozens of member families and hundreds of new and donated toys that members can borrow and play with at its headquarters in Ithaca’s Clinton West Plaza. Its collection prioritizes environmentally-friendly, gender-neutral, and educational toys that encourage open-ended creativity. With a mobile set of toys, tent, and table, it has brought “Playtimes” — open to all, some with themes such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) or Puzzles and Games — to events such as the Apple Harvest Festival, and hosted them at venues throughout Tompkins County and beyond.

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Carbon Offsets for a Solidarity Economy on #Giving Tuesday

Soledad Exantus and her daughter Sydney were all smiles at the recent open house held for the two new homes being built in Ithaca’s Northside neighborhood by Habitat for Humanity. The Exantus family has longed for more room for their teenage daughters, and they are so excited by the prospect of owning their own affordable, efficient, and solar-powered dwelling. Mohammed Maataoui and his daughter Esrah were also there that night to celebrate their upcoming ownership of the other half of this new duplex.

Our Finger Lakes Climate Fund helped pay for the 4.68 Kw solar arrays that will be on each of their roofs to power their all electric homes. Thanks to our donors we were able to do these first solar PV grants from our Climate Fund!

In this era of growing inequality and fraying democracy, it can seem pretty daunting to figure out how to join in and make a positive difference. Our local carbon offsets are an excellent way for you to participate in both protecting our climate and building an economy based on mutual support and solidarity. Both of these impacts are essential to our future well being.  Read the rest of this entry »