ST in the News

Purity Ice Cream and IC’s Net Impact Club Donate $4000 to Finger Lakes Climate Fund

Purity Ice Cream Donation at IC


Thanks to the generosity of Purity Ice Cream owners Bruce and Heather Lane, and the activism of the students in Ithaca College’s Net Impact Club, we have received a generous donation of $4000 to our Finger Lakes Climate Fund.  The Lanes joined Gay Nicholson of Sustainable Tompkins in the Park Center for Sustainable Enterprise on March 21 to meet with Net Impact students Rebecca Blondin and Lauren Goldberg, President Tom Rochon, Dean Mary Ellen Zuckerman, and Prof Hormoz Movassaghi of the IC Business school.  The story behind the “carrot mob” that resulted in the donation can be learned here.

The donation will be redistributed to the community in the form of Climate Fund grants to lower-income households needing help in making energy efficiency improvements to their homes.  Local energy contractors with clients in the Home Performance or Assisted Home Performance program can apply on behalf of their customers for the grants.  The Climate Fund has awarded 8 grants to a wide variety of households, a nonprofit, and a local business.  Awards are based on the tons of carbon emissions that are reduced through energy efficiency improvements, with a maximum grant of $2500.  Interested applicants are urged to get energy audits from local firms such as Snug Planet, Tompkins Community Action, Halco, and Fair Hands, and find out if they qualify for applying. Find certified contractors here. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Talk of the Town’ Radio with Sustainable Tompkins

Local radio host Juliana Garcia invited ST’s President Gay Nicholson and Board Chair Tom Shelley to join her on February 15 for her weekly ‘Talk of the Town’ show on WVBR.  Listen here to check out our wide-ranging conversation about living more sustainably.

Carbon Offsets Help Rebuild Cayuga Pure Organics

Erick Smith, founder of Cayuga Pure Organics, is looking forward to seeing their team back to work cleaning the 2013 bean harvest in their new super-insulated beanery.

Erick Smith, founder of Cayuga Pure Organics, is looking forward to seeing their team back to work cleaning the 2013 bean harvest in their new super-insulated beanery.

The Finger Lakes Climate Fund has awarded its eighth carbon offset grant to a local business.  Late last spring, a dreadful fire destroyed the barn at Cayuga Pure Organics (CPO) in Brooktondale along with all the equipment they used for cleaning and packaging organic dry beans and grains grown at their farm and by other local farmers.

As the only major supplier of organic beans in the region, CPO had become a key player in efforts to rebuild a secure local food system.  Facing bankruptcy, the company launched a fundraising campaign and its customers, fans, and dozens of local food advocates responded with more than $87,000 in donations to help them rebuild.

Sustainable Tompkins, got involved when Snug Planet, the energy contractor for the building, realized they might be able to eliminate the need for a fossil fuel heating system if they could qualify for a grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund to help pay for the insulation upgrades.  By creating a passive, super-insulated processing facility, the beanery will be able to stay within its required temperature range without supplemental heating or cooling.

The additional insulation will prevent 158 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 30 years, which qualified CPO for the maximum Climate Fund grant of $2,500.  This funding was made possible by a generous gift from an anonymous donor whose concern about climate change inspired him to offset several years of carbon emissions through the Finger Lakes Climate Fund.

It’s been a challenging year for the CPO team, but thanks to generous support from the community, the jobs of the young farmers have been saved along with this important component of a healthy local food supply.  All this – plus a lighter carbon footprint in the years ahead.

Neighborhood Mini-grants Awarded in September–Next Deadline is December 1


This September 2013 we awarded the following five grants:

In Ithaca, two Coddington Road residents will use their Mini-grant to start a Neighborhood Battery and Plastic Bag Recycling collection spot. Read the rest of this entry »

New Grant Fund for Newfield Residents Announced

FLCF-LogoResidents of the Town of Newfield have a new source of support for making energy improvements to their homes. Thanks to the impressive generosity of a local donor, Sustainable Tompkins has a pool of funding reserved just for the people of Newfield to help them reduce their fossil fuel consumption.The funding is available as two new grant awards from our Finger Lakes Climate Fund. These grants of up to $2,500 help modest-income households commit to a work scope of energy improvements to their home. Newfield households with less than the county’s median income will qualify for the grant awards, but application must be done through certified contractors for the Home Performance Program of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Participating local firms include Energy Tec, Snug Planet, and Tompkins Community Action. Read the rest of this entry »

Fall Creek Resident Wins Grant from Finger Lakes Climate Fund

Deb Thompson insulated basement

Deb Thompson shows off her fully insulated basement and on-demand water heater.

It was a sunny fresh June day in the Fall Creek neighborhood of Ithaca – the kind of day when memories of winter storms or summer heat waves fade away – but the crew from local energy contractor, Snug Planet, were utterly focused on preparing Deborah Thompson’s historic home on Marshall Street for exactly that kind of weather.

Thompson is the latest recipient of a grant from our Finger Lakes Climate Fund.  The program offers travelers and building owners a way to take responsibility for their fossil carbon emissions by making donations to the Fund.  They can use the Fund’s carbon calculator to determine the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from their air and car travel or building electricity and heating, and then make a donation that will pay to offset an equal amount of carbon by improving energy efficiency in the homes of modest-income residents.

In the case of the Thompson home, Snug Planet estimated that the improvements they made would eliminate about 54 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and resulted in a grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund for $1,076 towards the cost.  Over the course of several days, their team did extensive work in insulating and sealing leaks in the attic, and addressed moisture problems, air leaks, and lack of insulation in the basement.

Sustainable Tompkins has announced the availability of a fifth round of grant awards due at the end of June.  So far the program has helped a very diverse mix of household types in Dryden, Enfield, Lansing, and the City of Ithaca.  Details of the projects can be found at

The Park Foundation Renews Support to Sustainable Tompkins

parkfdnlogoA heartfelt thank you to the Trustees and staff of the Park Foundation.

On March 26, 2013 we heard from the Park Foundation that they will renew their support to Sustainable Tompkins with a gift of $85,000. We are extremely grateful for their continuing support for our organization. Since our inception the Park Foundation has been our largest benefactor and their gifts to Sustainable Tompkins have made it possible for us to continue our work to convene, connect and catalyze both individuals and policymakers so that our community can successfully cope with global influences such as climate change and energy descent. The 2013 grant, through our fiscal sponsor, Social Ventures, will be used to continue our work to expand our base of support, to recognize achievements in sustainability through our Signs of Sustainability program, to provide Neighborhood Mini-grants, to build the Finger Lakes Climate Fund and to partner with grassroots organizations to promote the Finger Lakes Energy Challenge in Tompkins County.


Finger Lakes Climate Fund Awards Grant to Local Family

(Published in Tompkins Weekly, September 3-9, 2012, p. 4)
Beth Mazur cast an appreciative eye on the purposeful jumble of insulation equipment surrounding her country home in Enfield.  On a sunny and beautiful summer’s day, Beth was already contemplating winter’s cold winds – this time without concern for her family’s health and well being.  Thanks to a $2000 grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund and the dedicated efforts of Phil Allmendinger and James Dulle of Snug Planet, the Mazurs can relax and enjoy their home in all four seasons.

Beth and her two daughters loved the green vistas and rural charm of their new place, but like so many of us they discovered that the house itself was poorly designed in terms of energy and moisture management.  Then, to make matters worse, the old furnace ended its life with a sooty fire in its basement chamber.  Beth knew it was time to get some expert help with managing their energy needs.

The folks at Snug Planet did a thorough energy analysis of the house, and proposed a work scope involving major insulation and air sealing, a high efficiency boiler and water heater, and ventilating fans to address mildew and rot problems.  The good news was that the Mazurs qualified for a $5,000 grant from NYSERDA for the work; but it was still going to be a big investment for a single mom to handle.  Beth wasn’t sure what to do, but Snug Planet had an idea.   Read the rest of this entry »

Local Economy Strengthened with Community Capital

As more predictions for a turbulent stock market emerge, the community capital movement is organizing to create local opportunities for investment that are based in the Real Economy and help build a sustainable and just community. A group of local citizens supported by Sustainable Tompkins is exploring the creation of a Local Investing Opportunity Network (the Cayuga LION) as a means of connecting local entrepreneurs with potential local investors.

The third gathering of the Cayuga LION will be on Tuesday, June 26, from 5:30-7:30 at the Lot 10 Lounge at 106 S. Cayuga St. in Ithaca.  Participants will get acquainted with each other, learn more about how a LION works, and hear about additional local investment opportunities. Please rsvp by June 23 to Fred Schoeps at There is an entry fee of $7 to cover refreshments. Cash bar available.

The featured speaker will be Greg Pitts of Natural Investments providing a brief overview of how to evaluate risk in investments, and the process of the LION.  You can learn more about the Cayuga LION at  The Entrepreneur Spotlight will feature Jackie Richardson of Fruits and Roots Juice, Terry Kelleher of Lucienne’s Chocolates, and Melissa Madden of The Good Life Farm.

Read the rest of this entry »

Upcoming April Events

Wells College Sustainability 2012

Weaving Sustainability into the Fabric of Community
Monday, April 23, 3 pm, 209 Stratton Hall, Wells College, Aurora

Gay Nicholson, President and Program Director at Sustainable Tompkins, presents Weaving Sustainability into the Fabric of Community, as part of Sustainability Celebrating Scholarship and Engagement, a day-long event for Wells College students and members of the community.

WALMART Community Connect
Saturday, April 28 10 am -3 pm, Ithaca Walmart

Sustainable Tompkins will be one of several community organizations participating in Walmart’s Community Connect event. We’re looking for volunteers to help us conduct a brief survey with Walmart customers about their personal sustainability practices and knowledge of Sustainable Tompkins. This is a great opportunity to expand our visibility in the community and introduce new people to our work. To volunteer for 2-hour shifts please contact

Fingere Lakes Bioneers (logo)

Finger Lakes Bioneers Presents: An Ecology of Mind
Saturday, April 28, 1-4 pm, Cinemapolis, 120 E Green St, Ithaca

Part of the international tour by director Nora Bateson will introduce her new documentary An Ecology of Mind to the local community. The 60-minute film presents a richly engaging profile of the very relevant ideas and spirited outlook of her father Gregory Bateson — an influential figure in a number of arenas of thought and applied research related to systems thinking. The afternoon event will include Nora and other panel members in a stimulating exploration of themes related to systems thinking, biomimicry, indigenous wisdom, and the interwoven economic, political, and environmental problems we face. Panelists include Derek Cabrera of ThinkWorks and Dana Levy of NYSERDA’s Industrial Research Program.
Thanks go out to NYSERDA, Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, andSustainability at Ithaca College for support of the programming. for details. Tickets available at the door (discounts for ST members).