Cornell Climate Change Seminar Well Received

Opening slide of presentation on Local Carbon Offsets for Energy Democracy

Gay Nicholson shared the story of our Finger Lakes Climate Fund to a large audience of students and faculty at Cornell on February 18. The seminar series “Perspectives on the Climate Change Challenge” mostly focuses on the issue from a global and national level, so our presentation on “Local Carbon Offsets for Energy Democracy” was very different for this audience.

Judging from the questions and follow-up surveys, students were glad to feel connected to ways to make a difference locally.

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Our 24th Climate Fund grant helps Caroline family

Our 24th Climate Fund grant award went to Brandon and Lyla White and their charming daughter Rosemary. The White Family lives in a 70’s era home in the Town of Caroline. Like so many houses of that time, it was poorly insulated and still had the same really expensive electric baseboard heat of those ‘cheap energy’ times. After they moved in a couple years ago, they got their first shockingly high electric bill and knew they had to make some changes.

Snug Planet helped them come up with a plan to address their biggest energy problems and had them apply to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund for assistance. They put their $1291 grant toward the removal of 52 tons of CO2 by sealing and insulating their attic and the cantilever over the basement floor and toward a new Air Source Heat Pump that is heating AND cooling their home for pennies compared to the high price of the baseboard heating system and an old style window air conditioner. (Listen to them tell their story here.)

Thanks to all of our carbon offsetters for helping the Whites improve their home’s carbon footprint!  We are in our usual ‘Seal the Cracks’ fall campaign where we ask you to think back over the past summer and remember all the travels you took.  Then go to our and take responsibility for the emissions associated with that travel by making an offset.  It’s quick, easy, and affordable – plus you will get to be part of the community that is helping families like the Whites shrink their carbon footprint while making their household economy so much more resilient.

Video of Heat Pump Workshop for Builders Now Available

Heat Pump Workshop introSustainable Tompkins hosted a workshop on “Building and Heating with the Climate in Mind” on March 17, 2015 at Hotel Ithaca.  Professor Brice Smith of SUNY Cortland and Melissa Kemp of Solar Tompkins joined Gay Nicholson in presenting their case for using alternatives to methane to heat new buildings in Tompkins County.  The event was for anyone connected to the building sector in our area: developers, architects, engineers, builders, mortgage bankers, realtors, contractors, electricians, suppliers, designers, plumbers, elected officials, and planning boards.

Video of the workshop is now available on the Sustainable Tompkins YouTube channel.

Local Economy Panel: “The Economics of Happiness”

On April 27, Sustainable Tompkins hosted over 170 attendees for the Ithaca premiere of The Economics of Happiness – a film by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorelick and John Page, and a project of the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC).  The film takes a critical look at 8 “inconvenient truths” about globalization, and explores the antidote – localization of the economy – where power is shifted from channels of accumulation for the few into channels of distribution for the many.  In a local economy, it is easier to prevent the corruption and abuse of power that comes with concentrated wealth.  Connections are easier to see.  Cause and effect are visible.  Relationships are more accountable.  Social capital, natural capital, and financial capital are mutually created and shared throughout the community.

After the film, our panel of community leaders shared their ideas for redesigning our economy and gave examples of what we’re doing so far. We heard about expanding local self reliance by working together to provide for ourselves, new sharing and trading networks, green collar jobs, worker-owned cooperatives, buy local and living wage campaigns, and opportunities for all of us to invest in the sustainable enterprises and infrastructure we need.

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What does it mean to receive a Neighborhood Mini-Grant?

We invite you to listen to some of the powerful stories shared by our Neighborhood Mini-Grant recipients and to support this valuable program that is seeding such amazing projects in our community.  Our Mini-Grants are made possible through individual donations, sponsorships, and grants.  Your support helps build a more just and sustainable community – thank you!  Please visit our Online Gift Form to contribute.

If you are already a donor to Sustainable Tompkins, we would be honored if you would encourage a friend to join you in support of our work.

Dan Flerlage on the power of seed funding

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Jerame Hawkins, describing his grant for a youth-run recording studio

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Founders of the Dacha Project on their electricty-free water pump and bio-fueled generator

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Learn more about the Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program here.

Mad Max or the Jetsons?

We recently hosted a panel discussion to examine the impact of cheap. efficient cars such as the Nano. Titled “Mad Max or the Jetsons,” the event looks at different possible futures for transportation in our society. Here is some video from the event, broken up by the four speakers. Unfortunately, the event was held in a dark room (to make use of the projector), so the visual quality is not great, but the presentations and ensuing discussion still come across clearly and are well worth the time to view.

Fernando de Aragon, Executive Director of the Ithaca Tompkins County Transportation Council

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Jennifer Dotson, Executive Director of Ithaca Carshare

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Jon Bosak, Editor of TC Local

Rob Morache, principal of New Earth Strategies

Follow-up Discussion