We believe the surest way out of both our climate crisis and our fossil fuel dependency is to work together at the community level to restructure our energy systems and our economic systems. Yes, we need national leadership and massive shifts in infrastructure; but we also need to shift the culture and our belief systems about what is possible. Sustainable Tompkins advocates the pursuit of a “virtuous cycle” where we work together to repeatedly Reduce fossil energy consumption, Offset what we can’t avoid using, and Invest in locally-owned renewable energy systems. Our programs are designed to keep us working together, moving through this cycle again and again as we make steady progress toward our goal of a clean energy economy. This fall Sustainable Tompkins is bringing our message to the Town of Lansing which is in the midst of a heated debate about the wisdom of converting their local coal power plant to natural gas. On Fourth Tuesdays in August, September, and October, ST is hosting pubic meetings at the Lansing Community Library and sharing how homeowners, businesses, and local governments are saving energy dollars and making investments for a more energy secure future.
Last October, we hosted author Greg Pahl, who shared many of the stories in his new book Power From the People — a guidebook for organizing, financing, and launching local energy projects. His visit inspired the formation of Solarize Tompkins SE which has enrolled almost 300 households from Caroline, Danby, and Dryden in a local solar-buying club. With this stunning success, local activists are feeling optimistic about taking the solar initiative countywide in early 2014. ST is helping out by bringing the potential of local renewables into focus for residents in Lansing so that they are ready to participate in the next round of group purchasing of solar electric and solar hot water systems for their homes or businesses.
Our first meeting on August 27 was a great success! We had pulled 31 chairs into the library basement community room and filled every one of them with interested and engaged local residents. This first meeting focused on the need to first reduce energy consumption through conservation and efficiency measures so that we can “right size” our investment in renewable energy systems. Plenty of inspiration was provided by viewing segments of Empowered – a documentary about the renewables revolution in Tompkins County made by ST board member Shira Evergreen. At our next meeting on September 24, we’ll be hosting citizen leaders from Solarize Tompkins to learn all the details about the next round of solar buying in our county. If you are interested in participating or bringing this to your village or town, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected.