Democratic participation in the economy is a basic element of sustainability.  Access to planning processes, training, markets, and financing must be available to everyone if we are to create an economy that works for all of us.  Please join with Sustainable Tompkins and other advocates of economic justice and ecological stewardship in providing guidance and feedback to the new Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council.  The Council is charged with formulating a proposal for our region’s future development and competing for a share of the state and federal funds available for projects.  This is your chance to share your vision for building the elements of sustainability into our region’s future economic development.

You can learn more about the Council and its draft vision statement here, and fill out their online survey here.  We hope you will join us at the community forum on Thursday, September 29, from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Womens Community Building on Seneca St.  We need lots of voices to cover the full range of economic choices we face. Please rsvp to or by phone at 607-721-8605.

The concept of sustainability requires a triple bottom line analysis of social responsibility, ecological stewardship, and economic viability over the long run.  In order to protect the interests of the most vulnerable in our communities, we should prioritize job development (not just profits) and put people to work meeting our basic need for food and energy security.  That security can only be achieved by slowing the rate of climate change.  Thus, we have to develop renewable energy infrastructure, not fossil energy infrastructure.  We also need to invest in programs that strengthen household economies via greater capacity for self-provisioning and community-based sharing and trading networks.  This creates buffering capacity with respect to the cash economy and improves resilience for individuals and municipalities.

A focus on economic justice may be the most strategic and sustainable economic development strategy available.  This would reduce poverty and increase tax revenues, strengthen democracy and a sense of a shared future, reduce the tax burden for social services, and increase support for investments in education and public infrastructure.  All of this is part of a viable and sustainable local economy.  We should hedge our economic revitalization bets on high tech, tourism, and exports by taking the precautionary step of assuring basic security via widespread and equitable employment and profit sharing in the food and energy sectors.  (For more on this topic, see below for our article in the September 5 Tompkins Weekly.)