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I got an email a few weeks ago now about a new tradition in Ithaca. The concept was borrowed from the Cyclovia in the country of Columbia, where streets are blocked off for use by pedestrians, bicyclists, and any other non-motorized transportation. Cars can use other roads during these times, but this gives bikers and pedestrians much more access to safe roads that they can use without worrying about cars flying past.

So Ithaca’s Cyclovia is a much smaller scale version of this. Each Saturday at 10:00am, bikers meet at DeWitt park downtown and as a group, they bike to the farmer’s market. This week I joined in among the small crowd for an easy going bike ride to the market. While it was a lot slower than my general pace (there were small children biking with us so we went slow), it was fun to take over one small piece of Ithaca and ride safely. I really hope that this group grows every week, and reaches a mass large enough that cars have to just drive slowly behind the bikers.

The problem with cars and bikes coexisting, is that in most places, there are not adequate bike paths. A real bike path needs to allow for bikers to move swiftly along a road, while not interfering with traffic, but still able to turn onto other roads when they need to. Ithaca doesn’t have bike paths that allow that though. This causes a problem because most people bike much slower than cars want to go. In the city, it is really pointless for a car to scoot past a bike, because it usually results in waiting at the next red light or stop sign anyway – but that is how it happens.

But lately with the price of gas rising, people are talking about other ways of getting around, and riding bicycles as a group to also support the farmer’s market will help push Ithaca towards a more sustainable lifestyle. So, please, join the group and bike to the farmer’s market next week!

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Credit to Aaron Munzer in the Ithaca Journal:

CAROLINE — Foot soldiers in the fight for an energy independent community talked up bright ideas about saving energy and handed out reusable cloth bags stuffed with an efficient compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) to each of Caroline’s 1,400 households Saturday.

Approximately 90 volunteers from Cornell University, Ithaca College and the surrounding communities walked, biked, drove and even rode horses around Caroline, distributing the bulbs with a friendly message: help make the town a model for other rural communities seeking to control their energy costs.

“We’re trying to take energy independence into our own hands,” said Dominic Frongillo, a council member in the Town of Caroline, deputy supervisor, and a member of Energy Independent Caroline, the group behind the distribution. “This is our future.”

The project was funded by a $5,000 grant written with money from the Cornell Community Partnership Board, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, and an anonymous local donor. The colorful cloth bags were made by Sew Green, an Ithaca-based sustainable sewing group.

Frongillo said he and the other residents are taking sustainability into their own hands because the federal government isn’t.

“Things are going so slow to address climate change,” Frongillo said. “I came back from the (United Nations) Climate Change Conference in Bali and realized it’s up to us. We’re the leaders we’re looking for.”

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lightbulb.jpgCredit to Rebecca James in the Syracuse Post-Standard:

You can build a better light bulb – one that uses less electricity and saves money – but how do you get people to use it?

Environmentalists from Cornell University, Ithaca and the nearby town of Caroline are betting that if you deliver a free compact fluorescent bulb to each person’s door, tucked into a reusable fabric bag, people will see the light.

On April 19, a team of more than 100 volunteers on bikes, on foot and in cars plan to deliver the bulbs to all 1,400 households in the town of Caroline, a sprawling, rural community in Tompkins County.

<!– if (parseFloat(navigator.appVersion) == 0) { document.write(”); } –>”We’re trying to show how a small, rural town can take matters into our own hands and say: This is up to us. Our international leaders and national leaders are not moving fast enough to protect our future,” said Dominic Frongillo, a Caroline town board member.

A Cornell junior from Pompey, Shawn Lindabury, wrote a grant that helped fund the project, which is aimed at increasing awareness about how people can live greener lives.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of the benefits of these bulbs,” Lindabury said. “We’re saying, hey, you can save $55 over the course of the lifetime of the light bulb and help reduce energy use in Caroline.”

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ceaaconf-2008_3.jpgCredit to Abubakar Jalloh in the Cornell Daily Sun:

“Green is becoming everyone’s favorite color … green power, green building, green chemistry …”

Such was the comment made by Dr. Jeff Tester ’66, professor of chemical engineering at MIT’s Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, at the 25th Annual College of Engineering Alumni Association Conference held at the Statler Hotel this weekend. 300 people participated in the event whose theme was “Sustainable Energy Systems: Investing in Our Future.”

The event constituted a series of talks given by prominent figures, who have dedicated their time offering working solutions that are economically viable and environmentally friendly.

According to Tim Dougherty ’88, assistant dean of alumni affairs and development for the College of Engineering, 40 percent of the 300 people who registered for the conference were students, another 40 percent were comprised of alumni and the rest included faculty and staff.

“This is by far the most interesting topic in 25 years,” said Dougherty, especially in that the conference is not one-sided; rather it aims at “working on a better mix of choices.”

Friday afternoon was marked with concurrent sessions at the Beck Center in the Statler Hall. Flexible as it was, some presentations that went on earlier in the morning were repeated in the afternoon for those who missed them. Among those repeated talks were Dr. Michael Graetzel’s presentation on “Power from the sun; molecular photovoltaic cells mimic photosynthesis.”

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Credit to Wendy Wang in the Cornell Daily Sun

McMansions may be eye-pleasing at first glance, but to an architect they can become design and sustainability eyesores. In an effort to steer green-conscious Ithaca citizens away from such quick-fix housing solutions for building comfortable homes, local architects Ernie Bayles and Megan Nedzinski gave a talk last night at the First Unitarian Church on architectural design with a focus on sustainability to an audience of about 30. This seminar was the fourth in the Green Building Seminar Series created by the Ithaca Green Building Alliance.

Bayles began the seminar with an overview of the idea of sustainability, admitting that “green” houses often fall under the stereotype of a grass and brick cottage that looks environmentally conscious but is hardly comfortable. Instead, he defined the actual concept of sustainable design as a “functional, durable, healthy for occupants, energy-efficient and designed to work with exterior environment and location to optimize comfort and utility.”

Most importantly, he emphasized the importance of remodeling current residential homes in carefully laid out plans.

“Building quality smaller spaces can enrich life more than larger ones. One of the most sustainable things we can do is to build less,” he said.

However, he did admit that “design takes a lot of work, which needs to be done by a team of people: the designer, owner and builder. Somebody has to come to the table with some ideas of sustainable goals.”

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Solar Oven Dinner

This Saturday 2/28 5pm
Try food cooked in ESW’s very own solar ovens!!!
Price: Sliding Scale $5-$10
Place: Thurston Winter Lab Classroom
INTERESTED??? Contact Carmen cni3@cornell.edu

Hope to see familiar and new faces there!!!

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the-unforeseen.jpgFriday, February 22 @ 7:00

Saturday, February 23 @ 5:00

Monday, February 25 @ 9:30

All screenings in the Willard Straight Theatre

“It’s a beautiful, soulful work about real estate development and sprawl, focused on Austin’s beloved Barton Springs, and if you think that’s impossible you haven’t seen it.

The Unforeseen is much more than a plucky local movie about issues that matter only in this delightful, self-obsessed collegiate boomtown.

Battles over development can be found in every American county, and probably in every other jurisdiction in the world, and they all involve real, complicated human beings on all sides.

The Unforeseen is less an issue-driven documentary than a pure visual and sensual experience that seeks to capture the mystery of the American landscape, both paved and wild. Its themes aren’t easy to summarize and its questions defy easy answers.” (Salon.com)

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