People’s Salon ; The Climate, Market, and the Commons


Climate change presents a troubling predicament. Unlike the ozone hole, which was addressed relatively quickly, the threat of global warming continues to advance while humanity remains strangely paralyzed in responding to the various risks of climate impacts – even as those risks become certainties. Maybe it is time we really talked this through.

Sustainable Tompkins is launching *The People’s Salon: Conversations that Matter to Your Future* with a shared public inquiry into the climate dilemma. *”The Climate, the Market, and the Commons”* will be the theme for a series of conversation salons held on Thursday evenings, 7-9 pm, on April 17, May 8, June 5, and June 19 at the Sustainability Center, 111 N. Albany St., Ithaca.

The salon topics will explore four key questions:

April 17: *Why are we stuck in climate denial?*

May 8: *Can business and technology save us?*

June 5*: Will government intervene?*

June 19: *Is it up to the citizenry?*

We face a complex global problem with no easy local solutions. Even though we will all pay the costs of climate change to some degree, most people are not active in efforts to protect our atmospheric Commons. How can we
change this dynamic?

Perhaps the place to start is to talk with each other and try to address some of the complexity we are facing. We need to develop a better understanding of why we are so slow to respond, how the structure of our economy both creates the problem and offers solutions, and what (exactly) are we, The People, going to do about protecting our shared future.

At the salons, three speakers familiar with each topic will kick start the conversation before the audience is invited to share their own viewpoints, questions, speculations, and proposed actions.

At the opening salon on April 17, *Nancy Menning* (Philosophy & Religion) of Ithaca College, and *Dave Wolfe* (Horticulture) and *Lauren Chambliss*(Communication) of Cornell University, will outline some of our motivations for remaining in denial about climate change, and offer insights into how we might dismantle what seems to be a key barrier to mobilizing to slow climate change.

There are at least three interpretations for why we aren’t taking aggressive action as a species to address climate disruption. One is that denial is an individual psychological response to the threat of a loss. We pretend it isn’t happening so that we don’t have to go through a painful inner process. So denial is seen as the first stage in the grieving process of giving up our version of modern civilization and our memory of the planet we grew up on.

Another interpretation is more sociological/biological in that humans have had to be in constant denial all through our evolution because the world is a risky threatening place and if we allowed ourselves to be constantly aware of all the threats, we’d be paralyzed (not to mention very anxious). So, perhaps denial is our normal state of consciousness and the challenge is just to make the threat more visible and immediate so we can understand the need to act.

A third common approach is that we are in denial through a rationalistic risk-based analysis. This is an econometrics perspective that suggests that many have concluded they face a low personal risk from climate disruption so it is rational not to invest time or money in addressing a threat that will mainly hit other people in other places at another time.
Especially if you are making money based on business as usual.

Or is there a fourth possibility? Perhaps we are participants in the “social organization of denial” and are responding to emotional cues from others that help us collectively maintain a sense of innocence in the face of very distressing information on climate change. Perhaps our social norms and collective pattern of thinking keep us from disturbing each other with more than superficial small talk about the weird weather.
Probably all these processes are involved and maybe more. But we should be having a much more public exploration of our shared denial, and how that may be sourced differently among different parts of the population. If we had a clearer understanding of denial, perhaps we would be able to work together more effectively to overcome it in ourselves and in others. By starting the salon series with this conversation about denial, we might avoid some false assumptions when we look for solutions to the climate dilemma.

We hope you will join us at The People’s Salon on April 17 and thereafter.

We really need to talk.

(Details about the other salon topics and guest speakers will be posted at


Forum : 100% Renewable Energy : We’re Moving Forward

Please help spread the word!

SAVE THE DATE – Free public forum

“100% Renewable Energy: We’re Moving Forward!”

WHEN?  Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 7:00 – 9:00 pm

WHERE?  Unitarian Church, 306 North Aurora St., Ithaca

Governor Cuomo’s Draft 2014 NY Energy Plan sets some bold goals for addressing climate disruption, but offers no concrete action steps.  Further, the Plan gives the impression that continuing to expand use of natural gas is inevitable.

What we really need is to dramatically accelerate the switch to solar, wind, and water power.  At this forum, Dr. Ingraffea will show that the transition is already underway and will describe one possible plan for achieving 100% renewable energy in NY by 2050.  Jessica Azulay will describe how planning and policies can either speed up or delay the switch to renewables.

Come learn about the feasibility and considerable economic and social benefits of a rapid switch to renewable energy.

Let’s Fix the Draft 2014 Energy Plan for NY  The deadline for receiving comments on the Draft 2014 NY Energy Plan to NYSERDA is April 30.

Featured Speakers:

·       Dr. Tony Ingraffea is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering; the Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University; and the President of Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Inc.

·       Jessica Azulay is the Program Director of Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE), a grassroots coalition promoting a full transition to a carbon-free, nuclear-free New York.

To see a draft of the 2014 NY Energy Plan, go to  To see a state-by-state plan for renewables by the Solutions Project, go to

Sponsors:  Tompkins County Council of Governments, Tompkins County Environmental Management Council, and Social Ventures.

The event will be videotaped and available at


Please spread the word and check out NYYAF – FB page.

New York Youth Against Fracking Presents:
GROUNDSWELL RISING, to protect our children’s air and water
Inviting Youth to Unite, Demand a Ban on Fracking & Stand Together for a Clean Energy Future
We especially invite youth under 18, but all are welcome, of course!

Lehman Alternative Community School Gym
111 Chestnut Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
Weds. April 9, 2014, 7:00 PM (film length 1 hr & 20 mins)

Adults $10.00 suggested donation, Students $5.00
(no one turned away at the door for lack of funds)

Directly following the screening there will be a Q & A with Dave Walczak, local filmmaker/associate producer.

This passionate and powerful documentary portrays a social movement of people fighting for health, safety and their children’s future. People in the film speak to the abuse of land rights, damage to health, destruction of communities and the legacy we leave our children. The film includes the moral and ethical perspective on “fracking,” not often discussed in this hotly debated issue. Plain and simple, it’s about the human side of the fracking debate. It is engrossing, emphatic and ultimately optimistic.

The film was directed and produced by Renard and Matt Cohen, of Emmy Award winning Resolution Pictures (near Allentown, PA). Dave Walczak, of Bath, NY, is the Associate Producer of the film.

Film Screening : Groundswell Rising, Binghamton, NY


Groundswell Rising, Protecting Our Children’s Air And Water, the new documentary from Emmy Award-winning Resolution Pictures, captures the passion of people engaged in a David and Goliath confrontation. They stand together, challenging a system that promotes profit over health. We meet mothers, fathers, scientists, doctors, farmers and people from all sides of the political spectrum taking a hard look at energy extraction techniques not proven to be safe. With the Oil and Gas industry’s expansion of fracking seen as a moral issue, this provocative documentary tracks a people’s movement, a groundswell rising towards reason and sensitivity, to protect life, today and tomorrow.

This event will feature film maker David Walczak and Craig Stevens.

Sponsoring Organizations: Citizen Action of NY, Save the Southern Tier, City of Binghamton Residents Against Hydrofracking, Concerned Citizens of Rural Broome, Vestal Residents for Safe Energy

When: March 25th, 6:30pm
Where: Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 183 Riverside Drive, BINGHAMTON
Facebook Event:

RALLY in Watkins Glen to Save Seneca Lake

For Immediate Release
March 13, 2014

RALLY in Watkins Glen to Save Seneca Lake

When: Monday, March 17 5:00PM-6:00PM
Where: Meet at Village Marina Parking Lot

Join us for a family-friendly walk through Watkins Glen to speak out against the gas storage and transport facility that is being planned by Inergy/Crestwood. A decision is close to being made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) about the fate of Seneca Lake, and the plan to turn it into an industrial gas site. Help us show our support for the folks who have tirelessly fought this fight on our behalf. Take a walk to show our solidarity and our desire to Save Seneca Lake!

This also commemorates the one year anniversary of the “SENECA LAKE 12″, who were arrested for trespassing at Inergy/Crestwood in an act of civil disobedience on March 18, 2013. This brought national and international attention to the Finger Lakes region for those who oppose gas storage on the shores of Seneca Lake. Many residents, business owners and visitors from out of town have concerns that industrialization by the gas industry will destroy the tourism, beatific scenery and cause air and traffic pollution to the region.

“It’s difficult to watch an out-of-state company with profits in mind change the landscape of Seneca Lake with flare stacks, congested truck traffic, brine ponds and liquid petroleum gas storage in old salt mines. Who would want to vacation here with the noise, air and traffic pollution? Especially since this area has recently been called “A place to visit before you die” says Margie Rodgers, one of the Seneca Lake 12.

“We have exhausted every avenue within the political system to get our voices heard” said Gas Free Seneca co-founder Joseph Campbell. “yet over 100 businesses recently convened at Seneca in the Balance Forum to send the message that Seneca Lake is not a place for gas storage.”

This peaceful rally starts at 5:00 at the Village Marina Parking lot (behind the Harbor Hotel). We will walk up Franklin Street and end on the Pier with a Candle light vigil and Water Ceremony Song, taught to us by Sharon Day, a Native American Water Woman who led us in an ancient and sacred Prayer Walk around Seneca Lake this fall.

For more information, contact Margie Rodgers, volunteer for Gas Free Seneca at or 607 738 5232.
Yvonne Taylor
Co-Founder, Gas Free Seneca

Call to Action – Saturday, Meet Cuomo

Please forward widely!

For the first time since last summer, Governor Cuomo will be appearing in town to promote emergency preparedness. We will be grabbing this opportunity to tell the him that the Southern Tier will not be fracked.

Let’s welcome him to the Southern Tier with a huge crowd urging him to protect our environment and health by banning fracking now.

Our following the Governor to all of his public events is a significant reason why we don’t have fracking here in NY.

Bring signs and be ready to chant!

Date: Saturday, March 15th, 8:30 am
Location: Outside of Events Center on SUNY Binghamton Campus, 4400 Vestal Parkway East, Vestal. Parking details to come

Facebook event (Please share and join!):

New York’s Energy Plan – Public Forum

New York’s Energy Plan: Scaling up Renewables or Business as Usual?

Governor Cuomo’s Draft 2014 NY Energy Plan sets some bold goals for clean energy and increased energy efficiency.  However, it also predicts continued and accelerated expansion of natural gas infrastructure in NY.   Some see these directions as contradictory.

A free public forum about the Energy Plan will be held on Wednesday, March 5, 6:30 – 8:30 PM at the Tompkins County Library, Borg Warner Room, 101 E. Green Street, Ithaca.

Experts will present both strengths and weaknesses in the plan, and explain how the public can voice their opinions.  Sponsors urge everyone concerned about climate change and in favor of switching to renewable energy sources to learn about this draft plan for NY’s energy future.

Featured speakers are Jackson Morris, Senior Energy & Climate Analyst with NRDC and former senior policy analyst with Pace Law School’s Energy & Climate Center, and Dr. Brice Smith, Associate Professor and Chair of Physics at SUNY Cortland and former senior scientist at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.

Dr. Tony Ingraffea, Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University, will moderate the event.

To see the Draft 2014 NY Energy Plan, go to

The forum is sponsored by Social Ventures and Tompkins County Environmental Management Council

For more information, contact Sara Hess at or Irene Weiser at