LIFT Review: Choosing a Sustainable Future: Ideas and Inspiration from Ithaca
CHOOSING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: IDEAS AND INSPIRATION FROM ITHACA, NY. By Liz Walker
Did you know that Lyttelton Timebank was the first one in New Zealand? Margaret Jefferies, of Project Lyttelton, made a visit in 2004 to Ithaca, New York, with Helen Dew of Living Economies, after attending a conference on complementary currencies, and came back and started Lyttelton Timebank in 2005. Since then, Timebanking has gradually spread all over New Zealand. So has Living Economies, the backbone of the LIFT Library.
Margaret is a real “kick-starter”, which is why she visited Ithaca, because that city has a history of initiating ideas and systems that are focussed on community, sustainability, cooperation, local production, environmental stewardship, social justice, and honest prosperity.
This book, published in 2010, covers a huge range of developments in that area of Ithaca City and Tompkins County, famous for its Cornell University, its liberal politics, its Farmers Market and so on.
As the world’s population becomes increasingly based in expanding cities, and focussed on making money, the qualities of village and small community life are easily lost, along with our connection to nature. But grassroots action valuing cooperation between people and respect for all life is growing in many countries, including New Zealand. LIFT Library has much material on this aspect.
This book is a leader in this area. I urge all LIFT members who care about improving our local world to read it (as quickly as possible, so others can too!) and choose an aspect introduced here that you can focus on yourself. In the meantime, if you go to Youtube and look for Liz Walker, Ecovillage in Ithaca, you’ll see her background, which got her into writing this book.
Here are just a few topics from the 15 chapters, that I feel are especially relevant for us here:
Learning from the First Nations (in our case, Maori)
Growing a local food culture – Farmers Market, Greenstar Cooperative Market, Community Supported Agriculture….
Green Building/Green Energy – EcoVillage…
Building a Livable City – smart land use and transportation alternatives – including bikeability and walkability, biodiesel, the Commons….
Local, Living Economy – Sustainable Enterprise and Entrepreneur Network, Transitioning to a Local Economy, Local Currency (Ithaca Hours)….
Educating for a Sustainable Future – at all levels….
Getting the Word Out – Alternative Media (remember, this was written before the internet took over)
Health and Wellness for All – Whole Community Project, Healthy School Food Project…
Addressing Racism – a problem that is obvious in the US, but is bigger here than we like to admit..
Ithaca is Gorges – (referring to the local beauty of nature) Energy Boom, Water Quality Bust? (sounds like us!) Preserving Our Natural Legacy…
Turning Waste Into Gold – Waste as a resource, Garbage Capital, Green Purchasing….
Local Government and Institutional Change – Cornell University’s Climate Action Plan 2009 details – the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050 – we’re a long way behind!....
Changing Culture, Changing Lives – Save a Forest…Plant Yourself, SewGreen…
Art at the Heart – Ithaca Celebrates - festivals, arts, theatre, creativity…. (sounds like us!)
Bringing it All Together – Creating a Positive Future, Transition Towns, Specific Tools for Building a Future….
I strongly recommend this book to LIFT members who are interested in helping improve our world in small, ground-level, local ways. An easy read. One of the best in the library!