Dryden Solutions – March 10th 2009
Dryden Solutions is a monthly conversation among Town of Dryden residents on topics that are important to us in our town, including Self Reliance, Energy, Food, Strengthening Community, Transportation, and Conservation. In March we began the process of finding out what is already happening in the town connected to these concerns. We heard from two people who are doing a lot to help our community become stronger, Danny Fairchild, and David Makar.
Danny Fairchild, fifth grade teacher at the Dryden Elementary School, shared with us the amazing work he has been doing with the fifth grade students and others in the Dryden School District. The fifth grades have formed a “Green Team” in collaboration with the “Go Green Initiative” of the Tompkins County Solid Waste people, especially Lynette Short (who grew up in Dryden), and with a Dryden Youth Opportunity grant. The students started to be concerned when they saw on their stage the TWENTY ONE full garbage bags that held the “trash” from ONE lunch time. They did the math and realized that meant over 100 bags per week, just for their school.
So they made a plan. They analyzed what was in the bags, and began to think about how they could reduce the amount of stuff that was going every day into the landfill. They began a program to separate the “trash,” putting the juice and milk containers in special recycling bins, stacking the non-recyclable styrofoam trays to take up less space, and eventually separating out the food wastes to go into the compost (which is picked up by Cayuga Compost and turned into soil-enriching compost). When they were done they had reduced the number of garbage bags per lunch from 21 to TWO. The fourth and fifth “Go Green Ambassadors” cover every lunch period, helping students get things in the right bins, and educating their peers.
Now they were on a roll: they wanted to take it District-wide. The Superintendent of Dryden Schools, Sandy Sherwood, is supportive of this effort, but stressed that the program had to be budget-neutral, costing the District no more than they were currently spending on tipping fees for land-filling the garbage. The students did the numbers and found that no only would recycling and composting not cost more, it would save the District money. Now there is a “Green Team” in every school building in the District. Danny has a power point with all the dollar amounts and stats about how much “waste” is diverted and what the District is saving. The students also make “I believe …” statements about their work on the “Green Team.” To give you an idea of the scale, the District uses over 1200 juice and milk cartons per DAY.
So what’s next? The “Green Teams” would like to get rid of the styrofoam trays, and there are compostable trays (and soup cups and utensils) available, but they are a little more expensive than that darn Styrofoam. The styrofoam costs $22 per 500, or less than 5¢ per tray. The compostable trays (which are made from corn, and could go right in with the food scraps) cost $32 for 400, or about 8¢ per tray. They are currently trying to figure out how to solve this. They are selling re-usable grocery bags, and thinking about other projects they could do to pay for the more expensive trays.
If you would like to get involved or help in any way you can contact Danny Fairchild through the Elementary School, 844-5361. For more information on TC Solid Waste school programs see www.recycletompkins.org and click on “Schools,” and go to www.gogreeninitiative.org.
For information about the composting service see www.pandsexcavating.com and click on Cayuga Compost.
David Makar, Deputy Supervisor on the Dryden Town Board, has been interested for some time in how Dryden will address climate change. He is the liaison to the Conservation Board, which the Town of Dryden established to assist the Board and staff in the creation and implementation of local laws, plans, and policies related to environmental protection and management, open space, natural areas, and agriculture. The Conservation Board is a public board with nine voting members. David and others began the group called DREW, Dryden Renewable Energy Workgroup as a group with more open and accessible public participation. Members of the Conservation Board have been involved with DREW from the beginning.
DREW is set up to get information, find resources, and work to get things done. DREW is open to the public and anyone is welcome to join. Currently there are roughly three dozen regular attendees in the workgroup, both Republicans and Democrats, from all over the town. The group saw three areas in which change could happen: the Town itself, Businesses, and Individuals. They identified three issues that need attention: Transportation, Energy generation, and Local food. The first focus they chose is Energy, specifically heating and electrical use in buildings. To inform themselves they have invited a series of speakers to share with them what is happening in other parts of the county and the country. People who have come to share information include Anthony Nekut, local heating energy expert, people to talk about geothermal heating and cooling, folks from Tatum Engineering, and Dick Cahoon from Cornell.
The workgroup decided that before tackling energy generation issues it made sense to address energy conservation and energy efficiency. New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) was helpful in locating programs that would provide money or loans for energy audits of buildings, and several Town buildings became the focus of audits. Highway Superintendent Jack Bush has begun an audit of the Town highway barns, and the ideas generated from the audit of the old Town Hall are being implemented now. By spending something in the range of $13,000 now on the old Town Hall, the Town can save over $100,000 in energy costs over ten years. Next up is the new Town Hall. DREW also hopes to help with audits for all the school buildings, the Fire Halls, and Community Centers. David hopes to get about $46,000 added to the Town budget for housing audits from existing HUD payback funds.
To address the needs of individuals in upgrading homes and making them more energy efficient, Town Board member Jason Leifer joined David in developing a weatherization grant program in 2008. Individuals can apply for up to $1500 to pay for an audit and the work that needs to be done. People can make application to the Town for these grants, and David hopes to keep applying for these funds so that more and more homes can take advantage of this opportunity for saving energy dollars and addressing climate change.
For businesses DREW is identifying low-interest loans for energy efficiency and conservation. Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD) has loans available for up to $100,000 for local businesses, and Alternatives federal Credit Union (AFCU) has an IDA (Individual Development Account) program that can provide $2,000 for business asset acquisition; including energy star appliances. DREW is continuing its efforts to locate resources for Dryden businesses.
What’s next for DREW? David said he would love to see new people join to help move the work forward faster. They know what needs to be done, but can only move so fast. The main tasks are spreading the word, talking to people, giving information, helping to fill out applications, and other simple tasks, but each takes time. David said they also need to create a report of what they have done so far, so that more people can see what’s happening and what could happen. And they want to make a roadmap of what to tackle next. They hope to strengthen their connections to business owners, and create more awareness of what is available to help businesses save money on energy. They will also approach the Villages in the Town to encourage them to apply for the same Federal money that the Town is using to make loans for audits. Dryden Solutions and DREW are meeting together in April (second Tuesday at the Dryden community Cafe) to support each other’s work. Everyone is welcome to that conversation.
Notes from April 14th 2009 Dryden Solutions conversation
Our topic was residential energy use, including electricity and heat. We were asking ourselves how the Town of Dryden might best prepare itself for the coming energy crunch. What options would we like to help jump-start? How might Dryden residents supply ourselves with heat and electricity in the future? What are some options that other communities are trying? How can we get organized to make the transition?
We talked together in small groups and then shared the thinking in the large group. Here are the thoughts and ideas that emerged.
The importance of increasing Education and Awareness about energy issues throughout the Town, including what’s available, or might be.
First priority is reducing the need for heat and energy by making homes more energy efficient. Important to do this alongside urging renewable options.
The need for low-income options for weatherization. People need to know what’s available and how to apply for it.
We need solutions that meet the needs of the whole community … need to take a long term perspective for community energy like solar or wind. And at the same time identify short term things that individual people can do right away.
We need to find and share more information about solar and wind, and dispel some misinformation about renewable energy.
For example, some people are skeptical about solar energy in this climate. But annually we get 70% of the solar input that San Diego gets. We don’t get it evenly all year round, but mostly in the summer. This affects the kinds of installations that work best here.
There are places in the country where blocks of homes are coordinating to do communal-buys of energy, so that they can get a better price than if each home were to buy individually. We could coordinate something like this in some neighborhoods in the Town.
Small wind turbines are available that can supply all or most of the power that a home needs. A 10 megawatt system has about a ten year payout (that is, it will pay in savings for the up front cost of the system in ten years). Five megawatts is often sufficient for an individual home. These systems can be affordable.
Some communities have arranged for loans that stay with the house if it is sold, rather than with the original home owner. This is reassuring since it is not guaranteed that you can get the cost back in the selling price.
It is appealing for people to think about how much money they will save when they make these efficiency changes, but we also need to stress that this is a moral issue. That what we do or don’t do now will affect our children and their children; that we are at a global tipping point for the planet. It’s not just about finances. We need to stress both; they compliment each other.
Whatever we do we need to remember the impact on low-income people in our community.
We could organize a campaign (with Cooperative Extension) of sending students to low income homes to educate about energy efficiency.
We would like information about Groton’s municipally owned electric utility. (We would have to lobby to change the state law allowing these publically owned systems.) There are over 200 publically owned utilities in the country.
As a group we decided that the most important priority for Dryden is Education and Outreach, to get more people aware.
Suggestions for Education and Outreach:
- That we have concrete goals for our awareness campaign, so that we can reach for and see some results from our work.
- That we each make a personal action plan for changes in our own homes and energy use.
- That we be ambassadors, modeling attitudes and changes, working with friends and neighbors.
- That we work to get people engaged with NYSERDA to do home energy audits.
- That we keep track, as a community, of how much change we have made, perhaps using Performance Systems “Compass” tool online.
- That we work with Cooperative Extension’s Youth Educators.
- That we use Dairy Days as a place to share information.
- Start a series of information sessions at the Café about different renewable energy options – solar, wind, geothermal.
- That we connect with Groton and get more information about their community.
- Renewable Home Tours for people to see what others are doing.
- Help people understand the options, including low-income options, easy energy reduction and money saving changes, and understanding the numbers.
There will be another conversation on May 12th at the Café where we will make a more specific plan for Education and Outreach. Hopefully we will each identify some action that we can take to move this forward. We also hope to identify a way to involve the schools. The May Dryden Solutions conversation is open to anyone. Come if you can, and share again in the good energy. And if you can’t come, please send a neighbor or friend so they can move us all forward. THANK YOU ALL for coming and bringing such great ideas and energy to our conversation! I look forward to working together!
Dryden Solutions, May 12th, 2009 Notes from our Meeting
Attending: David Makar, Anne Rhodes, Julia and Tim Kelahan, Mary Ann Sumner, Mike Lane, Martha Ferger, Ken Schlather, Josue Kyle Aceves
Dryden Community Center Café
Anyone who is interested in moving the Town of Dryden toward more energy efficiency and renewable energy should consider coming to the DREW meeting on June 15th 7-9pm at the Dryden Community Center Cafe (see below).
Notes from our meeting May 12th : Residential Heating and Electric: Efficiency and Conservation Education & Outreach
1. What is the message we want to reach out with or educate about?
- We want to raise awareness of the benefits of, and options for conservation of energy and investments in efficiency.
- We debated the benefits of having a more focused message vs. a more comprehensive message. Do we want to be educating about short term energy saving, immediate actions that could be taken, or long range renewable options and possibilities? Or both? There are many topics we could talk about.
- Simpler, shorter messages may be more successful, and have more results.
- Different people may resonate with different kinds of messages. People have different interests and may respond to different messages. We could create several different messages, focused differently.
- We need to focus on Energy efficiency before renewable energy. And identify specific places to have the more long-term discussions about renewables.
2. How might we get the message out?
- There is no substitute for face to face.
- People may have resistance because they perceive a stigma attached to participating in programs to retrofitting their home – do not want to be perceived as “low-income.”
- We need to create a norm of participation … create models of participation among visible people and leadership.
3. Cooperative Extension’s Plans for the summer
Cooperative Extension is planning an Outreach program to be implemented this summer.
They plan to reach 16 neighborhoods, with 80 college workforce development students going door to door to share information about programs that are available to help with efficiency upgrades in people’s homes and tips for conservation. There will be two to three visits per house, with follow up about actions taken and what is needed next. The goal for CCE is to have every household that they reach take some action toward energy efficiency and/or conservation.
They have found that people are not widely utilizing the programs that are available, partly because there is such a wide array of different initiatives through different agencies, with different qualifications. There are dozens of different programs, tens of different profile categories, state programs, federal programs, local programs, some via Tompkins Community Action, some through Performance Systems Consulting, for weatherization, for efficiency, for retrofits, and each has different income qualifications and guidelines. For example: 62+ age, own home, 120% of poverty, assets < $10,000 is eligible for $10K of work, with $9K of it funded.
CCE has simplified the message and designed an approach that sounded good to us. They will go door to door, give information about the programs by handing out a set of cards with information and contacts. Each card will be targeted to a different income level; everyone will get all the cards so that people do not have to share personal information, but can contact the appropriate agency. There are programs available for all income levels – from rebates to tax breaks – so no one need be left out.
People will be given information about how to check the house efficiency on line (calculations based on square feet of home) and they will get a list of low-cost/no-cost changes that could be done, showing how much money they could save with each (on a CDRom showing how to). There will be alternate versions for people without computers. People will also receive a bag of freebies.
CCE also plans to complete 200 home energy audits this summer, in the targeted neighborhoods, focusing first on formal and informal leaders in the communities who could serve as a conduit for getting the message out about audits and the money that could be saved through implementation of the identified solutions. CCE is preparing a collection of video clips of people who have had audits done and made some changes – to be used as an advertisement encouraging others to do audits. They are hoping that the peer to peer messages will be convincing for many different communities.
They are working on developing an “energy path” like the Credit Union’s “Credit Path” to identify the steps along the way for people who are reducing energy use.
And they are willing to make one or two or three of their neighborhoods be in the Town of Dryden.
- Door to Door with information and contact cards: Weatherization to TC Action, information about how to get an audit (and options for payment).
- Average year TCA does 80 houses; goal for 2009: 500 houses!
- Self Administered: Utility Bill x square feet = usage; relative to nationally and neighborhood
- Include county legislators, town elected officials, make it web based
- Bag of Freebies (i.e. CFL saves $5.70 per year)
- Walk through of home; leave CD Rom w/ videos of “How To”
- Follow-up to see what actions have been taken and what’s next.
4. What can we do in the Town of Dryden to support/help/augment this program?
- Identify Neighborhoods we think would be good places to start in the Town.
- Identify Leaders in those targeted neighborhoods – both formal and informal influential people.
- Information Sharing \ Raise Awareness about this campaign.
- Door to Door Participation, identify youth: Hire Local: workforce development (at risk and income qualified)
- Identify examples of people who have done audits and/or made changes, for the video clips. And to make these examples more visible in the Town.
- Find a way to make visible the number of households participating, or the amount of $ saved, or the amount of energy saved, etc. Create a norm of participation, and create excitement about reaching a higher goal.
- The Town of Dryden is already reviewing applications for 15-20 projects that will be funded this year, for people to do about $15k – $20k worth of conservation and efficiency upgrades.
- Encourage or help CCE to get the Journal to once a week print a story and photo of someone who has had an audit and done some work. Help identify people and get the photos and the stories from Dryden.
- Dryden will be hiring a part-time Sustainability Coordinator for the Town (sharing the position with the Town of Ithaca half time).
Anyone who is interested in moving the Town of Dryden toward more energy efficiency and renewable energy should consider coming to the DREW meeting on June 15th 7-9pm at the Dryden Community Center Cafe.
5. What next?
Dryden Renewable Energy Workgroup will meet on June 15th with those from our April and May conversations who are interested in moving these initiatives forward. This will be a working meeting where we will specifically define tasks to reach our goal of improving energy efficiency in 100% of Dryden structures, and identify or brainstorm people who might be willing to take on small, specific actions (including ourselves) toward that goal.
ACTIONS Here are some actions that we can consider on the 15th. Other actions may be identified by the group
1. Identify our goals for the Town. Proposal:
GOAL: ENERGY INDEPENDENCE BEGINS AT HOME: Dryden’s Goal is to have 100% of the structures in the Town of Dryden be weatherized, made energy efficient, have ‘Home Performance by Energy Star’ compliance, or receive a passing grade with the PSD Green Compass.
2. We identified Neighborhoods that we might want to start with. CCE would like about 200 homes in each neighborhood they work with. We proposed the following neighborhoods, and Supervisor Sumner will do tax base analysis and housing stock review in order to make the final choices.
Etna (Community Center, Fall Creek Parke Trailer Park, Pinckney Road Park)
Lee Road and Little Creek Park (Village of Dryden)
Village of Freeville (work with Community Association)
Hanshaw Village – Youth and Parent group: “YOURS/OURS” Program (CCE already working here.)
Formal and Informal leadership to become models
Youth in neighborhood who could qualify
Housing Stock that would make the most difference if needs addressed
3. Once the neighborhoods are finalized we need to do a brainstorm about leadership and youth who might work on the project.
4. Marketing plan. How to raise awareness in the town of CCE’s initiative, of what’s available, of conservation and efficiency in general. Need plans for different areas of the Town, to different constituencies.
Content to be included:
- Efficiency before renewables.
- We need to think about how to reduce the stigma of having the work done, or working with an agency. Include messages that “Everybody Gets a Break!” (There’s Something for Everyone – owner occupied homes, single family homes and multi-family homes, renters, and landlords.)
- We talked about how we could get the needed sense of urgency, and whether fear works as a motivator. We decided that messages about “It’s easy.” And “energy independence” and “everybody’s doing it” might result in more action than fear-based messages. We thought about a proactive message, like “avoid volatile energy prices (remember last year),” “stop worrying about it.”
- Free Stuff!
- Start saving money today!
- Sharing actual information, such as the cost of fans vs. air conditioning. And economists have done the numbers: Also: that you can save 30%-40% on energy costs. (more specific information from CCE) Savings: For every $1M in energy savings between 7 and 20 new jobs are created. $2500/ year — 30% = $750 per house x 36,000 houses = $18 Million = 125 – 200 jobs.
- Some way to record our progress toward our goal. Maybe identify a reasonable number of years to 100% participation, and celebrating every 10% or 20% along the way. Annual or quarterly objectives. Reporting ideas: Barometer, Thermometer, Quarterly Goals, Documented Benchmarks, Parcel Maps, “We’re looking for 15 houses this week”
- Publicize our goals. Short Term and Long Term.
- Jobs: energy efficiency will create jobs and save money and energy, including local jobs.
- Every house in Dryden!
5. Encourage and help CCE to create and publicize a program for landlords. We need to create a list of landlords in the Town of Dryden. Raise awareness about renters’ options (NYSERDA Multifamily Homes). In general, if the tenant qualifies then the work can be done.
6. Create a database of examples in the Town of finished audits, renewables installed, efficiency changes, etc. Find Dryden examples for Ithaca Journal stories.
7. Each of us as individuals can identify people we know with whom we could have a conversation to spread the message and encourage audits and work.
8. See if we can think of incentives to participate. Enter a drawing to win something … such as an energy efficient refrigerator. Or some other incentive.
9. Help CCE work on their “energy path.”
10. Gather and talk with the school-based people who are working on these issues to see what role the schools might play in any of this.
11. Create Tools for: Individuals:
Dryden Solutions – Conversation about FOOD – June 9th 2009
DRYDEN SOLUTIONS is a series of conversations held every second Tuesday of the month at the Dryden Community Center Café from 7-9pm.
Energy ☼ Food ☼ Community ☼ Transportation ☼ Conservation ☼ Self-Reliance
For our June Dryden Solutions session we met at the Café to talk about all things Food in the Town of Dryden. Here are the notes from our conversation.
Barter the Bounty – Design a system so that people can offer what they have too much of – like zucchini – and find what they need more of. Maybe a “Surplus Board” at the Café where you can list “Want” and “Have Extra.” Also want a bartering site at the new Wednesday Dryden Farmer’s Market.
Canning Food – Organize a way to teach people how to can and preserve food, as well as set up canning sessions, and share equipment. There is a commercial kitchen at the Varna Community Center that would be big enough for a community canning session. Both Sharon Patte and Cathy Wakeman have experience canning and offered to help people learn. Soon the 4-H Acres kitchen may be certified.
Something for kids in Dryden that teaches about growing things – like the Children’s Garden in Ithaca. Jemila said that Tompkins County Action has a Head Start program for kids and gardening. The Elementary School has a school garden at which people can volunteer during the summer. Cathy said the Contact person is Terry Pelton who is a Special Ed Kindergarten teacher. BOCES has a spring gardening program for children with disabilities.
Farmer’s Market – So far, the idea is to have a local Farmer’s Market at Montgomery Park on Wednesdays in the summer when the music is happening. Music is from 6:30 to 8:00, so maybe the market could start at 5:00 or 6:00. Melissa Bianconi from the Town Recreation Dept. is the person who is organizing it (844-8888 firstname.lastname@example.org).
They are working on the permitting process, and getting people who want to bring things to sell. We also talked about a bartering site for exchanges. There are small Farmer’s Markets in Brooktondale, Lansing, Trumansburg, Cortland, and Virgil, besides Ithaca.
Learning: What process could we set up for people to learn how to garden? Kerra said she would be willing to help people who have not gardened before.
Questions – Master Gardeners have a phone line and email that you can contact if you have a gardening question: 272-2292 and email@example.com .
Sharing seeds – learning to save heirloom seeds for the next year. And a process for sharing seeds with each other.
Community Garden – (with deer fencing) for apartment dwellers or people who do not have enough land or who have too many deer around. David will look into helping to get a master plan developed for the land behind the Town Hall. That would be a logical place for a Town Garden. Josh Dolan at Cooperative Extension is keeping in touch with others who are forming community gardens- maybe we could get together with others to see how it is working.
Community Supported Agriculture – there is a list of CSA’s at Cooperative Extension. We do have 3Sisters CSA on Snyder Hill in Dryden (firstname.lastname@example.org) but Monika said she thinks it is full. Monika is working on another Dryden CSA.
Resources for low-income people –
- Healthy Food for all
- Some CSA’s have shares at 40% off for low income people
- Farmer’s Markets can accept foodstamps
- There is a Food Pantry in Freeville at the Methodist Church every other Monday and the Methodist Church in Dryden on Wednesdays. How can we get more fresh food at the Food Pantry? Hook up the local Farmer’s Market or CSA with the Pantry? Someone to offer land to grow food for the pantry?
- Friendship Donation Network
Home Delivery – “Garden Gate Delivery” will pick up produce at farms and deliver to your door.
Cooking – Can we set up something for people to learn about cooking nutritionally. Some classes at the Café? Helen Howard at Cooperative Extension is apparently giving classes (www.ccetompkins.org )
Information that people said they wanted:
- Requirements for selling food commercially.
- Alternatives to toxic pesticides.
- How to keep deer out of gardens. (people mentioned animal or human pee around the perimeter; creating small spaces with fences because deer do not like to jump into small spaces – like 12’ x 12’; also electric fences work; or a dog outside)
- What to do about slugs?
- Regulations about marketing beef, chicken, corn, raw milk, eggs.
- Cornell Berry class
- Ithacan – Ithaca canning cooperative
- Who in Dryden is marketing what? What can we buy local? Where are fresh local eggs sold in Dryden? Produce? Chicken? There is a county-wide local food guide available through Cooperative Extension. Monika said she will get some to the Café. (Carpenters sell their corn at Shurfine and elsewhere. They can set aside a large quantity for canning or whatever if you let them know a day ahead of time. Gabriel and Penelope Carpenter 844-5656. Sweet corn will be available around July 20th through early October. They also have local beef. )
- How could we identify people who have land that they would be willing to share for others to garden on?
Cooperative Extension will be holding their regular “Farm Trail” weekend in Dryden this year on August 1st and 2nd. If you have any farms to suggest for the Trail call Monika at Cooperative Extension 272-2292. We are hoping to have a note in the brochure about our work – whatever is happening in Dryden as a result of our conversations. Our own “Dryden Food Initiative”!
Dryden Solutions FOOD conversation July 2009 Action steps to follow up on June conversation.
Cathy Wakeman – How can we organize for people to learn how to can food? Do we do it in our homes, or find a larger place? Check on Varna kitchen or where? Church? (Elora?) TC3? If we do it in a larger place more people could participate at once, and share equipment. Probably people would respond best to an invitation to bring what they want to can and do it together in order to learn. (Maybe we could get Agway to give a discount on canners or jars and lids for people who attend.)
Josue Aceves and Jean Simmons – beginning the process of setting up community gardens. Focus first on a garden in the village of Dryden, using the land that the Town has. They are willing to give some of that land over to community gardens if they see that there are people who want it to happen and are willing to organize it.
Jean suggested starting with putting up signs to find people who are interested, gathering a group of at least 12 (15-20 would be great), and making a proposal to the Town Board. Another possibility is the land in from of Willowbrook (more visible). We needed to find out who owns it (Barb Finney?).
As the Dryden gardens get going we can keep track of what worked, and then the next step is to get gardens going in Freeville, Etna, and Homer. The Ithaca folks might have useful information about how their community gardens are organized.
Claudia Wise (and Kerra?) – What kinds of programs for kids might be good in Dryden? What ideas do people have about what kids of different ages might get interested in? Growing flowers to sell or give away? Growing food? Planting fruit – trees and berries – in the village? A children’s garden? Some programs could be intergenerational. What do we hope young people will learn and be able to do?
Café Board – Can we put up a “share board”? at the café? (Ask Cathy Wakeman if she would like to design it, or ask the members for a volunteer.) What does the board think about cooking classes at the café?