Empowered Highlights Local Energy Efforts

Tuesday, 01 May 2012 11:18


By Kristie Snyder, 

GreenLeaf Editor

Solar-panelTompkins County is famous for its cloudiness. And it's quickly becoming famous for something else — renewable energy. Despite all those clouds, there's plenty of sun and wind, and more and more Tompkins residents are figuring out how to curb their fossil fuel consumption with a variety of sustainable energy approaches, from the tried-and-true to the purely experimental. A new locally produced documentary film, Empowered: Power from the People, highlights many of these efforts.

"Locally there is a huge trend" toward renewable energy, said Director Shira Golding Evergreen. "Art Weaver told me Renovus [a local renewable energy installer] has had as much work in the past two years as in the previous eight combined."

Those featured in the film live throughout Tompkins County, from Enfield to Caroline and at many points in between, including the City of Ithaca. They include households with pricey grid-tied solar systems, and those with low-budget off-grid efforts that include innovations like iceboxes and vegetable oil-fueled generators. Local solar installers Renovus Energy make an appearance, along with founder Art Weaver's new project, Weaver Wind. Also featured are the forthcoming Black Oak Wind Farm, along with the Ithaca Biodiesel Cooperative. Local social justice media group Green Guerrillas shows off its veggie oil-powered bus, and Town of Caroline council members proudly give a tour of the new town hall, which may not be beautiful, but will one day pay for itself with features including geothermal heat and an impressive photovoltaic array. You're sure to recognize friends and neighbors, or maybe those folks up the street you've been meaning to introduce yourself to — the ones with all those solar panels on their garage. The people profiled come from all walks of life. "We're hoping everyone sees someone in the film that they can relate to," says Evergreen.

Read more: Empowered Highlights Local Energy Efforts


Seeds Sown for Harvest: A Farewell to Kirtrina Baxter

Sunday, 01 April 2012 17:32


By Zuri Sabir

kirtrinabigOnce in a while you meet a person who contains so much of a sense of purpose — palpable and kinetic — you feel the change they seek happening during your conversation with them. Kirtrina Baxter is such a personality. She radiates an active and deliberate positivity. While she's intelligently probing any situation, you can watch her eyes searching faces, the room, and the Earth for places to plant love. Kirtrina is plenty live.

I'm not surprised when Kirtrina tells me she has been working in human services in varying ways for twelve years. To me, it seems a person with her disposition belongs in a place where she can rub off on others. She tells me that because of her father, a pastor, she has always been in a position of service to nurture a community.

"Service is a part of my life. When I was thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, when I evaluated the things that make me happy, what came up most was service to others," says Kirtrina, after she has ushered me to the front of Gimme! Coffee to buy me a cup of tea. "I realized I wouldn't be happy in a job just to make money for myself and my family, so I've always positioned myself in places that pay spiritually," she adds.

Read more: Seeds Sown for Harvest: A Farewell to Kirtrina Baxter

A Drop in the Ocean

Sunday, 01 April 2012 17:03


By Joe Romano,

Marketing Manager

Plastikos-Planet-MAXHow inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.

— Arthur C. Clarke

By the 1920s, the world had become a fanciful, fantastical, futuristic place. Art Deco, in design and architecture, and the technological advances that made our modern cities possible pointed to a bright and prosperous tomorrow. A strange new art form called surrealism challenged art, cinema and human perception to look beyond the mundane. We flew high above the ocean with "Lucky" Lindbergh from New York to Paris, never suspecting the Crash about to come. A "lost generation" of flappers and philosophers danced the Charleston in Prohibition speakeasies, or fantasized at grand movie palaces. In films like 1929s The Mysterious Island, the vehicles were not flying ships, but submarines bound for the ocean's floor, where they found a strange land populated by dragons, giant squid and an eerie humanoid race.

So it made sense that in 1930, a naturalist named William Beebe and an engineer named Otis Barton would engage in a quest to dive deep beneath the sea to view deep-sea creatures in their native habitat for the very first time. Such a modern endeavor would enlist technology, science and art. Barton designed and built the Bathysphere and the means to lower it. Beebe described the fantastical creatures via telephone to a woman at the surface, who took careful notes while an artist drew and painted the creatures. By the time they finished these dangerous oceanic explorations, 30 in all, Beebe and Barton had gone more than half a mile beneath the waves, to a dark, mysterious world of phosphorescent fish, sixty-foot sea serpents and species which had never been seen before, some of which have never been seen since. Said Beebe.

Read more: A Drop in the Ocean


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