About “Building Bridges”

Building Bridges Toward Socially Just and Ecologically Sound Local Economy:

A collaboration of organizations including the Dorothy Cotton Institute, Sustainable Tompkins, Natural Leaders Initiative, CCE Environment ProgramWhole Community Project, CCE’s Green Jobs Program, Ithaca College’s Commited-to-Change Program, Groundswell Center, Alternatives Federal Credit Union (AFCU) , the Multicultural Resource Center, Center for Transformative Action (CTA) and Dryden Solutions launched the Building Bridges initiative.

On Nov. 15-16, 2011,  over 100 community members — representing government, business, community programs, foundations, investors and individual entrepreneurs– came together to strengthen relationships, develop a shared vision, and identify ways to build bridges between local sustainability and social justice efforts that will result in a socially just, resilient regional economy that preserves and maintains our natural environment.


The initiative identifies  “equity”  as the preferred driver of both economic development and ecological sustainability, and prioritizes jobs for low-income people both in the city and in rural towns.  The ultimate goals are eliminating structural poverty and racism, creating a local economy that works for everyone, and protecting the ecosystems that sustain the region.




The response to this two-day effort was very positive. Participants built new relationships and made many concrete commitments to new or renewed action, while also acknowledging the serious challenges and real work ahead. The planning group is committed to maintaining the momentum from the Building Bridges workshop and drawing more people into the initiative. More information about what h

Carl Anthony and Paloma Pavel (Earth House Center)

appened at the workshop and some of the commitments that were made to move this agenda forward will be available on this and other websites in the coming weeks. The two-day event was supported by Breakthrough Communities (Earth House Center), a national organization that advocates an inclusive green economy.


Goals of the Building Bridges Initiative:

  1. Creating a shared vision, analysis, public narrative and the political will to make “equity” a central driver of economic growth.

  2. Building relationships across race, class and place.

  3. A common social and financial capital investment strategy.

  4. Building Capacity




Themes for Socially Just Economic Development:

  • Food Justice and Sustainable Food Systems

  • Green Energy Jobs

  • Entrepreneurship and Incubating Small Businesses

  • Building Demand for  Socially Just and Sustainable Lifestyle, Products, Services, Food and Energy

  • Workforce Preparation, Training and Support

  • Local Financial Green Investing


Featured Projects:

  • eLAB

Eldred Harris-eLAB








  • Farm Incubator Program

  • Get Your Green Back (GYGB)

  • Rebuilding the Wall

Reverend Nathaniel Wright-Rebuilding the Wall








  • Retrofitting Project

  • ReUse Center

  • Whole Community Project


Building Bridges Workshop Powerpoint Presentation



For more information, contact: Kirby Edmonds, Dorothy Cotton Institute Senior Fellow and Program Coordinator

tfckirby@aol.com. Phone: 607-277-3401

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