Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Working, Not Just Wishing, for a Happy New Year

We had a brief time away from Ithaca Blog for the holiday, and also from Ithaca, and got some perspective on what is especially good about our town, and how to maintain it.

The main thing, probably, is to get involved. Ithaca is flush with innovative organizations that improve the quality of life in this town and serve as a model for others. They all would benefit from your involvement:

- the Cancer Resource Center provides free services and support to people with cancer or recovering from cancer. They also have information and services for cancer screening and protection. The environment is low-key and friendly. They are located at 612 W. State Street.

- Loaves and Fishes transcends the idea of a soup kitchen in providing high-quality meals free of charge every day in a community setting at St. John's Episcopal Church. The setting is not one of a charity so much as a gathering spot and resource center where people are welcomed to take care of their needs, but also to explore, with others, how they can help themselves, and others. It is a potent environment. A simple first step to finding out about it is to go eat there. We guarantee you will be impressed.

- Ithaca Hours is a local currency system that circulates, to date, over $100,000 in local money to help individuals bring more money into their lives, by working for local money which they can spend with other people and businesses. Hours publishes a directory, a "local yellow pages" (it is also on line, at of hundreds of participants who do artwork, healing (Cayuga Medical Center is a member organization, among many others), construction, landscaping, painting, Internet providing, financial and other professional services, website production, yoga instruction, and much more.
Prominent participating businesses include GreenStar Coop, ABC Cafe, Alternatives Federal Credit Union, Ithaca Bakery, the Bookery, Lightlink, Small World Music, Sparrow's Wines and Liquors, Finger Lakes Beverages, Maxie's, Ithaca Guitar Works, and others - local businesses that realize that a local currency helps them compete with out-of-town chains. You can join and get listed in the directory for $10, for which you will also get 2 Ithaca Hours, worth US$20, to start. So you make money right away, and get involved with one of the world's leading independent currency systems, creating a new vision of money, based on sharing, not scarcity.

- the State Theater is a beautiful and venerable theater in the heart of downtown which is probably the finest venue for popular music between New York City and Toronto. Even in wintry, school-recessed January, they're presenting major acts: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Neko Case, and Richard Thompson (and in Febrauary, Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt; and Medeski, Martin, and Wood). You can contribute by buying a ticket, being wowed in an environment that is both palace and living room, and doing it often.

- Love Know No Bounds is a grassroots group that is not only bringing very real relief to stricken neighborhoods in New Orleans, but working to create an official Sister City relationship between Ithaca and New Orleans' 7th Ward.

- Ithaca has a vital downtown that is the envy of upstate New York. Every time you come downtown to eat or shop, you are supporting municipal health and combating car culture and its sprawl.

So it's not necessarily all work. But it works like work. Come outside, and get involved. Good fortune to you, and us all, in 2008.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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