Center in the Park’s Senior Environment Corps hosted a wonderful event on Friday, September 19: their annual Environment Day. TTF was proud to be able to come out and meet with community members and celebrate all of the Senior Environment Corp’s hard work. For those of you who don’t know, the Senior Environment Corps is a dedicated group seniors who, among many other things, monitors the water quality in our local waterways. If you want to lean more, you can go to the SEC website, or check out this great documentary about them, Knee Deep.
In addition to the Senior Environment Corps, there were plenty of local organizations representing Philadelphia’s environmental and senior communities, including: Friends of the Wissahickon, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadephia Water Department, Philadelphia Senior Center, The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Hansberry Garden and Nature Center, and Center in the Park. Speakers included John Armstead from the EPA, who talked about some of the connections between the environment, economics and health, and Drew Brown from Philadelphia Water Department, who explained the water cycle and some of our specific water issues in Philadelphia.
Thanks to everyone for a great event!
Ashley and Katie work the TTF Display Table at Environment Day
Katie and Fred Lewis, Volunteer Coordinator for Senior Environment Corps and TTF Board Member
On Saturday, September 12th, Urban Studio, a program of Green Village Philadelphia, held a charette to involve stakeholders from local environmental organizations and community groups in the process of designing an innovative rain collection system.
The goal of this meeting was to break away from the standard rain “barrel” and design something more functional that appeals to the needs of a greater population. The group developed a set of design criteria that included things such as reasonable cost, space efficiency and ease of installation. The group was then broken into teams and given an hour to design three new rain collection systems.
The new designs tended toward aesthetics, dual-function and modularity. The most common designs were water holding benches and flow-through planters.
Proposed designs will be presented at an interactive workshop on Thursday, October 8th, from 6 – 9pm at 1205 North 4th Street 1st Floor, as part of Design Philadelphia’s annual design celebration.
On Wednesday, September 9th, the residents of Ross St held a meeting to discuss plans to make their block the first green street in the Awbury/Cliveden Neighborhood. The meeting started out with a brief presentation by Chris Metcalf from Urban Eco Electric. UEE is offering to lease solar panels to residents and reduce their energy bills.
Joanne Dahme of the Philadelphia Water Department presented information on the proposed green streets initiative and community members responded with a series of questions about how these changes were going to affect them. Questions ranged from the possibility of price increases in water bills to the creation of green jobs related to the installation of the green street.
Ross Street is the first street in this neighborhood slated to receive stormwater detainment features such as Tree Trenches and bump out gardens, which are designed to capture storm water at the source. The PWD estimates that each project with take 6-8 weeks and cost between $200,000 – $250,000. The money will come from government stimulus package as well as rate-payer dollars.
Overall the meeting was very positive. As one hesitant community member pointed out, “Change is scary.” While this can be true, this project is a very exciting new initiative. Another resident aptly stated that “It is not about the cost of the project, but the worth. This project is not only good for the current residents, but will help to protect the environment, and beautify the neighborhood for generations to come.”
A follow up meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on October 3rd where the structural designs will be presented. Please contact us for more information.
The New York Times has a great new series on water pollution. One article, “Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering,” has some startling statistics:
The Times’s research also shows that last year, 40 percent of the nation’s community water systems violated the Safe Drinking Water Act at least once, according to an analysis of E.P.A. data. Those violations ranged from failing to maintain proper paperwork to allowing carcinogens into tap water. More than 23 million people received drinking water from municipal systems that violated a health-based standard.
As one citizen quoted in the article asked, “How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?”
There is also an innovative tool that allows readers to check on violations around the country. The Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed looks good, but there are plenty of violations in the state of Pennsylvania. You can also check out the levels of atrazine (a weed killer) in your drinking water. Pennsylvania seems to be doing a good job in this regard.
This series looks like it is going to have lots of fascinating features, and we’ll be sure to keep mentioning them here!
The Philadelphia Water Department’s “Green City, Clean Waters” plan is now available online at www.phillywatersheds.org/ltcpu/!
The vision behind the Green City, Clean Waters Plan is to unite the City of Philadelphia with its water environment, creating a green legacy for future generations while incorporating a balance between ecology, economics and equity. The $1.6 billion plan includes strong commitments to: green stormwater infrastructure, stream corridor restoration and preservation, and wet weather treatment plant upgrades.
The Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association is looking for an Executive Director. The deadline for applications is October 1, 2009, and more details are available here [.pdf].
From the article:
Mexico City becomes the second large metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw the bags. San Francisco in March 2007 enacted an ordinance that gave supermarkets six months and large chain pharmacies about a year to phase out the bags. Los Angeles is set to impose a ban if the state of California does not enact a statewide 25-cent fee per bag by July.
About 90 percent of the bags used in the United States are not recycled.
Read the whole thing here.
Check out all this cool e-waste news from the most recent PennFuture newsletter:
Podcast of the Week: Your computer’s dead. Now what?
In this week’s podcast, PennFuture’s western Pennsylvania Outreach Coordinator Joylette Portlock takes you on an audio tour of eLoop LLC, an ethical electronics recycling firm in Plum Borough, just outside of Pittsburgh. You’ll hear Ned Eldridge, eLoop’s president and CEO; Penny Holden, vice president of sales; and Jimmi Burns, director of operations, describe the recycling process step-by-step. You’ll learn exactly how our electronic waste the fastest growing waste stream in the world should be disposed of. Turns out our televisions, computers, cell phones, PDAs, printers, etc., are full of toxic chemicals that must be disposed of as hazardous waste, and precious metals and other valuable components that can be reused.
Unfortunately, there is no law in Pennsylvania banning all this electronic waste from our landfills. But that could change. Two e-recycling bills currently before the Pennsylvania General Assembly – HB 708 and SB 816. These bills will require manufacturers of electronics to take back their old products and arrange for them to be responsibly recycled. HB 708 has been approved by the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and could be scheduled for a vote by the full House soon. SB 816 is currently before the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
In late June, PennFuture, eLoopLLC, and the Pennsylvania Resources Council held a special electronics recycling event as part of the Black and Gold City Goes Green Campaign. With just a few days notice, more than 350 Pittsburghers brought their old electronics to Heinz Field and paid to recycle three truckloads – about 20 tons – of old televisions, computers and more. The effort kept between six and seven tons of lead out of landfills.
Here’s an interesting e-waste article from the New York Times. This one focuses mostly on the confusing patchwork of state laws regarding e-waste. Exactly whose responsibility is it? State governments? The federal government? Electronics manufacturers? Electronics consumers?
From the article:
The E.P.A. estimates that 2.6 million tons of electronic waste were dropped into landfills in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available. Once buried, the waste leaches poisons and heavy metals into soil and groundwater.
Recycling programs do not address the problem of electronics that are already leaching poison in landfills. Nor do they prevent the frequent shipment of plastic shells covered with chemical flame retardants overseas to poor and developing nations; once there, they are often incinerated, because they cannot be reused, and spew toxic chemicals into the air.
The Office of the Inspector General at the Justice Department has a continuing investigation into accusations that several federal prisons with electronics recycling contracts had used inmates to do the work without taking adequate safety precautions, exposing them to unhealthy levels of airborne particles.
Ultimately, said Ms. Kyle, coordinator of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, recycling does not eliminate the root problem: the vast amount of electronics generated in the first place and fated for disposal.
Read the whole article here.
We just came across this really interesting article from the Boston Globe.
Last February, the town of Shapleigh, Maine, population 2,326, passed an unusual ordinance. Like nearby towns, Shapleigh sought to protect its aquifers from the Nestle Corporation, which draws heavily on the region for its Poland Spring bottled water. Some Maine towns had acquiesced, others had protested, and one was locked in a protracted legal battle.
Shapleigh tried something new – a move at once humble in its method and audacious in its ambition. At a town meeting, residents voted, 114-66, to endow all of the town’s natural assets with legal rights: “Natural communities and ecosystems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist, flourish and naturally evolve within the Town of Shapleigh.” It further decreed that any town resident had “standing” to seek relief for damages caused to nature – permitting, for example, a lawsuit on behalf of a stream.
Read the whole article here.