Earth Day a colorful event in West Chester

By Bill Rettew, Daily Local News, 4/22/21

WEST CHESTER — Colorful chalk drawings covered much of the red bricks and concrete sidewalks along High Street to celebrate and recognize Thursday’s 51st Earth Day.

Kyle Hudson, candidate for mayor, chatted up the passersby midway down High Street and in front of the Methodist Church during Chalk the Walk. Earth Week events were organized through the grassroots West Chester Green Team.

“We only have one earth, there is no planet B,” was etched with chalk into the sidewalk at Hudson’s feet.

Former Mayor and state Rep. Dianne Herrin, D-156th, of West Chester, mingled with about two dozen Friends School students at the north end of High Street….

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Virtual forum on environmental topics with candidates for West Chester Mayor and Borough Council April 27

Non-partisan virtual forum on environmental topics with candidates for West Chester Mayor and Borough Council, sponsored by League of Women Voters of Chester County, West Chester NAACP, and West Chester Green Team, on Tuesday, April 27, at 7pm. RSVP here to get your personal signup link.

Earth Day chalking and art festival, West Chester, April 22, 2021

The initial text is from remarks by Borough resident Rani Norley at the opening ceremony outside Phillips Memorial Building, WCU, after her official unveiling of the 2021 Green Team yard sign marking it joining the Transition movement (close-up below; to order, see here) and, despite the blustery morning, surrounded by seasonal flowers. The following photos are of Earth Day art and observances along S. and N. High St. And the text at the end gives our own thoughts on Earth Day.

Thank you, everyone, for this wonderful event. It’s amazing to see so much support for green initiatives in our Borough. To the West Chester Green Team, Dr. Bradley Flamm, Courtney Finneran, Professor Megan Schraedley and all of you for attending and listening to these important messages — thank you. 

Thirteen months ago, our lives as we knew it, forever changed.  It has been a time of challenges and re-envisioning.  Through all the trials and tribulations, there was also something amazing happening on our planet.  As we stopped doing, our nature, plants and animals started thriving.  For me this has been a time of reflection, and how we as the people on this planet have a connection, a human connection to everything on it.  We are not just a part of it, we are deeply connected to it.  And when we take the power of our hearts, mind and body in harmony, we have the ability to do wonderful things.

Movements like the WCGT, Transition US, and WCU sustainability efforts are critical to cultivating a more just, sustainable and regenerative future.

With the new beginnings of Spring and its enthusiasm here, I am excited to take this energy towards a wonderful transition. To transition to a greener Borough. To transition to a community that values the strengths of diversity and the necessity of equity. Together, with hands of all shapes and sizes and color working in harmony to bring us Spring blossoms. 

Historic Chester County Courthouse, 2 N. High St.  Stefanie Heron-Birl, face painter and chalk artist.
At Sabrina Ann Couture, 128 N High St., by Justine Gesualdi, artist and WCU senior.

West Chester Green Team, complete with the powerful Flying Baby logo, by Julian.
“The greatest threat…” quote from Arctic and Antarctic explorer Robert Swan.
Sign at Knauer Performing Arts Center, Uptown!, 226 N. HIgh St.
Art works with Ready for 100 leader Paula Kline at Chester County History Center, 225 N. High St. 

What is Earth Day?

In April, 1970, US Senator Gaylord Nelson, drawing on his commitment to the environment, promoted the first national day to honor the Earth. People around the world now celebrate Earth Day every April 22.

Symbolically, on April 22, 2016, the nations of the world signed the Paris Agreement, setting concrete goals to rein in climate-altering worldwide temperature increases. Earth Day gradually grew into Earth Week, and now we speak of April as Earth Month.

In the northern hemisphere this is the month of spring and hope, the season to do our part by planting our own gardens and resolving to cut down on fossil fuel consumption, air and water pollution, overuse of plastics and chemicals, and other practices that threaten human and environmental health.

From sea to space, by Jakob Speksnijder and colleagues, at 37 S. High St.

In the then-new Earth Day spirit, State Senator Franklin Kury guided passage of Pennsylvania’s environmental rights amendment in 1971 and now, going strong at age 84, has written a new book honoring the 50th anniversary of that constitutional guarantee to the “right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment” for all Pennsylvanians.

Earth collage from consumer-used materials by WCU senior Justine Gesualdi.
Plastic flower by WCU student Ameerah Bond

Sustainable Storefronts in West Chester

Since West Chester Borough passed legislation in 2019 banning most one-time uses of plastic bags and straws, implementation has been delayed by state claims of “pre-emption” and the Covid epidemic. However, progress has continued under the Sustainable Storefronts initiative, which asks businesses to adhere to a set of plastic-reduction principles. Those that have received the Borough’s recognition in this way so far (from the Borough’s “Single-Use Plastics” web page) are:

Congratulations to those businesses and we are hoping for many more soon! Many thanks also to WCU communications students, who as a class project are reaching out to encourage businesses to join the effort.

Here are the Borough’s criteria for recognition under Sustainable Storefronts:

Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes – Choose 3 of 5

  • Use recyclable paper bags for takeout
  • No plastic straws – biodegradable option by request
  • No Styrofoam
  • No plastic takeout containers
  • 100% reusable wares for on-site dining

Retail – commit to all

  • Use recyclable paper bags
  • Encourage customers to BYO bags

Looking for garden space this summer?

Still a couple of spaces left: West Chester Green Team is matching up residents who would like garden space with community garden plots that we have located for summer 2021: one at the Melton Center, one at Barclay Friends, and one in a private garden.

We are not offering our Roots N’ Shoots gardening program for kids this summer, but kids are welcome to join family members in the 2021 Community Gardening program.

To apply, please email here, or phone 610 692-3849 or write a letter to 409 W. Union St., West Chester PA 19382 with this information:

• Your name and names of others in the family who would be gardening

• Your address

An idea what you’d like to grow

Any prior gardening experience

Please rank your preference of location in the Borough: Melton Center (East End), Barclay Friends (NE), or a personal garden (SW)

From this year’s predecessor program: gardening for children, in 2019-20

For inspiration, see our 2020 garden video series here and “Community Gardens are Good for People” here.

Celebrate Earth Day: Art Stroll & Festival Schedule, West Chester, April 22

Join us to view environment-related chalkings up and down S. and N. High St. in West Chester Borough plus an outdoor art exhibit at the Chesco Historical Society–all on Earth Day themes! Please wear masks and practice safe distancing. Rain date April 23. SEE FULL CHALKING SCHEDULE BELOW.

Here is the full Guide to EARTH Day Chalk Walk, April 22, 8 am to 5 pm

Nineteen stops along the way with local environmental groups and individuals chalking art on the sidewalks to celebrate our Mother Earth.  All along High Street.  The following listing is from south to north.  Please be careful crossing High Street.  Please wear a mask and maintain social distance. The best time to visit each site to see chalking in action is noted but sites are available all day.  Anyone can chalk.  If you like, join the fun!

Phillips Memorial at the corner of College Avenue. 700 S. High St. Welcome by WCU Director of the Office of Sustainability Dr. Bradley Flamm. Mayor Jordan Norley will unveil the 2021 West Chester Green Team sign and present keys to the Borough to the team represented by Prof. Megan Schraedley and Courtney Finneran of the WCGT. 11am.

Unitarian Congregation, 501 S High Street. Chalk art by the students of Dr. Schraedley with recorded music including an original composition just created for these times by the minister, Rev Dan Schatz.  Artist Ada Koch will be chalking Noon to 2 pm.

•  Former site of Burger King, 410 S. High St. West Chester Green Team members and Friends of Everhart Park.  3:30-4 pm.

Church of the Holy Trinity.  212 S. High St.  The West Chester Co-op, new local food store, led by Sue Patterson.  10 am.

  Founds Funeral Home. 229 S. High St.  Sierra Club/Ready for 100 with Eunice Alexander.  10 am.

•  First Baptist Church of West Chester,  221 S. High St.  Sierra Club/Ready for 100 with Paula Kline.  10 am.

•  United Methodist Church, 129 S. High St.  Kyle Hudson and friends.  Joined by the preschoolers chalking in the separate but adjacent courtyard.  8 am.

Kati Mac Florist,  36 S. High St.  Artist Denise Vitollo will be chalking.

• 35 S. High St.  Chalking by environmentalist Nora Ziegler.

•  Chester County Democratic Headquarters,  37 S. High St.  Plastic-Free Please with Jakob Speksnijder and Kellie Lynch.

•  Bryn Mawr Running Co., 24 S. High St.  Barbara Clarke, head of WC Borough’s Sustainability Advisory Committee.  

Historic Chester County Courthouse, 2 N. High St.  Stefanie Heron-Birl, face-painter and chalk artist; Lillian DeBaptiste 2:30 pm; State Senator Carolyn Comitta 4 pm.  

• 20 N High St.  Eric Lorgus and family.  

•  Sabrina Ann Couture, 128 N High St.  Justine Gesualdi, artist and WCU senior, chalking.

Chester County History Center, 225 N. High St.  Art show on the patio. Suzanne Kent, potter; Carnival of Ruin costumes; Eric Schraedley, artist. Hosting: Prof. Megan Schraedley, Paula Kline, Nora Ziegler and Borough Council member Don Braceland.

Uptown! 226 N. High St.  Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety with Ginny Kerslake.

• First Church of Christ, Scientist, 227 N. High St.  Chester County Peace Movement with Kevin Patrick Kelly and WCAT West Chester Area Transition  7:30 am.

• West Chester Friends School.  415 N. High Street.  Children will be chalking under the leadership of T. Amy Domenick, including but not limited to 8:30-9:30am; Rep. Dianne Herrin will be there at 8:30 as well.

• West Chester Friends Meeting, Society of Friends (Quakers)  425 N. High St.  Chalking by the students at WC Friends School. 

Panel on cutting plastics use, 4/21/21

Plastic Free Chester County panel discussion on Wednesday April 21, 7 PM.  Panel moderator:  Prof. Megan Schraedley of the WCU Communications Department.  This semester she is guiding her class in working on plastics issues in consultation with the Borough of West Chester.  The panelists are Faran Savitz, plastics specialist from Penn Environment; Gillian Alicea, member, Sustainability Advisory Committee of WC Borough and liaison between SAC and Don’t Spray Me/WC Green Team;  State Representative Dianne Herrin, who as mayor of West Chester led the Borough’s effort to ban single-use plastic bags and straws.  The panel will update us on new directions in plastics both locally and at the county and state levels.  This panel is part of WCU’s Earth Week celebration.  All welcome. Virtual event.

RSVP at wcupa.edu/sustainability. Registration is free but required.

Sponsored by the WCU Office of Sustainability, the West Chester Green Team, and members of the Chester County Environmental Alliance.

Happy Earth Month!

West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley has officially proclaimed April 2021 as Earth Month in the Borough of West Chester PA. Please see the Chesco Environment Calendar for environment/sustainability events this month, including many in the Borough.

Download pdf of the proclamation here.

Doug Tallamy, “Nature’s Best Hope”

Doug Tallamy, a widely acclaimed professor in the Dept. of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, is scheduled to give an in-person talk in West Chester on Sept. 15, 2021.

He gave this talk at the Virtual Siouxland Garden Show on March 26, 2021. His overall theme is that Nature is built from millions of specialized interactions, as between insects and plants, and that we destroy those interactions at our peril. In fact, people (and our food supply) are totally dependent on the very “ecosystem services” that we are threatening.

Here is his summary:

“Recent headlines about global insect declines and three billion fewer birds in North America are a bleak reality check about how ineffective our current landscape designs have been at sustaining the plants and animals that sustain us. Such losses are not an option if we wish to continue our current standard of living on planet Earth. The good news is that none of this is inevitable. Let’s look at simple steps that each of us can and must take to reverse declining biodiversity and explain why we, ourselves, are nature’s best hope.”

Being part of that hope means respecting nature: climate, water, air, plants, animals, and yes, insects. As summarized by the great entomologist E. O. Wilson: