Curbside compost coming to you

Good sustainability news from West Chester Weekly News Roundup by hellowestchester , 9/17/21 (sign up there for weekly emails with the latest on West Chester)

Brace yourself. You ready? West Chester is moving forward with its long awaited community composting option.

“We’ve tried to do this a couple of different times,” said West Chester Sustainability Director William Williams at this month’s Borough Council working session.  “We’ve gotten grant funds. We’ve built these programs. The grant goes away. The program goes away.” Well, not this time.

After reviewing four different options from purely educational to 100% Borough-run, Will and West Chester’s Sustainability Advisory Committee think they have come up with a solution that just may stick. One that puts a little bit of the onus on each of the stakeholders – Borough, resident, private sector.

The plan? partner with a private curbside collection service, in this case, WasteWell.

How it works

All members of the program get a big 5-gallon bucket at sign up. You fill it with fruit, vegetable scraps, eggshells, cut flowers, shredded newspaper, etc. (don’t worry, they’ll give you a list). Then every two weeks you put it outside and WasteWell comes to collect it, but that’s not it…

“I almost forgot the best part,” Will said. Every sprint you can get 40lbs of a compost delivered for free. The service normally costs $18/mo but will be offered to Borough residents at $15/mo or a 17 percent discount. WasteWell is also offering to collect from one low-income resident for only $1/mo for every ten West Chester residents that sign up.  

The takeaway In terms of immediate savings, it won’t mean much for the Borough. Once they subsidize the savings, they are looking to net a whopping $3/year per participating customer. Should they hit their year-one goal, that would mean $300 in savings but this isn’t about the short game. It’s the long-term impact and the right thing to do environmentally, that make it compelling.

According to Will, the Chester County landfill currently has less than 15-year capacity. When it’s full we’ll have to start shipping our waste to distant locales at, of course, a cost. “We should do everything in our capacity to extend the capacity of the landfill,” said Will Williams and this would definitely be a step in the right direction. 
Soon West Chester alleys may be lined with grey WasteWell buckets.

Famed natural gardens expert Doug Tallamy to speak at WCU Sept. 13

Please let us know you are coming at Eventbrite.

Dr. Doug Tallamy will describe his plan for a grassroots call-to-action to regenerate biodiversity through native plantings in your backyard. Dr. Tallamy, professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, best-selling author, and an international expert on restoring health to the planet through plants, will visit West Chester University on Monday, September 13.

Prof. Tallamy will spend the day speaking to University classes and will offer a 5pm lecture to the community. Dr. Tallamy is the co-founder of Homegrown National Park, with the purpose to regenerate biodiversity, one person at a time, though a grassroots call-to-action that focuses on native plantings.

Please join West Chester Green Team and WCU Office of Sustainability, which are co-sponsoring Doug’s lecture, at 5:00pm in Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall at 700 S. High Street in West Chester Borough.

THIS EVENT IS FREE TO THE PUBLIC BUT REGISTRATION IS REQUESTED

Download the below flyer here.

Little Library installed at the Melton Center

As part of the joint summer 2021 community garden program at the Melton Center, the West Chester Green Team agreed to install a Little Library. The books, which will initially be related to environment, sustainability and gardening, were gathered and placed on the shelves by retired Library Specialist Peggy Pillard. People are welcome to take those books for their own reading pleasure and, if they wish, to bring in others to share.

Photo thanks to Bob Eaves of Rotary

Many thanks also to the Rotary Club of Greater West Chester, whose members kindly assembled, stained and installed the shipped pieces of the Little Library; the attractive result, awaiting its complement of reading matter, is shown in the first photo; and now with books, in the second photo, showing the plaque recognizing WC Green Team as donor.

Green Team president Margaret Hudgings, who coordinated the initiative, explains: “The mission of our Little Library project at the Melton Center is to encourage, particularly among the young, the art of reading and knowledge about environment and the world.”

Photo by our books curator Peggy Pillard

We are grateful to all who ensured the success of this important project.

The Melton Center library box joins more than 100,000 worldwide (including 20 in the West Chester area) coordinated by the Little Free Library movement.

Mondays at Melton grand finale

Rani holds the globe in her hands

The 2021 Mondays at Melton summer environmental camp wrapped up on August 9 with “One Kiwi, Two Kiwis,” a story about her native New Zealand read by Rani Norley, wife of West Chester Borough mayor Jordan Norley.

Forty people of all ages joined the celebration and learned how New Zealanders, also known as Kiwis, greet each other, a bit about their history as a British Commonwealth nation, and an overview of their famous and unique animals.

“Kiwi One and Kiwi Two”

Rani shared photos of the mountains and national parks of her beautiful native land and passed around a small globe, which she used to show where New Zealand is relative to the US and to illustrate why the northern and southern hemispheres have opposite seasons.

Eunice sings and plays

In addition, environmental educator and Melton Center staff member Eunice Alexander strummed her guitar and sang songs about spiders and snakes–and how good they are for the Earth. As a special treat of the evening, everyone enjoyed gelato generously donated by D’Ascenzo’s.

Sue and Michael scoop ice cream

Thanks also to Sue Patterson of the West Chester Co-op and Michael Hartman of Senator Carolyn Comitta’s office for serving ice cream.

Listening to Rani

You can see all of the activity reflected in the photos above and below expertly taken by Taka Nagai.

Earlier lessons at the camp featured growing and cooking with tomatoes, information on endangered animals, a story on city gardening, a Japanese tale of a magic peach, and an overall focus on good nutrition and the importance of eating healthy vegetables grown in your own garden.

Thanks to Senator Carolyn Comitta and her husband Tom for their generous financial contribution to Mondays at Melton, to Jessica Nagle for being a regular part of programs, to Reiko Yoshida and Taka Nagai, who came 3 times, took photos and provided Japanese cookies and candy for the peach evening, and especially to Jamie Comfort Atkins, director of the Melton Center’s New Directions program and overall coordinator of Mondays at Melton.

Mondays at Melton are an outgrowth of the West Chester Green Team and the Melton Center’s collaboration on their first annual community garden program. WCU Professor Ashlie Delshad advises the gardeners, who are enjoying a bountiful harvest.  Snacking on cherry tomatoes they pick themselves, the children learned when and how to harvest from their own gardens.

Mondays at Melton were sponsored by the Melton Center and the WC Green Team. For more information on Mondays at Melton and the WC Green Team’s related community gardening program, type “Melton” in the Search box in the right sidebar or contact Margaret Hudgings, mhudgings@gmail.com.

With plants in raised bed
Passing the book on NZ
Nice mask!
West Chester Mayor Norley and kids
What a beautiful cone!
Liz and Jamie hold the flag

PA has a long way to go in renewables

This image from “Inside Clean Energy: Three Charts that Show the Energy Transition in 50 States” by Inside Climate News reflects some good news: “The Energy Information Administration reported last week that, for the first time ever, the United States generated more electricity from renewable sources in 2020 than from coal.”

On the other hand, our own state, which has contributed far more than its fair share to fossil fuel extraction* and therefore to the current global climate crisis, has done far less than its fair share to ramp up renewable energy production, ranking 23rd among the 50 states plus DC (2020 figures). Note that Texas and California are so far ahead of the others that they are shown on a different scale at the bottom of the chart.

It’s clearly a matter of political will, not geography; otherwise, why would PA rank so far behind 7th-place Minnesota in both wind and solar energy? And if it weren’t political, why would Kentucky rank dead last, even after tiny DC?

*Although antecedents around the world go back thousands of years, the first modern oil well is considered to have been drilled in Titusville PA in 1859. Even today, among the states PA ranks 2nd in producing natural gas, 3rd in coal, and 18th in crude oil (2019 figures from EIA download).

Mondays at Melton, August 2: A Glimpse of Japan

by Cara Corridoni

With the Tokyo Olympics just underway, last week Melton Center students got a juicy glimpse into Japanese culture.

Reiko and Misaki reading Momo Taro-san

As part of their Mondays at Melton series, the West Chester Green Team partnered with the Japan Foundation to tell students the story of Momotaro, a child born from a giant peach. The only son of an elderly couple, Momotaro leaves as an adolescent to protect his village from a band of ogres. With the help of some friends he meets along the way, Momotaro is able to convince the ogres to repent of their misdeeds and returns to his homeland a hero. Momotaro is an oral story that may date back to the 14th century.

Boy eating peach at Momo story

The story helped to illustrate the importance of oral storytelling in the Japanese culture while celebrating peach season locally. After the reading, students enjoyed delicious peaches from Barnard’s Orchards, sampled some Japanese candy and got to try their hand at the Japanese art form of origami.

Special thanks to Japan Foundation volunteers Reiko Yoshida, her daughter Misaki and husband Taka Nagai (our stalwart photographer) for making the evening one that students won’t soon forget. 

Type “Melton” in the Search box in the right sidebar for earlier stories about Mondays at Melton.

Jessica Nagle shows how
Reiko instructs in origami

Mondays at Melton covered in Daily Local News

DLN reporter Bill Rettew was with us on July 19, at the weekly Mondays at Melton program presented jointly by the West Chester Green Team and the Melton Center. His photo shows Nora Ziegler reading a book on tomatoes to the children.

Read the full article “West Chester students get lesson on growing, harvesting fruits and vegetables” at the Daily Local News site. Excerpt:

“A lot of kids are not exposed to growing,” said Green Team president elect Margaret Hudgings. “They see it comes from a package in the supermarket instead of from a garden.”

The students plant and watch veggies grow from seeds.

“I gives them an appreciation of fruits and vegetables,” Hudgings said. “If involved with growing themselves, they will eat it.”

What’s Growing in the Borough

Please check out a great article by journalist and professor in WCU’s Department of Communication and Media Jesse Piersol, “What’s Growing in the Borough: the bounty of West Chester gardens,” in the July issue of the very attractive publication The WC Press, pages 33-41. You may receive or pick up a copy, or you can subscribe online for free when you look at the article here.

The article features interviews with:

• Our own gardening activists Ashlie Delshad, Margaret Hudgings, and Sallie Jones;

• West Chester University’s Joan Welch, Kate Stewart and Tyler Montgomery, about the four WCU campus gardens (see our new video featuring them here; scroll down to “The Gardens of West Chester University” and follow the link);

• Also Christina Wilcomes of Hackberry Hill Flowers and Ben Rotteveel of DutchGrown Flower Bulbs.

The article, beautifully written and illustrated with 5 garden photos, including kids gardening at the Melton Center in our community garden program there (see more here and here), ends with thoughts about how, even in difficult times, gardening can bring us a sense of tranquility and escapism.

Thanks to Jesse Piersol and The WC Press for such a great job of presenting an important local trend. May it inspire many more gardeners!

Edible Cress Hair Project

By WCGT summer Garden Program Coordinator Elizabeth Schultz, showing the project she directed at the June 21 Mondays at Melton program

Needed materials
1. Decorated jar
2. Almost full of soil
3. Sprinkling seeds
4. Adding soil to cover seeds
A few days after step 5: attractive edible end result

Looking for a simple, fun activity to do with kids? Look no further! The Green Team organized the following planting activity for children at our first Mondays at Melton youth series, and it is easy to replicate at home. Follow the steps below, and in just a few days you will have a jar person with edible cress hair that can be cut and enjoyed in soups, salads, sandwiches, and more!

Materials Required: 

  • Glass Jar (We used an upcycled 5oz Oui yogurt jar)
  • Soil
  • Garden Cress Seeds
  • Glass Painting/Decorating Materials 

Directions:

  • Step 1: After gathering your materials, start by decorating your jar with whatever craft materials you have on hand. Our kids enjoyed working with paint markers and googly-eyes to make their jar faces really stand out. 
  • Step 2: Once your jar has a lively face, fill it almost to the brim with organic soil or dirt.
  • Step 3: Sprinkle a pinch of your garden cress seeds over the top of the dirt.
  • Step 4: Spoon a small amount of soil over the seeds until they are all lightly buried. Keep seeds shallow at about ¼” planting depth.
  • Step 5: Wet the soil with a little bit of water, place the jar on a windowsill, and wait. Garden cress is extremely quick to sprout and low-maintenance (making it great for impatient kids). You should see cress growing within 2-5 days! 

In a week or less, your cress shoots will be 1½-2” tall and ready to harvest. You can cut the stalks off at the base and use the greens to add a peppery tang to your next dish. To learn more about garden cress and how you can use it in your kitchen, read here.

It’s time for 100% clean energy for, of, and by the people

from Sierra Club, 7/18/21

The Ready For 100 Activist Toolkit is a one-stop shop for any team or activist who wants to move their community to 100% clean, renewable energy for all. It is a living, values-driven, action-oriented blueprint for building a local campaign and gaining skills needed to score grassroots wins. With an extensive Campaign Roadmap and various skill modules, this toolkit is meant for everyone who wants to help achieve a just and equitable transition and a future where everyone can thrive. 

Our communities are our strength, but right now, many are struggling. From high unemployment to racial injustice to public health emergencies to droughts and floods — interlocking crises are impacting communities now. And time and time again, the most vulnerable are affected first and worst.

This summer, we have a historic chance to build back bolder by addressing climate change, racial injustice, and unemployment all at once through a transition to 100% clean energy. But the Biden Administration can’t achieve this vision on its own. We need to build power on the ground, and demonstrate our support for a just clean energy transition locally — city by city, block by block, and person by person.

To date, 183 cities from Atlanta to Cleveland to Boise and beyond have already set 100% clean energy goals. Many of those commitments were supported by local Ready For 100 activists, volunteers, and allies who over the years have learned a thing or two about grassroots organizing. Rooted in our values, this toolkit brings together many of those learnings to provide a roadmap on how to build a team, reach your decision-makers, and win local, equitable clean energy victories.

Local clean energy solutions will cut pollution, create family-sustaining jobs, lower energy bills, and repair harms to vulnerable communities who suffer from local environmental injustices. We believe everybody has a right to this vision — and we know that no two cities will have the same path to meeting their communities’ needs. That’s why we’re calling on you.

Our solutions need to be transformational, democratic, and accessible. When it comes to climate action, it’s time to equitably power our communities forward. It’s time for 100% clean energy for, of, and by the people. It’s time for a just clean energy transition that doesn’t leave anyone behind.

Clean energy is key to powering towards a better, brighter future for all. Let’s work together to make sure 100% clean energy is for everyone — starting in your community.