Earth Day Welcome and Awards, April 21, 2023

President Fiorentino with Frederick Douglass on a green campus
Mayor DeBaptiste receiving a 2023 Porchfest poster from Molly Hanford

Our Earth Day Welcome on April 21, sponsored by WC Green Team and WCU Office of Sustainability, was held on the Academic Quad with the inspiring backdrop of the Frederick Douglass statue.

2023 sign add-on sticker

The group was welcomed by WC Mayor Lillian DeBaptiste, who also dedicated the new look of our signs with a “Plant a Tree in ’23” sticker (designed by Steve Marvin) to be affixed to our extant yard signs, and by WCU President Chris Fiorentino, who recounted the impressive environmental progress at WCU and—his own academic specialty—spoke to the economics of environmentalism.

A handsome tea pot created by local potter Suzanne Kent was presented to each awardee

Prof. Joan Welch, as moderator, and Dr. Bradley Flamm, Director of the Office of Sustainability, noted concrete aspects of the University respecting the environment and reducing its institutional impact on it. Awards were presented for outstanding service of long-standing Green Team volunteers, as follows:

Environmental Leadership Award to Don Braceland, presented by Nathaniel Smith

Don Braceland is a many of many talents. I don’t know anyone else who knows how to fly an airplane or play 5 different musical instruments. Don in fact studied Music Education right here at West Chester University, some time ago.

Don Braceland displays his award certificate

But I’ve never heard Don talk much about his many talents or his job in the medical field at Bryn Mawr Hospital. When I first got to know him, after moving to the block next to him and Rosemary 15 years ago, his favored topic was public life and discourse.

His leading hobby then, as far as I could tell, was seeking out online political statements and writing comments to educate commentators with whom he disagreed. We’ve probably all had that urge, but he really seemed to thrive on it.

Then, in order to express this interest more practically, he decided to run for Borough Council. And he won and served for two terms, 8 years, a real commitment of time and energy, which he carried out with extreme conscientiousness.

When he first ran for Council, in 2013, he posted a video paying tribute to WestChester, saying: “I’ve lived in the Borough for 26 years; every one of them I’ve enjoyed. And I feel as though I’d like to give something back to my community.” And he sure has!

He has lived up to the statement he made at that time: “I just want to assure that West Chester stays a really great place to live.”

His greatest moment in meeting that goal l came in 2019, when he cast the deciding vote to enact the Borough’s ban on single-use plastic bags and straws, designed to cut down on fossil fuel use and litter.

As the longtime chair of the Public Works Committee, he interacted frequently with Borough staff, and his skill with people and interest in the practical details of their jobs came in very handy.

In one tribute to his ability, last year he was able to get herbicide spraying stopped along the West Chester Scenic Railroad track.

During his time on Council, we somehow convinced him to add to his extant duties membership on the Green Team board, where he has served ever since, including as our liaison to government.

Don has been a wise and effective hero for the green ethos. The West Chester Green Team is lastingly grateful to him and is proud to present him with this Environmental Leadership Award.

Environmental Leadership Award to George Squire, presented by Margaret Hudgings

The West Chester Green Team would like to honor George Squire for his many years of service to the environment and to our community.  I remember meeting George and Amy when I was manning a booth uptown on a Swingin’ Summer Thursday, out in front of Jim Wylie’s electric bike shop. It was a slow evening with my biggest customers kids who wanted free environmental buttons; and then along came George and Amy.  

Margaret Hudgings presenting his award to George Squire with Amy Squire looking on

George has a background in agriculture as well as health, and the Green Team’s early focus through Don’t Spray Me!, on the importance of avoiding spraying toxic chemicals, resonated with him.  On my way home that evening, I dropped off a Don’t Spray Me! sign at their house, and George and Amy joined the effort to protect the community from pesticides.

George and Amy are “boots on the ground” people.  They were willing to walk around and patrol–to check for standing water, clogged storm sewer drains, and trees under threat. If we got phone calls from neighbors or sometimes the Borough saying that a neighbor had puddles that were breeding mosquitoes, I called George. He and Amy were willing to go over and educate the homeowner, drop some harmless larvicide in the water and smooth over the situation.  

George and Amy looked over miles of Borough streets and even found standing water in Borough parks.  They reported problems to Public Works–an example of the Borough and the Green Team working together.

George has always been particularly concerned about trees. On July 8, 2020, the Squires called me and reported illegal tree removal  The cutting was in process so quick action was required. I contacted Mike Dunn, Borough arborist, who went to the site and stopped the removal, saving 3 of the 4 trees.  

Environmental warriors like George and Amy have helped for many years to keep our world healthier and greener. Sincere thanks from the Green Team on behalf of the West Chester community. We are grateful, George and Amy, for your years of service. 

Environmental Leadership Award to Christi Marshall, conveyed to her at a later time

Christi Marshall is a take-charge leader.  The primary focus in her work with the Green Team has been about energy.  I met her at the home of Eunice Alexander as we organized the first countywide solar tour, back in 2019.  We lined up a tour of dozens of houses throughout the County so that interested people could visit and get information about how to add solar panels or possibly a geothermal system to their home. Christi is active in Sierra Club and she linked the Green Team and Sierra Club together on the vital  energy issue.  

Christi has been a member of the Green Team board, serving for a time as vice president.  She also enjoyed working for the Green Team on fundraising, particularly the annual auction.  Christi is exacting and precise.  She strives for excellence and brings this perspective to her work, which is extensive.

Christi continues her Green Team involvement with the new for ’23 Legendary Lenape family education program.  The Green Team plans to offer programs to the local community about the Lenape tribe native to this area, with events at West Chester and Birmingham Friends Meetings, at Bondsville Mill Park, at Northbrook Canoe Company, at parks in West Chester and East Goshen, and at the Melton Center.

Bringing groups together is one of Christi’s strengths as a community leader in East Goshen, having founded the Environmental and Sustainability Advisory Council there.

Our sincere thanks go out to Christi for her devotion to the Earth and its stewardship, from the many organizations she has supported and from the West Chester Green Team.

Don Braceland, Lillian DeBaptiste, Courtney Finneran, Molly Hanford