Legendary Lenape summer program, June-August 2023

The Legendary Lenape program is a summer 2023 series of educational gatherings for children, families and people of all ages taking place at locations around Chester County, on Saturdays or Sundays from June 24 to August 13, at varying times. We will provide information on a meeting place to people who register. 

Registration cost per session: $10 per person or $15 for a family of 4

*canoe sessions have an additional $60 per canoe cost

Here are the schedule and sign-up form:

#1 Turtle Song Session: Join us on June 24 at West Chester Friends Meeting House from 10am to 12pm to hear Chris Applegate from Allentown’s Museum of Indian Culture.  We will learn how the Lenape and other woodland tribes lived where we now call home, Chester County.  We will look at a display of Lenape tools, clothing and other furs, weapons, and a cradleboard.  West Chester Friends Meeting House: 425 N High Street, West Chester, PA 19380. 

#2 Wawaset Creek Session: Canoe with us along the Wawaset Creek (the Lenape’s name for the Brandywine) on July 2 from 8:45am to 11am.  We hope to enjoy the beauty of the Wawaset and its natural landscape while paddling along.  We will launch from Northbrook Canoe Company at 9 am. $60 per canoe, which can hold 2-3 adults OR 2 adults + 2 children ages 2-9. No children under the age of 2 allowed; children age 10+ count as adults.  We will contact you about payment and scholarships are available!  Northbrook Canoe Company: 1810 Beagle Rd, West Chester, PA 19382. 

#3 Eagle Heart Session: On July 8 from 10am-12pm, we will gather at the Birmingham Meeting House to learn about the Lenapes’ lifestyle through crafts and games.  Come hear Lenape stories and try a traditional Native American snack we know you’ll love: popcorn!  Birmingham Meeting House: 1245 Birmingham Rd, West Chester, PA 19382. 

#4 Fox Mill/Living with the Land Session: Carrie Hawk, Environmental Educator with Stroud Water Research Center, will lead us on July 15 from 10am to 12pm at Bondsville Mill Park to learn about native animals and plants.  Come see how species live around us and have adapted to our world.  We will also look at how we can adapt to live with nature, not against it.  Bondsville Mill Park: 1647 Bondsville Rd, Downingtown PA 19335. 

#5 Moose Lake Session: Join us on July 22 to enjoy a native American themed scavenger hunt and learn some Lenape vocabulary when we meet at Westtown Lake to enjoy this idyllic setting on the campus of Westtown School. Canoeing on the lake will be the highlight of the day with the program led by Tim James, former outdoor educator at Westtown School.

#6 Beaver Creek Session: On July 29 from 10am-12pm, Faith Zerbe, from Maya van Rossum’s Delaware Riverkeeper organization, will lead us in a stream study in Beaver Creek at Bondsville Mill Park.  Come enjoy a lesson in science and find all the interesting creatures that call streams their home! Bondsville Mill Park: 1647 Bondsville Rd, Downingtown PA 19335. 

#7 Drumming Bear Session: Join us at the Melton Center on August 6 from 4pm-6pm to learn how the Lenape grew their crops using the three sisters. We will also learn the basics of drumming and cooking food, like corn on the cob, clambake style.  Melton Center: 501 E Miner St, West Chester, PA 19382. 

#8 Feast of the Lenape: On August 13 from 4pm-6pm, come back to the Melton Center to celebrate the end of our sessions with a banquet of traditional Native dishes (including dessert!).  The recipes were pulled from the Mitsitam cookbook produced by the Smithsonian’s American Indian Museum and prepared by local chefs. Melton Center: 501 E Miner St, West Chester, PA 19382. 

Schedule is subject to adjustment as needed. You will be asked to fill out an agreement/disclaimer form. For overall questions, please email us here.


How the Green Team Celebrated Earth Day

Rev. Dan Schatz performs

On the 54th “Earth Day Birthday,” April 22, the Green Team held a rally at the County’s Historic Courthouse, moderated by Prof. Megan Schraedley. At several points in the program, Smithsonian recording artist Rev. Dan Schatz of West Chester’s Unitarian Congregation played and sang beautifully and meaningfully for all committed to beneficial change. Lenape elder David Eagle Heart Simon gave a Lenape blessing, with incense and incantation.

We were particularly honored by the presence of County Commissioner Josh Maxwell, State Representative Chris Pielli, and State Senator Carolyn Comitta, all of whom spoke encouragingly about progress in environmental and sustainability action at the county and state levels. Chester County is at the forefront of such efforts, now comprising over 30% of its area as preserved open space and numbering about a third of all municipalities in the state to have banned single-use plastic bags. Many thanks to dedicated public servants such as these!

Renee Perna giving an update on the upcoming Porchfest

Former West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley used the impetus toward a rail connection with Philadelphia as an example of acting to reduce fossil fuel use and traffic congestion. Green Team board member Renee Perna gave an update on the exciting West Chester Porchfest event coming up on May 20. And Ollie Finneran represented the environmental commitments of today’s children in style, even finishing his remarks with a joke.

In an unscripted moment, Jay Leno happened to walk by and chatted on the sidewalk.

Volunteers at work on the Chestnut St. Garage pollinator garden, 2022

Senator Comitta also presented the Green Team, represented at the top of the steps by board members Gillian Alicea and David Wickard, with a Community Pride Award from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. The award, shared with the West Chester Business Improvement District, honored the two community organizations for their work in building a pollinator garden last year at the Chestnut Street Parking Garage in downtown West Chester. See more about the award in the Daily Local News, 4/26/23, and about the garden here on our web site.

Rebecca Malloy at work on 140 cupcakes for the rally

An unusual point of interest was our cupcakes, a big hit, made by Rebecca Malloy, with all 140 consumed by appreciative rally attendees and passers-by.

Jordan Norley then led a march from the Courthouse to the Unitarian Congregation for a Green Fair co-sponsored by West Chester Green Team and the Unitarian Congregation. Features included snacks by the the West Chester Co-op, represented by Sue Patterson and Co-op intern Abby Perry; a display by Mother Compost (see Tiffany Kennedy’s article here); a plant giveaway by Nathaniel Smith; Matt Zencey for Citizens’ Climate Lobby; and Suzanne Webster and Tim Lawlor for the Dark Sky initiative.

Reiko Yoshida, WCU graduate and professor of Japanese at Temple University, led an origami workshop whose participants folded 61 origami cranes, which were contributed to Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan’s 1,000 Paper Crane Projec to send these symbols of hope to Hiroshima for the G7 Summit. The total of over 10,000 origami peace cranes collected from people across Berks and Chester Counties will ultimately go to Hiroshima, demonstrating the power of community in worldwide cooperation for peace. See background on the cranes project in the Daily Local News, 4/12/23, and in MyChesco, 5/2/23.

Finally, at a Repair Cafe Jim Hudgings and Eric Schraedley answered questions and offered help. What’s a Repair Café? Essentially, attendees bring items in need of repair which other people fix! This keeps usable items from going to the landfill and reduces the volume of raw materials and energy that go into new products. It also provides those with repair skills the opportunity to put them to good use and share with others in the community. See more about Repair Cafes in the County’s Sustainability News, spring 2023; and note that one is being held in Downingtown on May 13 (see in our calendar).

Ollie Finneran awaits his turn to speak

We are looking for such people! If you can repair clothing, small appliances, electronics, lamps, small pieces of furniture, etc, please email us here.

From Campus to Community: My Journey in Compost

by Tiffany Kennedy

If you had asked me in 2016 what compost was, I would have told you I had no idea. I had just moved to West Chester and was studying nutrition & dietetics at the University.

One course required a volunteer activity, and I ended up at the campus garden. The garden intern gave a tour of what was growing, and tasked me and another volunteer with turning the compost. “What’s that?” I asked, little did I know that this was THE moment. Their brief explanation of this natural decomposition process sparked a curiosity that still drives me.

Not yet fully aware of the complexity of composting, I grasped the basic premise: recycling for plants. The intern told me to bring my own food scraps over to the garden pile, and I was thrilled to start incorporating composting into my daily life.

Eager to learn about growing produce and its role in the food cycle, I continued volunteering weekly. My interest in nutrition shifted away from telling people what to eat and towards ensuring that people had access to nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. My understanding of gardening and the compost process had deepened, and it became clear to me that nutrition started with the soil. In order to grow nutrient–rich produce, we need to have healthy soils.

As an undergrad, I got involved with the University’s Office of Sustainability and its Sustainability Advisory Committee, which connected me with a supportive community of action-oriented students, faculty, and administrators. With their assistance, two compost initiatives were brought to life. We worked together with the campus food lab to gather raw fruit and vegetable scraps and bring them to the South Campus Garden compost pile. Additionally, with the help of many volunteers, we gathered up peels and mashed bananas and integrated composting to the tradition of Banana Day.

Since graduating, I have been invited back to campus each semester to speak with a class about compost and its benefits.

Composting can have a big impact. According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, more than 50% of municipal garbage can be sorted for compost! In the United States there are more closed landfills than open ones, composting is a solution to increasing the longevity of the landfills we still have available. But it is more than just recycling organic materials. When applied back to the soil, it increases the soil structure, nutrient
profile, and water absorption. Healthier soils are able to capture carbon dioxide through a process called carbon sequestration, which actually works to reverse the impacts of greenhouse gas pollution.

After graduating, I was introduced to Mother Compost founder Gwenn Nolan. She was looking for help as she was then working a full-time job and raising three children, all while starting this new business. I was excited to get involved with the company and its mission to provide a simple solution for residents to compost.

Since then, Mother Compost has grown to a team of nine and serves over 1,200 residents along the Main Line. In 2021 we expanded to include commercial services, composting with local schools and businesses. And now in 2023 we are thrilled to have our first geographical expansion and begin providing a composting solution for the residents of the West Chester Borough!

You can find out more at the the Mother Compost website and sign up here for service. All new subscribers get an automatic free 30-day trial.

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

Reducing Sports-Related Waste

by Emily Miller

Football games, and sporting events in general, are notorious for their waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 50-100 tons of garbage is produced at each professional or high-level collegiate game (this info can be located in places like this study, which found that just one of Penn State’s football games produces 50 tons of waste alone), and that number does not include the actions of people who are watching at home.

Readers of this newsletter are familiar with the importance of eliminating or reducing food waste, but there are a few lesser known tricks for helping the environment during sporting season.

One of the best ways to reduce waste is to simply keep a recycling bin out for any guests during sports events. If the option is there, and readily available, they are more likely to choose to recycle instead of throwing away materials that don’t need to go to the landfill. Alternatively, you can save some of the items garnered during the game and personally reuse them. Many companies now use recyclable/glass containers for alcohol or drinks in general, and those containers can be re-used several times in a variety of ways (vases, water jugs, arts and crafts, etc).

If you’re heading out for a “big game” in a stadium/arena, try and make conscious choices for the environment wherever possible. A new trend is to swap out the higher emission foods–such as beef–and enjoy chicken or vegetarian options instead. Many stadiums also offer recyclable containers to eat out of, and choosing one of those could greatly reduce your personal impact at sporting events. 

Overall, it’s simply a matter of being conscious about the impact of our choices, even during fun events. Swapping out plastic for cardboard doesn’t mean the fun has to stop, however; it just means taking the time to make a choice that will make Mother Nature happier.

West Chester’s Adopt-a-Rain Garden Program: please help!

Rain gardens are important and so is your help! Short version: please sign up here.

West Chester Borough, like many other municipalities, is under federal mandate to improve the quality of its streams. But how can we reduce pollutants flowing into them?

Rain gardens absorb those pollutants (chemicals running off yards, road salt, dog waste effluents, microparticles from vehicle tires, etc.) and by the time the ground water runs into streams, the contaminants are stuck somewhere underground or absorbed harmlessly into roots, plants, and tree trunks.

Besides, rain gardens absorb flood waters, display attractive bushes and flowering plants, and help calm traffic by breaking up the linear flow parallel to curbs. They enhance their blocks and reduce runoff downhill from them.

Now you can sign up for the Borough’s Adopt-a-Rain Garden Program to help take care of a rain garden near where you live. This is much better than letting an outside contractor make all the decisions and do the necessary maintenance when it suits their schedule. Besides, gardening is healthy, fun, and satisfying.

The Borough web site explains: “Volunteers will be involved in plant selection, planting, and light garden maintenance, and most importantly making sure the infrastructure is working as intended.”

If you’re willing, please sign up here for one of the sites still open for “adoption.” These are:

Veterans Memorial Park – Walkway
Veterans Memorial Park – Playground
E. Chestnut & Penn St – NE Corner
Greenfield Park (five gardens)
S. Everhart & Sharpless St. (two gardens)
S. Everhart & Mulberry Alley (two gardens)
S. Everhart & W. Nields St. (two gardens)

There will be a training for volunteers in April. Let’s make this a real community effort! Neighbors can work out so each really only takes care of one garden.

For more background from on our own web site, see here and here.

Rain garden diagram from Borough web site