Panel with local leaders on achieving environmental victories

DEC 7 at 7 pm panel discussion on achieving environmental victories with State Sen Carolyn Comitta, State Rep Dianne Herrin, Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell and Delaware River Keeper Maya van Rossum. Panel moderator: Dr. John Jackson.

This panel discussion in the Fall Film and Forum Series is sponsored by the West Chester Green Team, the WCU Office of Sustainability, the Unitarian Congregation of West Chester, and the West Chester Co-op.

In person only: Room 101, Business & Public Management Building, 50 Sharpless St, West Chester, PA 19383. Doors open at 6:00 pm. Come early for information tables in the LEED-certified BPMG building at 6:30.

SEPTA’s 104 bus stops one block away from the BPMC building and the University has ample bicycle parking available, including in front of the building. If you choose to drive, for this event you may park in B Lot (enter via Reynolds Alley just east of the Business and Public Management Building; first come first served). Or pay to use the Sharpless Street Garage (ground level) or street parking on Sharpless or Church St.

Download pdf of flyer here.

Panel with local leaders 12/7/21

Retrospective: 6 years ago, West Chester voters approved a Community Bill of Rights

As the world struggles to salvage its environment, let’s remember that in November 2015, West Chester voters amended their Home Rule Charter by adding a new section, #904, under the heading of Community Bill of Rights.

The added wording asserts the people’s Right of Local Community Self-Government, Right to Assert the Right of Self-Government, Right to Water, Right to Clean Air, Right to Peaceful Enjoyment of Home, and Right to a Sustainable Energy Future, and furthermore the Rights of Ecosystems and Natural Communities. Ecosystems and natural communities.

It goes on to ban, in West Chester Borough, extracting natural gas, depositing any fracking wastewater or other fracking product, and creating fossil fuel, nuclear, or other non-sustainable energy production and delivery infrastructures.

The effort, involving also the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and a group of local residents, was led by environmentalist Dianne Herrin, who went on to be elected Mayor and now represents the 156th district in the Pennsylvania House.

From the November 2015 press release by CELDF, headquartered in western PA and a leader in the Community Rights and Rights of Nature (or environmental personhood) movement:

West Chester Voters Adopt Community Rights Charter Amendment Banning Frack Wastewater, Pipelines, and Drilling

Join growing numbers of municipalities across the U.S. that are prohibiting fossil fuel activities by asserting community rights

West Chester Borough, Chester County, Pennsylvania — November 4, 2015

With over 73% of the vote, the people of West Chester Borough adopted an amendment to their home rule charter, constitutionalizing a Community Bill of Rights, and protecting those rights by prohibiting fracking and its associated activities – including pipelines and wastewater disposal. They join the growing numbers of communities across Pennsylvania and the U.S. that are codifying their rights to clean air, water, and local self-government, and are banning fracking activities as a violation of those rights.

The amendment was proposed through a petitioning process conducted by residents of the Borough, and led by West Chester Community Rights Alliance (WCCRA). The local group requested educational and legal assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund in grassroots organizing and drafting the charter initiative….

keep reading at CELDF

Invisible Hand film / Sustainable Storefronts awards ceremony Nov. 16

Awards Ceremony for Sustainable Storefronts program, Tuesday, November 16⋅7:00 – 8:00pm, recognizing businesses that have joined West Chester’s Sustainable Storefronts program and send a representative (approx. 15-20 min.). Location: Room 101, Business & Public Management Building, 50 Sharpless St, West Chester, PA 19383.

Then, we will show the Sustainable Storefronts interview film created by WCU students (approx. 15-25 min). Finally, we will open up the discussion to the attendees, covering the central topics of the film Invisible Hand (approx. 20-25 min). Moderator: Prof. Megan Schraedley, WCU Department of Communication & Media.

Register at https://wcupa.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8p4IKWoUAV3jhXg to view the film “Invisible Hand” about the rights of nature movement online in advance (see trailer here) and to attend the event.

This event is sponsored by the WC Green Team and the WCU Office of Sustainability. Come any time after 6:30 for information tables in the LEED-certified BPMG building. Metered parking on Sharpless or Church St. Room 101, Business & Public Management Building, 50 Sharpless St, West Chester, PA 19383. Come any time after 6:30 for information tables and a tour of the LEED-certified BPMG building led by Dr. Bradley Flamm, Director of the WCU Office of Sustainability.

The 17 businesses (so far) that, in anticipation of West Chester Borough’s ban on single-use plastic bags and straws going into effect on 1/1/22, have voluntarily joined the Sustainable Storefronts program are:

Roots Cafe
Kaly Clothing
Gryphon Cafe
Mae’s
D’Ascenzo’s Gelato
The Shop on Market St
Kildare’s Pub
Meatball U
Dia Doce
Bryn Mawr Running Company
Dolce Zola
The 5 Senses
Mercato
Gemelli Gelato
West Chester Co-Op
Eclat Chocolate
Malena’s Vintage Boutique

“Nature’s Best Hope”: Doug Tallamy’s visit, Sept. 13, 2021

tallamy

Doug Tallamy, a widely acclaimed professor in the Dept. of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, gave a talk at West Chester University on Sept. 13, 2021, to an in-person and online audience of over 200. (See the video here, and don’t miss our board member Courtney Finneran’s preceding 10-minute illustrated introduction to our work; Closed Captioning recommended).

The reception before Dr. Tallamy’s talk was attended by Chester County political and business leaders, and the dinner following allowed Green Team and WCU leaders to network about ways to spread Doug’s message and work throughout the County.

Nature’s best hope, he explained, is at this point… ourselves! We, the human race, have disturbed the symbiotic balance between insects and plants, between those and birds and all other vertebrates. We destroy inter-species interactions at our peril, and if we continue to impoverish the living earth, our own food supply will perish.

What can we do as individuals? Welcome biodiversity to our own properties, by turning lawns into meadows, choosing native plants, shunning pesticides and herbicides, and nurturing organically rich soils.

The Green Team, through our Living Landscapes project, strongly supports Dr. Tallamy’s call for a “Homegrown National Park” in our collective back yards (and, of course, in the properties of businesses, non-profits, schools, and municipalities). We can all be part of restoring nature to the healthy, symbiotic state that evolved into the world around us.

In a promising sign of forward movement, the Environmental Advisory Committees of northern Chester County have been conferring with each other on such initiatives and will be meeting next week at the Welkinweir preserve with Chair of the Chesco Board of Commissioners Marian Moskowitz. The WC Green Team will also be represented there and it is hoped that countywide networking of all Chesco EACs will ensue.

As an organization determined to reassert the essential importance of nature and environment, the WC Green Team will strongly support a countywide initiative to reclaim natural areas, plant native pollinators, and create… a “Homegrown Chester County Park”!

History of the West Chester Area Green Team

The West Chester Green Team (WCGT) was formed in January 2019 as an alliance of four local environmental groups: Don’t Spray Me!, Plastic-Free Please, Ready for 100, and Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection.

Don’t Spray Me! originated in 2015 in response to the threat of pesticides being sprayed in West Chester Borough by the Chester County Health Department. Mayor Carolyn Comitta encouraged residents under the leadership of Graham Hudgings to gather signatures objecting to pesticides being sprayed. Volunteers went door to door, obtaining over 400 signatures and informing residents of the threat from pesticides. Overwhelmingly, people were in support of preventing pesticides being sprayed in their home area. DSM in its first year signed up 120 block captains throughout the Borough, who educated the community on the dangers of pesticides and other chemicals and worked alongside local government to avoid the spraying of pesticides.

Plastic-Free Please was created in 2017 in alliance with West Chester Mayor Dianne Herrin, who worked with local students to bring forward an ordinance to ban plastic straws and bags in the Borough. In a historic moment, on July 17, 2019, in a packed room after a public hearing with numerous residents speaking in support, Borough Council passed the ban by a vote of 4-3. See more on that event here. State legislators snuck a “ban on bans” into a budget bill, and for the duration West Chester promoted a voluntary Sustainable Storefronts program, signing up businesses to voluntarily adopt green practices. With help from WCU students in Professor Megan Schraedley’s communications class, as of November 2021, 17 businesses had signed on. The ordinance finally will go into effect on January 2 2022. Plastic-Free Please hopes that many other municipalities and the County will now follow suit!

Ready for 100 (RF100) Chester County, a committee of the Southeastern PA Group of The Sierra Club, is part of a national, grassroots movement of people working to inspire our leaders to fight climate change and embrace a vision of healthier communities powered with 100% clean, renewable energy. RF1009 seeks to create safe, livable communities that protect and bolster public health, improve air and water quality, and foster sustainability, equity and resilience in the face of climate-related disruptions. RF100 has set community goals for transitioning to 100% renewable energy and urges all Chester County officials to set a 100% clean energy goal.

Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection (4CP) was founded in 2008 to further community education on climate change and green energy solutions. Over the years, 4CP held a stimulating series of lecture/discussions in WC Borough Hall, maintained a web site, and published a newsletter. In 2021, 4CP decided to disband and pass its role over to the WC Green Team

 

“Healthy Soil, Healthy Planet: discussion on “Kiss the Ground”

Fall Film & Forum Series panel discussion hosted by WCU Office of Sustainability and WC Green Team in Room 101, Business & Public Management Building, 50 Sharpless St, West Chester, PA 19383. Doors open at 6:00 pm. Sign up in advance at wcupa/sustainability to view the film online; the evening event will be panel discussions only. Come early for information tables, refreshments and a tour of the LEED-certified BPMG building at 6:30. Metered parking on Sharpless or Church St. 

Tuesday October 12 discussion theme “Healthy Soil, Healthy Planet: Act locally to improve the dirt in your own backyard and help avert climate crisis,” based on the film “Kiss the Ground.” Panelists:

Dr. Joan Welch (moderator), professor in the WCU Department of Geography and Planning, a leader in WCU’s campus gardens, and dedicated environmentalist.

Mike Dunn, contract arborist for West Chester Borough and Sustainable Landscapes Specialist

Nur Ritter, Stewardship Manager, Robert B. Gordon Natural Area for Environmental Studies at West Chester University, botanist, biochar enthusiast, friend of fungi

From https://kissthegroundmovie.com/: “‘Kiss the Ground’ reveals that, by regenerating the world’s soils, we can completely and rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and create abundant food supplies. Using compelling graphics and visuals, along with striking NASA and NOAA footage, the film artfully illustrates how, by drawing down atmospheric carbon, soil is the missing piece of the climate puzzle. This movie is positioned to catalyze a movement to accomplish the impossible  to solve humanity’s greatest challenge, to balance the climate and secure our species’ future.”

Later in this series:
November 16 film- “Invisible Hand” (this forum will include interviews of 2021 Green Award winners)
December 7 film–“Thirsty for Justice”

Sites Posted on Chester County Clean Tour 2021

See the CCEA calendar for details of the tour, Oct. 2-3, and how to take it virtually.

Name of SiteName of SubmitterFeatures
Hillside Elementary School Green Roof
Berwyn, PA
Jennifer Cox/ Conestoga High School studentsSustainable Features: Green Roof Site Type School Organization: Hillside Elementary School, in the Tredyffrin-Eastown School District
West Chester University Geothermal Exchange System
West Chester, PA
Brad Flamm, Director, Office of Sustainability, WCU
Sustainable Features Geothermal Site Type University Organization: West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Haaf Home Energy Tour
Kennett Square, PA
Bill Haaf
Sustainable Features Composting, Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Geothermal, Heat Pump(s), Passive Solar, Other Other Sustainable Features: • Advanced lighting (LEDs), programmable thermostats, native plants/water-retentive plantings, spray PU foam insulation, strategies for energy efficiency in existing home. System Size (in kW): 6.7 Solar Site Type Home
Energy Efficiency Beats S&P
West Chester, PA
Bryan Hutchinson
Sustainable Features Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Heat Pump(s), Solar PV – Rooftop System Size (in kW): 7.14 Solar Site Type Home
Solar Stone Barn
Chadds Ford, PA
Richard Leff
Sustainable Features Battery Storage, Electric Vehicle(s), Geothermal System Size (in kW): 10 Solar Site Type Home
Central Baptist Church, Wayne, Gets to Zero Net Emissions
Wayne, {A
Chuck Marshall
Sustainable Features Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Net zero, Solar PV – Rooftop Solar Site Type Religious Institution
Rooftop Made for Solar
Chester Springs, PA
Kathy McDevitt
Sustainable Features Electric Vehicle(s), Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Solar PV – Rooftop System Size (in kW): 13.26 kW Solar Site Type Home
The McGowan Home
Coatesville, PA
Brian McGowan
Sustainable Features Battery Storage, Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Solar Thermal, Wind Turbine(s) System Size (in kW): 3.96 kW Solar Site Type : Home
Stroud Water Research Center’s Moorhead Environmental Complex

Avondale, PA
Jessica Provinski, Stroud Development Department
Sustainable Features Composting, Electric Vehicle(s), Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Geothermal, Grey Water System, Heat Pump(s), Integrated Systems System Size (in kW): 17.860 kW Solar Site Type Nonprofit Organization
Geothermal Township Building /West Bradford
Downingtown, PA
Cheryl Wanko

Sustainable Features Geothermal Solar Site Type Government Building Organization: West Bradford Township
Geothermal Home
West Bradford, PA
Cheryl Wanko
Sustainable Features Geothermal Site Type Home
Nature Farm Solar Home
Chester Springs, PA
Dave Weber
Sustainable Features Composting, Electric Vehicle(s), Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Heat Pump(s), Passive Solar, Solar PV – Rooftop, Other Other Sustainable Features: Electric mower, on-demand electric hot water heater System Size (in kW): 10+ Solar Site Type Home
West Chester Borough Chestnut Street Garage Solar Canopy (drone video)
West Chester, PA
Jim Wylie,  the chair of the Southeastern PA Group, Sierra ClubSustainable Features Solar PV – Rooftop Other Sustainable Features: System Size (in kW): 79 Solar Site Type Government Building Organization: Solarize Greater West Chester
Strategies for a More Sustainable Home
Wayne, PA
Rutger Boerema
Sustainable Features Battery Storage, Composting, Electric Vehicle(s), Heat Pump(s) System Size (in kW): 8.16 Solar Site Type Home
Speksnijder Solar Site
West Chester, PA
Will ClaudioSustainable Features Battery Storage, Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Net zero, Solar PV – Rooftop Solar Site Type Home

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.