WCGT/WCU Environment & Sustainability Forums in Fall 2022

These were the programs in our fall 2023 series (download pdf of the series here, with thanks to all presenters and audience members:

The forum on September 20, Chester County Climate: Plans and Progress, included many insights about the future of climate protection and other environmental measures. Hear the full audio recording here. See more information about the panelists here.

October 18: Plastic: a Planetary Problem was presented creatively by WCU professor Drew Anderson, preceded by a plastics filmlet by Jonathan Sprout, founder of Force for Good. More info here.

Fern Hill Reservoir in West Goshen contributes to the environment as well as serving as a reserve supply of usable water

November 15: Water in our Town. Prof Megan Fork and 2 student researchers joined Dr. John Jackson of Stroud Water Research Center and Byron Riggins of Delaware Riverkeeper Network. Moderated by George Seeds, Master Watershed Steward and community science volunteer. Preceded by First annual Philip Jamison Art and Nature Award presentation, recognizing local artist Beth Clark for portraying the natural beauty of Chester County. See more info, including a report in the Daily Local News, here.

December 13: Sustainable Living: Tips for a Green Holiday. The forum of the season, by Prof. Ashlie Delshad and Prof. Megan Schraedley, guided a holiday-minded group, including many children, in making and taking gifts friendly to the planet.

Chesco Commissioners lead off with environment

First item in Chester County News and Information, Dec. 1, 2022           ​        ​​

One of the initiatives we are most proud of is Chester County’s focus on sustainability and the environment.  Our Climate Action Plan is leading us in these efforts, along with the work of our Environmental and Energy Advisory Board and our dedicated sustainability director.  Just this week, we renewed our contract with the Chester County Solid Waste Authority to host one of the annual Household Hazardous Waste events. And last month, we authorized an update to our C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) program, expanding eligibility for financing.

Recently, volunteers from Go Green Chesco, the County’s employee-led committee promoting sustainable action, spent part of their weekend planting nearly 100 trees and shrubs along the French Creek in Warwick County Park. The trees and shrubs will help establish a riparian forest buffer to help reduce erosion to the stream bank.  Efforts such as this – that come from the commitment to improving the environment by our staff – make us especially proud. We thank all our employees who planned, prepared the site, and helped to plant the trees and shrubs. We also recognize the year-round work of the Go Green Chesco group, continually reviewing ways to improve our own sustainable practices.  ​

Marian Moskowitz | Josh Maxwell | Michelle Kichline

Water in our Town, Nov. 15, 2022

This report appeared in the Daily Local News, 11/22/22:

Panel discusses Chester County water quality

WEST CHESTER—How is stream quality in Chester County?

That is what the West Chester Green Team and West Chester University’s Office of Sustainability held a panel discussion on Nov.15 to find the answer.

WCU Professor Joan Welch welcomed about 50 attendees and told the group that the University’s water comes from the Brandywine Creek.

The program in the University’s new Sciences and Engineering Center started with the presentation of the First Annual Philip Jamison Art and Nature Award, recognizing a local artist for portraying the natural beauty of Chester County, by Philip Jamison, Jr., to Beth Clark, some of whose landscape scenes were on view.

Moderator George Seeds, Master Watershed Steward and community science volunteer, first turned the mic over to Dr. John Jackson of the Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale. Dr. Jackson pointed out that 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, preceded by Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law of 1937. Those laws have improved stream quality, he showed, but 20SUBMITTED PHOTO of the state’s streams remain impaired and the Delaware Basin has lost about half of its sensitive aquatic species.

Professor Megan Fork and student researchers Miranda Davies and Danielle Scudero then described Goose Creek and West Chester’s other streams as showing typical “urban stream syndrome,” with too much impervious surface, fast rising water, flooding, pollution, and decreased biodiversity. Thus, the less chemical-tolerant larvae and other small organisms perish, and the food chain suffers. How to solve it? Improve green infrastructure such as rain barrels and rain gardens, restore flood plains, cut down on fertilizer, road salt, trash, and other contaminants. and support organizations fighting to support our watersheds.

Byron Riggins of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network spoke about the importance of community watershed advocacy. The northeastern US will be getting more rain, he said; and where will all that water go? Better into roots and the ground than into the streams; and a particular hazard is combined systems in many cities where sewage and stormwater flow off together in high water. He gave Goose Creek as an example of activism, where community, experts, and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network have secured real improvement over the years.

Audience questions elicited further information: the WCU quad is underlain by retention basins; the Sykes Union parking lot captures runoff which is released rather than infiltrating; microplastics are found everywhere, from Antarctica to Pennsylvania’s highest value streams.

Why should we care about biodiversity? Because, Jackson concluded, invertebrates and birds, among others, are surrogates for ourselves. They sample air and water constantly, and if they are being poisoned, so are we.

This was the third event in the fall 2022 environmental forum series; the last, on December 13, “Tips for a Green Holiday,” will include hands-on advice on making and receiving gifts sustainably, open to all in Sykes Union, 110 West Rosedale Ave., West Chester.

Fern Hill Reservoir in West Goshen contributes to the environment as well as serving as a reserve supply of usable water

Chester County Climate: Plans and Progress

Tuesday, September 20, 7:00 – 8:30pm. Hear full audio recording of this very interesting panel here. See full description below flyer image. Download flyer here.

An already prominent leader in climate activism, Chester County is rooting itself deeper as one of the most prominent counties for sustainability in Pennsylvania. On the evening of September 20th, the West Chester Green Team hosted a climate-themed panel to debate over some recent policies put forth in Chester County and beyond. The event was suitably held in West Chester University’s new Science and Engineering Building, which is being used as the main focal point for the school’s prioritization of sustainability.

The panel featured many of the prominent figures in Chester County’s sustainability sector, including Bradley Flamm, West Chester University’s Director of Sustainability, and Josh Maxwell, Vice Chair on the Chester County Board of Commissioners. Rachael Griffith, Chester County Planning Commission Sustainability Director, Courtney Finneran, Water Resource Project Manager, Gillian Alicea, Chair West Chester Borough Sustainability Advisory Committee, and Dr. Dorothy Ives-Dewey, Associate Dean of the College of Business and Public Management and Professor of Planning at West Chester University were also panelists. Together the five panelists presented a variety of views on upcoming climate “hot topics,” and not only reached into areas of sustainability, but land use, transportation, and other related issues.

Rachel Griffith, a main developer of Chester County’s Climate Action Plan, spoke in detail about the process and future of the plan for the County. She emphasized that “the scale of the challenge [in climate change] is much bigger than county government can solve alone, and that if we are to be successful in our bold goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, it’s going to take the buy-in and action from every sector.” (A link can be found to the Action Plan here). Other members commented as well and were sure to add on how climate change affects every part of the County—and how work must be done in unison to make steps forward.

After the panelists concluded their presentations, the moderator turned to the audience for questions and feedback. One member, Tom Walsh, spoke about the importance of learning from the past. He mentioned how Chester County used to be an industrial centerpiece in PA, but is now a major representative for sustainability

The West Chester Green Team was happy to see the event be presented in the Daily Local, and gain further traction in the West Chester community.

This series of forums is offered in memory of Graham R. Hudgings (1970-2017).

A picture from the forum, including Amy Cuthbertson, who graciously filmed the event

Self-guided garden tours, August 2022

On Saturday August 27, the Chester County History Center (225 N. High St., West Chester) hosted the Green Team’s memorable dinner reception featuring local manifestations of Doug Tallamy’s Homegrown National Park initiative, stressing native plantings as hosts to native species of insects and other organisms.

Many thanks to the History Center for donating their venue on Aug. 27 and working hard to facilitate our program, and to our suppliers for the event, including The Master’s Baker, creators of a large and marvelous garden-themed cake.

According to the Homegrown National Park map, PA leads the country with 10,023 acres participating and Chester County (where Tallamy, a faculty member at the University of Delaware, lives) leads PA with 139 users and 192 plantings. That’s makes Chesco a national leader, but at .81% of the County registered, we have far to go. Please consider adding your space, or urging local institutions and property owners to do so.

Here are detailed descriptions of gardens planted by the Green Team, the three other groups associated with our August 27 event, and some other allies.

Please view the properties below at your leisure. Links lead to the write-ups on our site (where you can also download pdfs of the same information) and links from there for more information.

Bondsville Mill Park and Gardens in East Brandywine offers an impressive variety of natural growth and plantings with a sizable park in the historic setting of a mill dating back to 1841 and now being restored. See their own web site here. Open dawn to dusk.

Chestnut Street Garage Pollinator Garden installed by the West Chester Business Improvement District in collaboration with the Green eam in downtown West Chester beautifies a strip running the length of a parking garage and welcomes visitors to an increasingly green Borough.

Chester County Art Association planting on the West Chester edge of East Bradford created new gardens with an emphasis on esthetics and on nourishing pollinators.

Heart of Uwchlan Project on the grounds of the Uwchlan Township Building includes a Milkweed garden designated as a “Save the Monarchs” Monarch Habitat, a riparian Streamside Garden, and a Wetland Garden.

Lawn to Native Pollinator Garden Conversion in West Chester: read the steps involved and consider your own move from monoculture to pollinator-friendly plantings.

West Chester: 4 other WCGT-associated gardens: Plantings at Chester County Art Association and History Center plus two verges between street and sidewalk, known as “hellstrips.”

West Vincent Pollinator Pitstop Garden Program has started with a demonstration garden on the Township Building grounds, with activities like milkweed seed and plant giveaways and environmental education for children, and it plans to spread to other township parks.

West Vincent: Carys Egan’s garden, just created, inspired by the work of Doug Tallamy and the West Vincent Township Environmental Advisory Council.

An underlying inspiration for these and many other projects, as well as for residents’ own gardens, is Chesco resident Doug Tallamy’s idea that we can all, on any space large or small, contribute to a Homegrown National Park oriented to pollinator-friendly native plants.

See also:

Phoenixville Area Transition Living Landscapes, assisting in developing healthier growing spaces.

Phoenixville Pollinator Corridor, dedicated to the proliferation of native plants.

Videos of many private West Chester gardens, mostly made by the West Chester Green Team in 2020.

Art and plants, Aug. 27, WC History Center

On the History Center patio (225 N. High St., West Chester) all are welcome to stop by between 3 and 7pm and purchase nature-related art and get a discount coupon to buy plants.

Northbrook Natives offers coupons for 10% off & 10% donated to WCGT for anyone bringing that coupon along to the nursery on 9/2 or 9/3.  They will also offer a 10% donation for any sales at the nursery that weekend when someone mentions WCGT. This is the perfect time to plant native shrubs and a perennials!

Potter Suzanne Kent offers attractive pots for plants and containers for arranging cut flowers.

Denise Vitollo‘s pastel paintings explore color, and how it is influenced by light and shadow. Her goal is to convey the intense pulsations and energy she feels as she explores the world around her.  She believes that every day is a gift to be experienced and lived to the fullest. An award-winning artist and Vice President of the Philadelphia Pastel Society, Denise has exhibited in national and international juried shows and has twice been included in the Pastel Journal’s 100 best pastels of the year. She has taught up to the undergraduate and graduate school levels, and has earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, a Master of Fine Arts Degree, and a Master of Art Education Degree. See her site here.

Stephen Marvin works with tempera on canvas and paints portraits, landscapes and abstract designs. Proud member of the Chester County Art Association, a dynamic organization devoted to fostering excellence in art and design. Most recently exhibited with the Wayne Art Center for their Plein Air event. Current exhibit of local West Chester area at the Univest Bank on High Street. Visit the Manatee company webpage.

Deb Hodies will offer a selection of environment-themed lapel pins at $1. Wear a message to support your views and also support the Green Team (50% of sales to us!).