Category Archives: Earth Day

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.

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

WCU Students Host a Celebration for the West Chester Green Team

 by Lucinda Bauman

One week after Earth Day, seven women from Dr. Kanan Sawyer’s Event Planning class at West Chester University hosted a celebration for the West Chester Green Team. The event boasted bright green decorations, fun activities, and inviting event hosts. Attendees made their way around Sykes Patio to the different stations.

Green cupcakes with a QR code leading to the Green Team web site enticed visitors

The first station was the plant pot decorating, where all were welcome to take home their own pot and seedling. Next, the attendees played a couple of rounds of sustainability trivia. After that, guests dug into some delicious Earth Day themed cupcakes.

Finally, the last station hosted a wall that attendees plastered with sticky notes that explained their ways of staying sustainable!

Personal statements: how to be sustainable in our daily lives, against a backdrop evoking beautiful Chester County

While the event lasted from just 10:00 – 11:00 am, it did an incredible job of raising awareness of sustainability practices and the West Chester Green Team to many West Chester students and residents alike. 

Thank you Dr. Kanan Sawyer and your students for this exceptional event! 

from decorating the pot…
…to adding the potting soil and seeds


Earth Day Chalkings in West Chester

Thanks to the many owners of businesses and other properties, passersby on Earth Day, April 22, were treated to—and often had to walk around or over—a variety of artistic chalkings on sidewalks along High St. (Read about our opening ceremony HERE.)

Below are some noteworthy samples, identified by location.

Bryn Mawr Running
2 West Market
Meatball U.
Katie Mac
Unitarian Congregation
Bryn Mawr Running
Dia Doce

Earth Day in West Chester: Opening Ceremony

The Green Team is grateful to the many businesses and institutions that participated by chalking on their own sidewalks or letting our talented team of West Chester University students create their own works honoring Mother Earth on the 53rd annual Earth Day, Friday April 22, 2022. (See photos of many sidewalk chalkings HERE.)

Thanks to WCU students Cayla Behrle, Daniel Keeler, Ava Mullertz, Karen Villalobos Bedolla, and Christian White for this winning poster design

Our event started at 9am, with some chalkers hard at work and others resting from their previous artistic labors. The official opening ceremony was held at 11am at the archway at Philips Memorial Hall, West Chester University, moderated by Dr. Bradley Flamm, Director of the Office of Sustainability.

West Chester Mayor Lillian DeBaptiste welcomed the crowd of about 40 people, spoke to the importance of environment in the Borough and beyond, and also unveiled the WC Green Team’s 2022 yard sign (below).

The WC Green Team’s 2022 yard sign, designed by Linda Maxwell

WCU president Christopher Fiorentino welcomed us to campus and spoke to the University’s commitment to sustainability, including widespread use of geothermal energy, which allowed the University to close and demolish its former coal-fired plant.

Our distinguished guest for the occasion, US Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, relayed the good news that in just the 3 years she has been in Washington, she has seen a much better bipartisan dialogue evolve about climate change.

Courtney presenting the Unsung Hero award to Christiane

WCU grad Courtney Finneran, Chair of the Green Team’s Living Landscapes Committee, spoke in praise of Christiane Torres, recipient of the Green Team’s 2022 Unsung Hero award. She particularly mentioned that “when she’s not digging in the dirt and planting native species in hard-to-manage areas between the curb and the sidewalk,… Christiane has taken on the lion’s share of the technical work for the West Chester Green Team’s annual auction.” The award was conferred by WCGT board member Rani Norley and former WC Mayor Jordan Norley.

Professor Megan Schraedley then recognized five of her Communications students—Cayla Behrle, Daniel Keeler, Ava Mullertz, Karen Villalobos Bedolla, and Christian White—who designed the very effective winning poster for the day, at the top of this page.

Jess Cadorette explains the Common Environmental Agenda

Finally, Jess Cadorette of Conservation Voters of PA announced the completion of the Chester County Environment Alliance’s Common Environment Agenda, to be presented soon to the County Commissioners.

For other details of the opening ceremony, please see Bill Rettew, “Earth Day recognized at WCU,” Daily Local News, 4/22/22.

Many thanks to Erica Thompson, University Communications and Marketing, for the 2 above and 3 below photos of the event.

Mayor DeBaptiste welcomes the crowd, President Fiorentino and Rep. Houlahan await, and the WCGT 2022 yard sign about to be unveiled
Luci setting the ambiance at the archway

Earth Day celebrators under cherry tree

Updating recent WC Green Team activities: Earth Day, Plastics

Earth Day

Earth Day in West Chester Borough was a resounding success for the Green Team. This year the WCGT partnered with West Chester University Assistant Professor of Communication Megan Schraedley and her class of organizational communication students. This partnership resulted in a dynamic Art Festival and Stroll event, spreading the word about Earth Day and sustainability in the Borough. Dr. Schraedley and her students helped plan the Earth Day Art Festival & Stroll which took place on April 22nd throughout the Borough.

This event had two parts. The first part showcased sustainable art pieces digitally on our Instagram page and in-person at the Chester County Historical Center. The second part featured an in-person sidewalk chalking event along High Street. At the CCHC, local students and artists created several nature-themed art pieces for display. These pieces used natural and upcycled materials such as plastic water bottles, found wood, clay, and cardboard to bring public awareness to nature’s beauty as well as how to find other uses for single-use materials. Please check out our Instagram page, @wc_green_team, to see these works of art.

In addition, the WCU students marketed and planned a successful sidewalk chalking event that took place on April 22nd along High Street. Families, schoolchildren, college students, business owners, and other local organizations came together to participate in this community event.

In total, we estimated over 100 people came out to support Earth Day and the WCGT, including the mayor of the Borough, Jordan Norley, who publicly recognized the West Chester Green Team’s sustainability work by presenting us with the keys to the city. The WCGT unveiled our new Transition sign (check out more info about Transition here) and Mayor Norley spoke highly of the work the WCGT is doing to improve quality of life in the Borough.

For more info and images of Earth Day, including noteworthy remarks by Rani Norley, see here.

Plastics-Free Please

This spring, the West Chester Green Team informed businesses in the Borough about how to acquire a Sustainable Storefronts certification, available through the Borough’s Sustainability Advisory Council. This voluntary certification available for retail businesses and restaurants is an important step towards eliminating single-use plastics in the Borough.

To tackle this issue, the WCGT partnered with Megan Schraedley, an Assistant Professor of Communication at WCU, and one of her organizational communication classes to contact local businesses. Together, we contacted dozens of businesses in the Borough and spoke with them about sustainability and the Sustainable Storefronts program. From these conversations, we helped the following local businesses become Sustainable Storefronts certified: Dia Doce, Meatball U, Bryn Mawr Running Co., Dolce Zola, 5 Senses, and Hop Fidelity.

Many thanks to these businesses for jumping on board with sustainability and joining the Sustainable Storefronts program! They are leaders for the future of the community. Be sure to thank them for joining the next time you visit any of these establishments. You can see other businesses who have joined at the Borough’s site.

Later this year, we hope to recognize these businesses for joining the Sustainable Storefronts program, so please be on the lookout for more information.

See also the Plastic-Free Please Facebook page here.

West Chester Area Transition

See information on our latest initiative here.

Earth Day chalking and art festival, West Chester, April 22, 2021

The initial text is from remarks by Borough resident Rani Norley at the opening ceremony outside Phillips Memorial Building, WCU, after her official unveiling of the 2021 Green Team yard sign marking it joining the Transition movement (close-up below; to order, see here) and, despite the blustery morning, surrounded by seasonal flowers. The following photos are of Earth Day art and observances along S. and N. High St. And the text at the end gives our own thoughts on Earth Day.

Thank you, everyone, for this wonderful event. It’s amazing to see so much support for green initiatives in our Borough. To the West Chester Green Team, Dr. Bradley Flamm, Courtney Finneran, Professor Megan Schraedley and all of you for attending and listening to these important messages — thank you. 

Thirteen months ago, our lives as we knew it, forever changed.  It has been a time of challenges and re-envisioning.  Through all the trials and tribulations, there was also something amazing happening on our planet.  As we stopped doing, our nature, plants and animals started thriving.  For me this has been a time of reflection, and how we as the people on this planet have a connection, a human connection to everything on it.  We are not just a part of it, we are deeply connected to it.  And when we take the power of our hearts, mind and body in harmony, we have the ability to do wonderful things.

Movements like the WCGT, Transition US, and WCU sustainability efforts are critical to cultivating a more just, sustainable and regenerative future.

With the new beginnings of Spring and its enthusiasm here, I am excited to take this energy towards a wonderful transition. To transition to a greener Borough. To transition to a community that values the strengths of diversity and the necessity of equity. Together, with hands of all shapes and sizes and color working in harmony to bring us Spring blossoms. 

Historic Chester County Courthouse, 2 N. High St.  Stefanie Heron-Birl, face painter and chalk artist.
At Sabrina Ann Couture, 128 N High St., by Justine Gesualdi, artist and WCU senior.

West Chester Green Team, complete with the powerful Flying Baby logo, by Julian.
“The greatest threat…” quote from Arctic and Antarctic explorer Robert Swan.
Sign at Knauer Performing Arts Center, Uptown!, 226 N. HIgh St.
Art works with Ready for 100 leader Paula Kline at Chester County History Center, 225 N. High St. 

What is Earth Day?

In April, 1970, US Senator Gaylord Nelson, drawing on his commitment to the environment, promoted the first national day to honor the Earth. People around the world now celebrate Earth Day every April 22.

Symbolically, on April 22, 2016, the nations of the world signed the Paris Agreement, setting concrete goals to rein in climate-altering worldwide temperature increases. Earth Day gradually grew into Earth Week, and now we speak of April as Earth Month.

In the northern hemisphere this is the month of spring and hope, the season to do our part by planting our own gardens and resolving to cut down on fossil fuel consumption, air and water pollution, overuse of plastics and chemicals, and other practices that threaten human and environmental health.

From sea to space, by Jakob Speksnijder and colleagues, at 37 S. High St.

In the then-new Earth Day spirit, State Senator Franklin Kury guided passage of Pennsylvania’s environmental rights amendment in 1971 and now, going strong at age 84, has written a new book honoring the 50th anniversary of that constitutional guarantee to the “right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment” for all Pennsylvanians.

Earth collage from consumer-used materials by WCU senior Justine Gesualdi.
Plastic flower by WCU student Ameerah Bond

At WC Friends