By Kristine Kearns
On November 13th, I had the privilege to travel to Welkinweir; an estate in Pottstown with an arboretum, nature preserve and historical house. The space was used to gather dozens of people from different Environmental Action Committees (or “EACs”) from nearby townships. I sat in a corner of the room in an upholstered wooden chair surrounded by others there to represent their environmental groups.
Aspects like these of our community are vital for the protection of the environment. While some initiatives go through the local governments, it is up to community members and volunteers to ultimately take care of our earth and our surroundings because no one else will do it for us.
A few examples of other EACs included the Phoenixville Green Team, the Homegrown National Park Association from East Brandywine, and Schuylkill township EAC. Iboard n
Phoenixville, a “biomax” project is underway which allows biosolids to act as a renewable source and become biochar and fuel. The Homegrown National Park association is working on creating more children’s nature libraries, maintaining trails, and encouraging people to plant wild lawns with native plant species. Schuylkill township EAC has focused on stream preservation, addressing environmental policy and connecting with other EACs in the surrounding areas.
The West Chester Green Team got to present our progress, represented by board member Gillian Alicea. Our work has included advocating for renewable energies, moving forward with the Borough of West Chester’s Sustainable Storefronts program in banning disposable plastics and finding a way to introduce a curbside compost program.
Upon observing each EAC, I found the community aspect to be particularly powerful. Instead of an initial impression that the morning would consist of informative speech after informative speech, the connections people made helped to create more meaning and more inspiration in the overarching environmental goals. In order to restore our soils, increase compost initiatives, reduce plastic waste and attract native species it is imperative that numerous people are involved in participation. Climate change is a daunting global issue, but beginning in our backyards is the first step to seeing and creating change. In fact, many at the Welkinweir gathering mentioned inspiration from fellow townships and EAC members, noting the West Chester Green Team’s Sustainable Storefronts program traveling into the ideas of other nearby towns.
My only wish is that I would love to see expansion of the already successful and ever growing environmental projects. It seems it is possible that we can reach even more areas, expand into city communities, and meet more people from more diverse backgrounds. A lot of positive change is on the horizon. There are many eager hands willing to help and give a green “thumbs up” to the progress made so far.
Concluding the session, I met a few friendly faces and took comfort in knowing the various associations and voices sharing passion for environmental work. I sipped some tea and snuck a few gazes out the windows which overlooked beautiful bodies of water. It felt like the forest and the sky were smiling down on us… as if the earth instinctively knows when people are willing to put in work to aid each others’ home.