The 2021 Mondays at Melton summer environmental camp wrapped up on August 9 with “One Kiwi, Two Kiwis,” a story about her native New Zealand read by Rani Norley, wife of West Chester Borough mayor Jordan Norley.
Forty people of all ages joined the celebration and learned how New Zealanders, also known as Kiwis, greet each other, a bit about their history as a British Commonwealth nation, and an overview of their famous and unique animals.
Rani shared photos of the mountains and national parks of her beautiful native land and passed around a small globe, which she used to show where New Zealand is relative to the US and to illustrate why the northern and southern hemispheres have opposite seasons.
In addition, environmental educator and Melton Center staff member Eunice Alexander strummed her guitar and sang songs about spiders and snakes–and how good they are for the Earth. As a special treat of the evening, everyone enjoyed gelato generously donated by D’Ascenzo’s.
Thanks also to Sue Patterson of the West Chester Co-op and Michael Hartman of Senator Carolyn Comitta’s office for serving ice cream.
You can see all of the activity reflected in the photos above and below expertly taken by Taka Nagai.
Earlier lessons at the camp featured growing and cooking with tomatoes, information on endangered animals, a story on city gardening, a Japanese tale of a magic peach, and an overall focus on good nutrition and the importance of eating healthy vegetables grown in your own garden.
Thanks to Senator Carolyn Comitta and her husband Tom for their generous financial contribution to Mondays at Melton, to Jessica Nagle for being a regular part of programs, to Reiko Yoshida and Taka Nagai, who came 3 times, took photos and provided Japanese cookies and candy for the peach evening, and especially to Jamie Comfort Atkins, director of the Melton Center’s New Directions program and overall coordinator of Mondays at Melton.
Mondays at Melton are an outgrowth of the West Chester Green Team and the Melton Center’s collaboration on their first annual community garden program. WCU Professor Ashlie Delshad advises the gardeners, who are enjoying a bountiful harvest. Snacking on cherry tomatoes they pick themselves, the children learned when and how to harvest from their own gardens.
Mondays at Melton were sponsored by the Melton Center and the WC Green Team. For more information on Mondays at Melton and the WC Green Team’s related community gardening program, type “Melton” in the Search box in the right sidebaror contact Margaret Hudgings, email@example.com.
With the Tokyo Olympics just underway, last week Melton Center students got a juicy glimpse into Japanese culture.
As part of their Mondays at Melton series, the West Chester Green Team partnered with the Japan Foundation to tell students the story of Momotaro, a child born from a giant peach. The only son of an elderly couple, Momotaro leaves as an adolescent to protect his village from a band of ogres. With the help of some friends he meets along the way, Momotaro is able to convince the ogres to repent of their misdeeds and returns to his homeland a hero. Momotaro is an oral story that may date back to the 14th century.
The story helped to illustrate the importance of oral storytelling in the Japanese culture while celebrating peach season locally. After the reading, students enjoyed delicious peaches from Barnard’s Orchards, sampled some Japanese candy and got to try their hand at the Japanese art form of origami.
Special thanks to Japan Foundation volunteers Reiko Yoshida, her daughter Misaki and husband Taka Nagai (our stalwart photographer) for making the evening one that students won’t soon forget.
Type “Melton” in the Search box in the right sidebar for earlier stories about Mondays at Melton.
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.
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.
Thanks to Hello, West Chester, 6/3/21, for this great description of our and other groups’ summer community gardening programs:
New raised beds at the Melton Center.West Chester offers relatively few community garden plots considering the number of renters and homes with limited acreage.
As one side of the Melton Center property on E. Miner Street is being cemented over on its way to becoming ten townhouses and a four-story, 41-unit affordable apartment complex. The other side is being subdivided into 10 4’ x 4’ raised-bed plots. Over the last year, the community fixture since 1934 has been busy maximizing its physical presence to continue its mission of contributing to “the quality of life for all people of the greater West Chester community.” Which today means trying to tackle a couple of rather lofty goals: affordable housing and food insecurity.
While every row home that sells over asking price serves as a reminder of the borough’s need for affordable housing, one might not think putting food on the table would be a problem in the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, but you’d be wrong….
The Green Team’s Silent Auction was held online Nov. 25 – Dec. 5. Of course we would have preferred our usual format, with delicious food, conviviality at the seated dinner, silent bidding for objects and services displayed around the room, and a few exciting live auctioned items. Maybe again in December 2021!
This year’s auction, ably managed by a team coordinated by Megan Schraedley and Margaret Hudgings, had the overall theme “Favorite Things,” and all 61 items were bid on and sold. With so much online shopping taking place due to the pandemic, people heeded our request to do some of their holiday shopping with us!
Overall, the auction raised over $10,000 to support our initiatives in fighting toxic chemicals, plastic consumption and climate change, and in promoting organic gardening, renewable energy, appreciation of urban trees, and overall sustainable living in our area.
Many thanks to all who organized, donated, and purchased!
The West Chester University Office of Sustainability and the WC Green Team jointly organized 4 virtual events this fall. We are grateful to Brad Flamm (director) and Amy Maxcy (office administrator) of the Office of Sustainability for all their work and also to Asst. Prof. of Organizational Communications Megan Schraedley’s Com 398 students, who led the organizing and publicity for the last 3 events.
1) September 11th panel discussionstarting from the film “The Story of Plastic”
The film gives a horrifying view of how the plastics industry, an offshoot of the fossil fuel industry, has despoiled the planet and led the public to believe that recycling plastic is a viable enterprise, when in fact the only solution is to pare back our use of plastics to purposes for which it is truly essential.
Many joined in the discussion: moderator Brad Flamm, Director of the WCU Office of Sustainability; Asst. Prof. of Biology Jen Maresh (who talked about finding microplastics even at great ocean depths in the midst of the Pacific), students and community members.
The WCU Zero Waste Committee and student activists have been working to reduce all sorts of waste on campus, focusing on styrofoam and plastic bags. We should be talking about not 3 but 5 R’s: Refuse / Reduce / Reuse / Recycle / Rot (and more: Refill). In municipal recycling, only aluminum cans, and not plastic, have any real value. We are not paying the true costs of plastic packaging, as disposal and environmental “externalities” are concealed in the ease of purchasing products, including in vending machines. In fact, by paying for recycling, trash, and clean-up costs, the taxpayers are subsidizing plastic manufacturing and consumption.
West Chester Borough’s plan to ban single-use plastic bags and straws is on hold due to Covid-19 and opposition from the PA legislature, but a voluntary and educational phase is underway. Seventy years ago plastic didn’t even exist and people survived without it! What can be done on campus? One of many ideas: encourage RA’s to feature plastics reduction in their programming for residents.
See the film trailer and more info here, and the discussion here (enter Access Passcode: UzQ9Z?%x and note that the first few minutes missing; includes mostly accurate transcript).
Some lessons: Soil and water contamination from PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) exemplifies the problem, as from firefighting foam used in military bases such as the former Naval Air Development Center in Warminster PA. This large group of man-made “forever chemicals,” which are not among the 90 nationally required to be tested for in water, likely cause brain tumors in children and also threaten all of us, including military personnel. Neither US nor PA law protects us from PFAS (found also in Teflon), which linger in the environment without known remedy. Corporations need to stop taking advantage of natural resources without facing the damages.
Diversity of life shows the health of streams; impaired streams, including 1/4 of Chesco waterways, have lost 75+% of their sensitive species, reflecting also soil degradation in drainage areas.. The harm could be reduced by less use of artificial fertilizers, more run-off buffers, and less hi-tech bias in agriculture schools. Other water issues that we may not think of enough are: warming due to power plants and climate change; salt from excessive applications in winter weather (the US applies about 400 lb per person; some streams here have become almost as salty as ocean water; bridges and vehicles are also corroded); toxics released by asphalt sealants. Even one careless person or municipality can damage a whole stream’s quality downstream.
3) November 13 panel on the film Woman at War and awards
You can view online this inspiring event moderated by Megan Schraedley, including videos from the 8 local women awardees who exemplify leadership in sustainable practices. The program included community discussion and musical interludes by WCU cellist and composer Ovidio Marinescu. An evening for positivity, as Megan said, well worth viewing and inspirational! A variety of contributions to local sustainability were contributed by the speakers, in order:
Malena Martinez – Owner of Malena’s Vintage Boutique, West Chester
Maria Urrutia – Faculty, Theatre and Dance, WCU (and colleagues)
Gabrielle Long – MA graduate in Geography at WCU
Paige Vermeulen – Undergraduate student in Ecology and Geology at WCU
Debbie Bookman – Chester County Prothonotary
Dianne Herrin – Mayor of West Chester
Danielle Friel Otten – Representative, PA House 155th district
Keyana Cellucci – Owner, Velvet Hair Salon, West Chester
4) Local sustainability activism on December 11
Our last forum of the season, moderated by Com 398 student Bobby Carlson, featured 4 local panelists showing what campus and community groups can do to promote sustainability and environmental empowerment.
Open space advocate Ken Hemphill presented his very effective 5-minute video The Battle for Crebilly Farm, advocating preservation of a long-standing family farm south of West Chester threatened by development by Toll Brothers, even though it saw military action in the largest battle of the American Revolution and our first 9/11, the Battle of Brandywine on Sept. 11, 1777. Ironically, Ken said, the US government insists that foreign governments preserve land where Americans died in battle, but has no such requirement in the US. Pennsylvania Act 319, which allows land owners to preserve land in exchange for tax exoneration, requires a very inadequate 7-year back tax payment in order to sell the land for development.
In another current case, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has held a wooded property in Delaware County, untaxed for a century, that it now also wants to sell to developers, even though the County should make the land into a sorely needed public park. (For breaking news on this site, see here.)
Courtney Finneran (WCU ’99) described the work of the West Chester Tree Team, which brought together about 50 Borough residents last year to reinforce the Urban Forester’s mission of seeing that street trees are maintained and, as needed, replaced. Trees are recognized as enhancements to environmental quality and everyday life, as seen for example in resident support for Everhart Park and Marshall Square Park. The Borough now pays half the cost of street tree removal, though abutting property owners must replace a removed tree. Property owners also receive a Stream Protection Fee abatement for heritage trees of certain species and a certain size. In a good example of resident/Borough cooperation, unlicensed removal of street trees was prevented earlier this year.
WCU student Elizabeth Schultz spoke about the campus gardens, in which she has worked for 4 years. The largest producer is the South Campus garden, which donates vegetables to the WCU Resource Pantry for students in need and also to the West Chester Food Cupboard. The WCU gardens both generate and need compost.
Recent WCU graduate Emily Rodden and current student Alex Davis described the work of Sunrise, a decentralized national youth movement to cut climate change and create jobs. The West Chester hub, founded in 2017, has promoted the Climate Strike, the Green New Deal, and political engagement by the young; it plans to endorse candidates in 2020-21 and encourage office holders to refuse fossil fuel $.
Discussion followed, including about problems with storm water drainage on campus and initiatives we hope lie ahead in 2021.
Fourth Annual Environmental Film and Forum Series at WCU sponsored by the Office of Sustainability at West Chester University, the West Chester Green Team, and member groups of the Chester County Environment Alliance, in memory of Graham Hudgings.
Woman at War (non-documentary film: a woman fights, not just metaphorically, for the environment in Iceland). Sponsored by WC Green Team and WCU Office of Sustainability.
Register here. View the film anytime between Wednesday 11/11 and Friday 11/13 through the link provided to registered attendees. Then join us for a post-film panel discussion and awards ceremony for local women warriors on Friday 11/13 at 7pm via Zoom. The award winners are:
Dianne Herrin- Mayor of West Chester Danielle Friel Otten- Representative of the PA House 155th district Debbie Bookman- Chester County Prothonotary Paige Vermeulen- Undergraduate student at WCUPA Gabrielle Long- Graduate student at WCUPA Maria Urrutia- Faculty at WCUPA Keyana Cellucci- Owner of Velvet Hair Salon Malena Martinez- Owner of Malena’s Vintage Boutique
Next in the series: December 11: Panel: What student activists can do
The video “West Chester Green Team’s Silent Vigil Against Plastic Use,” with a representative 3 minutes of speakers and views, is now available at YouTube, with the caption:
“On Feb. 14, 2020, members of WCGT and other local environmental groups gathered to silently and peacefully protest plastic usage. Photography/Editing/Production by Tristan Bruecks of West Chester Marketing Consultant Group (WESCON).”