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).”
WEST CHESTER—The West Chester Green Team hosted their second annual live and silent auction in West Chester recently at the Unitarian Congregation on High Street.
The West Chester Green Team formed in 2019 as an alliance of four local environment-related interest groups: Don’t Spray Me!, Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection (4CP), Ready for 100 and Plastic-Free Please Action Group (PFP). These civic groups work together to work towards a sustainable West Chester area….
On December 7, the West Chester Green Team hosted their second annual live and silent auction in West Chester, PA at the Unitarian Congregation on High Street. Proceeds will support the Green Team’s 2020 student interns and many projects enhancing environment and sustainability .
Highlights were a French music box played by Philip Jamison, spirits chosen by Andiario’s vintner Eric Schraedley, ratatouille and salad by Trinity Caterers, bread from La Baguette Magique, coffee by Horn and Hardart, an impressive assortment of desserts by local pastry chef Kim Stack, and of course the many donated raffle and auction items including 4 raffled live by auctioneer Greg Erskine. Photos below thanks to Kelly Baker.
Gail and Les Silberman, activists in Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Green Team, are leaving West Chester and moving to Woods Hole, MA. Their environmental colleagues here are so sorry to lose them from our community.
Both Gail and Les have contributed a great deal in a range of areas. Gail’s posts on the Next Door site brought in many new members to the Green Team’s Plastic-Free Please committee. The online responses suggested the depth of support in the community for such an initiative, which passed Borough Council last summer after a turnout of 200 residents advocated for it. Next month, Downingtown Borough Council plans to follow our lead and pass a ban on plastic bags and straws effective July 2, 2020. Even Philadelphia has been influenced by our work on plastics. Thank you, Gail, for your leadership.
We have particularly appreciated Les’s realistic insights into the personalities we work with. His advice on interactions with allies and those resistant to our goals has proven invaluable. His scientific and medical expertise have contributed to many fruitful discussions both through his membership on the Borough’s Sustainability Advisory Committee and on the Board of Don’t Spray Me.!
Both Gail and Les have enriched the community environmentally. They will be greatly missed.
Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Green Team offer them our heartfelt best wishes.
Here’s your chance to show your support for the West Chester Green Team in a material way! This will be a memorable evening with excellent vegan and vegetarian friendly food, stimulating company, and exciting auctions and raffles. Attendance is limited to 75, so don’t put off signing up:
And thanks for helping defend the environment we all live in!
More details (please share with friends): West Chester Green Team auction fundraiser dinner at the Unitarian Congregation, 501 S. High St., West Chester PA, Saturday Dec. 7, 5-8 p.m. To fund 2020 summer interns, activities with kids, public education, and other Green Team projects.
French hand organ music by Phil Jamison, live auction by Lori Zytkowicz, lots of displays, conviviality, and much more.
The event will feature a silent auction, live auction and raffles. You can bid on vacation home stays, paintings and art photographs, event tickets, restaurant gift certificates, gift baskets, books and plenty more.
There will be a light supper by the West Chester Co-opt. Bread will be provided by La Baguette Magique. The desserts will be, like last year, made by Kim Stack, former owner of 3 Little Pigs. Wine or beer will be provided with the meal and a cash bar will be available as well.
Last year’s contributions helped further the education of our West Chester area kids and adults on various environmental topics:
– Chemical-free gardening with our first Organic Garden Tour – Kids Summer Gardening Program – Rally to successfully ban single-use plastic bags and straws – A speaker and film series at West Chester University – Chester County Clean Energy Tour – and many other activities
These events would not have happened without our three interns,
Courtney, Kara and Paige, who helped us over the summer. They took on a
lot of the work to plan and execute our ideas and events — paid for by
the funds we raised last year!
Please help us keep the momentum going at this year’s Green ED Auction event! Come join us for a fun evening that can have a real impact in our community for generations to come!