Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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!).

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

The Garden where Nobody Goes

(A thought for the solstice, when our minds turn to longer days and a growing season ahead. Of course we want others to enjoy our plantings… but then, there is also the temptation of having it all for ourselves!)

I keep a garden where nobody goes, beyond river and mountain, a long way from home. Every midsummer, I come to patch its winter-worn fabric with new phloxes or hollyhocks and pull out the weeds that have made their yearly pilgrimage to see if their turn to dominate the world has come. The water I pour onto the sandy soil is sucked rootward after a moist moment in the sun. The rest of the year, my garden has to get along by itself. If a neighbor strolls by in May, or a couple from town in September, they enjoy colors I never see: daffodils, day lilies, cream and magenta wild asters that mingle with the florist breeds. There are four gardens there, one for each season, each direction of the compass, each side of the white house with the green trim. It is a house that nobody knows, unless they walk right up to it along the grassy drive under low-growing branches. From the paved road, it is down the hill, across the magic curtain of the brook, and into the trees. In my grandparents’ time, outsiders could see it without drawing near, but no longer. Like an old farm couple living off its acres, it exists quietly. Friends say it is generous of me to keep a garden where nobody goes and a house that nobody knows. I say, not really: if everyone did it, things would be different, that’s all, as it would be in the city, at the end of the work day, people came outside to sit on their doorsteps and strum their guitars in the evening air.

— Nathaniel Smith, 1990’s

PA has a long way to go in renewables

This image from “Inside Clean Energy: Three Charts that Show the Energy Transition in 50 States” by Inside Climate News reflects some good news: “The Energy Information Administration reported last week that, for the first time ever, the United States generated more electricity from renewable sources in 2020 than from coal.”

On the other hand, our own state, which has contributed far more than its fair share to fossil fuel extraction* and therefore to the current global climate crisis, has done far less than its fair share to ramp up renewable energy production, ranking 23rd among the 50 states plus DC (2020 figures). Note that Texas and California are so far ahead of the others that they are shown on a different scale at the bottom of the chart.

It’s clearly a matter of political will, not geography; otherwise, why would PA rank so far behind 7th-place Minnesota in both wind and solar energy? And if it weren’t political, why would Kentucky rank dead last, even after tiny DC?

*Although antecedents around the world go back thousands of years, the first modern oil well is considered to have been drilled in Titusville PA in 1859. Even today, among the states PA ranks 2nd in producing natural gas, 3rd in coal, and 18th in crude oil (2019 figures from EIA download).

PA legislative Climate Caucus urges priorities

On Jan. 27, the legislative Climate Caucus sent a letter to Gov. Wolf, whose signatories include, from Chester County, Rep. Danielle Friel Otten (D-155) and Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-19).

The letter, entitled “The social, economic, and environmental case for a Climate Action budget,” urges that “Pennsylvania’s budget framework be intentional in its efforts to address the three crises of our moment: racial justice, economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19, and advancement on climate action in Pennsylvania.”

Download the letter here.