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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

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.

TED Talk on Climate by Katharine Hayhoe

You’ll have a chance to listen to more of renowned climate advocate Katharine Hayhoe this spring. Stay tuned! And for starters, view her TED talk here to find out how to talk to people who don’t want to hear facts but may be reached through their personal values. Summary from TED:

How do you talk to someone who doesn’t believe in climate change? Not by rehashing the same data and facts we’ve been discussing for years, says climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. In this inspiring, pragmatic talk, Hayhoe shows how the key to having a real discussion is to connect over shared values like family, community and religion — and to prompt people to realize that they already care about a changing climate. “We can’t give in to despair,” she says. “We have to go out and look for the hope we need to inspire us to act — and that hope begins with a conversation, today.”

FoodFirst defends sustainable agriculture

FoodFirst has long been a leader in defending the rights of non-industrial farmers as not only more environmental but also maintaining the human rights of traditional tenders of the land.

As the statement says, “due to fervent support for corporate interests, the U.S. government’s representation to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Committee on World Food Security neglects the needs and betrays the rights of workers and smallholder farmers in the U.S” — and throughout the world as well.

Read the full statement here.

Special feature: West Chester Co-op

The West Chester Co-op is working hard to build a member-owned (cooperative) full-service grocery store in West Chester.  The store will provide daily access to fresh, healthy, local food, and will be walkable for those in the Borough and have parking for those who don’t.

They now have over 300 members in their campaign to launch full-scale operations! The Co-op already has regular special events and a table on Saturdays at the West Chester Growers Market.

Cooperatives are businesses formed not to earn profits for investors but to serve the needs of their members.  A cooperative offers our community the opportunity to build together something we all want.

The Food Co-op hired a consultant to produce an investment-grade projection of revenue for a store in our community; so we know it can work.

Cooperatives start through community support: many small investments from as broad a base as possible assure that the business reflects the community.  The Co-op is building that equity base right now.

The Food Co-op is more than a grocery store: its mission is to enhance the well-being of the people of West Chester by promoting healthy and mindful eating, improving access to sustainably produced food, helping those in need to secure quality food, advancing sustainable and humane agriculture, supporting local farms, and building community through cooperative enterprise.

The Co-op seeks to bring transparency and accountability to every step of the food production and distribution process from farm to table, providing confidence for educated consumer choice and food that the community can trust. Nutritious food is a gift to the health and well-being of an entire population.

Member-owners make a one-time $400 investment (there is an installment plan and gift certificates are available). The Co-op is nearing its target to move into the next phase of development; your investment will help put them over the top.

You may email the Co-op here or join on-line.  Please support our friends and community: we’re all on the same team for healthy environment and food!