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Sustainable Philadelphia

also inside

summer guide 2010

take one!

july 2010 / issue 16 gridphilly.com

Can 15 kids from West Philly design and build a super-efficent

car that gets

100 mpg

and beat dozens of well-funded international teams to win the

Progressive Automotive X PRIZE worth

$10,000,000? (And what does their story tell us about the future of education?)


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publisher

Alex Mulcahy 215.625.9850 ext. 102 alex@gridphilly.com

A Hybrid Movement

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’m very jealous of the west philly hybrid x team. In middle school, I took a home ec class for one quarter. My crowning achievement? A loaf of banana bread. In wood shop, I sawed and sanded a less-than-perfect corner shelf—it was promptly lost somewhere in my parents’ attic. Then in high school, nothing. Not a single practical class that would help me when I get hungry, or my apartment needs a repair, or my clothes need mending. And there was certainly no chance to work on a killer car, or compete for a cash prize. Learning how to make, fix and create is an element of education that has fallen by the wayside. In his recent visit to Philadelphia, celebrated urban farmer Will Allen argued that the ability to use tools is the path to empowerment. The young people of the Hybrid X team are clearly on that path. They’ve won award after award, competing against teams from prestigious institutions (sorry M.I.T.—your car just isn’t good enough) and adding to their legend with every improbable advancement. We live in a country that loves underdogs, and a city that considers itself to be one—after all, we’re home to Rocky, one of the best underdog stories ever told. So, now the big question: How else can we tap into the talents and creativity of our young people? What programs can we develop to help them shine, to expand their potential? Our society in general—and our city in particular—has daunting problems to solve. By educating and engaging our high school students, we can enlist them in this fight. In his book The Green Collar Economy, Van Jones asks, “What if we built a movement at the intersection of the social justice and the ecology movements, of entrepreneurship and activism, of inner change and social change? What if we didn’t just have hybrid cars—what if we had a hybrid movement?” Or, in this case, what would happen if every parent who worried about the quality of their child’s education saw a kindred spirit in the folks tackling environmental issues? The Hybrid X team is a compelling argument that this kind of partnership can be incredibly fruitful. Sustainability requires us to determine what’s truly important, and to properly qualify our assets. Soil, air, water and food quality are at the top of the list. But at the end of the day, our number one resource is each other. If that’s true, involving every segment of our population is more than a feel-good story. It’s what we need to do to survive.  

Claire Connelly 215.625.9850 ext. 100 claire@gridphilly.com managing editor

Lee Stabert lee@gridphilly.com art director

Jamie Leary jamie@gridphilly.com distribution

Claire Connelly 215.625.9850 ext. 100 claire@gridphilly.com copy editors

Andrew Bonazelli Patty Moran production artist

Lucas Hardison web production

Scott Orwig customer service

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re you ready for the monthly mention of the rate caps expiring in January? This month Samantha Wittchen talks about the importance of energy audits (p.12). She’s hard at work on the cover story for next month. You guessed it: It’s the Energy Issue! The summer is a great time to eat, too. I’m eager to order my share of wild caught salmon from Otolith in Fishtown (p.6), and maybe I’ll wash it down with Marisa McClellan’s Watermelon Agua Fresca (p.23). Avoid steamy summer traffic by taking public transit to the shore (p.18) and explore some of the great places we highlight, ideal for observing coastal wildlife (p.19). But as Billy Brown points out, Philadelphia itself has a wealth of outdoor spaces sure to please the budding naturalist (p.20). Watch your step at the Mount Mariah Cemetary, though; one pack of angry pit bulls might be enough to keep me away.

Mark Evans mark@gridphilly.com 215.625.9850 ext. 105 interns

Ariela Rose Cassie Cummins writers

Laura Muzzi Brennan Bernard Brown Claire Connelly Cassie Cummins Tenaya Darlington Julie Lorch Alex Mulcahy Scott Orwig Lee Stabert Char Vandermeer Samantha Wittchen photographers

Paul Gentile Sarah Green Lucas Hardison Christian Hunold Michael Persico Albert Yee illustrators

Melissa McFeeters published by

Red Flag Media 1032 Arch Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.625.9850

Alex Mulcahy, Publisher alex@gridphilly.com

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News

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business

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r e c yc l i n g

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Food and more

Shades of Progress The city makes tree planting a priority

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pon unveiling Greenworks Philadelphia, the city’s sustainability plan, Mayor Nutter announced his ambition to make Philadelphia “the greenest city in America” by 2015. A little over a year later, the city has numerous programs underway, including its Tree Planting Initiative—an effort to increase the city’s tree canopy from 15 to 30 percent by 2026. The city will plant 300,000 new trees in the next five years. In November 2009, the Department of Parks and Recreation held a Tree Summit with its environmental partners, including the Streets Department, the Water Department, UC Green, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, and generated a plan of action. The group established four key areas of focus: tree count, strategy for engagement, regulation and inspection and nursery stock. Patrick Morgan, spokesperson for the Department, asserts that these sorts of collaborations are key to the success of Greenworks. $1.8 million in stimulus funding has already gone toward the Tree Planting Initiative. This money enables the city to do a number of things, including contracting with the University of Vermont to make parcel-by-parcel tree canopy assessments. And, at the end of April, the University of Pennsylvania, the city’s largest land-owning body, became Greenworks’ first institutional partner. Morgan says this step will create myriad new opportunities. Groups outside of Greenworks are also working to support the Mayor’s initiative, including Plant Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Tree Tenders. —Cassie Cummins

Cool Down The Coolest Block Contest has a winner

pho to by An d rea G in g e ri ch

If you read last month’s Grid, then you know all about cool roofs—they have enormous potential to reduce energy costs and make our city a more comfortable place to be in the summer heat. A few months ago, the City of Philadelphia, the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) and the Dow Chemical Company announced the launch of RetroFIT Philly’s Coolest Block Contest, a citywide competition that awards free energy-efficiency upgrades to every house on the winning block. On May 13, Mayor Nutter named the winner: the 1200 Block of Wolf Street. The announcement was made in conjunction with the signing of legislation that requires installation of energy-efficient reflective roofs or green roofs on all new no- and low-slope roofs in the city.

In the winning essay, block captain Teresa Jack describes what makes this little slice of South Philly so special: “We are known throughout our South Philadelphia neighborhood as a united group and we are excited about winning this contest together! As I approached my neighbors about entering this contest, the most common response I received was, ‘Anything to help the block out.’” All residents will receive a basement-to-rooftop energy audit, a white reflective cool roof coating from Dow Chemical Company, installation of Dow sealants and insulation products in basements and attics and an invitation to a June 19 Block Party. —Lee Stabert

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/ local business

The goal is to keep the most environmentallyfriendly, least invasive fishermen financially stable.” — Amanda Bossard, Otolith co-owner

Fish Story

A local distributor brings sustainable seafood to Philly by scott orwig

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hiladelphia boasts ever-growing options for obtaining fresh, local fruits, veggies, meats and cheeses. From farmers’ markets to CSAs, it has never been easier to find affordable, sustainable food. But when it comes to seafood, options dwindle and prices skyrocket. Otolith Sustainable Seafood—located in, yes, Fishtown—is looking to change that.

Since 2007, Otolith’s husband-and-wife owners, Murat Aritan and Philly native Amanda Bossard, have worked with small Alaskan fisheries to provide the Philadelphia area with high-quality, responsibly-harvested seafood. Last year, the couple started Philly’s first CSS— community-supported seafood—program. “We both moved to Alaska separately in 1992—[Aritan] went to southeast Alaska to be a

deckhand and I went to Anchorage to go to school at Alaska Pacific University,” explains Bossard. “He had been fishing about 15 years when we started Otolith.” A biology student, Bossard knew how ecologically damaging commercial fishing could be, and encouraged her husband to harvest fish responsibly. “The sustainability part came from me,” she says. “Straddling the fine line between profitability and positive so-

Karmic Action Good Karma Café (331 S. 22nd Street, 215546-1479), the eco-friendly, Fitler Square coffee haven is readying a second location for a mid-July opening. Taking over the old Ethnics Furniture building at 9th and Pine, the new spot will be designed with the help of Greenable, a local sustainable building supply company. Good Karma 2, as owner David Arrell calls it, will have a similar layout and philosophy to the original location, but with three times the space. Hopefully they’ll still be hawking some of the best fair trade, organic iced coffee in the city. thegoodkarmacafe.com

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cial and environmental contribution makes our business possible.” Many commercial fisheries catch fish using an effective but unsustainable technique called “trawling”—a huge net is dragged behind the boat, scooping up everything in its path. It’s a fuel-intensive method, and a primary cause of over-fishing and seabed damage. Bossard is selective with the fisheries she’ll buy from, ensuring that all of Otolith’s seafood is harvested through alternative techniques. “The goal is to keep the most environmentally-friendly, least invasive fishermen financially stable,” she says. Taking it a step further, Otolith only sells fish that is custom-processed by small, socially-responsible facilities. Though tiny in comparison with commercial distributors, Otolith still manages to catch and process over 100,000 pounds of fish every year, thanks in large part to money generated by the CSS. “With the CSS, you’re contributing to the up-front costs and helping to get the boat off the dock,” says Bossard. “The point is to let customers know that we can’t do it without them.” CSS participants receive 12 to 15 pounds of wild Alaskan salmon in three deliveries beginning at the end of July. The shipments can be picked up at locations across Philadelphia, including Otolith’s Fishtown store, Blooming Glen Farm in Perkasie, Arrow Root Natural Food Market in Bryn Mawr, the Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market and Milk & Honey Market in West Philly. Bossard believes that buying into an Otolith CSS—shares are also available this summer for Dungeness crab and halibut—isn’t just about getting fresh fish, but supporting change in the seafood industry. “Through the direct relationship with the fisheries, we can help evolve fishermen into the equivalent of environmentalists," explains Bossard. "This kind of market can make people think that way.” ■

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For more information on Otolith Sustainable Seafood, visit otolithonline.com


captain of industry

Eric Allen at work in his Kensington studio

Man of Steel

Eric Allen melds function and form in his Kensington design studio by claire connelly

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ost free publications are housed in metal boxes or sit on generic wire racks. Not Grid. We want our racks to be eye-catching extensions of our personality. Their production also offers a unique opportunity to support local artists who utilize sustainable materials in a creative, functional way. After a successful run of vinyl record racks last year—created by local artist Machele Nettles—we were looking for a new model. Grid racks have to hold a bunch of magazines, fit in tight spaces and withstand a lot of wear and tear. We needed a problem solver who could mass-produce pieces of art. Enter Eric Allen. Allen, a Belmar, NJ, native who’s called Philly home for eight years, loves making things. “I’ve always been good with my hands,” he says. “When I was young, I was always taking things apart and then rebuilding them.” Allen studied graphic design at the College of New Jersey, but eventually decided the field wasn’t for him. He moved into a workshop with some friends and transitioned from graphic to industrial design. “I realized I could make things that don’t exist in pho to by a l bert yee

the market, or make them better than stuff that’s imported,” he explains. “I’m always looking at the world and trying to figure out how things are made and how they can be better.” Frustrated by the fact that typical “U” bike racks only hold two bikes (four if well-orchestrated), Allen decided to pursue his own design. As an avid bicyclist who worked in bike shops for years, the project seemed like a natural progression. Allen’s racks are a far cry from the standard variety found around town. They’re multifunctional—his installation in front of The Coffee House at Front and Girard is bright red, can fit multiple bikes, and features a bulletin board

and shelves for planters. The series of racks he designed for Honey’s Sit ’N Eat include builtin menu displays with solar-powered lighting. And his creation outside the Green Rock Tavern boasts a drink rail and umbrella mounts for bike parking convenience. Allen’s also planning a run of smaller “hitching post-style” racks for houses with courtyards, providing a better option than a nearby street sign. Designing under the moniker Industrial Art Lab, Allen doesn’t limit himself to racks. He recently began making furniture using found objects. Highlights include a couch made from a discarded van seat and stools made from parts of an old steering pump. He’s also planning a series of chandeliers with his shopmates—they’re gearing up for the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours in October. Allen is proud of our city’s rich industrial history, and is enthusiastic about the resurgence of design and production in Philadelphia. “I feel like the city is moving in the right direction,” he says. “There are a lot of people who want to put their money back into the community. They appreciate craftsmanship and quality versus stuff that they’re going to throw away in a year.” ■

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For more information about Eric Allen’s work, visit industrialartlab.com.

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/ bike culture

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group of older gentlemen wearing bright yellow reflective vests stand to the left. n Behind them are about a dozen kids sporting l co denim cutoffs and tattoos, leaning against their beat-up n Li single-speeds. There are women from Sturdy Girl Cycling in hot pink spandex, ambassadors from the Bicycle Coalition passing around sign-in sheets and commuters eyeing each other’s sleek, small-wheeled folding bikes. Familiar faces from local shops and clubs are sprinkled throughout the crowd. This diverse group of cyclists is gathered at the Art Museum steps to participate in the Ride of Silence, an annual event commemorating riders who have lost their lives on public roadways. The ride (which took place on E rie Ave May 20) also provides an opportunity to reflect on responsible riding habits. The original Ride of Silence was inspired by the 2003 death of Larry Schwartz in Dallas, Texas. The gesture has since spread across the globe, with over 300 rides taking place in all 50 states and 25 countries. A second ride A inllegheny Ave our area was organized by Don Berk in Doylestown. The evening begins with the voice of Ray Scheinfeld, one of the Ride’s organizers: “Cheryl Janzer, 50. Rick Clendaniel, 42. Anthony Hoffman, 51. William James ord f Bradley V, 17. Edward Boye, 54. Robert Mitchell, 13. These k Lehigh n Ave are the names of the six Delaware Valley bicycle riders Fra Julie Lorch who were killed by motorists since we rode last year’s pedals along with Ride of Silence.” R notable membersidge “We ride tonight to make this one point: We have the and silence are solemn, but the collective rhythm has its right to use the roads as motorists,” continues John own energy, similar to heavy raindrops, the way the city Asame of Philly’s bicycle ve Siemiarowski, another organizer. “We need to remem- feels in the middle of a downpour. ber that whenever we ride, we are ambassadors for D alliamoThe deaths that occurred this year in the Delaware community on ndsix St place outside the city limits. This might cyclists… I want to be able to say to a motorist, ‘We follow Valley all took a route of their the rules, now you should too.’” He pauses: “We are not sound counterintuitive, but urban motorists are far more choice. They ride, holding up traffic; we are traffic!” This statement draws accustomed to sharing the road—whether they like it or applause and the high, bright chime of bike bells. not. According to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philathey chat, she After a moment of silence, the only sound is the stac- delphia, when the number of bikes on a street doubles, reports back. cato click of shoes into pedals. The Ride starts with a the crash risk for each individual declines by one third. cruise down Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards City “Bicyclists have to follow rules, too!” screams a shrill Girard Ave Hall—the maximum speed is 12 mph, recalling a funeral voice on 10th Street. We are holding up north-south trafprocession. A police escort conducts rolling street clo- fic as we pedal down Spruce. This man might be disresures, giving riders the full run of the road. Both the pace spectful, but he’s right. the route The Ride heads north on 23rd Street. Ahead of me, I watch a steady stream of cyclists make a left onto Wal611 nut Street. It’s dusk. Turning the corner, I see hundreds of riders crossing the bridge to West Philly. The orange St en rd B Spring Ga Fr 76 light reflects off the river, the buildings, the bikes, the Spring Garden St an kli Callowhi n helmets; moving together, the riders look like a single ll St P kw 13 y sunset-hued organism. I say my first word in almost an Race St hour: “Whoa.” Cherry St 676 With a few final turns, we return to the steps of the Market Arch St St Art Museum. Standing together, the assembled horde JF Kenn edy Blvd Chestnu t St pauses for a final moment of remembrance, lifting bikes Walnut St high in the air, and giving thanks for a safe ride through Market St Spruce St the city at dusk. ■ Che

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Cyclists Ray Scheinfeld and John Siemiarowski started the Philadelphia Ride of Silence in 2005 to commemorate the death of John’s friend Maurice Attie. Learn more about the Ride at rideofsilence.org.

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by char vandermeer

The Heartbreak Kids

Philadelphia University RECIPIENT OF THE USGBC AWARD 2009

Tending to tomatoes is a tumultuous affair

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et’s call the whole thing off, shall we? No matter how you slice it, tomatoes are tough. Every summer I’m ready to throw in the towel, swearing that the seductive fruit will never again wind up on my deck. But that would break my heart. So, I’m at it again, tweaking the process, and hoping this year things turn out differently. Assuming your darling has been planted in a soil that’s rich in organic matter, watering is priority numero uno. An average tomato is 90 to 95 percent water, and tomatoes in containers are notoriously thirsty. When rain isn’t in the picture, plan on watering your plants daily. You’ll want to give them a generous soaking to make sure the water reaches deep into the container and soaks the roots of the plants. Whenever possible, do your sprinkling in the morning (so the cooling benefits last throughout the day), but during those July and August scorchers, you may need to give them an extra shot in the evening. To control the spread of disease, it’s best for beginner gardeners to water the soil directly and avoid wetting the leaves of the plant. Speaking of diseases, tomatoes love them. Ben Franklin—who probably had an Old City

tomato patch of his own—tells us “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Once one of your love apples has come down with a plague, be it early blight or banded whiteflies, the best thing you can do to save the rest of your crop is pitch the plant in the nearest garbage can. If you can’t bring yourself to be so merciless, immediately isolate the victim from your healthy plants and snip off the affected leaves, taking care not to brush the withered yellow carnage against the healthy leaves. After that, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope to harvest a few fruits before it’s too late. So let’s focus on prevention instead. Tomatoes require plenty of nutrients and are particularly fond of phosphorus and calcium. (Too much nitrogen will produce gorgeous foliage, but not so many tomatoes, so look for a well-balanced fertilizer.) To avoid burning the roots with your fertilizer solution, make sure your soil is thoroughly moist before applying fertilizer. Let’s face it: Not many container gardeners run around with a pH kit in their shirt pocket (in case you do, the ideal pH range is 6.0 to 6.5), so concentrate on enriching your soil naturally and regularly. Happy Cat Organics’ tomato guru, Tim Mountz, swears by Disaster fish emulsion (his strikes grandfather would Tomato fungus bury a trout head afflicts with each plant) a potted and encourages plant gardeners to apply fishy fertilizer or worm casting tea (available at your local organic gardening center) once a week until the plant flowers. Once flowers have set, brave souls can spray worm casting tea mixed with a dash of compost and a pinch of comfrey leaves (a plant known for its fertile fortitude) directly on the leaves, as studies indicate this concoction creates a barrier against disease. As an added bonus, Mountz claims the odiferous fish emulsion scares away squirrels. After all the work of raising a healthy tomato, you won’t want to share. ■

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/ design 100-110 Oxford street

DIGSAU, a local firm, created this vision for mixed-use space in Kensington

Game Plan

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The Community Design Collaborative democratizes design by lee stabert

plan is powerful. Lines on a page are often the first step towards realizing the transformation of a space, or a neighborhood. The Community Design Collaborative is driven by this idea. ¶ “Design is not a luxury,” explains Executive Director Beth Miller. The organization was founded in 1991 by a group of architects and planners who wanted to improve Philadelphia neighborhoods. For 20 years, the Collaborative has been coordinating pro-bono preliminary design services for community groups, helping them realize their ambitions while offering pragmatic council. The Collaborative has been involved in over 500 projects. One of their main goals is to connect those projects, bundling them into themes that can help policymakers and other community groups conceptualize—and capitalize on—the ideas. “We’re more like facilitators than advocates,” says Miller. “We’re trying to connect

community groups to services that exist, finding the right connectors and networks to actually get them implemented.” Infill Philadelphia is their latest overarching initiative. It has featured three distinct stages: Commercial Corridors, Food Access and, most recently, Industrial Reuse. Infill was recently recognized by the Urban Land Institute’s Community Action Grants Program for its success in tackling sustainability, infrastructure and workforce housing issues. On May 27, the results of the Industrial Reuse challenge were revealed. In a packed room, teams of architects explained their visions for addressing the unique challenges of three dis-

We’re more like facilitators than advocates. We’re trying to connect community groups to services that exist, finding the right connectors and networks to actually get them implemented.” — Beth Miller, Executive Director 10

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tinct sites—an out-of-the way stretch of the lower Schuylkill in Southwest Philadelphia, a lamp factory on Oxford Street in Kensington and an unused wing of a factory on American Street. All the designs had an emphasis on industry, innovation and job creation—these were not your average condo conversions. Even if none of the designs ever get built (about 10 percent of the Collaborative’s projects come to fruition), it was an event that got people thinking about functionality, beauty and development in the city’s working class neighborhoods. A panel of jurors that included architects, planners, product designers and PIDC (Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation) officials offered their thoughts on the successful elements and potential challenges. It was an evening of ideas—a moment to ponder the potential future of underserved and forgotten spaces in the former “Workshop of the World.” As always, the impressive work was donated by the firms. “I think that a lot of design professionals come out of school with a real community service ethic,” says Miller. “This is a really good complement to professional development. We actually have more volunteers right now than we can place.” ■

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For more on the Community Design Collaborative, visit cdesignc.org.

image by dig s a u, court e s y of communit y de s ig n collabo rati ve


by Samantha Wittchen

Plastics No. 3–7 The Issue: Plastic that can’t go in the blue bin The Challenge: While No. 1 and No. 2 comprise the bulk of plastic waste we generate, there’s a host of other plastics (numbered 3 through 7) that you probably encounter on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the market for those plastics is not as well-developed, so even if your local recycler accepts them, it can be a challenge to find a buyer for the processed material. That said, it’s still important to keep those plastics out of the landfill, as they can be made into a variety of products—carpet, building materials, crayons—and the market for recycled goods as raw materials continues to grow. Some forward-thinking municipalities have started collecting No. 1 through No. 7 plastics curbside, but if you’re a resident of Philadelphia, you’ll have to find a different option. The Solution: Because No. 5 is the next most common plastic (after 1 and 2), Weaver’s Way Co-op (weaversway.coop) collects it—including Brita filters—as part of the “Gimme 5” campaign. Plastics must be clean, dry and clearly stamped with the number 5. Collections take place on the third Saturday of each month at the Coop’s garage (524 Carpenter Lane), and all the plastics are then shipped to the Gimme 5 processing facility in New York State. The South Street Whole Foods (929 South

Street) also collects No. 5 plastics. The other numbers are trickier. The foam variety of No. 6–Polystyrene and the dreaded No. 7–Other categories are notoriously difficult to recycle. But Recycling Services, Inc. (365 Elm Street, Pottstown, 610-323-8545) takes all comers (numbers 1 through 7), and the facility is open for public collection on Tuesdays and Saturdays (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.). They charge an $8/car gate fee, so consider loading up with your neighbors’ No. 3 through 7s, too, before you head out there. If you drink a lot of bottled beverages, you can recycle the caps at the Big Green Earth Store (934 South Street) and at Aveda stores throughout the Philadelphia region (the Shops at Liberty Place, Cherry Hill Mall, Willow Grove Park and Exton Square). The Eco-Aware Consumer: It’s tough for even the most conscientious consumer to completely avoid No. 3 through No. 7 plastics, but you can choose to purchase products with reusable, recyclable or minimal packaging. Purchase foods like yogurt in larger containers instead of single-servings, and think twice before ordering take-out delivered in Styrofoam packaging. ■

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/ energy

Report Card

An energy audit could save you some serious cash by samantha wittchen

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ith all of the options available to homeowners for improving the energy efficiency of their homes, determining where you can get the biggest bang for your buck can be difficult. Is it improving insulation? Air sealing? New windows? A home energy audit by a certified energy auditor can help you quantify the savings each option offers, allowing you to prioritize home improvement projects. What is an Energy Audit? A comprehensive energy audit evaluates how a home is losing energy and which improvements are most cost-effective. Most audits cover several areas: building envelope effectiveness, combustion appliance efficiency and indoor air quality. To evaluate building envelope effectiveness and airtightness, a certified auditor will conduct a blower door test. A blower door is a high-powered, variable speed fan that mounts to an exterior doorframe. It is connected to gauges measuring pressure disparities between the inside and outside of the home, and the amount of air removed from the house by the fan. The blower door test amplifies any existing leaks in the house and makes them easier to pinpoint. It also provides a way to quantify airflow and the resulting heat loss. In combination with the blower door test, some auditors use an infrared camera to inspect the house. Infrared scanning allows auditors to determine the effectiveness of a building’s insulation. Specially designed cameras create images (called thermograms) showing surface heat variations, indicating areas of heat loss and air leakage. According to the US Department of Energy, an infrared scan generates the most useful images when there’s a large—at least 20°F—temperature difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, so scans are usually conducted in the winter and summer. Energy auditors will also test air quality and safety to determine if the house is getting enough fresh airflow without becoming contaminated by combustion gases from things like the heating system. The auditor may conduct a Combustion Appliance Zone (CAZ) test to check for backdraft from any combustion appliances (such as a furnace). In addition to identifying combustion efficiency and safety issues, a CAZ test ensures that the air you breathe on a daily basis is safe. After conducting the audit—which can take several hours and will vary depending on the size of your house and the complexity of the audit—the auditor should provide you with a report outlining the results, recommendations for improvements and anticipated cost savings. Some auditors do a complete computer modeling of your house using data about your home’s insulation, air leakage rate and combus12

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tion appliance efficiency. They can then adjust the model to simulate improvements, and using your past utility bill data, generate the potential cost savings of these improvements. Try to find an auditor that ofTest pattern A blower door helps fers this service, as it determine envelope will give you the most effectiveness accurate picture of how future improvements will impact your home’s energy costs. Hiring an Energy Auditor The Building Performance Institute (BPI) and the Residential Services Network (RESNET) are the two main certifying agencies for energy auditors. When searching for an energy auditor, the first thing to look for is one or both of these certifications. They ensure that the auditor is well-qualified, and if you’re trying to get funding for an audit from an outside source (like the KeystoneHELP program), you’re often required to use an auditor with these certifications. The KeystoneHELP program (keystonehelp.com) maintains a searchable directory of certified providers. So do BPI and RESNET, but auditors must pay to be listed in their directories, so you might not be getting a comprehensive list of qualified options in your area. Once you’ve identified a few certified energy auditors in your area, ask them for references. Ask for a sample report, so you can see what information you’ll receive when the audit is complete. Also, try to find out if the auditor will come back and do a “test-out” (or follow-up evaluation) after you’ve made improvements, ensuring that they’ve been done properly and that you’re still getting the proper amount of fresh airflow. Prices vary for energy audits, based on the size and complexity of the home, as well as the depth of the audit, but a typical range is $300 to $800. The KeystoneHELP program provides loans for energy audits, and they often result in a net gain for the homeowner—loan payments can be less than the energy cost savings realized. ■

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We’ve compiled a list of qualified auditors to help you get started. So, really, what are you waiting for? Chester County

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KO Angotti Kara Angotti 717-880-9710 Greater Philadelphia

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BackFuture to the

OK,

West Philly’s Hybrid X Team builds green cars, and the case for vocational education

disney movie pitch: A group of high school kids (almost all African-American) from West Philadelphia build cars for an international competition, striving for a $10 million dollar prize. There’s a handsome, ambitious teacher, highly-funded, flashy competitors with big names (and budgets) by lee stabert and an environmental angle—these vehicles are designed to get over 100 miles per gallon. ¶ That’s a great story, one that’s familiar and easy to tell. But it might not be quite as interesting—or as important—as the messier narrative of how our society readies kids for a challenging future. If Philadelphia truly hopes to become the “most sustainable city in America,” creative, project-driven vocational education needs a place in the plan. 14

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hat movie matinee tale— lovable underdogs, hard-earned success, colorful characters—does apply to West Philly’s Hybrid X Team, an afterschool program at the Auto Academy focused on building electric and hybrid cars. They’re currently participating in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize (PIAXP) competition, an international contest that challenges teams to design, build and sell super-efficient, consumer-friendly cars. Prize money totals $10 million. The team has two cars in the hunt—a modified Ford Focus (bought for a good price from Pacifico Ford, a local dealership) and a GT, assembled from parts by the students and teachers. Both cars utilize plug-in hybrid technology and get over 100 mpg. The Focus features 81 batteries (in nine neat rows) and a modified motorcycle engine donated by Harley Davidson. The two-door GT has a Volkswagen diesel engine to augment an electric motor, and can go from zero to 60 in under five seconds. From the original 43 teams, only 22 remain. Big names like MIT and Tesla were eliminated during the “Shake Down” phase of tests and benchmarks. West Philly Hybrid X, the only high school team in the competition, is one of only two teams with cars in both the four-door

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auger, a Drexel electrical engineering grad turned science and math teacher, launched the team 10 years ago. “At 24 years old, I thought everyone should go to college,” says Hauger. “I was placed in the Automotive Academy and I was quite disappointed that I was working with vo-tec [vocational tech] kids. I thought I should be working with the college-bound kids. But I quickly realized that people learn in different ways—some of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with were shop teachers.” As Hauger’s outlook shifted, he began to look for new ways to engage the teachers and the students. That’s when he created the afterschool program. Not originally designed with an environmental focus, the team encountered its muse in the form of an electric go-cart. “PECO was sponsoring an electric go-cart competition, and they donated one, so we had it in the shop,” recalls Hauger. “I challenged the kids to turn it into a science fair project, and they did exceptionally well. Kids from West Philly hadn’t done well in science fairs previous to that, so we wanted to do something bigger. The next logical step was an electric car.” Hauger has a low-key energy about him that belies an intense focus. His blog posts on the team’s website are casual yet detailed. He also has a sly sense of humor, referring to one round of “Shake Down” tests in the X Prize competition as “a bad proctology exam.” And the success he’s had with the team is simply astounding—they've won the Tour de Sol, an annual showcase for environmentally-friendly vehicles, three times. Hauger has had plenty of help. Team Manager Ann Cohen— who wrote about her disco-era passive house in May’s Grid— spent most of her career working as a union rep for the city. In the early ’90s, there was a dispute regarding contracts for

We don’t want to celebrate too much. We want to win the X Prize.”

team building

The Hybrid X team behind their GT, including: Simon Hauger, far right; Ann Cohen, third from right; Gerry DiLossi, far left; Ron Preiss, fifth from left.

← Daniel Moore, junior

and two-door divisions. This month, they’ll travel to Detroit for “Knock Outs,” another series of cuts and evaluations, including rigorous technical inspections, on-track events and emissions and mileage testing. “We have moments where we feel like we’re in way over our heads,” admits team director and founder Simon Hauger. “But then it dawns on me that everyone is taking us seriously. At the end of the day, we’re educators, and the fact that we’ve created this educational experience for our kids and they’re being put on a national stage, that’s really what we wanted. So, in many ways, I feel like we’ve won already.”

rebuilding engines and transmissions. “One day, one of the managers in the police department called me up,” explains Cohen. “He said, ‘Hey, would you mind if I sent some engines over to Edison High School to have them rebuilt?’ After I got done cursing him out—and filing a grievance—I called him back and said, ‘If you really want kids to get experience, then we’re doing a real internship program.’” In 1993, the city and the union launched a joint internship and apprentice program for the city’s automotive academies, moving students from high school into full-time jobs maintaining the city’s fleet. The program continues to this day. ↘ july 20 10

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motor city

Justin Clarke, 19, stands beneath Hybrid X's modified Ford Focus

I thought I should be working with the college-bound kids. But I quickly realized that people learn in different ways—some of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with were shop teachers.” —Simon Hauger, Team Director “I worked with all the programs in the city,” says Cohen. “West stood out. They were producing the best kids, and I became a fan of Simon’s work.” Cohen started dragging her family to watch the Hybrid X Team compete, and eventually became involved with fundraising. “When it was time to retire, they had a wonderful position for me: full-time volunteer,” she quips. Ron Preiss and Gerry DiLossi, both former full-time mechanics, are teachers at Auto who devote tremendous time and resources to Hybrid X. They speak both personally and passionately about the impact vocational education can have on students. “This has been my thing from when I was a young boy,” says DiLossi. “My father had a garage up the street. Eleven years old, and I could walk three blocks and play mechanic.” The South Philly native was a school district employee for seven years, repairing buses and cars, before he became a teacher. In 1980, he started working towards his college degree, and graduated from Temple in ’98—his oldest son beating him to the cap and gown. Last year, DiLossi was recruited by Preiss to join the team at Auto. “The year before last, I was the only auto teacher here and I was getting my butt kicked,” explains Preiss, also a Philadelphia native who grew up in the far Northeast. His dad was a scientist, and he too grew up playing with motors and machines. “When I came out of high school, I knew where I was going,” he says. “Fixing cars was all I wanted to do.” After 17 years running a garage, he was hired by the school district. He’s also working towards a degree in education. Both men talk persuasively about the varied nature of talent and intelligence. If you can show the value of a lesson, kids will get excited. “I ran an auto shop, and I had people work for me who could not read, could not write their own name,” says 16

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Preiss. “There was at time when that was OK. But now, you need to be able to write descriptively and explain yourself well so you can get paid. A guy might write down, ‘RR Alternator,’ but he never wrote down the fact that it took him two hours to find the problem. So, he didn’t get paid for those two hours. Descriptive writing—being able to write down everything you did on that service order—is what puts money in your pocket. Some kids who are graduating from high school can’t do that.” DiLossi argues that project-based education can provide a dynamic learning experience. “Learning how to read manuals, that’s important,” he says. “In the auto field, you need science—hydraulics is important. And they learn the chemistry of biodiesel. And math, they have to know fractions; they have to know metric. And you have to know angles for alignment. It’s important to know these things.” Hauger agrees. “From an educational standpoint, we try to frame out a problem with the kids,” he says. “There’s just so much rich learning to be done in a project like this. And I don’t want to underestimate the amount of knowledge we’ve accumulated over the last 10 years. We’re not automotive engineers, but we’re also not just a bunch of teachers who are doing it for the first time. If you look at the cars we built the first year, and the cars we’re building now, there’s a huge difference. We’ve really taken the X Prize rules very seriously—we’re building cars that consumers will want.”

T

hen, of course, there are the students. After a chat with the grown-ups, Cohen and Hauger pass me along to three of their team members for a tour. These young men are no strangers to press interviews—their composure and kindness signal a maturity that doesn’t often come to teens before they’ve worked really hard on something they care about. Daniel Moore, a 17-year-old junior, helped out last year, but has been an integral member of the team since October. “I got interested because I like cars,” he says. “And I like being on a team that actually built a car that’s running.” Moore enjoys drawing, as well as building things, so he’s thinking about a career as an architect. When asked how the team celebrates


their achievements, he gives a typically understated answer: “We always have the pride and joy over it, but we don’t want to celebrate too much. We want to win the X Prize.� Not all team members work on the cars—all talents are welcome. Some students design marketing plans, while others work on the website or collaborate on speeches for presentations. Justin Clarke, a 19-year-old junior with a deep voice and lilting accent, was born in Trinidad & Tobago. He had been struggling in school, but then, this fall, DiLossi pulled him aside, told him he had potential and suggested he join the team. After a chat with Hauger, he was on—as long as he pulled up those grades. He did, and, with visible pride, Clarke tells me about a recent letter he wrote to Mayor Nutter, thanking him for visiting the team’s workshop. The Mayor wrote him back, thanking him. Many of the students talked about the grade requirements as a motivator. If you don’t have the grades, you can’t be on the team, so they get the grades. The teachers even coordinate tutoring for team members. When asked what kind of car they would drive if they could have any in the world, Michael Glover, also a junior, points at the their GT—the gas-electric hybrid in a sports car’s body—and says matter-of-factly, “I would drive this one. I wouldn’t have to pay for any gas.� Glover, who also plays football, loves working on cars. Like his teammates, he has embraced Hybrid X’s unheralded status: “We’re the underdogs,� he says. “We’re the only high school. People that don’t know much about us think we won’t do much.� The success of the team—and that Disney-ready storyline— has led to a plethora of press coverage, most recently the cover of Brass Magazine. “My mom was bringing it to church showing

it to everybody,� says Glover with a smile. “Other people talk about their kids to my mom, and she always says, ‘Michael, when you gonna make me proud?’ I guess me coming here makes her proud.�

S

o, at its root, this story is about forwardthinking education—which just happens to look a bit like old-fashioned education: learn a trade, develop a skill set, and get a steady job in the rapidly-evolving economy. With concrete goals—like the X Prize—the advantages of learning become tangible, something worth working towards. “When you have 50 percent of the kids in Philadelphia dropping out of school, it’s horrific,â€? says Hauger. “The emotional drain that takes on us is tremendous. There’s no reason that should be happening. When you engage kids’ creativity and curiosity to solve real problems—it doesn’t have to be electric cars; it could be designing green roofs or emission-free water heaters or cleaning up the waterways—the learning is real. We’ve learned a lot about what good education looks like.â€? So, can they win? “Miracles are possible,â€? says Hauger. “It would be kinda like your high school team beating the Philadelphia Eagles. When Aptera pulls up with their $550 million dollar setup and 70 engineers, it’s fun to fantasize that we could beat them. But the fun thing about car competitions is that we’ve routinely beat cars that are better funded than ours. We fully expect to go there and be incredibly competitive, and everybody is treating us that way.â€? If they pull it off, someone better get Disney on the phone. â–

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1 6/4/10 For more on Grid_3.375x4.75:Layout West Philly Hybrid X, visit evxteam.org

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THE FIRST ANNUAL

Saturday, September 25 , 11am – 7pm Sunday, September 26, 11am – 6pm Manayunk invites all green artists, regional green businesses and ecologically concerned community groups to participate in a green celebration of artistic, sustainable and local initiatives. The EcoArts Festival is an expansion of our successful 21-year old Manayunk Arts Festival which is attended by as many as 300,000 visitors annually!

EXHIBITOR REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! Eco Artists apply @ zapplication.org Eco-Conscious Businesses & Non-Profits apply @ manayunk.com

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summer guide shore Shell game

Fried oysters are a standout at The Diving Horse in Avalon

horse play

The team behind Pub & Kitchen hit the Jersey Shore by lee stabert

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hiladelphians lucky enough to spend the occasional evening cozied up to the bar at Pub & Kitchen, digging into the casually arresting food and sampling the thoughtful beer selection, should brace themselves for some seriously good news. The brain trust behind the standout gastropub (owners Dan Clark and Ed Hackett and Chef John “Johnny Mac” Adams) are heading down the shore for the summer, launching The Diving Horse in Avalon. A seafood-focused BYO, the Dune Drive restaurant will emphasize products

skip the traffic

For many native Philadelphians, the trip to the Jersey shore still conjures images of a sweaty back seat—kids, bikes and pets packed tight. But, fortunately, you don’t need a car to get to the beach. →

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from Garden State farms alongside local seafood, including oysters, Barnegat Bay scallops and New Jersey fluke. Clark, who has been spending summers in Avalon for most of his life, is incredibly excited about the venture, and hopes they can fill a void in the seaside town. “I think that everyone down there loves to try a new place,” he says. “Hopefully the amount of detail we are putting into

Train 12 trains run daily from 30th Street Station to Atlantic City (visit njtransit.com for schedules). Bikes are permitted on all accessible cars. From the Atlantic City Train Station, it’s only 12 miles to Ocean City, 25 miles to Sea Isle City, 30 miles to Seven Mile Island (Avalon, Stone Harbor), 40 miles to Wildwood and 50 miles to Cape May. All you need is a bag big enough for your bathing suit.

the place itself and the menu will make it pretty unique.” The menu features everything from soft shell crab to steak, as well as fresh pasta, East Coast cheeses (served with a smear of honey from Bartram’s Garden), simple sides (the brown butter potato puree is a standout) and daily specials. But the star is definitely the fried oysters, served with pancetta remoulade and yellow potato salad. “The oysters are unbelievable,” insists Clark. On our visit (during the Memorial Day soft open), they were as good as promised—a delicate, crispy cornmeal coating was the ideal foil for the earthy potatoes and dollop of creamy sauce. The result was about as close to perfection as a bite of food can come. Other highlights included baked flounder, seared scallops on lemon pearl pasta with shellfish broth and a salad featuring goat cheese, chopped almonds and slivers of sweet roasted peach. Then there was dessert: Chocolate layer cake. Clark had sung its praises, and our waitress echoed his enthusiasm, but really, how good can something so simple be? Let’s just say that this square of fudgy, layered decadence—topped with a single scoop of peanut butter ice cream— is reason enough to brave Friday evening shore traffic. The space, which became available shortly after the New Year, required massive renovations. Originally a mini-mall in the ’60s, the building’s more recent incarnations include a Manhattan Bagel and a Remax Real Estate Office. Clark’s parents are opening Avalon Hardware in the other half of the space. As for Diving Horse, the team was aiming for a “farmhouse feel on the beach.” They used salvaged materials for the floors and church pew banquettes for seating along the walls (sourced through Provenance Old Soul Salvage). And the true showstopper is a huge mirror on the south wall, trimmed with distressed wood, also reclaimed. “It’s going to be a very relaxed atmosphere,” says Clark. “The waiters will be in jeans and Vans. We want people to be able to stop by.” The also encourage people to linger, as we did, finishing drinks out on the sizable side patio under strings of white lights. ■

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For more on The Diving Horse, visit thedivinghorseavalon.com; reservations are available through opentable.com. Bus Buses routinely run to Atlantic City, but two buses a day stop at all shore points, ending in Cape May. Visit njtransit.com for schedules. * Long Beach Island: You can take the train or the bus to a nearby town, but car is the only way to cross the causeway to LBI.

phot o by m icha e l pers i c o


fun in the sun

The Jersey Shore can be about more than brewskies and the beach. Check out these options for education, entertainment and spotting coastal wildlife. Wetlands Institute Perched near the entrance to the town of Stone Harbor, The Wetlands Institute promotes the conservation and preservation of local coastal ecosystems through research and education. Marion’s Gardens surround the building, sowed with hundreds of native plants chosen to attract birds and butterflies. In the summer, the Institute offers guided tours, back bay boat rides, kayaking, live animal shows, family entertainment, yoga, writers’ workshops and beach and dune walks. Mark your calendar for the Wings ’n Water Festival (September 17-19), one of the country’s premier wildlife arts festivals. 1075 Stone Harbor Blvd., Stone Harbor, wetlandsinstitute.org

Bayshore Discovery Project: The A.J. Meerwald The A.J. Meerwald, a Delaware Bay oyster dredgeboat built in Dorchester, NJ, in 1928, has been repurposed as a sailing classroom promoting ecological and historical awareness. The schooner hosts one-day and five-day sailing classes for kids, as well as “Oyster Sails” (featuring a raw bar), “Music Sails,” nautical knot classes and more for older folks. The ship docks at various ports throughout the summer (Bivalve, Jersey City, Edgewater, Beach Haven, Atlantic City, Cape May), so check the website for details. 856-785-2060, ajmeerwald.org

summer guide kids

school’s out

Just because the kids are out of school doesn’t mean they can’t learn something. The city is brimming with stimulating—and sustainable— programs for kids of all ages. Franklin Institute Discovery Camp Sessions run throughout the summer and are organized around exciting science-related themes, including Curiosity Quest, Dirty Science and Wild Things. Age groups are organized by grade (K-1, 2-3, 4-5 and 6-8). Visit fi.edu/programs/discovery-camp for rates and dates. Schuylkill Center’s Nature Ramblers Camps The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Roxborough offers programs for all ages, covering topics as diverse as dinosaurs, nature crafts and pond-dwelling aquatic life. This year, the Center is offering a brand new option: Down on the Farm, hosted on Urban Girls Produce’s fruitful few acres (see p. 28 for more on Urban Girls). There are also programs for older kids, including Teen Adventure Treks. Visit schuylkillcenter.org for details. UPenn Morris Arboretum This Northwest Philadelphia institution hosts ongoing activities throughout the summer, including Circus Week (June 26-July 5), tours, the Garden Discovery Series and “Beeches,

Butterflies & Bugs" summer evenings. Visit business-services.upenn.edu/arboretum for information. Philadelphia Zoo The Zoo offers a range of programs giving kids of every age—from preschool to high school (the Junior Zoo Apprentice program)— the chance to interact with over 1,300 species from all over the planet. Limited scholarships are available. Visit philadelphiazoo.org for information. Please Touch Museum The Please Touch Museum is every child’s best friend—all their programs enable participants to get hands-on. Exhibits explore a variety of areas including urban planning, river adventures and flying machines. Visit pleasetouchmuseum.org for more information. The Yoga Garden Staying active in the summertime is especially important for kids, and the Yoga Garden knows just how to engage them. This summer, the Narbeth studio will offer yoga and kung fu classes for kids and families. Through these physical art forms from India and China, participants will learn about Eastern culture, language and philosophy. Visit yogagardennarberth.com for details. ■

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touching story

The River Adventures exhibit at the Please Touch Museum.

Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary Created in 1947, the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary sits on the southern end of Seven Mile Island. Once home to one of the East Coast’s most impressive populations of nesting shore birds, the Sanctuary is in the midst of a massive rejuvenation project that involves the creation of new trails (the first one opened in 2008), innovative landscaping and restoration of the historic maritime forest. Third Ave. and 114th St., Stone Harbor, stoneharborbirdsanctuary.com july 20 10

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walk it off L

Experience nature without leaving the city by bernard brown

ooking for some nature with your Philadelphia this summer? Want to go hiking without getting in a car? Well, it’s your lucky day—our gritty, urban paradise offers more than just concrete underfoot. Here are six ideas for places to get out, see wildlife—no, not rats and pigeons—and forget, for a moment, that you live in a major American city. The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is most famous as a prime spot for urban birding—the website (fws.gov.heinz) lists about 280 species that frequent the refuge, including bald eagles (see sidebar)—so bring your binoculars. You can also bring your bicycle, fishing rod or canoe, but consult the website for fishing information and details on where and when you can hit the water; you wouldn’t want to get stranded on a mud flat at low tide. While walking the boardwalk, you might see enormous snapping turtles crawl out of the mud or water snakes cruising the reeds for 20

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frogs. Deer and rabbits are easy to spot in the woods, especially early in the morning or towards dusk. The Cusano Environmental Education Center exhibits offer a great introduction to the marsh, and you can join one of the free guided walks for a more personal experience. Call the Center to learn about the current offerings. 8601 Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia, 215-365-3118. If you’re interested in a spooky, near postapocalyptic nature experience, check out the Mount Moriah Cemetery, which straddles Southwest Philly and Yeadon. Philadelphia

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is home to several large, scenic cemeteries—Mt. Laurel and the Woodlands are two of the nicer ones—but neglect a bucolic, historic cemetery for a few years and you end up with something wild. The tops of gravestones peek over tall, waving grass (Betsy Ross is back there somewhere), small trees knock grave markers over a quarter-inch each year and feral flowers swarm stone obelisks. I’ve seen foxes, groundhogs, raccoons and a whole host of small snakes and salamanders, along with a wide range of birds. Be warned that the cemetery sometimes hosts illegal, unsavory activities, especially after dark. There have also been warnings about wild dogs. I was chased out of a section by angry pit bulls—but that only happened once. 6201 Kingsessing Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-729-1295. You can’t discuss hiking in Philly without raving about the Wissahickon Valley. This seven-mile stretch of Fairmount Park runs on both sides of the eponymous creek, from Ridge Avenue at the eastern edge of Manayunk out to the border with Montgomery County. You can bike or walk along Forbidden Drive at the bottom of the valley, but I prefer to hike the rocky trails that weave throughout the woods. Horses and mountain bikes are even welcome on designated sections of trail. If you get overwhelmed

redtailed hawk by paul gentile; fawn and northern flickers by christian hunold

summer guide nature


fly eagles, fly A pair of bald eagles take up residence near the airport

furry woodland critters), this quiet green corridor is the perfect place to lose an afternoon; start at the left and Cobbs Creek Community above Environmental EducaThe amazing tion Center at Catherine wildlife at the Road. Contrary to its curJohn Heinz National rent wild appearance, the Wildlife Refuge creek played host to Philadelphia’s first industrial activity—Swiss settlers used the creek to power a grist mill in the mid-1600s. These days you might have to step over the occasional dumped tire as you amble down the trail, but focus on the kingfishers and herons instead. Greet your fellow Philadelphians walking their dogs (it’s okay to smile and wave), and forget the asphalt and concrete just up the hill. 700 Cobbs Creek Parkway, Philadelphia, 215-685-1900, cobbscreekcenter.org. In South Philly, they call it “The Lakes,” and, sure enough, the ponds and lagoons are the major nature attraction in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park. Philadelphia hosted the nation’s 1926 Sesquicentennial (150-year) Celebration there, and the festivities left behind the elegant, well-worn pavilions and monuments. The Frederick Law Olmsteddesigned park is dominated by landscaped grass, playing fields and a golf course, but the water is a hot spot for migrating waterfowl—a birder friend raves about the redheads, diving ducks that frequent The Lakes. Not bad for the remnants of the original tidal marsh. More adventurous nature walkers should try out the overgrown strip along the railroad tracks to the south. 2000 Pattison Avenue, Philadelphia. ■ far left

A redtailed hawk surveys Mount Moriah Cemetery

great blue heron and Common Snapping Turtle by christian hunold; eagle by Bill Buchanan

by all the wildlife (the Wissahickon is an Audubon Important Bird Area), stop for lunch at the Valley Green Inn, or admire some of the old stone walls and guardhouses built by the WPA (Works Progress Administration). There are numerous trail heads, but the Treehouse Environmental Center on the northwest end is a great place to start. 300 Northwestern Avenue, Philadelphia, 215685-9285. Pennypack Creek runs for nine miles across Northeast Philly, from Fox Chase Farm—an educational agricultural operation complete with live cows and chickens (unfortunately, it’s only open to the public for special events)—to the Delaware River. Surrounded by 1,400 acres of woods, Pennypack Creek resembles the Wissahickon. You can walk the paved path along the water or wander the side trails. Take a break to learn about the creek and the woods at the Pennypack Nature Center, and bring your binoculars for the rich bird life, including one of Philadelphia’s bald eagle pairs. 8600 Verree Road, Philadelphia, 215-685-0470. The Cobbs Creek section of Fairmount Park is not quite as large as the Wissahickon or Pennypack—and not quite as neat—but, situated at the border of Delaware County, it’s an easy bike ride from my West Philly apartment. Boasting miles of woods and wildlife (65-plus bird species and plenty of

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Bernard Brown is writer, blogger and urban naturalist. Follow his adventures at phillyherping.blogspot.com.

You already know you can take SEPTA to see the Eagles play football, but what if you want to see them fly? Just five miles from Lincoln Financial Field, a pair of bald eagles is raising a family at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. It’s only fitting that our national bird is putting down roots in Philadelphia, where it first earned icon status—a pair bred in Pennypack Park last year and another at the Naval Yard in 2008. According to Gary Stolz, the Refuge’s manager, it was the first time eagles have nested here in almost 200 years. There are even more upstream on the Delaware, where they’re getting to be regulars again. Bald eagles were nearly wiped out due to DDT pollution in the twentieth century, but they’re on the rebound nationwide—one of the few species to actually make it off the Endangered Species List. (Maybe their namesake football team can draw some inspiration.) The Refuge’s Tinicum Marsh, another comeback kid, deserves the bald eagles. A lot of what we know as dry land in South and Southwest Philly used to be freshwater tidal marsh; the airport is situated on what used to be an island. In 1955, Gulf Oil donated a surviving section of the marsh to the city as a wildlife preserve. The area then avoided conversion to a landfill and disruption by a proposed re-routing of I-95. Neighboring sections were eventually added and adopted by the federal government. In 1991, the Refuge was named in honor of the recently killed senator. Heinz is a haven for birding geeks. The Refuge is a major stopover for migrating water fowl, ranging from the myriad plovers and sandpipers to larger, more charismatic birds like the bald eagles. By July, the babies should be fledging— growing feathers and leaving the nest—but the adolescents will likely hang around their parents’ place well into August as they get better at hunting. Keep an eye out for birds that look just like bald eagles, but with dark heads; it takes them a few years to turn white. —Bernard Brown The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is next to the airport (off Lindbergh Blvd. and S. 84th St.), so it’s easy to reach by bicycle or car. Buses 37 and 108 also run to that intersection, or it’s a 10-minute walk from the Eastwick stop on the R1.

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/recipes

recipes and photos by marisa mcclellan, foodinjars.com

Summer Supper

S

ummer is the time of year for picnics and barbecues. There’s truly nothing better than sitting around outside with a collection of friends, sharing food and drink while a lazy evening passes by. ¶ When it comes to the menu, dependable classics are a good starting point. Consider this twist on the basic burger: Shredded cheddar cheese and sautéed onions are included in the meat of the patty, making for a hugely moist and flavorful bite (it also reduces the number of toppings you need to pack). ¶ As for side dishes, this mayo-less potato salad is a winner. You can serve it warm or chilled, and because it isn’t slicked with a highly perishable dressing, it can sit on the picnic table for hours longer than the traditional version. ¶ To wash it all down, whip up a batch of watermelon agua fresca. It’s a simple, barelysweetened, freshly-made juice that is great over ice. Kids will slurp it down and adults will love it with a squirt of lime juice. 22

g r i d p h i l ly. c o m

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Cheddar and Onion Burgers 1 cup chopped red onion 1 tsp. olive oil 1 pound grass-fed ground beef 1 cup grated white cheddar cheese ¼ tsp. kosher salt 5-6 twists of a pepper grinder 4 whole wheat hamburger buns 4 slices tomato 4 lettuce leaves

˜˜In a small skillet, sauté the red onions in olive oil until they are well-browned. Remove from heat and set aside. ˜˜Place ground beef in a medium-sized bowl. Add the grated cheese, cooled onions, salt and


Oil and Vinegar Potato Salad

Allow the vinegar to steam in and around the potatoes until the pot is dry. Pour half the olive oil into the pot and gently swirl around. Add salt and pepper. ˜˜Remove pot from heat and pour the contents into the bowl containing the rest of the ingredients. Add remaining olive oil, as well as lemon zest and juice. Using a wooden spoon, gently turn to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. ˜˜Serve warm or chilled.

2 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes 3 large celery ribs, finely minced 1 large or 2 small dill pickles, minced ½ red onion, chopped 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped ¼ cup apple cider vinegar ¼ cup olive oil 1 lemon, zested and juiced ½ tsp. kosher salt 5-6 twists of a pepper grinder

pepper. Using a fork, mix all the ingredients to combine. When the burger mixture is wellintegrated, form four patties. ˜˜These burgers are best cooked on a grill surface (outdoor grill, grill pan or electric countertop grill). Cook 4-5 minutes on each side, until the outside is well-browned and there is only a hint of pink on the inside. Serve on a bun and garnish with tomato and lettuce. Eat immediately.

˜˜Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Cut the potatoes into a large dice. When the water has reached a boil, add the potatoes and cook until fork tender (about 15 minutes, depending on the size of your dice). ˜˜While potatoes cook, chop the rest of the ingredients. Heap them in the bottom of your serving bowl. Set aside. ˜˜When the potatoes have finished cooking, drain and return them to the pot. Place the pot back on the stove, setting the burner to mediumlow. Allow the potatoes to sit on the warm burner for a minute or two, stirring occasionally, to dry them out. ˜˜When they seem fairly dry, add the apple cider vinegar and swirl the pot to coat the potatoes.

Watermelon Agua Fresca 3 cups chopped watermelon 3 cups water 3 tbsp. cane sugar wedges of lime for serving

˜˜Combine the watermelon, water and sugar in a blender or food processor and blitz until pureed. ˜˜Place a fine mesh strainer over a pitcher and pour the mixture in. Using the back of a spoon, work the juice through until all that’s left is the spent pulp. ˜˜Serve over ice and garnish with limes. ■

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/buy local

Urban Girls Produce “Don’t write about me,” says Gina Humphreys with a laugh. The farmer behind Urban Girls Produce is a bit shy, but she gets excited when the focus shifts to her business, and the various vegetables she and her team are cultivating on four acres at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. Humphreys grew up on a farm in New Jersey. Her grandmother grew vegetables and kept various livestock, but when her parents took over, they sowed the entire property with soy. After a stint in Seattle, Humphreys returned to the East Coast and, six years ago, began cultivating a small garden on an out-of-the-way corner of that farm. “They gave me the worst spot on the farm, which I made very nice,” she says. The garden expanded quickly, and she started selling her produce at the Clark Park farmers’ market. The situation on her family’s property wasn’t ideal—she had to worry about sequestering her plants from the Roundup they used on the soy—so she went looking for some land. The Schuylkill Center, coincidently, was looking for a farmer. Over the last few years, Executive Director Dennis Burton has developed a passion for agriculture as an environmental issue, and felt the Center should be highlighting it in its curriculum. Unfortunately, in light of the recession, the board didn’t feel they had the money to spend. “I needed a farmer who could be self-sufficient,” explains Burton. “And they needed to be a good farmer, to understand the relationship between soil and crops and bugs—the ecology of agriculture— because our approach to environmental education is a scientific approach.” Burton found Humphreys through the PUFN (Philadelphia Urban Farm Network) listserv, and last summer Urban Girls moved to Roxborough. The 2009 growing season was a rough one, with weather issues galore, freshly-turned, unconditioned soil and Humphreys’ unfortunate bout with lyme disease, but this year, the operation is in full swing. Humphreys has help from four other women—two full-time and two part-time. “Most of them just stopped by my stand,” she explains. “They were ambitious and wanted to work.” Another boon has been Philly Compost’s recent move to the Schuylkill Center (see June’s Grid). One of the farm’s two-acre fields is planted with mixed vegetables—eggplant, tomatoes, peas, greens, berries and more—while the other boasts potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn. A homemade hutch houses about 30 chickens (CSA members can receive eggs) while okra and other greens grow in a high tunnel (an unheated greenhouse structure built in conjunction with Penn State’s agricultural program). Students from the Sustainable Design program at Philadelphia University built the work shed. Urban Girls runs a small CSA and sells at the Clark Park Farmers’ Market in West Philadelphia on Saturdays. They also operate a farmstand on Tuesday afternoons (2-6 p.m.) at the Schuylkill Center, perfect for parents fetching their kids from camp.

g r i d p h i l ly. c o m

Toma Primavera, Cherry Grove Farm

by tenaya darlington, madamefromage.blogspot.com

S

ince spring, I’ve had a crush on Cherry Grove. This sustainable farm in Lawrenceville, NJ, produces some of the area’s most interesting raw-milk cheeses, and Toma Primavera—a rustic washed rind with an exterior that looks like a flower pot—tops my list as a picnic staple. One glance at Toma Primavera and you can tell it’s made from grass-fed cows. It’s got a sunset hue, golden and creamy, and a milky smell— the first bite yields bright, tangy notes that turn warm and nutty. This is an earthy cheese with a velvety mouthfeel, a good match for hearty bread, grainy mustard and a malty beer or a mediumbodied red. Try a Beaujolais or Grenache. Cheesemaker Kelly Harding uses a recipe from the Piedmont section of the Italian Alps to craft Toma Primavera. After 60 days in the aging cave, it’s ready to be eaten. Harding also makes a superb stinker, Maidenhead, which is washed in Flying Fish beer, and a salty blue, Shippetauken. In Philadelphia, you can find Cherry Grove cheese at the Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, and at Reading Terminal’s Fair Food Farmstand. If you’re up for adventure, drive to Lawrenceville and visit Cherry Grove, where you can buy cheese—as well as grass-fed meats—directly from the farm. At 4 p.m., you can even get in on the milking. ■

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Cherry Grove Farm, 3200 Lawrenceville Rd., Lawrenceville, NJ, 609-219-0053, cherrygrovefarm.com

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Cheese of the Month

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che e s e phot o by a l bert yee


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A Chemical Reaction directed by Brett Plymale, pfz

a

The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food by Ben Hewitt, rodale

B

books (2010), $24.99

en Hewitt is not an impartial observer— something he admits openly in his new book The Town That Food Saved. A writer and part-time farmer, Hewitt lives just down the road from Hardwick, Vermont, a modest town experiencing a boom in food-based businesses. The narrative feels part journalistic account, part memoir, as Hewitt guides us through his ever-changing attitude towards the evolution of this hard-scrabble agricultural community. When speaking to the up-and-coming “agrepreneurs”—Tom Searns of High Mowing Organic Seeds, Andrew Meyer of Vermont Soy—the writer is admittedly swept up in their rhetoric of localized food systems and halcyon days ahead. But when confronted by some of the town’s old-timers and their equally-powerful arguments against a “local” system that relies so heavily on luxury items and the export of goods to urban centers, Hewitt isn’t shy about his internal conflict. In the end, it’s Hewitt’s naked bias and personal connection to the people and the place that make this book such a compelling read. The reader gets to hang out with a knowledgeable, passionate—and quite funny—guy as he parses the changes in Hardwick, and the implications they might have for his area and broader contemporary food systems. —Lee Stabert 26

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media (2009)

chemical reaction, a film that tackles the dangers of yard pesticides, makes its main point very early: These products are designed to kill living things, so why are we so surprised when they make humans— who also happen to be living things—sick? Once that argument is made, images of kids wrestling in green grass and dogs relaxing on pristine lawns take on new meaning. Director Brett Plymale’s film focuses on the small town of Hudson, Quebec, where the activism of one eccentric doctor led to a ban on the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides on public and private green spaces. Dr. June Irwin is a dermatologist who first noticed the connection between her patients’ health and their exposure to these chemicals way back in 1984. She is definitely a character—she lives with her sheep and seems to have an addiction to eye shadow—but eventually the force of her argument made its way through the city council, leading to the ban. An inevitable legal battle ensues, spearheaded by powerful corporate forces. The film’s narrator is Maine resident Paul Tukey, a landscaper who fell ill and attributes his malady to the fact that he practically swam in pesticides every spring. Tukey has become an impassioned advocate for aggressive action to ban these products in the U.S. (Yet again our country seems to be lagging behind other developed nations.) In one of the film’s more heartbreaking moments, Tukey discusses the possibility that his chemical exposure might have impacted his son’s development of ADHD. As one doctor put it: these products kill cells, and, upon entering the body, they’ll do just that, even in the human brain. Needless to say, the pesticide companies don’t come off very well in A Chemical Reaction. One of the film’s most amusing sections features a montage of commercials for lawn treatments—who knew dandelions were so darn evil? As the camera lingers on the beautiful lawns and well-kept sports fields of Hudson—chemical free since 1991—simple questions emerge: Why are we dumping poison on our homes? Isn’t there a better way? —Lee Stabert →→ For more information, visit pfzmedia.com.


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Jun

Bicycle Coalition of Greater Phila.: Bike Freedom Valley 2010 Bike Freedom Valley will celebrate the progress of the Schuylkill River Trail as it becomes the premier transportation and recreation greenway connecting neighborhoods across the Delaware Valley. Choose the traditional 35-mile option through Villanova to Spring Mill or follow the trail from the Art Museum through Manayunk to Lower Perkiomen Valley Park. Event tickets include a commemorative guide map and refreshments at rest stops along the way. There will also be a post-ride picnic.

20

→→ June 20, 1 Boathouse Row (Sedgely and

Kelly Drive), to register, visit bicyclecoalition.org/content/bike-freedom-valley

Jun

40th Annual Philadelphia Dinner

23

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) will host their 40th annual dinner, celebrating four decades of improving the environment. Featured speakers include Pennsylvania’s two gubernatorial candidates, who will discuss their accomplishments and perspectives on the environment and conservation issues. →→ June 23, 5:30 p.m., to RSVP, visit

pecpa.org/phillydinner2010

Jun

23

Academy fishery scientists will lead a group through local streams to learn about a method of catch and release fishing that is used to study populations of wild fish. Participants will gain an understanding of local stream ecology and experience in identifying game and non-game fish and other aquatic animals. Details—including meeting location, appropriate dress and gear— will be sent after registration. →→ June 26, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., $25

members; $30 non-members, 20-person limit, to register, call 215-299-1060

Jun

26 27

Schuylkill Center: Great American Backyard Campout

Enjoy a night under the stars in the Schuylkill Center’s woodlands—cook outdoors, learn camp skills, tell stories around the campfire and listen for nocturnal wildlife. Wake up Sunday morning to breakfast, bird hikes and special clinics featuring the latest in camping gear and accessories. Special events include stargazing with astronomer Julia Plummer of Arcadia University and music from The Setting Sons & Bill Hangley. →→ June 26–27, Schuylkill Center for Environ-

PHS: Chanticleer Walk, “Herban” Renewal

Yvonne England will offer tips on planting, growing, harvesting and using home-grown herbs. Her planting plan for herbs offers you the biggest rewards in the shortest amount of time. →→ June 23, 6 – 8 p.m., 786 Church Rd.,

Wayne, $18 members; $23 non-members, 25-person limit, to register, visit pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org

Jun

Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia & Wharton Small Business Development Center: Sustainable Marketing Workshop

24

Grid publisher Alex Mulcahy will be a panelist at this SBN Sustainable Marketing Workshop. Topics will include maximizing impressions with consumers, trends in marketing to a greencentric audience, alternatives to high-impact advertising and reaching on-the-fence consumers contemplating buying green. →→ June 24, 8:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Wharton

Small Business Dev. Center, University of Pennsylvania (building and room TBA), $12 members; $16 non-members, to register, visit sbnmarketingworkshop.eventbrite.com

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Jun

26

Academy of Natural Sciences: Electrofishing Field Study Workshop

g r i d p h i l ly. c o m

mental Education, 8480 Hagys Mill Rd., check-in time is 3 – 5 p.m. Saturday; checkout time is 11:30 a.m. Sunday, $25 members; $30 non-member (all meals included), to register, call 215-482-7300 x110 or email scee@schuylkillcenter.org

Jun

27

Natural Land Trust: Manumuskin Creek Canoe Trip

Participants in this exciting canoe trip will see black-banded sunfish—the most common fish in this naturally-acidic pond—and other aquatic life. Ike’s Seafood, next to the putin point, is now open for business, so there will be an opportunity to stop in afterwards for a bite. Water trips last between 2.5 and 4 hours. →→ June 27, 12 – 3 p.m., Manumuskin Creek at

Cumberland Pond, Cumberland County, NJ, to register, email eisenhauer@natlands.org; for more information and to download the mandatory release form, visit natlands.org/events

Jul 01

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture: On Farm Composting Workshop

This practical, hands-on workshop will feature information on composting science, operational logistics, feedstock selection, site selection and

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management, costs and economics, and compost assessment and utilization. →→ July 1, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Penn State

University, University Park, $80 (includes all needed materials, refreshments and lunch), for information, visit pasafarming.org

Jul 1

Greensgrow Farm: Worm Composting workshop

Greensgrow University—a pastiche of workshops, lectures and hands-on building projects—is offering this workshop on worm composting. →→ July 1, 6-7 p.m., Greensgrow Farm, 2501

E. Cumberland St., for information, visit greensgrow.org

Jul 8

PHS: Chanticleer Walk, Botany for Beginners

Ideal for gardeners who want to gain a deeper understanding of plants, this hands-on class will allow participants to look at garden plants with a botanist’s eye. Using Chanticleer’s flower gardens as a laboratory, Robert Herald will discuss basic facts of plant morphology and how it relates to classification and identification. Leaf shapes and arrangement, plant habit and flower parts will be investigated using simple terms and explanations. →→ July 8, 6 – 8 p.m., 786 Church Rd.,

Wayne, $18 members; $23 non-members, 25-person limit, to register, visit pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org

Jul 11

Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia: American Cancer Society Bike-a-thon

This July, The American Cancer Society will host its 37th Annual Bike-a-thon. Participants can choose to bike one-way to Buena, NJ, from Philadelphia (66 mi), Cherry Hill (54 mi) or Hammonton (21 mi). Rides go across the Ben Franklin Bridge! →→ July 11, for details, visit ascevents.org

Jul 14

Academy of Natural Sciences: Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva, a world famous environmental activist based in Delhi, India, will speak on the topic of Earth Democracy, an ideology that protects both ecological processes and fundamental human rights with a focus on biodiversity, cultural diversity and food security. →→ July 14, 6-9 p.m., 1900 Benjamin

Franklin Pkwy., for information, visit ansp.org/environment


Jul 15

sity of life on the planet. Hands-on activities and creature crafts will be offered throughout the weekend.

PHS: Meadowbrook Farm Demonstration, Cooking with Herbs

By late summer, the herbs you purchased back in the early days of spring are going to seed. Join horticulturist Diana K. Weiner as she explores the pairings of herbs with different vegetables and meats and cooks up some of her favorite recipes to share. Make sure you bring a fork. â&#x2020;&#x2019;â&#x2020;&#x2019; July 15, 10 a.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; noon, 1633 Washington

Ln., Abington, $35 members; $40 nonmembers, 25-person limit, to register, visit pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org

Jul

Academy of Natural Sciences: Creatures of the Abyss Weekend The â&#x20AC;&#x153;Creatures of the Abyssâ&#x20AC;? exhibit explores the most inaccessible ecosystem on Earth: the deep sea. This inhospitable and alien world is home to the greatest diver-

17 18

â&#x2020;&#x2019;â&#x2020;&#x2019; July 17â&#x20AC;&#x201C;18, 10 a.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 5 p.m., Academy of

Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., for information, visit ansp.org

Jul

Neighborhood Bike Works: Ride of Dreams Ride of Dreams is a four-day, 240mile journey across Pennsylvania. The team will consist mostly of NBW Youth Racing Team membersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;for many the trip will be their first multiday biking experience. Each participant must pay a $75 registration fee to cover ride support, overnight lodging and food, and will have a $500 fundraising goal in an effort to raise muchneeded funds for the community organization. The overall goal is to raise $10,000 to fund two new Earn-a-Bike programs.

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â&#x2020;&#x2019;â&#x2020;&#x2019; Ride begins July 17 at Neighborhood Bike

Works in West Philly (3916 Locust Walk), registration is $75; this includes ride support, overnight lodging and food, plus a $500 fundraising goal for each rider, for information, visit neighborhoodbikeworks. org/rideofdreams

Jul 21

PHS Gardening Series: Gardening with Kids, Growing Vegetables

Janet Cater will lead this class on how gardening with kids can be a particularly rewarding experience. â&#x2020;&#x2019;â&#x2020;&#x2019; July 21, 10 - 11 a.m., free,

Reyburn Park, N. 22nd St. and W. Sedgley Ave., for information, visit pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org

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g r i d p h i l ly. c o m

29


by laura muzzi brennan

T

Forbidden Fruit

he Adam and Eve debacle notwithstanding, I never thought that eating fresh local fruit could be so controversial. I also assumed that, with seasonal farmers’ markets sprouting up all over Philadelphia, it couldn’t be that much work to bring one to my suburban neighborhood. Of course, you see where this story is going: community-minded foodie plunges into farmers’ market project, rude awakening ensues. I’ve spent most of my adult life in urban areas (eight years in Washington, D.C., and 12 in Philadelphia) where it seemed everyone was a de facto community organizer—setting up a babysitting co-op here, planting a neighborhood garden there. So, when I moved to Bala Cynwyd and met people who shared my passion for fresh food, I thought the road to a market was paved with organic peaches and cream. Calling ourselves the Friends of the Bala Cynwyd Farmers’ Market, we formulated a simple plan: rally a few dozen friends to sign a petition, find a site and call Farm to City, letting them know that Bala Cynwyd was ripe for a market. I was sure that in a few short months I’d be savoring peach cobbler and exchanging recipes with farmers who grew the fuzzy fruit. Not so fast. Farm to City’s request for qualifications resembled an Ivy League application. They required neighborhood surveys and demographic information, letters of support from local politicians and environmental groups, and detailed 30

g r i d p h i l ly. c o m

maps of our proposed market site. We had to research township laws governing food safety, zoning and taxes. But heck, we would jump through those hoops—while singing “Yes, we have no bananas” to boot—if that’s what it took to get this thing off the ground. The application process may have been labor-intensive, but it made sense. Lots of communities want markets, and Farm to City had to be sure ours could support one. We could, and we knew it, thanks to hundreds of surveys and page after page of signatures. And the way our neighbors had raved about the test run of the market made our hearts swell like zucchini in August. What made no sense—and had us shaking our heads in disbelief—was the reaction of a vocal minority. We had proposed holding the market in a church parking lot nestled in a residential area. At one interminable township meeting, a few NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard-ers) spoke with vitriol usually reserved for nuclear waste plants and pedophile rehabilitation centers.

j uly 201 0

One woman threatened to litigate. Another warned that a market would attract a bad element to the neighborhood, and cause a spike in the number of burglaries. (I must have missed that Pew study linking an appetite for heirloom tomatoes to criminal behavior.) Some folks— township commissioners among them—simply balked at the idea of amending the zoning code to allow the market in a residential area. Employing the classic slippery slope argument—farmers’ market today, brothel and casino tomorrow— they made it sound as if corporate conglomerates were poised to pounce on Lower Merion neighborhoods unless we took up arms in defense of our borders. Torn between hiding under my chair and hurling it, I questioned why I’d gotten involved in this project in the first place. The naysayers won the day: The zoning code amendment was voted down. But we won the season. After licking our wounds, we found another location, and this summer Bala Cynwyd boasts a farmers’ market. Granted, the spot is not ideal—it’s on the periphery of the neighborhood and most people can’t walk there—but the strawberries are scarlet, plump and juicy. As I take my first bite, I think about how much work it took just to get this berry from a nearby farm to my mouth. But, as I take my second bite, I taste only sweetness. ■

+

Laura Muzzi Brennan is a freelance writer who frequently covers local food trends. ¶ The Bala Cynwyd Farmers’ Market is held 3 – 7 p.m. Thursdays, late May through November at the GSB parking lot (corner of Belmont Ave. and St. Asaph’s Rd.). For more information, visit balacynwydfarmersmarket.weebly.com illus t r at ion by m e lis s a mc feeters


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