oct 2011 / issue 31 gridphilly.com
Agricu lt u r e
How Kensington Became Restoration Row
Electric Cars Are Coming!
Southwest Philly’s Pocket Farm
↘ plus: don’t miss our green building insert!
Avi Golen and Jon Wybar of Revolution Recovery are blazing a bold new trail in waste disposal
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g r i d p h illy.com o c to ber 2011 / is s u e 31
16 Restoration Row
How Kensington and Port Richmond became the city’s hub for material reuse and resale
8 Energy | Electric cars are real, they’re spectacular, and they’re coming to Philly
28 Urban Naturalist Honking it up with Philadelphia’s geese
9 Green Living | Recycling challenge: construction waste
30 Shoots & Ladders Lessons learned from a bountiful season on the Little Blue Deck
10 Community | Sustainable Communities in Action: Spotlight on Sustainable 19125 11 Media | Reviews of The Neighborhood Project and Rat Island
Revolution Recovery is blazing a bold new trail through the construction waste disposal business. PLUS: Artists demonstrate the true value of recycled material
12 Agriculture | Southwest Philly’s Pocket Farm gets cozy in the community 13 Food | Inside Philadephia’s newest, smallest brewery, Saint Benjamin | Cheese of the Month: Puddle Duck Creek | Recipes: Marisa McClellan carves up some pumpkin curry
32 Tyler Talks Trash Rise up against napkins and paper towels 34 Events Bike Philly, Farm tours, Harvest events, foraging, winter gardening and more 38 Dispatch How I got to Maine using only bike and train.
also inside: Featuring the winners of the DVGBC’s leadership awards
G4 Letter from the Executive Director G7 What is LEED? Benefits of DVGBC membership; History G8 Award Winner Collin O’Mara
G10 Award Winner Philadelphia Water Department G12 Award Winners Lutron and Revolution Recovery G14 Award Winner CHOP G14 DVGBC Events c over & conte nts ph otos by gen e s mirnov
PROFESSIONAL DEGREES FOR GREEN CAREERS Learn at Temple University’s School of Environmental Design
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Grant a school’s garden wish with your donation at the register. Access details and the application at www.wholekidsfoundation.org/gardengrants.php
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Hit the Road
an, was i up late last night. I’d finally gotten my hands on an advance copy of Julie Lorch’s Where to Bike Philadelphia: Best Biking in City and Suburbs, and I’d planned to spend an hour flipping through the 50-plus rides, write my editor’s notes, and turn in. Then it was like three hours later, and there I was, still tracing Lorch’s trails through the city, into the suburbs, across South Jersey and beyond. The book, published by an outfit called Bicycling Australia, is a gorgeously photographed (also by Lorch) cue-sheet bonanza, offering a range of rides custom-fit for anyone—from the newest of newbs to the most road-grimy randonneur (a.k.a. really long riderider). There’s even a section with 21 kid-friendly routes. Where to Bike Philadelphia is smartly organized: Rides are classified as City, Art Museum Departures, Bucks & Montgomery Counties, All Those Western ’Burbs and South Jersey. And each one is laid out over four pages: one spread of pictures, details and data, and a second spread with a list of directions (cue sheet), an elevation chart (so you’re not surprised when you find yourself on a milelong, Category 1 climb) and a map detailing points of interest, bike shops and link-ups with other recommended routes. It’s also smartly constructed: ring-bound, printed on heavy stock and protected in an easy-to-fold, easy-to-tuck-away thick cardboard cover. Lorch, I should mention, has contributed stories about bikes and rides to GRID (her excellent column “Along for the Ride,” wherein she tagged along with notable Philadelphia bicyclists on their favorite routes, appeared regularly in the magazine last year). So yes, she’s family. And yes, we’re proud of her. You can read an excerpt from the book, “Joel’s Ride Around the Mainline,” on GRID’s blog, The Griddle (bit.ly/oRhn2v takes you right to it). More on the book at wheretobikephiladelphia.com. Look for it in local bike shops (definitely Firehouse, Cadence and Trophy) and book shops.
Hitting the Road It’s fitting that I find myself writing to you here about bikes. Though I started out in this town writing about music, and over 16 some years have written about everything from city and national politics to urban poverty and empowerment, to the local beer renaissance and the local baseball renaissance, the one thing I’ve always come back to is bikes. I started riding as a kid because it was fun. I started riding in the city as a recent college grad because it was fast and efficient (and fun). I’ve seen cycling increase in Philadelphia something like 100-fold since I first pedaled from my 19th and Pemberton apartment down to Tower Books on South Street back in 1995. I’ve always believed the bicycle to be the most democratic form of transportation, and perhaps the most liberating. I have hope and faith that this trend will continue, and I expect I’ll be a part of it somehow. You may have noticed that this thing has taken a turn toward summation, and that’s because after I file this piece I’m ending my tenure at GRID magazine. While here, I’ve worked with some amazing people, and written and edited for some wonderful readers. It’s been an honor. Maybe I’ll see you in the bike lanes; I’m the guy with the curly black hair and the Barrel of Monkeys messenger bag. Until then, you can reach me at email@example.com, facebook.com/brianghoward and twitter.com/beegee73.
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No Such Thing?
Believe it or not, electric vehicles are coming to Philadelphia by samantha wittchen
or years, the electric vehicle has been mentioned in hushed tones, believed to be the second coming of sorts for our car-dependent society, a clean-running innovation that would allow us to keep up our driving habit without that messy foreign-oil guilt. Yet electric cars have seemed as mythical as Sasquatch—often spoken of, but rarely, if ever, seen in the wild. That’s about to change for Philadelphians. In October, 16 of these lean, green driving machines will be hitting Philadelphia streets thanks to PhillyCarShare (PCS), the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). The initiative to bring electric cars to Philadelphia began last August when a consortium of organizations, including the Below: 2011 Chevrolet Volt bottom: 2011 Nissan LEAF Chamber of
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Commerce, PECO, Comcast, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and many major Philadelphia universities came together with PCS to develop a plan for installing infrastructure for plug-in electric vehicles throughout the city. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability was awarded a grant from the PADEP to install 16 chargers for PCS cars, and two more for general use by private owners of electric cars. The infrastructure installation is expected to be complete in early October. Once it is, the electric vehicles will be ready to go, says Jerry Furgione, PCS executive director. Since this installation is the first of its kind in the region, there may be a few bumps in the process, which could delay the launch until later in October. Regardless, it’s safe to say that Philadelphians can look for the cars this fall. So, about those cars. Furgione says there are currently two vehicles on the market that would fit their needs—the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. For now, they’re leaning toward the Volt, which is technically a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. This kind of car operates solely on electricity until the battery needs to be recharged, at which point the gasoline engine generates the electricity required to power the electric motor. The Volt’s battery range is about 35 miles, making it an ideal option for PCS drivers, who average 30 miles per trip. The backup fuel tank provides a safety net for drivers who find themselves running that extra unexpected errand that puts them over the 35-mile range. However, the fuel tank also means these cars aren’t quite as environmentally friendly as a purely electric vehicle, since they still require gas and generate emissions once the battery range is exhausted. The Nissan Leaf—like the forthcoming Ford Focus Electric (due out in California and New York this fall)— is a purely electric vehicle, with no gas engine or fuel tank. The Leaf has an average 100-mile range, but once that range is exhausted, there’s no backup. The electric motors in these
Electric motors can convert 75 percent of the chemical energy from batteries to power. Traditional internal combustion engines convert 20 percent of the energy in gasoline to power. cars are much more energy efficient than a traditional vehicle. An electric motor can convert 75 percent of the chemical energy from batteries to power, whereas an internal combustion engine in a traditional car can only convert 20 percent of the energy in gasoline. Electric vehicles produce no tailpipe emissions, and if the cars are charged with electricity generated from renewable sources, they’re completely emissions-free. The main barrier electric vehicles currently face is lack of infrastructure. Because of their limited range, charging stations need to be available to long-distance drivers, and for the most part, those charging stations just don’t exist yet. In the meantime, most early adopters have to rely on plugging in these cars at home, which can be difficult for city-dwellers who don’t have easy access to an outside plug. Recharge time can also be substantial with a typical 120-volt house plug, with the Nissan Leaf topping out at 20 hours. With 13,000 members, the addition of electric vehicles to PCS’s fleet presents a tremendous opportunity for PCS to become an ambassador for electric vehicles. Members will be able to try them out and Philadelphians will see them on the street and at the charging stations. Additionally, PECO will be able to study the effects these stations have on the electric grid. With the recent acquisition of PCS by Enterprise Holdings (of note for Enterprise Rent-ACar), Furgione says the company now has the financial support to purchase more electric vehicles more quickly, with an eye toward the vehicles comprising one-third of their fleet. This would be one of the largest fleets of electric vehicles on the East Coast. For this initial 16, cars will be placed at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel and Temple Universities, and the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, with the remaining eight scattered throughout Center City parking lots and garages. So, look out, everyone! This fall, Sasquatch is coming to Philly. Samantha Wittchen is partner and co-founder of iSpring (ispringassociates.com), a sustainability consulting firm serving companies and organizations in the Delaware and Lehigh valleys.
by samantha wittchen
Construction Waste Building-related construction and demolition waste totals approximately 170 million tons per year, roughly twothirds of all non-industrial solid waste generation in the U.S.
Total annual construction and demolition waste (“C&D waste” in the biz) equates to 3.2 pounds of building-related materials per person in the U.S., per day. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 52 percent of this ends up in a landfill. Sources of building-related C&D debris in the waste stream include demolition (approximately 48 percent of the annual waste stream), renovation (44 percent) and new construction (8 percent). It is economically viable to recycle the majority of this waste, as the cost to transport and dispose of C&D waste can be more than 2 percent of a project’s cost. Philadelphia residents also have a practical issue: The Streets Department is not supposed to collect curbside C&D waste. However, according to the city’s waste data from 2009 and 2010, C&D waste makes up 20 percent of the city’s waste stream. This may point to the larger issue of the city’s cash-based “tip” economy: Trash collectors are paid off by people looking to offload C&D waste. So, if you’re planning a bigger renovation, you may have some trouble disposing of the waste. (Or, maybe not, if you have cash on hand.)
There are two great options for Philadelphians who want to make sure their C&D waste gets recycled. Richard S. Burns (4300 Rising Sun Ave., 19140, Hours: Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 7 a.m3 p.m.) is open to the public and charges $80/ton (with a $40 minimum) to recycle your C&D waste. This is a good option if
you’re not expecting to generate a lot of waste from your project, and you have a way to get that waste to the recycling facility. If you do anticipate generating a lot of waste from the project, Burns will drop off and pick up a Dumpster (for a fee). Visit burnscompany.net for a comprehensive list of the kinds of waste they accept. The other option is Revolution Recovery (cover story, p. 22). (7333 Milnor St., 19136, hours: Mon.-Fri., 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sat,. 7 a.m.-1 p.m.) All materials are sorted, graded and processed on-site before being sent for recycling. Visit revolutionrecovery.com for a comprehensive list of materials they do and do not accept, and you can call 215-333-6505 for drop-off fees, or to get a Dumpster for your project. Being a Responsible Renovator: If you’re going to hire a contractor, ask for a written waste management plan for responsible disposal. If the contractor is getting a Dumpster for the project, ask who it’s from, and verify that they’ll recycle the materials. Support the C&D waste recycling industry by asking your builder to use new building materials with recycled C&D waste content. If you anticipate needing a Dumpster, remember that you must get a permit to have it placed on the street outside your house. It’s called an “Equipment Placement Application,” and you can obtain one through the Streets Department (phila.gov/streets). Have a Recycling Challenge or a tip for us? Send an email to email@example.com.
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community Sustainable Communities in Action*
esidents of the east kensington, Fishtown and Port Richmond areas of the city are served by Sustainable 19125, an innovative community partnership created by the New Kensington Community Development Corp. (NKCDC) to address sustainability issues and quality-of-life concerns. The initiative’s goal is equal parts community revitalization, greening and neighbor-to-neighbor camaraderie. “Sustainability is all about social equity and economic equity, and we thought that there was a way to try and shape a new program in a way that we could address all of these things,” says Shanta Schachter, deputy director at the NKCDC. Sustainable 19125 was launched in 2009, the result of a collaboration among NKCDC, the Office of Housing and Community Development and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) designed to revitalize the community’s 1,100 vacant lots. While efforts to plant gardens and paint murals in trash-filled lots were aesthetically beneficial, residents desired more. Concerns over perceived divides between new and old community members, safety and the neighborhood’s carbon footprint were all instrumental in establishing 19125’s plan of action. To get the ball rolling, the NKCDC gathered partners, and held a kick-off party in January 2009. Community members and local businesses passionate about greenWalk, Bike, Ride mural painted by volunteers ing efforts—including at Frankford and Postgreen, Greensgrow Susquehanna.
Farm and Johnny Brenda’s—were in attendance, and group sessions led to a lengthy wish list of program priorities. “The big ones that came out were green infrastructure; that people wanted simple and easily actionable things that they could do in their own homes; that people wanted education; and that people wanted to build off of existing assets,” says Schachter. Those existing assets include the MarketFrankford elevated train line and plenty of open space. The combination led to the creation of the 10
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Philadelphia, as the old trope goes, is a city of neighborhoods. While each has its own concerns and culture, sustainability is a key for all in establishing and maintaining a neighborhood that nurtures and uplifts those who live there. In our Sustainable Communities in Action series, GRID will highlight organizations that are working to make their neighborhoods greener, safer places that residents can feel proud of.
A farm dinner at the NKCDC Garden Center, which hosts gardening and horticultural workshops and seasonal festivals, all free of charge.
Big Green Block, a $45 million green infrastructure oasis between Front Street and Frankford Avenue, and Norris and Palmer streets. The block boasts the country’s first LEED Platinum High School (the New Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts), a plethora of stormwater management tools, educational murals and green beautification efforts galore. As a result, the Water Department is now able to collect 90 percent of stormwater runoff in the area, and ridership to one of the city’s least-used transit stops, the Market-Frankford’s Berks station, has increased. In Phase II of the block, planned to be implemented in the spring of 2012, Sustainable 19125 hopes to add stormwater gardens at the streets’ intersections. Importantly, Sustainable 19125 is not focused solely on creating glistening green infrastructure projects. The program is perhaps better known for the grassroots community efforts run by residents themselves. It is through community campaigns that programs like Walk, Bike, Ride, a car-free transportation campaign, and Green Blocks have come to fruition. Green Blocks is the most far-reaching of the community initiative’s programming efforts. Activities and workshops are divided into themes that include greening, recycling, energy, water conservation and buy local, grow local. All are focused on at-home actions that residents can take to reduce their carbon footprints, and run the gamut from free giveaways of recycling bins and compact fluorescent light bulbs, to rain-barrel, composting and gardening workshops. Spe-
cially selected residents serve as Green Guides on their blocks to further assist with conservation efforts. “We have a self-selecting steering committee [that] guides the direction of the Green Blocks Program,” says Jamie Reese, Sustainable 19125’s project coordinator. “The direction that the Green Guides will be heading this year will be determined by the steering committee, and also the feedback that we receive on the first two years of the program.” Both Schachter and Reese beam like proud parents as they discuss Green Guides, who have gone above and beyond their call of duty. One woman spearheaded a compost program with Philly Compost and was able to score the community a self-contained composting unit known as an Earth Tub. Another resident hosts monthly block parties where she and her fellow Cumberland Street dwellers sport “Cumbies for Life” Tshirts, and balance beer-imbibing and socializing with white-roof workdays and presentations from PECO representatives on reducing energy use. “More than anything, I think that that’s what has come out of this program,” says Schachter. “That people are getting to know each other and creating stronger community ties.”
For more information on Sustainable 19125, visit the organization’s recently re-launched website at sustainable19125.org/wordpress. And stay tuned for more neighborhood organizations as our Sustainable Community series continues in future issues.
Media E N CO U R AG E YO U R FAVO R I T E R E S TAU R A N T TO S E RV E LO C A L F O O D AND CO M P O S T T H E I R O R G A N I C WA S T E W ITH
book reviews Evolutionary Road
The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time David Sloan Wilson, $25.99 • Little Brown
You Dirty Rats
Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World’s Greatest Wildlife Rescue William Stolzenburg, $26 • Bloomsbury For city dwellers, rats are a nuisance and a health hazard. But for isolated island species, rats are a death sentence, as William Stolzenburg demonstrates in his new book, Rat Island. Stolzenburg begins his story 700 years ago, when Polynesians set out to explore the islands of Oceania, and brought their kiore rats with them for sustenance. During the following centuries, rats arrived on the pristine islands, intentionally and unintentionally. But for the seafaring rats, intent made no difference. They began to out-compete native island species—especially birds, who were unadapted for land-based prey. Slowly, the rats drove almost all of the birds to extinction by both preying on them and occupying their habitat. It’s the optimistic “almost” that Stolzenburg captures here. By aerially dropping tons of poison onto a few test islands to kill the rats, conservationists have finally made headway in the centuries-old battle. Using the New Zealand kakapo and the least auklet on the Bering Sea’s Kiska Island as examples, Stolzenburg tells of both historical and contemporary efforts to contain the rats and preserve native bird species. This newest weapon, however, is not without controversy. Using poison has allowed conservationists to reclaim islands around the world, but others question the decision to kill populations of any species en masse. With engaging writing and a knack for historical storytelling, Stolzenburg prods the reader to consider the role of humans in ecological evolution, and our role as stewards and saviors. —Katherine Silkaitis
In David Sloan Wilson’s fifth book, the evolutionary biologist chronicles his attempt to use Darwin’s theory of evolution to improve the quality of life in his town of Binghamton, N.Y. It’s an ambitious goal, especially since the concept is a bit vague and obscure. What do Darwin and evolution have to do with the wellbeing of cities and individuals? From the title and cover art, it might seem that The Neighborhood Project focuses on programs like urban gardens, litter prevention and neighborhood watches. Instead, it takes it a step further: It’s a serious look at how social problems arise and how understanding the evolution of these problems can provide the keys to best solve them. Public policy, Wilson believes, should be strongly rooted in evolutionary theory. While The Neighborhood Project isn’t difficult to read or comprehend, it is dense: After all, neighborhoods and people are vibrant, complex and dynamic. With enthusiasm and optimism, Wilson jumps between topics such as religion, economics, education and ecological diversity, dropping in parables about wasps, vignettes of scientists’ childhoods, and histories of Judaism and Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. In addition to broad evolutionary theory, The Neighborhood Project serves as a memoir of Wilson’s ongoing work with the Binghamton Neighborhood Project (BNP). Loosely characterized as a group of faculty and students using science to make the community a better place, the BNP takes on many roles, locally and globally. Wilson narrates how they used survey data to create a topographical map of Binghamton that reflects varying values of altruism, trust, social support and income. By viewing the city as a living organism and tracking rates of change in behaviors such as smoking, obesity and breastfeeding, he hopes to create interdisciplinary tools that can improve the human condition. While the book isn’t a blueprint to fix social maladies, it is an introduction to a promising new way of viewing individuals and societies. —Katherine Silkaitis
IL WE T
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P H I L LYCO M P O S T.CO M Proud to be a sponsor of Coop, a The Compost Coop neighborhood composting venture in the 19125 area.
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Put It in Your Pocket
ids will knock on our door and ask for collards for their grandmum,” says Emily Wren, one of six members of Mitten, a cooperative house of twentysomething coeds that runs an urban farming venture in Southwest Philadelphia known as Pocket Farm. What began three years ago as a household garden to grow food for Mitten and a neighboring house has quite literally blossomed into a community effort. When neighbors began noticing the vibrant colors and scents of fresh veggies, requests for produce and farming education began pouring in. The garden needed to grow, and fast. Pocket Farm’s transition from garden to fullfledged farm was made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) City Harvest Growers Alliance. The program seeks to expand the amount of locally grown produce in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods by assisting home gardeners in turning simple backyard projects into bountiful, community-oriented farms. Soil, seeds and wood for constructing raised beds and trellises were all provided by the grant, along with access to plant starts in a greenhouse at Weaver’s Way Co-op Farm and twice-yearly harvest workshops where novice growers can pickup valuable farming skills.
“It’s a learning process for a lot of us,” says Wren. “We all consider gardening a passion, but none of us has ever done it professionally.” Even so, the bounty of vegetables and fruit currently growing on the 50-by-100-foot plot are testament to the fact that PHS’s grant is paying off in leaps and bounds. Hefty heirloom tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, okra, collards, kale and cucumbers are currently all ripe for the plucking from the farm’s eight raised beds; a diverse offering inspired by the tastes of Mitten’s members, seeds from PHS, and passionate requests from friends and neighbors. “Cucumbers are huge with the kids in this neighborhood,” shares Wren with a laugh. “They love eating them with salt. It’s great to just hand these kids fresh vegetables through the fence.” The diversity of requests and offerings also reveals a cultural exchange via vegetables. Members of the neighborhood are big on collards, okra and kale, but Wren also shares the tale of one neighbor’s first taste of “exotic” arugula that sparked a love affair with the peppery greens. The farm’s weekly Monday evening farmstand offers an opportunity for community members to taste a plethora of both novel and familiar foods by keeping prices at $1 or $2 per bunch. The stand’s hours (6-8 p.m.) are scrawled on a chalkboard
Cucumbers are huge with the kids in this neighborhood. They love eating them with salt. —Emily Wren
How the garden at Southwest Philly’s Mitten cooperative house became the neighborhood-magnet Pocket Farm by ariela rose dangling beside the gated entrance, along with the dates and times of upcoming workdays. Workdays also offer volunteers and neighborhood folk a chance to taste the fruits of the Mitten’s labor of love. While the number of volunteers varies from week to week and, as Wren explains, is dependent on the work itself (“planting is more fun than weeding”), both friends and neighbors arrive at the farm’s gate eager to get their hands dirty. Plus, a couple hours of work also offers attendees inside information on the household’s popular parties. Each year, Mitten hosts a Halloween cover band concert and a glittery, glamorous drag show known as Miss West Philly Fabulous. This July, the group held a garden party to raise funds for Pocket, complete with local performers, a hulahoop contest, photo and kissing booths, and fare prepared using ingredients grown on the farm. Despite the groundswell of public appeal Pocket has garnered in its brief existence, the folks at Mitten remain dedicated to small-scale, chemical-free and community-based farming. “I think we’ll just keep going at this pace,” says Wren, nonchalantly. “[We’ll] just be a place to grow organic produce for the neighborhood.”
To learn more about Pocket Farm, visit its Facebook page; for more information on PHS’s City Harvest Growers Alliance grant, visit pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org/ phlgreen/city-harvest.html
photos by emily wren
Itty Bitty Brewery W
hen tim patton moved to Philadelphia in 2006, going into the beer business wasn’t even on his radar. “I came up from Wilmington, where I’d started an Internet business,” he says. “I wanted to get out of the suburbs, so I moved up here to find something else to do with my life.” Patton began homebrewing in 2008, and soon after purchased the old firehouse that would inspire the name of Saint Benjamin Brewing Co., his openingsoon brewery. “My girlfriend did a really
The new Saint Benjamin nanobrewery plans to keep its batches incredibly small, and its reach incredibly local by brendan skwire
good job of getting me into craft beer, and I really like to pick things apart to see how they work,” he says. “I got a good response from my friends. I’d been looking for something a bit more handson, and brewing just kind of stuck.” He decided to go professional in December 2010, but didn’t want to start out big: Patton freely admits he has no experience working in either a brewpub or a production brewery. He decided to start small. Really small. Saint Benjamin is a nanobrewery—which means it makes fewer than 100 gallons (about six kegs) per batch. Patton’s original plan was to start up the nanobrewery in his spacious firehouse, but the zoning waiver process didn’t go well: Neighbors who had previously supported him changed their minds, claiming that Saint Benjamin would be a brewpub and, therefore, a nuisance. Patton emphatically denies this and explains his plan was to brew small, keg-only batches to supply local bars. In the end, he gave up the fight and found warehouse space in Kensington, where he’s currently setting up shop. He plans to open during the winter. In the meantime, Patton has been serving his brews (for free) at Philadelphia events. During Philly Beer Week, Saint Benjamin was at Opening Tap and the Super Secret Beer Concert Series; his Transcontinental beer received second place at Beer Camp. Patton has also shared brews at Fishtown Neighbors Association events and with the Fishtown Beer Runners. One of the first things you notice about Saint
I’m not a particularly hop-forward brewer. I don’t like it to be ‘all hops’ or ‘all seasoning.’ Benjamin beers is that while none are particularly highly hopped, most have a velvety maltiness. “I’m not a particularly hop-forward brewer,” Patton admits. “My philosophy is not to hit people over the head. I don’t like it to be ‘all hops’ or ‘all seasoning’ or anything like that. I’m kind of the opposite of most brewers, in that I’m more focused on the malt and the yeast.” Patton plans to keep Saint Benjamin small, local and sustainable. When it comes to ingredients, sustainability gets a little more complicated. Since local malt is difficult to find, he sources from the regional Valley Malts in Massachusetts. “As for rye, corn and wheat,” he says, “I want to see what local options are.” With small batches, Patton can frequent local markets for more specialized ingredients. He plans to use local honey and is exploring options for buying coriander and other spices from nearby greenhouses. “My vision is something like a neighborhood or European small-town brewery,” says Patton. “Maybe not the widest reach, but the freedom to make whatever I want at that time.” This fall, look for Patton’s beers at the Laurel Hill Beer Barons to Homebrewers event and the fall Beer Camp. To keep tabs on Saint Benjamin’s progress and to find out where you can taste a brew, visit blog.stbenjaminbrewing.com and facebook.com/stbenjaminbrew.
cheese of the month
Puddle Duck Creek If you’re a fan of Beatrix Potter, then you probably remember Jemima Puddle Duck, a character in many Peter Rabbit stories. If there’s a young reader in your house, this might be the perfect time to introduce this tender morsel of cheese with a pleasing, grassy character. Puddle Duck Creek, a bloomy muffin from Peach Bottom, Pa., is nothing short of adorable. The rind is lacy and quilted, and the paste within looks like banana pudding. A cheese this golden inside can only mean one thing: The milk comes from grassfed cows. Beta carotene in milk gives cheese a buttery glow. This is a good thing, a sign of pastured
animals, which is how ruminants were meant to live and eat. Hillacres Pride in Lancaster County produces Puddle Duck Creek. The Arrowsmiths, a threegeneration family, run the farm and provide most of the labor. Their many cheeses are usually made from raw milk, but Puddle Duck is pasteurized, since it’s young (a federal requirement). Still, this cheese is flavorful, lactic and herbaceous, with a peppery pop to the rind. Try it on water crackers with fresh fruit or jam. —Tenaya Darlington, madamefromage.blogspot.com
Puddle Duck Creek is available at Green Aisle Grocery, Whole Foods and the Hillacres Pride stand at Headhouse Farmers Market. To learn more: Hillacres Pride, 194 Arcadia Trace Road, Peach Bottom, Pa., 17563, 717-548-9031; hillacrespride.com october 20 11
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of Your T
Though bursting with pumpkin and spices, this fall Thai curry recipe is about as far from pie as it gets by marisa m cclellan
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he first time i tasted pumpkin curry was 10 years ago, at a place in Portland, Ore., that’s half restaurant, half Laundromat. The pumpkin cubes were perfectly tender and the coconut and yellow curry broth were habit-forming. Ever since, pumpkin curry has been one of my primary food obsessions. I recently discovered that Circles Contemporary Asian in the Newbold neighborhood makes an excellent one, but before theirs, my options were limited. In order to satisfy my pumpkin curry needs, I learned to make it myself. Though these ingredient lists look long, this is actually shockingly easy to make. The curry paste ingredients get blitzed in a food processor, but can be made in large batches and frozen. It’s actually better if you whir it together a little
ahead of time, so that the flavors have time to mingle awhile. Aside from this dish tasting so good, the best thing about it is how easily it can be veganized. Skip the shrimp or Tom Yum in the curry paste, omit the fish sauce and use vegetable stock and tofu. Served over basil-flecked jasmine rice, it’s a beautiful dish that everyone sitting around your table can enjoy.
Yellow Curry Paste makes approximately 1½ cups, enough for two batches of pumpkin curry 5 ounces shallots (approximately 4-6) 10 cloves garlic 3 long red chilies 2 Tbsp. chopped lemongrass (just the tender inner part) 2 Tbsp. brown sugar 1 Tbsp. tomato paste 1 inch ginger, peeled juice and zest of one lime 1 tsp. curry powder 1 tsp. ground coriander 1 tsp. turmeric tsp. cinnamon tsp. ground cumin tsp. shrimp or Tom Yum paste tsp. ground white pepper tsp. salt
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until mostly smooth (it won’t be perfect, and that’s OK). Add a bit of water if it needs a little extra lubrication. Scrape sides of processor down several times during blending. Excess curry paste will keep up to one week in the refrigerator. For longer storage, freeze.
Pumpkin Curry serves 4 1 Tbsp. neutral vegetable oil 1 onion, cut into strips cup yellow curry paste 1 can coconut milk 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock 2 Tbsp. fish sauce 6 cups cubed pumpkin (approximately 2 pounds squash) 1 red pepper, cubed 1 green pepper, chopped 1 lb. cooked chicken or tofu, chopped 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven until it shimmers. Add onions and cook 2-3 minutes, until they’ve browned just slightly. Add the curry paste and stir to combine. Add coconut milk,
stock and fish sauce, and stir until the curry paste is spread throughout. Add pumpkin cubes and simmer with the lid off until tender. This can take 10-25 minutes, depending on the type of pumpkin you use. When pumpkin is tender and sauce has thickened slightly, add the chopped peppers and the tofu or chicken. Cook until the peppers and protein are heated through. Just before serving, stir in chopped cilantro.
Jasmine Rice with Basil 2 cups jasmine rice 4 cups water cup basil leaves, chopped
Wash the rice, changing the water until it is no longer cloudy. Pour rice into a sturdy pot and add water. Place pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the temperature and
simmer until rice is tender and water is gone. This should take about 20 minutes for white rice and 45 for brown. Stir in the chopped basil. The heat will release the fragrance of the basil and make for incredibly aromatic rice. marisa mcclellan is a food writer, canning teacher and dedicated farmers market shopper who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, foodinjars.com.
How to Break Down a Pumpkin 1. Set your pumpkin down on a large, solid cutting board. If the bottom of your pumpkin is rounded, slice a bit off the bottom so it sits flat. 2. Using a large, sharp knife, make a cut from north to south pole on one side of the pumpkin. 3. Make a matching cut on the other side, so that when you finish cutting, the pumpkin breaks in two.
4. Scrape the seeds and guts out of the pumpkin. 5. Once scraped clean, cut each half into eight equal pieces. 6. Lay each piece on its side and cut off the rind. It should look a little like a wedge of cantaloupe when you’re done. 7. Cut the wedges into chunks.
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There’s a material reuse revolution going on. And it’s happening in Kensington. by samantha wittchen
Can you hear that? There’s a movement afoot. Building materials are being given a second life, and hundreds, if not thousands, of tons of construction and demolition waste are being diverted from landfills. And it’s all happening in our backyard. In the past two years, a burgeoning salvage industry has taken root in Philadelphia, reclaiming building materials and selling them to homeowners, developers and artists who are breathing new life into our homes, businesses, schools and communities. The organizations focused on reclaiming these materials are converging in the Kensington and Port Richmond neighborhoods of Philadelphia, rapidly making it a destination for those looking to save some money on building materials, make an environmentally responsible choice and, in some cases, support the work of a charity. With construction and demolition materials comprising 30 to 40 percent of the waste in our landfills, it only makes sense that some people have gotten wise to the fact that we could be reusing these materials and generating revenue in the process. A large portion of that waste is beautiful old lumber—hemlock, Douglas fir and long-leaf pine—whose quality is much higher than anything you’d find at Home Depot today. While architectural salvage outfits that focus on high-value or unique materials are nothing new to Philadelphia, this new breed
of building material reuse organization focuses instead on the everyday building materials that homeowners need—things like framing lumber, cabinetry, appliances and hardware. Facilities like Habitat for Humanity’s newly opened ReStore, the Building Materials Exchange and the Resource Exchange are changing the face of reuse. They’re taking it from something only a committed few were doing—namely artists and those seeking lowercost materials—to making reclaimed materials and household items available to the general public on a larger scale. Each of these organizations focuses on a slightly different area of reuse, but together they are forming a robust reuse community in Philadelphia. Their convergence in the Kensington/Port Richmond area (the neighborhoods sandwiched between Fishtown and the Northeast) is not surprising, as most of these organizations operate on a very limited budget, and that’s where warehouse space is still affordable (although that’s starting to change as Kensington’s many industrial facilities are converted to residential lofts). Additionally, for ReStore and the Building Materials Exchange, it makes sense to locate in the community their work supports. As a result, Kensington is evolving into something of a salvage and reuse district. Perhaps the next time you need to pick up a couple of things at Lowe’s, you’ll consider a trip to Kensington and Port Richmond first.
Habitat for Humanity
ReStore →→ →→ →→ →→
hen habitat for humanity started kicking around the idea to open a ReStore in Philadelphia, they likely never imagined the store would gross $3,100 in sales on its first day open. A retail outlet that supplies everything from overstocked kitchen cabinets to gently used dining room tables and reclaimed bathroom fixtures at low prices, ReStore is Habitat’s innovative way of generating revenue to support their mission of building affordable housing and stabilizing communities. The side benefit is that they’re also keeping hundreds of tons of waste out of the landfill each year. The facility, located in the old Lomax Carpet building in Kensington, is one of 700 ReStores in the U.S. and Canada; the top-grossing ones generate revenue of more than $2 million a year. The launch of the Philadelphia store may have been several years in the making, but it’s clear there’s no better time than the present for the launch. Corinne O’Connell, Habitat’s Director of Development and Communications, says that when she first started two years ago, she was receiving 30 to 40 phone calls a week from people who had material to donate; she had to refer them elsewhere because they had neither a
space to store donations nor a truck to pick them up. Operating out of Habitat’s 3,000-square-foot warehouse headquarters in North Philly, they held 18 garage sales before moving to the Kensington space, raising $80,000 and salvaging 70 tons of material. Lines would often wrap around the block waiting for doors to open on garage sale days. Thanks to the William Penn Foundation, which provided the capital support for ReStore to open, Habitat now has the space they need— 19,000 square feet of it, in fact—and it’s packed with home improvement items and furnishings. One couple in Port Richmond outfitted their house entirely with ReStore items. And since Re-
Established: Locally, 2011 Location: Lomax Carpet Building, 2930
Jasper St., 19134 Hours: Thu. and Fri., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Who should shop there: Homeowners and renters looking for big-box home improvement and houseware items at a fraction of the cost—all while supporting a good cause What you might find: Cabinetry, bathroom and kitchen sinks/fixtures, hardware, high-quality furniture, doors, windows, appliances, electronics
Store had a truck donated to them in May, they’re booked two weeks out with pickups, all through word of mouth. In early August, a woman from the Main Line spied the ReStore truck making a pickup, followed it all the way to Kensington, and proceeded to go shopping. To get the word out about their August softopening, they reached out to the surrounding neighbors, and the community has been very receptive to their arrival. For Habitat, the location is a good fit for their mission: They operate ReStore in the very neighborhood in which they do much of their housing work. Additionally, they’re breathing a bit of new life into the community by occupying a vacant warehouse. They project to salvage 350 tons of material within a year. Which means ReStore pulls off a sustainability trifecta, helping the economy, society and the environment. While ReStore is already open for business, it will host a grand opening on Sept. 10. october 20 11
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tarted in 1985, the Building Materials Exchange (BME) is the granddaddy of building materials reuse here in Philadelphia. The BME is a membership organization run by Impact Services, an organization focused on helping its “Heart of Kensington” neighborhood through job training and creation to support community stabilization and development. BME serves low-income residents; members must meet federal low-income requirements.
Exchange →→ →→
Established: 1985 Location: 111 W. Erie Ave., 19140
(Entrance is behind building off Front Street) Hours: Mon. to Fri., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Who should shop there: Low-income residents looking for deeply discounted building materials, housewares and advice on how to complete home improvement projects What you might find: Windows, doors, cabinetry, carpet tiles, appliances, paints and finishes, roofing materials, housewares, furniture
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One of the BME’s first contributions was $1 million worth of lighting that had been overordered from Progress Lighting by JC Penney. In the early days, BME would barter the lighting fixtures with another organization in Baltimore to stock items the community needed, like general building supplies. Before Philadelphia had its robust network of community development corporations (CDCs), customers were referred by the CDCs’ predecessor organizations, and would then be able to shop at the BME for materials at about 20 percent of the retail cost. Since then, the BME has grown to 5,400 members, and it’s expanded from the original 5,000-square-foot space on Indiana Avenue to an 11,000-square-foot space at Front and Erie. Raul, the BME’s friendly manager, has been with the organization for 18 years, and in addition to his managerial duties, he also gives helpful home improvement advice to members who stop in and
ask for it. The place is packed with a variety of home improvement materials, including windows, doors, carpet tiles, hardware, and lots and lots of paint. Builders, retailers and individuals all contribute to the BME. It’s clear that the BME is an invaluable resource for the community it serves. In 1994, Evelyn Casillas had a fire in her home, which destroyed a portion of her second floor. Since her insurance was slow in processing the claim, she was having difficulty fixing the damage. A friend told her about the BME, and with their help, she was able to rebuild her house. In 2002, she started working at the BME as Raul’s assistant. John MacDonald, Impact’s president and CEO, says Casillas’ situation is common; many people come to the BME in times of emergency. MacDonald says their biggest challenge remains marketing—both to potential contributors and those who can take advantage of their services, especially since many of them don’t use computers. They market through word of mouth, and with difficult economic conditions, the flow of donations has slowed to a trickle. As a result, Impact will often go to auctions to stock the BME’s shelves with materials their members need, like lumber. But it’s fair to assume that this bastion of building materials reuse will weather this recession; they’ve made it through other economic fluctuation over the past 26 years. Even with other organizations like Habitat for Humanity moving into the neighborhood, they plan to continue to serve Philadelphia’s low-income population through this crucial resource for years to come.
isiting the resource exchange (re) is a bit like finding yourself in the scene shop of some local theater company, with set pieces, racks of framing lumber, and cast-off props filling the space. This isn’t surprising given the RE’s beginnings. Executive Director Karyn Gerred boasts a background in theater and film, having worked as a scenic artist for years. In 2009, she saw a need for helping the film and theater industries reuse set materials, instead of simply sending them to a landfill. Thus was born the RE, a creative reuse organization that’d been housed in a 5,000-square-foot Navy Yard building with no electricity, no plumbing and a leaky roof.
Gerred speaks eloquently about the necessity of keeping high-quality movie and theater set materials, often only used for a short period, from being sent to the landfill. As she describes it, RE is working to “solve the problem of longterm environmental consequences of short-term productions.” Historically, it’s been difficult for the film and theater industries to find landfill alternatives because the reuse infrastructure in Philadelphia hasn’t been able to accommodate these materials. Architectural salvage places don’t want them, and thrift stores aren’t set up to receive the sheer quantity of materials. Enter RE. It focuses on structural and artistic reuse of these cast-off materials by artists, craftspeople, educators, students, homeowners and professionals in the green building and sustainable design fields. Framing lumber and sheeting reclaimed by RE enabled Greensaw to complete a $1.1 million renovation project for Yikes Inc.’s new oﬃces in Fishtown. Reclaimed
materials from RE are being used →→ Established: 2009 for a project at Bodine High School →→ Location: 2829 Cedar St. (at Cambria), 19134 in Northern Liberties to create →→ Hours: By appointment public landscapes on underuti→→ Who should shop there: Homeowners, buildlized lots. And many local theater ers, designers, craftspeople and artists looking for high quality, low-cost materials for building sets have been built with material things and creating art salvaged by RE from other area →→ What you might find: Dimensional lumber, productions. plywood, theatrical sets, props, lighting, office With their original Navy Yard lopartitions, fabric, trimmings cation inadequate for their needs, RE had been searching in earnest for a new location. They’d identified multiple city-owned buildings, yet the city has been unwilling to give them a break on the rent. But the organization’s luck changed, receiving a grant from PPL Energy and securing a building on Cedar Street, which gives them, as Gerred notes, “one of three in the startup nonprofit triumvirate (building, staff and truck).” RE will continue to operate by appointment until it is fully staffed. october 20 11
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green buildings for all
from the executive director
Ten years ago, there was not a distinct “green building industry.” So, as we celebrate DVGBC’s 10th anniversary, I am most inspired by how the industry has grown to encourage sustainable development in full: development that encourages local job creation; works ultimately to restore the natural environment; and builds and sustains our communities. DVGBC’s mission is to support green building practices because we believe that our built environment can improve the health of our planet, our economy and our communities.
The green building movement has made amazing progress in this region and the country in the last decade. In 2001, green building leaders in the Delaware Valley were helping to implement the first version of the LEED standard. Our regional leaders founded the Delaware Valley Building Council and the U.S. Green Building Council to help the industry grow and develop.
This year, in Philadelphia alone, the green building industry will bring in more than $1 billion in revenues. DVGBC has shaped and led this progress—connecting and educating green building leaders and practitioners, providing practical expertise and experience. Through our education programs and tools, such as our green contractor database and green project directory, we are developing and supporting an integrated industry and network of leaders. By helping to write green specifications for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, developing the Philadelphia School District’s leadership in LEED projects, supporting Mayor Michael Nutter and Philadelphia City Council in passing green building and cool roof legislation, and creating sustainability language for capital project Requests for Proposals, DVGBC and its members are helping to drive the market for sustainable development. In 10 years, we’ve grown from an all-volunteer working board, to a full-time staff of five, and membership nearing 1,000, in four branches that extend from the Lehigh Valley into Delaware. Our most active volunteers together contribute about 20,000 total hours each year to advancing our shared mission. DVGBC’s members include a broadening spectrum of the green building industry—design professionals, contractors and developers, energy efficiency experts, green product manufacturers (windows, building automation systems, flooring and lighting companies), and a growing group of financial services and insurance leaders. Our newest audiences are school teachers and administrators and health care practitioners. So, what’s next for our movement? The DVGBC’s new vision, “green buildings for all,” has us focusing our work in four areas: Greenbuild 2013 in Philadelphia The annual international green building conference will bring more than 30,000 green building leaders to Philadelphia in fall 2013. As the host chapter, DVGBC will be responsible for volunteers, offsite education and tours, a legacy project, and engagement with regional industry leaders and decision-makers. The choice of Philadelphia reflects a recognition of the long-term “green” leadership at DVGBC and our regional decision-makers and industry leaders.
Public Policy & Advocacy DVGBC will provide expertise to decisionmakers to initiate policies that encourage green building practices. Our staff and members will advocate for progressive policy reforms. The areas where DVGBC sees immediate dividends are in energy disclosure, higher rates of construction and demolition waste recycling, increased rates of conservation and graywater recycling, new green building standards for state-owned buildings, and adoption of the new ICC and IGCC codes.
Timeline 20 Delaware Valley Green 01 Building Council founded 20 DVGBC has 20 members and its 02 first executive director 20 First LEED-certified building (in 03 Delaware) in the Delaware Valley
Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) GPIC is a new national hub funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to advance the research, policy, practices and products to spur energyefficiency adoption in existing commercial buildings. As a partner of GPIC, DVGBC will communicate GPIC’s work to our community, connect practitioners and building owners and operators to the GPIC effort, and support the policy, markets and behavior team.
Green Schools Campaign Green schools save on average more than $100,000 per year in operating costs, and studies show that students learn better in green schools. Most of the 1,171 schools in DVGBC’s region don’t even measure their energy use and costs, yet energy is the highest school expenditure after personnel. DVGBC’s green schools campaign will work to help the region’s schools lower operating costs and create healthy learning environments. Learn more and join us at www.dvgbc.org.
20 DVGBC has five staff members and 09 is one of the five largest chapters
Janet Milkman executive director delaware valley green building council
DVGBC has 225 members
20 First LEED Platinum (Liberty 06 Property Trust’s One Crescent Drive at The Navy Yard)
20 DVGBC hosts first Student Design 07 Competition with Project H.O.M.E. 20 08
DVGBC has 1,004 members
of the U.S. Green Building Council
20 Philadelphia is chosen for a 10 $120 million investment in energy efficiency research for existing commercial buildings — the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster is housed at The Navy Yard
20 Kensington CAPA School, the first 11 LEED Platinum public high school in the nation; the first LEED Platinum rowhouse in Philadelphia
Our region is now home to 103 LEEDcertified buildings, including several hospitals and 10 schools. In addition to the LEED buildings, there are 250 buildings using Energy Star Portfolio Manager, and implementing green projects such as green roofs, solar installations or geothermal wells.
DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2011 | GREENPRINT | 3
The Founders dvgbc ’ s fo u nding membe rs William Cline Wallace Robets & Todd Charlie Tomlinson Charles B. Tomlinson Jr. AIA Joe Weidle Bedwell Construction Sandy Wiggins Consilience, LLC Dan Garafolo University of Pennsylvania
A Solid Foundation How the DVGBC started small, then blossomed
Like other influential movements, the Delaware Valley Green Building Council started informally. And like America’s origin story, the seeds of the DVGBC were sown in Carpenters’ Hall. “I’ll tell you how it started,” recalls architect Sandy Wiggins, the godfather of Philly’s green building movement and a current principal at the firm Consilience. “It began with an invitation to anyone who was interested to get together for an evening of discussion about green building.” As Wiggins remembers it, the invitation was distributed virally, and on that first night, 15 people showed up at Carpenters’ Hall, the site of the First Continental Congress. “It was a mixed bag of people: architects, a developer, someone from city government, someone from UPenn,” remembers Wiggins. “It was a really amazing evening. … Everyone who showed up was hungry to exchange ideas.” The next month, a second meeting took place. After three or four months of regular meetings, the 15 or so attendees decided to make their
relationship official. “These 15 people became the board of DVGBC,” says Wiggins, adding that about a half a year later, they’d formed a nonprofit, eventually latching on to the then-fledgling United States Green Building Council. “In the early days, that handful of people was pretty much the whole community in Philly of folks that were serious about green building,” remembers Wiggins. “We were all learning from each other, and about what we could do as an organization to affect change in Philadelphia.” The council grew by holding public events, and more people began to show up. From that original core group, the DVGBC has grown into a “very large nonprofit that’s having a regional impact, with a very large community of people,” says Wiggins. “Obviously it was a good idea.”
Lorna Rosenberg U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Jeff Hayes Jeff Hayes Architect Scott Kelly Re:Vision Architecture Rob Fleming Philadelphia University Philip Hinerman Fox Rothchild LLP Pat Imperato Linda Knapp MACREDO/ILSR George Wilson Meyer Associates Inc. Jim Lutz Liberty Property Trust Mark Huxta Mannington Mark Purcell Nason Construction David Harrower Dan Penchin Dick Corporation Michelle Knapik Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
Currently, there are 40000 projects, in 50 states and
120 countries, participating in the LEED system, cites USGBC.
join dvgbc Over the past 10 years, membership for the Delaware Valley Green Building Council has grown from 15 to more than a thousand at its peak, counting itself as one of the largest and most established chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
The nonprofit supports the Lehigh Valley, Bucks and Montgomery Counties, the Metro Philadelphia area, as well as the state of Delaware, and has members of all different skill levels—ranging from students to veteran professionals. Joining DVGBC is an easy way for community members to meet and form partnerships, promote projects, and access
4 | GREENPRINT | DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2011
educational resources. Individuals are encouraged to join, even if their companies are already USGBC members. Other membership benefits include a searchable profile on the DVGBC website, discounts and invitations to events, and the chance to develop green building programming through committee membership and advocacy work. To join, visit dvgbc.org/get_involved/membership
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DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2011 | GREENPRINT | 5
able to have deeper renewable energy penetration in the last couple of years than nearly any other state in the country. These are efforts that are important locally, but also show that we can make community progress in a short amount of time nationally, if we have the right set of policies and the right commitment of leaders. What project or success in Delaware are you particularly proud of or excited about? I was extremely proud of the leadership the Governor provided… to bring the statewide recycling program to Delaware. It’s a program that requires the hauler to actually provide recycling services at the curb for every single household in the state. And it’s one of the first programs of its kind. […] We’ve also done a lot of work on green building and efficiency work for existing buildings. There was a federal program that was debated a few years ago that was never passed called Home Star. The goal was to do massive retrofits of exdvgbc isting homes. We actually decided not leadership to wait for the feds and implement the Collin O’Mara program. We’ve had more than 4,000 winner homes have very deep retrofits already. That may not seem like a big number, but that’s more than almost 2 percent of the total houses in Delaware. We had another million CFLs that have gone out, and we’ve had tens of thousands of appliances. So, we’ve really been trying to make smart investments. And we’ve launched an innovative program DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara is putting Delaware from the Green Building Council for the construcon the right path interview by liz pacheco tion of new homes where we actually provide a rebate, a grant at closing, so a lot of folks can borrow less to [pay for green improvements]. Even Collin O’Mara’s first two years as the secretary of energy and the environment have though there are lots of operating cost benefits, a given the state of Delaware some serious sustainability bragging rights. Thanks to lot of folks can’t afford to take out an extra couple thousand dollars. its youngest appointed cabinet member (he was appointed in 2009 when he was 29
years old), the state now supports green building and energy efficiency programs, the first statewide curbside recycling pick-up service and legislation promoting green jobs. And that’s just the beginning. O’Mara, who is also a LEED-accredited professional, came to Delaware from San Jose, Calif., where he lead the city’s Green Vision project and a citywide green economic development initiative. GRID spoke with O’Mara about his decision to come to Delaware, the benefits of being a small state and how being young has become an asset. GRID: Why did you decide to come to Delaware? Collin O’Mara: In transforming our economy and addressing the climate crisis, it’s really about working on a national solution. … In Delaware, I was fortunate to meet Gov. Jack Markell, who is a very innovative thinker; [he] understands the economics of the environment in a way I think very few politicians do. So, when he offered me the opportunity to come and try to put in place
many of the policies I feel are going to be necessary to rebuild our economy as well as address the underlying environmental challenges, it was a really great opportunity. How does Delaware’s size impact your work? Being a small state where you can get things done very quickly, we’ve been able to attract some of the leading clean tech companies in the world to manufacture in Delaware. We’ve been
6 | GREENPRINT | DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2011
A good amount of press attention has been put on you being so young. How has your age impacted your work? In many ways, the climate crisis is going to be one of the most significant challenges, if not the most significant challenge facing my generation. So, I think I’ve been able to bring a slightly longer-term perspective to some of these issues…. I actually think that my age is an asset in many ways because I’m not necessarily locked into some of the older battles and the traditional dichotomy of usthem: business versus environment.
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DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2011 | GREENPRINT | 7
Go With the Flow The Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters plan gushes with possibilities by liz pacheco
Philadelphia Water Department ↙ Tomorrow the Green Grass This simulation shows a vision of how green stormwater infrastructure could be applied citywide.
When Philadelphia received a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1997 to improve its combined sewer system, the initial solution wasn’t so great. The plan called for replacing old pipes, building more tunnels—using manmade constructions to better handle stormwater. Streets would be dug up, improvements would be made mostly underground and waterway restoration would take a long time. And renovations were expensive. Residents couldn’t see, nor really appreciate the improvements, says Joanne Dahme, PWD’s manager of public affairs. And “they might not have gotten the total investment they deserve.” A better plan was needed. For old American cities like Philadelphia, the combined sewer system is a common problem. In combined systems, stormwater and sewage flow together in a single pipe; during heavy rains or snowmelts, the system can be overwhelmed, resulting in flooding and waterway pollution. Faced with an aging sewer system and an EPA mandate, the PWD went for a new approach: Go green. “Lead with the green,” is the phrase Dahme
uses when discussing Green City, Clean Waters. She calls the just-approved, 25-year, $2 billion plan “revolutionary,” explaining that Philadelphia is “probably the first city in the country to really take this green approach as [a] primary approach.” Cities across the country are using tools like rain gardens and porous pavement to keep water out of the sewer system, but not to the extent Philadelphia plans. The Green City, Clean Waters plan, announced in 2007 and officially approved by the state this summer, pledges to install as many green features as possible. Over the next 25 years, tools like porous pavement, rain gardens, rain barrels, sidewalk planters and stormwater tree trenches
8 | GREENPRINT | DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2011
will help capture and manage Philadelphia stormwater. The plan is about “adding layers of Mother Nature that once existed [but] that we long [ago] erased,” says Dahme. Updated wastewater treatment facilities and pipe renewal are also part of the plan, but the hope is that the green features will keep water out of the sewer system altogether. Other benefits of Green City, Clean Waters: Waterways will be more quickly restored, and residents will more readily see and enjoy the improvements. Even before the state approved the plan this summer, the PWD had been working with private companies, local organizations and communities to implement these green stormwater solutions. The first porous street was built last May in Queen Village on South Percy Street, and rain gardens and stormwater planters have been popping up all over the city. To keep track, the PWD has created a Big Green Map Tool, which conveniently shows all green water projects in the city. “We believe [Green City, Clean Waters] is the best public investment,” says Dahme. “For every dollar invested is a dollar gained in community investment to make a better city to live, work and play.”
image created by wrt for the philadelphia water department
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DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2010 | GREENPRINT | 9
The Reusers In the waste recycling business, Revolution Recovery is lapping the field by liz pacheco
At Revolution Recovery, founders and co-owners Avi Golen and Jon Wybar are reinventing the construction waste recycling industry. “They’re light years ahead of other companies in terms of the way they’re thinking about reuse and recycling,” says Sandy Wiggins, a veteran in the green real estate development and construction industries. “[They’re] also extremely effective at it.” dvgbc The high school friends have been leadership in business together since the early 2000s, when Golen pitched the idea winner in response to watching the building boom send an overload of materials to landfills. “There was no real care Revolution for what was left at the site or what Recovery was ordered,” says Golen. “As long as there was enough material at the site to keep the people moving, it didn’t matter what was trash.” Lutron has been making cutting-edge, energy-saving light Revolution Recovery is seen as an innovator—a pioneer in the construction waste recycling business. They switches for 50 years by ariela rose received the first permit to recycle drywall in Pennsylvania and their business has grown significantly from In 1959, a light bulb illuminated, perhaps gradually, in Brooklyn native Joel there. Some waste is sorted at the construction site Spira’s head. His proverbial bright idea was for a switch that would allow into separate Dumpsters, but most is delivered to their Northeast Philadelphia facility mixed together. With people to vary the intensity of their lighting, and at long last, he’d done a new, state-of-the-art sorting it. À la Thomas Edison, Spira emerged from the spare system, waste is sorted into 40 dvgbc bedroom-turned-makeshift lab in his home with a solidleadership different material types; about 80 percent is recovered. state rotary dimmer. In 1961, inspired by his innovation, winner Along with finding local he founded Lutron Electronics, a lighting company with markets for recyclables, Revoan environmentally conscious edge. lution Recovery is adding more Lutron “All of our products save energy and are the replacement for the jobs to the economy than tra100-year-old on/off switch,” says Michael Smith, vice president of enditional waste companies—a Kept 63000 ergy solutions at Lutron. “We help companies save energy when their full-time job for every 5 tons tons out of landfills taken in compared with one for lights need to be on.” Added 38 The company accomplishes this with more than 15,000 energy-saving prodabout every 300 tons, explains ucts, which combined save American customers $1 billion in utility costs each Wybar. green jobs to the year. For instance, consumers can use dimmers to raise and lower light intensity, “I see Revolution Recovery on local economy while devices with occupancy and daylight sensors either dim or switch off unabout 50 percent of the LEED Completed projects in the Delaware Valnecessary lighting. The concept is simple, but ingenious: Lutron’s products help customers use only the light they need, and only when they need it. ley,” says Scott Kelly, co-founder waste management Just as the products demonstrate intrinsic environmental awareness, so too of Re:Vision, a Philadelphia- and for 250 LEED do Lutron’s business operations, which include three LEED-certified offices, Berkeley, Calif.-based architecprojects ardent recycling and conservation practices, and an unexpected Asian pear farm ture, planning and consulting firm committed to sustainable operation. (Enchanted by the fruit on a 1973 business trip, Spira later founded building and design. “If it’s a Subarashii Kudamono orchard in nearby Coopersburg.) LEED project, there’s a good chance Revolution Recov“As a company, Lutron was founded on a belief in taking care of the customers, employees ery is dealing with the waste.” and the community,” explains Smith. “This commitment extends to Lutron’s belief in acting as a steward of the local environment.” For more information, visit revolutionrecovery.com For more information on Lutron’s products and business practices, visit lutron.com
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10 | GREENPRINT | DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2011
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DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2010 | GREENPRINT | 11
A Cut Above
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia gets serious about going green with EcoCHOP by ariela rose The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is no stranger to innovation. Consider it’s new EcoCHOP initiative, which aims to implement responsible practices—from recycling, building and purchasing, to more healthcare-specific areas—that ultimately care for the health of the environment. “The healthcare industry is among the most wasteful on earth,” explains Tyler Weaver, who heads the EcoCHOP program. “It’s our duty to change how waste is perceived, from being a costly burden to an opportunity and a commodity. The majority of waste generated is able to be reused or recycled in some way, so we’d rather work towards that and take responsibility for our environment, being that we’re a healthcare facility.” One way that EcoCHOP hopes to reduce healthcare waste is through educating employees on the proper disposal of “red-bag”—or biohazard—waste. This is done via “red-bag audits,” hands-on training during which red-bag waste is sorted in front of employees to show which of its contents are trash, and which could actually have been recycled. According to Weaver, techniques like this have led to a 70 percent reduction in regulated medical waste, and a hospital-wide recycling rate of 49 percent. “I want recycling to be an enjoyable part of everyone’s life and something that transfers to future generations,” says Weaver, an ardent anti-waste advocate (and author of the GRID column “Tyler Talks Trash”). “It’s the best feeling when employees tell you about a new recycling initiative they’re trying at home with their kids, or how they would have trashed something but then found another use for it.” Along with statistical successes, EcoCHOP has also led to the construction of the Colket Translational Research Building (CTRB), a LEED-certified laboratory that is an impressive display of the hospital’s commitment to environmental stewardship. The building was designed by local architecture firm Ballinger, which worked to seamlessly integrate the building’s green elements. “Designing the most energy-efficient building feasible dvgbc leadership was the single most significant green CHOP building goal for the CTRB,” explains winner Zoe Sanderson, marketing director at Ballinger. “Research buildings and hospitals, by their nature, require substantial energy resources to operate.” To maximize energy efficiency, Ballinger incorporated design strategies such as separate air-handling systems for the office areas and research lab, an important element given that medical research labs cannot re-circulate air and must utilize a system that constantly refreshes air brought into the research area. Other elements include daylight sensors, and a system for maintaining a constant interior temperature created through the use of low-emissivity materials. Each of these pieces are representative of CHOP’s commitment to reducing its impact on the environment that its patients interact with outside the hospital’s walls. “CHOP employees can feel good about the fact that they work at an institution that is actually trying, and succeeding, to make a difference,” says Weaver. “My goal is to have our employees and patients take the behaviors they learn here and apply them to their lives at home.”
12 | GREENPRINT | DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2011
events 09 Annual Green Building Celebration 22 The Annual Green Building Celebration, held at the Waterworks Restaurant in Philadelphia, draws more than 400 green building entrepreneurs, policy leaders and practitioners from across the green building spectrum. The event spotlights regional companies and organizations instrumental in implementing sustainable practices in the Delaware Valley, our 2011 leadership award presentation, and our 10th anniversary! →→ Thu., Sept. 22, 6:30–9 p.m., the Water Works Restaurant & Lounge, 640 Water Works Drive. For more information and to register, visit dvgbc.org/green-building-celebration
10 1010 LEED Building Design + Construction 13 2027 Exam Study Group 11 11 If you’ve already qualified to sit for the LEED 03 10 Green Building + Construction Exam, join this five-week, expert-facilitated study group as your final step in preparing for the LEED BD+C Exam! →→ Thu, Oct. 13, 20, 27 and November 3, 10, 5:30–7:30 p.m., Municipal Services Building, 1401 JFK Blvd. Register at dvgbc.org/education/leed-bdc-study-group-1
10 Green Your School Workshop 21 This FREE workshop will provide schools with the resources they need to launch student-run initiatives centered on conducting environmental audits that can form the basis for effective energy conservation. →→ Fri., Oct. 21, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., PECO Energy Headquarters Energy Hall, 23rd and Market streets, free light breakfast and lunch will be served. Register at dvgbc.org/education/ green-your-school
10 Making Green Housing Affordable 26 Industry leaders will provide insight into how community groups and non-profits view green building projects and how these groups encourage such development. Learn how the affordable housing developer makes the jump from normal good construction practices to green. →→ Wed., Oct. 26, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., the Down Town Club,
Sixth and Chestnut streets. Register at dvgbc.org/ education/green-affordable-housing
11 12 First Tuesday Continuing Education 01 06 Webinar Series DVGBC is offering affordable USGBC Continuing Education Webinars with expert panelists. Each session will feature backto-back webinars, worth 1.5 GBCI credits each. →→ Tue., Nov. 1 and Tue., Dec. 6, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, 121 N. Seventh St. For registration and topics, visit dvgbc.org/education/webinars
11 Best of CleanMed 2011 03 Best of CleanMed 2011 brings educational sessions from the CleanMed 2011 Conference, the premier global conference on environmentally sustainable healthcare. York Chan of Advocate Health Care will discuss the lessons learned from Partner Health Care’s Strategic Energy Master Plan process to reduce energy consumption 25 percent by 2015. →→ Thu., Nov. 3, 6-7:30 p.m., Annenberg Conference Center, Lakenau Hospital, 100 Lancaster Ave., Wynnewood, Pa. Register at dvgbc.org/education/best-cleanmed-2011
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DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2010 | GREENPRINT | 13
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14 | GREENPRINT | DELAWARE VALLEY GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL 2011
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SALVAGE • RESTORATION • STORAGE “We re-use trash to build swanky interiors.” WWW.JOHNDORETY.COM • 484-437-6427
RECYCLE YOUR CONSTRUCTION WASTE (215) 333-6505 7333 MILNOR STREET PHILADELPHIA, PA www.REVOLUTIONRECOVERY.com october 20 11
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waste Revolution Recovery is blazing a bold new trail through the construction waste disposal business story by
photos by gene smirnov
evolution recovery’s three-and-a-half-acre lot on Milnor Street in Northeast Philadelphia is a shrine to waste. The space hosts a huge pile of used wood and another of drywall. There are stacks of ceiling tiles and bundles of miscellaneous plastic and cardboard. The back of a truck is filled with rolledup carpets and a group of boxes hold discarded metal poles. A truck pulls up and adds a load of mixed materials—wood, plastic, concrete and metal—to the mess. It’s like being inside a gigantic, well-organized construction site Dumpster.
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Reco Men Avi Golen (left) and Jon Wybar at their Northeast Philadelphia facility. october 20 11
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hen people think about waste in general, or they think about recycling, most people think about the bottles and cans and plastic,” says Avi Golen, founder and co-owner of Revolution Recovery. “But really, what’s actually taking up space in our landfills is material produced from manufacturing and construction and demolition.” In 2003, the U.S. generated more than 160 million tons of construction and demolition waste, reports the Environmental Protection Agency. And of that 160 million tons, only 40 percent was reused, recycled or burned as energy; 60 percent was sent to landfills. But, Golen and co-owner Jon Wybar don’t see the construction and demolition material at their facility as waste. “You classify waste as commingled material, mixed material,” says Golen. “So, anytime you
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mix wood, drywall and cardboard into a Dumpster, people look at it and see waste, where we see commodities just mixed together.” Their company, Revolution Recovery, is a pioneer in the waste industry. Incorporated in 2004, when green building was just becoming popular, Golen and Wybar’s Revolution Recovery has reinvented the construction waste recycling business. They’ve developed unique ways to handle the materials that typically go straight to landfills. And they’ve set a precedent in the industry, proving that a recycling business fueled by manpower and innovation can not only be economically feasible, but , most importantly, environmentally friendly.
Hands Dirtied The mission of Revolution Recovery is simple: Keep materials out of landfills. Period. But the seemingly no-brainer mantra is not so easily accepted by others in the construction industry. In the early 2000s, at the height of the home building boom, Golen was cleaning up home construction sites. Buildings were going up so quickly that there was no real concern about waste, he explains. “As long as there was enough material at the site to keep people moving, it didn’t matter what was trash.” Golen’s family is in the waste hauling business in Philadelphia, but it wasn’t something Golen was interested in pursuing. After attending college in Colorado, he stayed as a backcountry guide and worked with the nonprofit Telluride Academy, leading kids on backpacking, mountain biking and fly fishing trips. After moving back to Philadelphia and spending time constantly hauling clean, perfectly reusable material to the dump, Golen began to rethink a career in waste. After doing some research, Golen found drywall recycling was already happening and, according to Wybar, that’s when “he
You classify waste as commingled material, mixed material. So anytime you mix wood, drywall and cardboard into a Dumpster, people look at it and see waste, where we see commodities just mixed together.” —Avi Golen
dragged me into it.” The high school friends went for a bike ride and Golen pitched his idea for a construction waste recycling company. Hooked by the idea, Wybar left his job cleaning up The World Trade Center site and joined Golen back in Philadelphia. At the time, LEED-certified projects were just starting to hit the construction market. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the green building certification system, had been in development since 1994, but the first standards weren’t released until 2000. When Golen and Wybar started Revolution Recovery, the LEED-certified building business was just emerging. “It was like the Wild West,” says Golen, “No one really knew what they were doing—just figuring it out as you go.” There was
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a need for construction waste recycling, but no real business model to follow. The first phone call Golen made in the industry was to Sandy Wiggins, a founder of the thennewly formed Delaware Valley Green Building Council. “When [Golen] came to see me, I was really excited about it,” says Wiggins. “There was really no one in the city thinking about construction waste management.” Thanks to Wiggins, who was the executive vice president of a construction management company, Golen and Wybar got a job hauling and inventorying waste for a LEED building project. This glorified Dumpsterdiving might seemunappealing, but the job provided what Golen describes as “market research.” “Literally, we started hand-sorting through Dumpsters,” says Golen, “learning what was coming in these Dumpsters and what the makeup of them was.” Next, Golen and Wybar brought separation bins to construction sites, asking for materials to be divided when disposed. “That was like pushing a really heavy rock uphill,” says Golen. “You’re changing a process that people are so used to… and now you need three Dumpsters on site and it’s not even practical.” With space on urban construction sites limited, having one Dumpster can be challenging, adding two or three more seemed impossible. That’s when Golen and Wybar decided they needed to get into the separation business.
Commodity Brokers Revolution Recovery’s first site was a small yard where materials were hand-sorted. On Milnor, materials are still hand-sorted, but are paraded through the upper floor of the warehouse on a massive conveyor belt. Waste is source-separated (essentially divided by type of material) and dropped into individualized areas that resemble one-car garages. During the summer, their high season, Revolution Recovery takes in an average 150-200 tons a day. Compared with larger waste businesses, this number is tiny. Transfer stations nearby will take in three times that amount, with everything going to the landfill. At a traditional waste transfer station, for every pound that comes in, one goes out. “They just have two guys and they’re both in huge machines,” says Wybar. “The truck dumps, they just push it. Everything goes to the landfill.” In these operations, most money is spent getting waste to 26
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In RAIR Form Revolution Recovery’s artist-in-residence program demonstrates just how valuable recovered material can be For Philadelphia artists looking to stay sustainable, finding salvaged materials has gotten easier. Recycled Artist-in-Residency (RAIR), a program started in fall 2009, has studio space in a corner of Revolution Recovery’s warehouse, giving artists first dibs on the most recently ditched materials, gratis, and encouraging projects that promote awareness of the waste stream. “It’s a very unique situation,” says Fern Gookin, director of sustainability and special projects at Revolution Recovery. “Not just any waste company will open their doors and let artists in.” RAIR unofficially began years earlier when Revolution Recovery was informally welcoming artists into its facility. “I came into the picture at a time when I was looking for a thesis topic,” says Gookin, who was The Dufala completing a Master’s Brothers’s in sustainable design at Dumpster Coffin, Philadelphia University at made entirely from recycled materials the time. “I knew a lot of artists had been coming from Revolution up [to Revolution RecovRecovery (not ery] and were able to get including the materials, but I wanted actual Dumpster). to make sure that as the
the landfill; labor costs are low. For Revolution Recovery, the equation is reversed. “We’re pulling every little piece of this and that,” says Wybar. “We have 40 different products going out, so we’re spending tons on labor and machinery.” And much less is going to the landfill. For every 5 tons received, Revolution Recovery has a full-time job. According to Wybar, at a regular waste transfer station, the ratio is about 300 tons per full-time job. Staying cost-competitive is important, so every bit of waste counts. In a landfill, a pound is a pound, no matter if it’s gold or cardboard. For Revolution Recovery, everything is a commodity that can be reused and recycled. Wood is their most popular material. Pieces are first pulled out for nonprofits and art groups, like RAIR, an artist-in-residency program working at Revolution Recovery (see above). The rest is made into mulch onsite. Wood that can’t be mulched becomes a fuel chip product. Rubble, which includes brick, concrete, asphalt
business was growing there would be time for [the artists].” Gookin began working with Billy Blaise Dufala, a Philadelphia artist who was regularly visiting the recycling facility. With the added help of Revolution Recovery’s co-owner and founder Avi Golen, RAIR went from theoretical thesis to formal program. A few artists are currently piloting the program and many more are interested in participating. “Both artists and people in the sustainability community were really excited about [RAIR],” says Gookin, including educators who saw the program as a way to raise awareness about sustainability through art. In March 2010, RAIR received a $40,000 grant from the City of Philadelphia’s Creative Industry Workforce to build a formal studio space at Revolution Recovery. Last January, they received another small grant for tools from Philly Stake. This summer, Dufala and his brother Steven showcased their Dumpster coffin at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts’ “Urbanism” show. The coffin was made entirely at, and of materials from, Revolution Recovery. RAIR is also hosting its own exhibit at the University of the Arts from July 15 to Sept. 11. Called “The Waste Dream,” the informative exhibit is “about materials and the potential that exists within these materials,” says Gookin, and is meant to get all people—not just artists—thinking about creative uses for these resources. —Liz Pacheco For more information about RAIR and “The Waste Dream,” visit rairphilly.org.
and the like, is also crushed onsite. The resulting product is used for road base, drainage fill projects and paving. Most other waste Revolution Recovery takes in is only minimally processed or packaged, then sent elsewhere to be fully recycled. For example, drywall is consolidated, then shipped to a processor and ground into a soil, fertilizer and conditioner product. Ceiling tiles are returned to the manufacturer and made into new tiles. A similar process happens with carpets. Some materials, like insulation, can’t be recycled and are sent to a waste energy facility or a landfill. While much of the market for separated products has been around for some time—like the scrap metal and paper and cardboard recycling businesses—Revolution Recovery is pushing manufacturers to take waste recycling a step further. Revolution Recovery is working with Mannington, a flooring company, to take some recycled drywall and incorporate it into flooring products. And Armstrong World Industries is
We’re pulling out every little piece of this and that. We have 40 different products going out, so we’re spending tons on labor and machinery.” —Jon Wybar taking back their ceiling tile. “We’re constantly doing more and more research on what we can do to upgrade the value of this waste,” says Golen. “Whether it’s sorting it one step further… or if we had the room, we could take our plastics and instead of sending it to a plastic recycler… grind it and clean it here.”
Ahead of the Field
Scott Kelly, co-founder of Re:Vision, a Philadelphia- and Berkley, Calif.-based sustainable architecture, planning and consulting firm, has worked with Revolution Recovery on various
projects. “I’ve been able to go to them with materials others have struggled with,” says Kelly. “I’ve seen them develop special techniques[for recycling and reusing materials].” Kelly recognizes Revolution Recovery as forerunners in the industry and explains their business model as simply an invention of new ways for doing everything in the construction waste business. “They looked in a Dumpster and said, ‘How can I find a use for this?’ not ‘How can I get rid of this?’” “I would say that they’re pioneers in construction waste management,” says Wiggins, “not just regionally, but across the country.”
And, as Wiggins explains, the market for green building is only growing. Recycling construction waste is becoming mainstream and more waste companies are adapting their ways. “Five years ago it was tricky, we were still developing outlets. Now it’s kind of even or we [have traditional waste companies] on the run a little,” says Wybar. “I think in five or 10 years, if you’re not recycling, you won’t be in business because you won’t be able to compete.” For more information on Revolution Recovery and the materials they recycle visit revolutionrecovery.com. october 20 11
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by bernard brown • photos by jen britton and christian hunold
Honk if You Like Geese M
y wife, Jen, adores Canada geese. She especially loves the fluffy goslings that graze alongside their parents throughout grassy Philadelphia, but she waves to the adults, too. Jen might be the only Philadelphian I’ve met who likes the geese, and, like anyone whose spouse holds a dangerously contrarian position, I am bound to publicly agree with her. I will own up to cursing the geese when I step in their poop, and in this I am aligned with the rest of Philadelphia. This is not just an aesthetic problem. Tom Whitmer, Director of Natural Resources for Parks and Recreation, points out the disease potential of large quantities of goose feces. We’re talking a lot of poop, more than a pound per goose per day. Where they congregate along West River Drive and Kelly Drive, right near Water Department intake pipes, it totaled something like 14 tons per year before the city took action. “In some of these areas you have nice mown
Take a gander into the world of Philadelphia’s most ubiquitous waterfowl
lawns right up to the edge, and they just love that,” Whitmer notes. The city controls these resident geese largely through landscaping and public education campaigns. Geese are wary of high grass that could hide foxes or other predators, so letting the grass grow tall along the water can create a goose barrier. It doesn’t help when people feed the already plump and abundant waterfowl, hence the signs along MLK Drive telling us not to. As if tons of green, sloppy crap isn’t enough, dense goose populations tear up the landscape as well. A few weeks ago, I checked out the reno-
renovation, Parks and Recreation had planted the shallows with plugs of native marsh plants. These plugs are apparently irresistible to geese. They don’t eat them, but they love to yank them out and throw them aside. So, if you’re going to establish a natural wetland in Philadelphia, you need to keep out the geese. Canada geese test the boundaries of “natural.” They are certainly native, but they have become bound to civilization, particularly to our mowed grassy expanses (a.k.a. lawns, parks, golf courses) and well-clipped shorelines. This is our doing. Live decoys were the ancestors of our goose hordes, notes naturalist and environmental educator Tony Croasdale. These were wounded or featherclipped geese that were used by hunters to trick free-flying geese into thinking that it was safe to land. This hunting practice has long been illegal, but the released decoys and their fluffy babies stayed put. “There are still migratory geese that leave our region in the summer and go up to Canada,” Croasdale notes. “The resident population is a purely human creation.” So, next time you step in the green poop, don’t blame the goose.
We’re talking a lot of poop—more than a pound per goose per day.
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vated Concourse Lake in Fairmont Park West. This used to be a decrepit pond surrounded by crumbling paths and retaining walls, lined with stinking muck, and home to hundreds of bullfrogs that stake out tiny territories of mud or lily pad and leap into the water with abrupt squeaks as you get too close. Herds of geese graze around Concourse Lake and challenge your right of way. On this trip, I rounded the pond on a newly paved path and was perplexed to see a complex network of tall fencing in the shallows on the west side of the pond. Witmer explains: As part of the
BERNARD BROWN is an amateur field herper, part-time bureaucrat and director of the PB&J Campaign (pbjcampaign.org), a movement focused on the benefits of eating lower on the food chain. Read about his forays into the natural world at phillyherping.blogspot.com.
The Greenhouse Projects
Five Takes on an Exhibition
Five contemporary takes on the APs Museum’s exhibition of elephants and roses: encounters with French natural history, 1790–1830 ArChITeCTure
Greenhouse and Cabinet of Future Fossils September 9 – December 3
GPS Expedition Launching September 9
French Farce 8 Performances/F/Sa/Sun/ September 2 – 16
Bon Appétit Launching September 9
Experience a sustainable greenhouse for the 21st century, installed in the American Philosophical Society’s (APS) garden. Architect Jenny Sabin is recognized for her awardwinning work at the forefront of a new direction in architectural practice that applies insights and theories from nature and science to the design of material structures.
Follow historian Erin Five Takes on an Exhibition McLeary’s family-friendly See Aaron Cromie, Mary geocaching hunt for the Tuomanen, and Genevieve Ghost Gardens & Lost Perrier’s richly imaginative, Landscapes of historic witty and utterly distinctive Philadelphia. new play, A Paper Garden, featuring Empress Josephine, explorer Andre Michaux, and MusIC their mutual love of botany. Experimental Sounds September 9 – December 3 Inside the greenhouse, listen for the compelling sounds of Kyle Bartlett’s musical composition Chaotic Menagerie.
Learn about the rise of French cuisine (with recipes) in five podcasts produced by Lari Robling.
For more information on all of the Greenhouse Projects
104 S. Fifth Street Philadelphia, PA 19106
Education isn’t about storing facts. It’s about thinking for yourself.
It’s not what to think. It’s how to think.
Saturday, October 1 @ 10 am at 7500 Germantown Ave | Mount Airy
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That’s a Wrap O
ctober’s waning days and crisp evenings provide welcome relief from the summer’s brutal heat, but it’s a bittersweet reward: The summer’s bounty is already nothing more than a bright delicious memory, and your garden is largely in hibernation. If your recall is anything like mine, though, it’s a great time to document your gardening triumphs and your brown thumb travails before March hits and you think, “Now, what was it that I was going to do to keep my tomatoes alive? Dance naked in the moonlight while chanting the lyrics to ‘Eye of the Tiger’? Or was it something about marigolds?” So, pull out that frilly journal from Aunt Sally and take a few notes. Your neighbors will appreciate it. And now, a few lessons learned on a little blue South Philly deck: Let’s begin with an ode to marigolds. They smell funny and they’re kind of ugly. But the former is caused by terpene, an organic compound found in turpentine, and it’s magic! Those garish, tough yellow flowers? They really do lure whiteflies away from innocent tomatoes and attract small swarms of pollinating bees to your cucumbers. I’m totally a convert. Plus, they’re super cheap, and can often be found on clearance racks for pennies apiece. The stinkier they are, the better they work—so look for African marigolds, as they’re the most pungent. You’ll want to deadhead (aka pluck fading blooms) regularly to
by char vandermeer
Lessons learned from a bountiful summer on the Little Blue Deck
encourage summer-long flowering. I just chucked the deadheads into various cucurbit pots, hoping the residual scent would continue working its aphid-be-gone magic. Mulching seems like a no-brainer, but it’s tempting to get those plants in the ground and call it a day. Don’t. Good mulch not only helps keep your crops cool and moist during the hottest days, but it also minimizes fungus and mildew caused by splashback from frequent watering and heavy rainfall. This year I put down a liberal coating of cedar mulch, which may also have natural bug-repelling capabilities (again, the more potent-smelling, the better), and everything appeared happier for it. Of course, I’m not sure we got any appreciable rain throughout June or July, which may also have had a hand in keeping mildew and fungal growth to a minimum. In addition to cedar bark, though, the mulch surrounding the precious melons and cucumbers was laced with gently used aluminum foil, which is purported to repel aphids and other creepy crawlies by reflecting light and critter-frying heat. As you may have gathered, aphids were the scourge of the deck last summer, and thanks to last year’s note-taking, this year’s precautionary measures kept things relatively aphid-free. In addition to the marigolds, a ruthless killing
hand was employed: As soon as the green nasties reared their crop-eating heads on tender, aphidfavorite lettuce leaves, the lettuce was plucked, rinsed and eaten. The container the lettuce was growing in had a date with hot soapy water, and was retired for the duration of the cucumber and melon season. Priorities, people. And finally, a word about dirt. If you’re going the all-organic route, try to contact the company you plan on purchasing your soil from. Make sure the pH and nutrient levels are right for growing vegetables. This year, I bought about 100 pounds of locally produced organic potting soil, only to have everything planted in that soil wither and die. The pH was too high to support optimal vegetable growth and, strangely, the salt levels were too high to support much of anything. Other plants, plopped in not-so-holy, comparatively inexpensive, mass-produced soil, churned out pounds and pounds of lovely, tasty veggies. CHAR VANDERMEER tends a container garden on her South Philly roof deck; she chronicles her triumphs and travails at plantsondeck.com
Let us know what worked (and didn’t work) in your garden at gridphilly.com
�e ﬁnest sustainably raised fruits and specialty vegetables available at Headhouse Farmers Market (Sundays 10-2) and at like-minded stores and restaurants throughout the city. FROM OUR FARM TO YOUR HOME
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a precious perch A bird pauses in peace and possibility. Mark a meaningful moment with this inlaid pendant. Artisans of the group Manushi.
Circular Bird Pendant Nepal, $44
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Tyler Talks Trash
by tyler weaver
Wipe Out There’s nothing tidy about all the napkins and paper towels we dispose of
o you ever wonder about napkins? I’m Tyler the Trash Guy, so I think about them constantly. Napkins are almost universally perceived as cost-free items that can be liberally obtained in any quantity, without question. Why do you need napkins? Do you spill food at every sitting? (Do people think I’m dirty for denying them any chance I get?) In my waste-free utopia, napkins wouldn’t be provided unless asked for, with businesses in full control of how many are dispensed. Consider this: How many times have you either taken or received napkins with a meal, only to throw most or all of them, unused, in the trash when you’re finished eating? Over the last few weeks, I’ve been observing people when they get up to leave a restaurant. I notice that unused napkins almost always get trashed. Though individually small, napkins contribute in a big way to our wasteful habits. In fact, paper makes up a whopping 40 percent of our landfills. It is the most prevalent material disposed, exceeding plastic bottles, diapers, food waste and appliances combined. Think about it this way: For as long as you’ve been on the planet, the process for making paper hasn’t really changed, while advances in technology and production processes have stripped glass and plastics (bags and bottles alike) of nearly half their weight and thickness. Because products like napkins, paper towels and phonebooks are made almost exclusively of recycled (low-grade) material, they’re not candidates for further recycling, but they’re definitely compostable, and there’s no need for them to end up in the landfill.
What can you do?
The next time you’re in a restaurant or at a lunch truck, I’d like you to ask yourself this: Do I really need all those napkins? See what happens when you pocket those extra napkins and tell the server to hold off on any more. Remember cloth nap32
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kins? Some bars and restaurants still use them; that’s a good practice to support. If you’re at an establishment using paper napkins, politely ask if they’ve considered the cloth alternative. This might be a stretch, but whatever happened to handkerchiefs? Here’s a trend— essentially a portable, reusable napkin—that once hung proudly out of people’s back pockets. This one might sound extreme, but I’m going to throw it out there anyway: Have you tried drying your hands by placing them surreptitiously into your pockets after washing them? It works. (So does just simply letting them air dry.) The impact of paper products may seem trivial, but they contribute much more to the waste system than most of us realize. You have the power to change that. So, go for it. Challenge yourself to use fewer napkins and paper towels. It doesn’t make you dirtier (though briefly moister); it makes you a more mindful and in-tune global citizen. TYLER WEAVER is a garbage and compost expert who’s been obsessed with waste since he climbed into his first Dumpster two decades ago. Read more of his musings at tylertalkstrash.com and crazyaboutcompost.com.
Individuals Invest in cloth handkerchiefs and napkins. For the paper products you can’t replace, choose those made from 100 percent recycled material—the more people buy, the more material will be recycled. Greenline (greenlinepaper.com) and Marcal (marcalsmallsteps.com) are leaders.
Businesses Look into linen services to provide your napkins and towels. Wash Cycle Laundry (washcyclelaundry. com) is a Center City company offering these services, all delivered via bicycle.
MAN OF THE CLOTH: Tyler freshens up at Su Xing House at 1508 Sansom St.
ph oto by luc as ha rdis on
Saturday october 8th
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launches its fourth installment, inviting participants to preserve summer’s bounty. Learn basic fermentation by creating your own kimchi and yogurt; discover how to can foods in a hands-on workshop; visit JG Domestic and Milk & Honey Market for tours; and get a sneak peek at the new Mariposa Co-op and apple cider happenings at Bartram’s Garden.
Celebrate 14 Stormwater Management Projects in Germantown Join the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership in celebrating two new exciting stormwater management projects in Germantown: a former vacant lot turned native garden and Germantown’s first Green City, Clean Waters green street. Enjoy refreshments in the newly planted native garden at Clearview Community Park; then take a tour of Belfield Street, which is being transformed into one of the Philadelphia Water Department’s first green streets. →→ Wed., Sept. 14, 5:30–7 p.m., Clearview
Community Park, corner of Clearview Street and Washington Lane, Germantown. For more information, contact Ashley Schmid at 215-514-3952 or firstname.lastname@example.org
→ Sat., Sept. 17, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.,
PARK(ing) Day Philly number of parks in Philly 16 The will increase by hundreds of square feet on Sept. 16: PARK(ing) Day is back to transform metered parking spaces into temporary public parks. Held in cities across the country, the event raises awareness of the need for more pedestrian-friendly spaces in urban areas. Dozens of organizations in pockets all over Philadelphia will participate, and the event is open to any business, organization, group or individual interested in creating a spot. Email email@example.com with your name, your organization’s name (if applicable) and your desired spot location.
Urban Sustainability Forum is a destination for sustainable 15 Philly businesses looking to relocate to a vibrant, talent-rich environment. Learn about the City’s efforts to attract green business and hear about the success stories from companies that chose Philly. Featured speakers include Jeff Bartos, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Group, Inc., The Navy Yard, Kirsty Halliday, Sustainability Advisor, e3bank, and Todd Schachtman, Chief Business Development Officer, Materials Processing Corporation.
Sarah Van Aken’s fall 2011 collection, the event features a DJ and special guest speakers, and benefits the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which supports women diagnosed with breast cancer.
→→ Sept. 15, 6 p.m., The Academy of
→→ Thu., Sept. 15, 6-8 p.m., 1700 block
Natural Sciences, 19th St. and Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., for more information, visit urbansustainabilityforum.org
Green RFPs, Restaurants Range Hoods 15 and Learn about the costs and benefits of running a green restaurant at this seminar hosted by the Philagreen Hospitality Association. Presentations include “Energy Efficient Kitchen Ventilation” and “The Costs of Going Green for a Restaurant.” →→ Thu., Sept. 15, 1:45-4:30 p.m., $25, One
Logan Square. For more information and to register, visit philagreenhospitality.com and app.icontact.com/icp/sub/survey/take.
SA VA Rediscovered Roots fashion empire SA VA 15 Sustainable/local is hosting SA VA Rediscovered Roots, its third annual fall fashion show and community street fair. Along with showcasing designer 34
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various locations. For specific event times and locations, visit universitycity.org.
Fair Food’s Adams Orchard Tour 17 County Celebrate the start of fall with Fair Food’s Adams County Orchard Tour. Visit Fair Food Farmstand fruit favorites Beechwood Orchards and Three Springs Fruit Farm, and see where some of the country’s best apples are grown. At Beechwood, you’ll learn about the connection between the Underground Railroad and Adams County agriculture from a Gettysburg Civil War expert. Afterward, Three Springs Fruit Farm will host a catered, locally sourced picnic with dancing and music by farmer Ben Wenk’s band. Transportation and local bites included.
→→ Fri., Sept. 16, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., various
locations. For more information, visit parkingdayphila.org.
of Sansom Street. For more information, visit savafashion.com.
Carnivores Anonymous Eye: Artists for Animals pres16 Public ents Carnivores Anonymous, a talkshow-themed performance for the 2011 Philly Fringe Festival. Get “vegucated” as celebrities share their vegan evolution. Featured guests include anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, comedian Myq Kaplan, musician/poet Cassendre Xavier and “chef to the stars” Kurt E. Smith. Smith’s Totally Vegetarian Catering will provide tasty treats during the show, and vegan snacks will be available for sale during intermission. →→ Fri., Sept. 16, 8 p.m., $15, The Rotunda,
4014 Walnut St. For more information, visit livearts-fringe.org or call 215-413-1318.
Sustainable Saturdays, Preserving the Harvest The West Philadelphia Local Food series
→→ Sat., Sept. 17, 8:30 a.m., $70. For more information, visit fairfoodphilly.org/ farm-tours-events/farm-tours.
Kimberton Whole Foods 25th Celebration Grand 17 Anniversary Finale Barbecue To celebrate its 25th birthday, this sustainable grocery innovator invites guests to a barbecue to rival all barbecues, featuring food options for omnivores, vegetarians and vegans, musical guests, a sampling tent, kids’ activities, local brews and, of course, a birthday cake big enough to wish for 25 more years of organic foods, local sourcing and saying no to GMOs. →→ Sat., Sept. 17, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.,
Kimberton Whole Foods, 2140 Kimberton Road, Phoenixville. For more information, visit kimbertonwholefoods.com.
Pennypack Farm First Fall and Farm Tour 18 Garden This farm tour is a brand new event from Pennypack that will connect people to the land through tours of private gardens, awardwinning backyards and edible landscapes traversing the Eastern Montgomery region. Attendees are invited to either pack their cars full of friends and family, or take a more communitycentric tour on Pennypack’s mini bus. Tickets are limited, and participants must be 13 or older.
→→ Sun., Sept. 18, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $20 before Aug.
28, $49 for the mini-bus option. Tour begins at the Temple Ambler parking lot, Butler Pike and Meeting House Road. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit pennypackfarm.org.
Feast of Forage of Forage will guide participants on 21 Feast a hunt for foraged local edibles in North Philadelphia. Horticultural consultant Nance Klehm will lead the forage, and artist Brooke Sietinsons will utilize found plants for a kaleidoscopic projection. A potluck meal will also be prepared. →→ Wed., Sept. 21, 6-8 p.m., Tyler School
of Art’s Temple Gallery, 2001 N. 13th St. Call 215-777-9139 for directions.
PHS Fall Garden Festival the Horticulture Society for this free, 24 Join family-friendly event to kick off autumn. Activities include veggie races, Navy Yard tours, horticultural presentations in the Gardener’s Studio and more. Attendees can shop in the Gardener’s Marketplace and Meadowbrook Farm store, and select edibles and blooms from the Gold Medal plant sale. →→ Sat., Sept. 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Philadelphia
Navy Yard, Marine Parade Ground, Broad Street and Constitution Avenue. For more information, visit phsonline.org or call 215988-8800.
PASA Bike Fresh, Bike Local out for PASA’s fourth annual 25 Pedal Bike Fresh Bike Local event to support the sustainable farming organization’s work in southeastern Pennsylvania. Choose your distance (25, 50 or 75 miles) for this scenic bike ride along un-trafficked country roads full of small family farms. Top the day off with a locally sourced lunch and complimentary beer. Register in advance for a discounted price and event souvenir. →→ Sun., Sept. 25, 75-mile registration 7 a.m.,
50-mile 8:30 a.m., 25-mile 10:30 a.m., Victory Brewing Co., 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown. For more information, visit pasafarming.org.
Harvest Festival Pennypack Farm 01 at Celebrate fall at a family-friendly event on a real working farm. Bring the kids for face painting, scarecrow making, pumpkin painting and more. Enjoy live music, home-baked goods, green vendors, a giant book sale and old-fashioned hayrides. →→ Sat., Oct. 1, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., free, 685 Mann
Road, Horsham. For more information, visit pennypackfarm.org.
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Philadelphia Shell Show and Festival 01 Thousands of exotic treasures of the sea 02 will be on display and for sale when the Philadelphia Shell Show washes ashore at the Academy of Natural Sciences. The largest show of its kind in the Northeast, the Shell Show features competitive displays by collectors and amateur scientists, an international market, exotic shells and shell crafts, and behind-thescenes tours of the museum’s world-renowned mollusk collection of 10 million specimens, the third largest in the world. A festival of family activities includes hands-on activities, games and crafts.
audit of Tyler School of Art’s exhibition facility, woodshop and offices. This free and introductory public tutorial will explain the methodology of an energy audit—what happens, what to look out for, and what you can do next to improve the energy efficiency of your home, office or business—so that you can start saving money.
sion of other seasons? Come and learn why the last days of nice weather don’t have to be the last days of color in your garden. Learn how winter gardens can add a whole new dimension to your landscape. Part of the Penn State Extension Philadelphia Master Gardeners’ Second Saturday Series.
→→ Wed., Oct. 5, 9 a.m., Tyler School of Art, for
→→ Sat., Oct. 8, registration at 9:30 a.m.,
more information and to book your audit, call 215-777-9139.
Frecon Farms’ Annual Pickfest 08 Fifth Join Frecon Farms for its fifth annual Pickfest. Enjoy music from local bands including Manatawny Creek Ramblers, Mason Porter, the Brad Hinton Band and more while sipping on cider and exploring the wine garden. Take part in open mic, kids crafts, picking your own fruits and more.
→→ Sat.-Sun., Oct. 1-2, free with museum
admission, Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For more information, visit ansp.org.
Introduction to Energy with the ECA 05 Audits The Energy Coordinating Agency’s Jack Strong will lead the public through an energy
→→ Sat., Oct. 8, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.,
501 S. Reading Ave., Boyertown. For more information, visit freconfarms.com.
Color and Texture the Winter Garden 08 in Do you equate the summer months with colorful and interesting gardening, to the exclu-
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Fairmount Park Horticultural Center, N. Horticultural and Montgomery drives. For more information and to register online, visit extension.psu.edu/philadelphia/programs/ master-gardener.
Design in Action 2011 Presented by the Association for Community Design, the Association of Architectural Organizations and Architecture + Design Education Network, Design in Action 2011 brings together more than 300 community designers, design educators, architectural organization leaders and volunteers for 40-plus sessions and presentations, plus a public symposium featuring Teddy Cruz. The Community Design Collaborative is co-hosting.
→→ Sun.-Tue., Oct. 9-11, Philadelphia Radisson,
220 S. 17th St. For more information and to register, visit blog.cdesignc.org/coming-tophilly-design-in-action-2011.
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Midnight Train to Maine How I got to Vacationland via bike and rail by chris switky
very august, i head up to Maine for vacation. My dad lives on Harpswell peninsula, just south of Brunswick, and my girlfriend’s family stays at an inn on the beach in Scarborough, 10 miles south of Portland. This year, I ditched the car and plane for the train and bicycle. The original plan was to send my bike via UPS to Portland; I would catch up to it there, assemble it, then bike on to dad’s. Easy, right? For the most part, yes, but here’s how things really worked: Step 1. Purchase ticket two weeks ahead (much
Step 3. Arrive at 30th Street Station at 11 p.m.,
cheaper this way) for Amtrak’s one daily Northeast Corridor train that accepts checked baggage. It’s the overnight train and leaves Philly just past midnight, arriving in Boston about eight hours later.
one hour before the train leaves. Search for 10 minutes for an Amtrak employee, who, once found, informs me that the baggage office closed at 10 p.m. and we’re too late to check the bike. Things aren’t looking good. Human kindness and flexibility prevail! The bike makes it on the train. (Note to self: Contact Amtrak complaint office.)
Step 2. Obtain bike box from a neighborhood
bike shop and attempt to mail bike via UPS to a shop in Portland. Discover bike box is 10 inches too long for UPS ground shipment. Only other option is UPS freight (tractor trailer, one week travel time, costs $500). Same deal at FedEx, and the post office won’t touch it. Return home with bike box still bungeed to the top of the Subaru. An aside: How to put your bike in a box? Remove the pedals. You’ll need a pedal wrench, and the left-hand pedal will likely have left-hand threads. Remove front wheel. Loosen the stem so that it can turn sideways, and loosen the stem’s grip on the handlebars so you can swing them back and up, making everything compact. This is usually done with Allen wrenches. Put all bike parts in the box, use strapping tape to wrap it up. Done deal.
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Step 6. Roll into dad’s driveway a half-hour be-
fore sunset, relieved I covered 40 miles in four hours. I realize I’m not 23 anymore. My legs are especially clear on this. An aside: When I came up with this train-andbike scheme a few months ago, I devised a conditioning plan. I would ride my clunky wide-tire mountain bike down and up fairly steep Kitchen’s Lane every evening, carrying two automobile brake drums (about 40 pounds of metal) in the front basket. I would “feel the burn” in my thighs, and when that got too easy, I’d sprint part of the way up the hill. I did this for 11 weeks. Note: When I asked where to leave the bike box
at South Station, the Amtrak employee asked me if I’d need it for a return trip. Good deal; the folks at South Station would have saved my box for me if I’d needed them to.
Step 4. Arrive at Boston’s South Station just af-
Important! If you decide to do this type of trip,
ter 8 a.m. Assemble bike and pack tools and gear. Search out some breakfast, bike around the waterfront and take in a bit of the city.
check Amtrak’s checked baggage restrictions. The overnight train (either direction) handles checked baggage only at certain stations: Philadelphia, New York, Providence and Boston. Also, the Downeaster crew handles bikes only at three stations: Boston, Wells and Portland. Amtrak is planning to extend the Downeaster farther north to Brunswick, Maine, by the end of 2012.
Step 5. Bike to Boston’s North Station (about
a mile north of South Station). This train, called the Downeaster, has a bicycle storage car, no box required. My U-lock comes in handy, helping to secure my bike to the bizarre bikestand-like contraption that I’m directed to use. Around 3 p.m., we pull into Portland. Bike and I are reunited, and it’s time for the long ride: 40 miles from the train station to my dad’s.
Chris Switky lives in Mount Airy, where he runs his dog, on a leash, while biking, every day. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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What matters most? Walk-In wednesdays Clean air matters. Walk-In wednesdays Environmental Studies featured the first Wednesday of each month
Students in the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Environmental Studies program wednesdays are passionate about clean air.
MES students combine academic work in global environmental politics and environmental justice with fieldwork in Philadelphia and around the world to put what they’ve learned in the classroom to work where it’s needed most. From the continuing consequences of the Chernobyl disaster to carbon emissions trading in the U.S. to the benefits of car sharing in Philadelphia, MES graduates are
The Second Annual MES Lecture Series resumes in October with more topics of interest to the environmental community. Check our website for dates and locations. 40
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part of an active community of thinkers and doers determined to find solutions to the world’s air-quality problems.
Give purpose to your passion at Penn. www.sas.upenn.edu/lps or search penn mes