32-page speci al i n sert! nov 2011 / issue 32
The Community Design Collaborative celebrates twenty years of innovative thinking
Stem to Root
How to really eat your vegetables
An unusual greenhouse appears in Old City
Manayunk architectural leaders Re: Vision educates through design
Itâ€™s your future.
Make the future happen with a BS or MS in Community and Regional Planning or certificate in Environmental Sustainability, Sustainable Community Planning, or Transportation Planning. Classes offered at Ambler, Main, Center City and Harrisburg campuses. Department of Community and Regional Planning School of Environmental Design www.temple.edu/ambler/crp 267-468-8300
Sustainable by Design
ears ago, i learned something about design from two salesmen. The first visited me just as we were moving into new office space. Boxes were everywhere, framed posters leaned against the walls, and I was trying to figure out where to put my furniture, specifically, my desk.
Alex Mulcahy 215.625.9850 ext. 102 firstname.lastname@example.org managing editor
Liz Pacheco email@example.com art director
Jamie Leary firstname.lastname@example.org designer
Melissa McFeeters email@example.com distribution
Claire Connelly 215.625.9850 ext. 100 firstname.lastname@example.org copy editor
Andrew Bonazelli production artist
Lucas Hardison writers
The visiting salesman looked out my windows and noticed the picturesque view of the mountains. “Turn your desk,” he advised, “so you’ll have a pretty view whenever you’d like.” What a great idea, I thought. I arranged my furniture accordingly, unpacked my boxes and thought the decision was final. But just a few weeks later, another salesman, this one a close friend, offered a completely different opinion. “The way you have your desk turned,” he said, “is very... unwelcoming.” Of course it was. To look out the window, I had to turn my back to the door, and, consequently, anyone who walked in to see me. So there it was—a feng shui epiphany that altered the way I think about interior space. And that’s the thing about good design. Once you see it and experience it, you wonder how it’s possible you never thought of it before. It’s a pleasure to be highlighting two of Philadelphia’s design leaders this month, one a small business, the other a nonprofit; one a decade old, the other two. Gracing our cover is Re:Vision, the 10-year old architectural firm that’s the brainchild of Scott Kelly and Jen Rezeli. I’ve been a long time admirer of Re:Vision—in fact, if not for an email that got lost in the shuffle, they would have been GRID’s first cover. Months later, I caught up with Scott for lunch at the Mugshots Coffee House near their Manayunk headquarters, and quizzed him about LEED, the U.S. Green Building Council’s certification for measuring
the environmental impact of a building. He was happy to answer my questions, and then he introduced me to the Living Building Challenge, an even stricter certification process. Clearly, complacency had not set in at Re:Vision, and they were looking for ways to set the bar even higher. It’s also an honor to help the Community Design Collaborative celebrate their 20th birthday with a special section devoted to their work. Their fingerprints are all over some of the best projects in Philadelphia. Comprised of a small staff that manages an army of volunteers, the Collaborative’s sole aim is to make the city a better place by providing design help to community-based organizations. We’ve featured a smattering of their work to give you an idea of what they’ve done, but it isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. Well, my editor’s notes are due and there’s our art director, Jamie Leary—a fine designer in his own right—walking into my office. I know he’s looking for me because, thanks to a couple of salesmen, I’m facing the right direction. Inside the futuristic greenhouse at the American Philosophical Society Museum (see p. 18)
alex j. mulcahy, Publisher email@example.com
Allison Bart Shaun Brady Bernard Brown Tenaya Darlington Nic Esposito Dana Henry Paul Glover Julie Lorch G.W. Miller III Marisa McClellan Katherine Silkaitis Char Vandermeer Samantha Wittchen photographers
Will Darwall Christian Hunold Gene Smirnov ad sales
Alex Mulcahy 215.625.9850 ext. 102 firstname.lastname@example.org bookeeper
Alicia McClung published by
Red Flag Media 1032 Arch Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.625.9850 g r i d p h i l ly . c o m
g rid ph illy.c o m november 2011 / is s ue 32
COMMU NI T Y DESIGN C O L L A B O R AT I V E
special insert celebrating 20 years of collaboration! 2 Letter from the Director 4 Is It Possible? A breakdown of the Collaborative’s process
6 Energy Lighting the future with LEDs
24 Urban Naturalist Discover the real Little Brown Birds of Philly
8 Agriculture Queens Farm: An organic, chemist-run, Asian produce operation
25 Shoots & Ladders It’s take your garden to work season
10 Media Reviews of Rambunctious Garden, Shucked and Seeds of Discent
6 Why Does Design Matter? Collaborative volunteers answer some of our questions
11 Green Living Recycling Challenge: Yard Waste
8 Senior Class Mt. Tabor is an eco-friendly home for the city’s over-55 crowd
12 Food Cooking with stems, roots and everything in between, plus: Red Leaf , our Cheese of the Month
14 Maximum Utility Habitat For Humanity homes built with conservation in mind 16 Little Green Giants Sheridan Street is changing the face of affordable housing 18 Expanding Market Mariposa Food Co-op is building bigger (and greener!) digs 20 Farmer’s Delight How Walnut Hill went from vacant lot to vibrant community farm 22 Community Effort Wissahickon Neighbors Park is getting the community-love it deserves 24 Unpaved Paradise Schuylkill River Park is going from gray to green 24 Green Edge A new vision for Cedar Park Neighbors 25 A Room with a View Dickinson Square Park neighbors are finally seeing green 26 Art Yard A beat-up backyard becomes a haven for young artists 30 Design Forward The Collaborative introduces four new projects
30 Dispatch Penn freshman gets an early peek into Philly’s green scene
A Natural Build Re:Vision is doing more than designing eco-friendly buildings, they’re teaching how to live with less of an impact by g.w. miller iii
c ov e r & c o nt en ts p h oto s by g en e smirnov
Inspired by history and science, Greenhouse Projects puts a high-tech, eco-inspired spin on greenhouse growing
Get the LEDs out Is this blossoming technology the future of lighting? by samantha wittchen
ast may, 500 exhibitors and 24,000 visitors descended upon Philadelphia for Lightfair, the annual international trade show for the $30 billion lighting industry. The hot topic? Which new energy-efficient lighting technology will keep our homes bright once 2007’s Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) takes effect in 2012. It’s a race to win the hearts and minds of consumers who are disillusioned by the shortcomings of compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which were supposed to dethrone incandescent bulbs, but instead turned some consumers off with their light quality, lack of dimmability and mercury concerns. Increasingly, light emitting diode (LED) bulbs look like they’re winning the race, even if they haven’t reached the finish line yet. They’re super energy-efficient, and they last a long time. LED bulbs use 20-25 percent of the energy of a comparable brightness incandescent bulb, and they last 25 times longer. (CFLs only last 10 times longer.) LEDs are dimmable, and the light color is controllable, eliminating the bluish-white glow many people find unpleasant with CFLs. Plus, LEDs don’t have that pesky problem of possible mercury exposure if you break one of them. Sounds great, right? It is, but LED technology is still maturing, and there currently isn’t an LED bulb on the market that can replace the 100-watt incandescents that will be banned from sale starting in 2012. (Further provisions in the EISA eliminate 75-watt bulbs in 2013; 60- and 40-watt bulbs disappear a year later.) In fact, the only soft white LED bulb that people can actually buy right now is a 60-watt equivalent from Philips that sells for $45. Switch, a plucky start-up from California, plans to start taking pre-orders for their $20 “warm white” 60-watt equivalent and 75-watt equivalent models in September, and you’ll receive your bulb in November. They plan to release a warm 100-watt-equivalent bulb sometime next year. But $20—or worse, $45—seems like a lot to spend on a light bulb. However, when you consider it over the 20-year life of the bulb, the Switch bulb will have saved you money by the fourth year when compared with incandescent bulbs. Not only that, 6
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but Haitz’s Law, developed by Roland Haitz, a Hewlett-Packard semi-conductor researcher, explains that the amount of light produced by LEDs would increase by a factor of 20 per decade, while cost would drop by a factor of 10. So far, the law has proven quite accurate, meaning that today’s $20 bulbs could be significantly cheaper in only a few years. Additionally, once traditional incandescents are off the market al-
together, consumers are going to have to switch to something, and with the growing distaste for CFLs, it’s starting to look like LEDs will eventually win the day. 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.
Because the lighting marketplace is awfully crowded these days, we’ve put together a little guide to help you buy a new lightbulb. Lumens vs. Watts
We’re conditioned to think of light bulbs in terms of watts, but that standard will be history once the new energy-efficient bulbs produce the same amount of light while drawing significantly fewer watts. Instead, look for how many lumens, a measure of light, the bulb produces. Here’s a general reference:
LED bulbs generally have the longest lifespan when compared to incandescents and CFLs. However, LED bulbs don’t burn out; they fade. An LED bulb is considered dead when it produces no more than 70% of its original lumens. light appearance The color temperature, expressed in Kelvins, measures how warm or cool the light appears. The lower the number, the more warm (yellow) the light appears; the higher the number, the cooler (bluer) it is. A soft white bulb will have a color temperature of about 3,000 K.
100-watts 1600 lumens
energy cost 75-watts 1100 lumens
Based on three hours/day of use at $0.11/ kilowatt-hour, a 60-watt incandescent costs just over $7/year to operate. Compare that with comparable brightness CFLs and LEDs at about $1.50/year.
60-watts 800 lumens
( $0.11 per kilowatt-hour )
0 40-watts 450 lumens
operation cost for one year
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Ed Yin, with daughter Sarah at Headhouse Square, enthusiastically educates his customers about his unique offerings and traditional cooking methods.
Better Living Through Farming Two DuPont chemiststurned-farmers master the art of growing organic, and authentic Asian produce by dana henry
uohong ed yin of Queens Farm in West Chester will gladly explain his scientific reasons for growing organic vegetables and fruit. The DuPont chemist and family farm owner has a Ph.D. in plant physiology, a master’s in chemistry and a longtime interest in Chinese medicine. Stop by his farm stand at Headhouse Square (2nd and South) on a Sunday, and he and his daughter Sarah will show you numerous Asian mushroom varieties, which Yin claims support the health of the kidney, liver, cardiovascular system and immune system. The 200 Asian vegetables he grows on his 38-acre organic farm—including Chinese lettuce, Fava beans, bok choy, Chinese eggplant and Japanese basil—are a reaction to the overfertilized crops typically found in American supermarkets, packed with more carcinogenic nitrogen dioxide than nutrition. Yet Yin’s decision to become an organic farmer was made on behalf of his taste buds. When he came to America 16 years ago from China, Yin experienced a flavor drought. The produce available at his neighborhood supermarket, he says, all tasted the same—like water. So, Yin decided to plant a few sweet peppers in his backyard. The first bite was his eureka moment. “I realized that it’s not because we are in America, but because of how we plant,” Yin recalls. “I said to myself, ‘Since that is the case, I will decide to make an organic farm.’” Yin and his wife, Xiuqin Qin, started planting. Their farm, which Yin named “Queens Farm” in honor of Qin, began as a three-acre backyard garden. Despite their book learning (Qin is also a chemist) and farming background (both came from farming families in China), the 8
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couple has had to do a lot of additional reading and research on organic gardening. They’ve developed devoutly chemical-free practices including heat tunnels, crop rotation, and house-made fertilizers of mushroom and composted crops, weeds and leaves. Still, applying their extensive knowledge of plants has had its challenges. Yin recalls the Japanese beetle outbreak in their first few farming years that devoured nearly all their edamame. They had to wake up each morning to remove the pests by hand, a practice they continue today. Luckily, Queens Farm has no neighboring farms so once the bugs are gone, they don’t come back. In the eight years since the farm has been selling produce, sales have continually grown. The family now sells three times more than their first season at Headhouse Farmers Market. They
also sell at West Chester Farmers Market and a market on their farm property, which has built a loyal following drawing from both the West Chester and Asian communities. Qin has since quite her job at DuPont to work full time as a farmer, and the operation is eager to hire more farming labor. Queens Farm will never produce mega-sized, supermarket-style peppers and tomatoes. But its diverse, patiently harvested, naturally-sized veggies, beans and fruits are dense with flavor, nutrition and antioxidants. Next year, Yin hopes photos by lucas ha rdis on
to expand Queens Farm and follow his wife’s lead by leaving DuPont to be a full-time farmer. In the meantime, he has just one wish for the future of American produce: “I hope everyone in this country gets healthy, good-tasting vegetables,” he says. “I hope that more and more farmers choose to grow organically.” Fresh produce from Queens Farm (2069 W. Street Rd., West Chester, 610-793-2834) is available at the Headhouse Farmers Market on Sundays and the West Chester Growers Market on Saturdays. n ovember 20 11
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book reviews Shucked:
Life on a New England Oyster Farm By Erin Byers Murray (St. Martin’s Press, 368 pp., $24.99, October 2011)
Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World
by Emma Marris (Bloomsbury Publishing, 224 pp., $25, August 2011)
ambunctious gardening is proactive and optimistic; it creates more and more nature as it goes, rather than just building walls around the nature we have left,” proclaims author Emma Marris in the first chapter of Rambunctious Garden. This is not a book about creating more nature preserves, or saving the “wild” that’s left—it’s about fundamentally rethinking the definition of nature and humanity’s relationship with it. Insightful, probing and well-written, Rambunctious Garden is a look at the often-overlooked players of the modern ecology and conservation movement. Rather than expounding the benefits of removing exotic species and preserving pristine lands, Marris explores new and divisive concepts like embracing exotic species, designing new ecosystems that fulfill human-directed goals and moving species around to prevent their extinction. Marris puts these promising, yet controversial ideas into the context of the conservation movement’s history. A science journalist by training, Marris builds her story from Emma world travels, including trips Marris to South Africa, Australia and Seattle, interviewing and witnessing first hand some of these conservation measures in place. Rambunctious Garden walks the tightrope between academic discourse and general interest reading. Background and context for theories and practices she explains is provided, but Marris doesn’t gloss over details or extrapolate beyond the information given. Endnotes and a bibliography serve as helpful references, and lend credibility to her claims and research, a practice seen too infrequently in many popular nonfiction books. While many of the methods Marris describes may outright enrage some, they are already happening. Whether these practices are right or wrong is a question Rambunctious Garden leaves for the reader to decide. —Katherine Silkaitis 10
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boston-based journalist Erin Byers Murray quit her full-time job as a lifestyle reporter to go work on an oyster farm. Shucked is both a personal memoir of the physical, emotional, and mental challenges she faced to succeed at her new job, and a look at the day-to-day, year-round operations of Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Ma. It’s a spirited tale and an easy read, with vignettes about her relationship with her husband and stories of the people she worked with and encountered—coworkers, chefs, TV personalities, and other oyster farmers among them. She also delves into the cycle of the oyster, as well as the complicated and grueling work of oyster farming. While Murray, the one-time editor of Boston’s lifestyle site DailyCandy. com, writes more in the style of Glamour than The New Yorker, Shucked is an appealing and informative story of how oysters are brought from sea to table, and how one woman found herself intricately involved in that operation. —Katherine Silkaitis
Seeds of Discent By Nic Esposito (Bobcat Coveside Books, 300 pp.,$20, March 2011) the descent of plant roots into Philadelphia’s trashed soils is the most essential dissent against America’s failing economy, especially when these roots grow food, says author Nic Esposito. A 28-year-old West Philly farmer, Esposito’s first novel, Seeds of Discent, appears inspired by, if not a reflection of, his personal experiences. The fictional story features West Philadelphia Millennials serving the planet by rebuilding cities greenward. They fill vacant lots, roofs and walls with food. They live simply, for this future. Philadelphia’s urban farmers exhibit daily heroism, by defying social pressures to succeed as consumers. Yet instead of becoming competitive, they courageously love one another for their shared vision. Esposito tells this story impressively well, given that his main characters are young people trying to comprehend our diverse city, and one another, while navigating bureaucracies, mortgages and joblessness. His characters have little to offer one another but forgiveness and care. So Esposito writes with both grace and bite. This is not high drama, with car chases and detectives. It’s higher drama, the most fundamental drama— literally planting the living foundation of protest and social change. —Paul Glover To order Seeds of Discent visit, seedsofdiscent.com.
by samantha wittchen
Yard Waste Yard waste, consisting of grass, leaves and other garden debris, comprises an estimated 18 percent of the annual municipal waste stream.
Sending yard waste to the landfill puts an unnecessary seasonal burden on the municipal garbage collection system. Leaf waste can account for as much as 60 percent to 80 percent of the waste stream in the fall, and grass clippings can make up 50 percent. When this organic wastes break down in the landfill, it becomes a source of methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. If the yard waste is sent to a waste-to-energy plant instead of the landfill, the high moisture content of the waste reduces the burning efficiency of the wasteto-energy facility.
Yard wastes are 100 percent recyclable, and its decomposition completes a natural cycle that creates a life-sustaining resource—compost. If you’re a Philadelphia resident, take advantage of the city’s Bagged Leaf Drive in the fall. The program usually runs from early November to midDecember. Dates for 2011 have not been announced yet, but check the Streets Department website (www.phila.gov/streets/ LeafCollection.html) soon for more information. The Streets Department’s Sanitation Convenience Centers (3033 S. 63rd St., 19153; Domino Ln. & Umbria St., 19128; State Rd. & Ashburner St., 19136) accept yard waste year round. If you live outside of Philadelphia, find out if your community has a yard waste collection. Of course, the greenest option is to reuse the yard waste yourself. Set up a compost bin, remove the grass catcher from your lawn mower to recycle the grass clippings in place, or buy a leaf shredder to make your own mulch in the fall. You’ll create less waste, and you’ll save a few bucks by making your own garden compost and mulch.
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Beets Look for beets that are firm, with fresh, leafy greens still attached.
Marinated Beet Salad serves four as a side dish 2
bunches of beets, greens removed and saved (approximately 6-8 golf ball sized beets) cup toasted sesame oil cup olive oil cup seasoned rice wine vinegar tsp sea salt 3-4 turns of a pepper grinder 4 oz crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Stem to Root Are you getting the most from your vegetables? by marisa mcclellan
mericans throw away about 40 percent of the food they buy. Horrifying, isn’t it? But there are many ways to reduce your food waste. You can shop more carefully, plan for leftovers and use every inch of food you buy. ¶ Previous generations were well acquainted with this last technique. Vegetable trimmings were saved for soup stock, onion skins became non-toxic dye, and unused animal fats were transformed into either soap or candles. While I’m not suggesting you start making cleaning solvents with your dinner leftovers, a good starting place is root-to-stem cookery. This means simply using the entirety of the vegetables you buy. With a little bit of know-how, beets transform a marinated salad, while the greens and stems are toasted into a crunchy chip. Acorn squash 12
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is cut into half-moons, and roasted with olive oil and maple syrup while you simmer and broil the seeds into a tasty snack. And pop those rainbow chard stems into a puckery brine, leaving the leaves to be sautéed and simmered into a creamy side dish. Using the whole vegetable doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
Wash beets well. Trim away remains of stems and scraggly root bits. Place beets in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Cover and place on stove over high heat. Bring water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the beets can be easily pierced with a fork. While beets cook, prepare the marinade. Combine remaining ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to combine and set aside. When beets are tender, drain and cover with cold water. When they are cool enough to work with, gently rub away the skin. It should peel right off. Cut peeled beets into slices and place in a bowl. Cover with marinade and let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. To serve, portion beets into bowls and top with crumbled goat cheese.
Beet Green Chips serves two as a snack 2 bunches beet greens 2 Tbsp olive oil tsp sea salt 6-8 turns of a pepper grinder
Preheat oven to 425°. Line two rimmed sheet pans with Silpats or parchment paper. Trim beet greens into individual stalks. Wash and dry well. Spread clean, dry greens in a single layer across the two baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast one pan at a time for 5-7 minutes, until leaves are crisp, but not burnt. Serve immediately.
Rainbow Chard When picking out chard, make sure to go for bunches that have sturdy, unwilted leaves and long stems.
Creamed Chard serves four as a side dish large bunches of chard, cleaned thoroughly, de-stemmed and finely chopped 2 Tbsp butter 2 garlic cloves, minced tsp freshly grated nutmeg cup cream Salt and pepper to taste
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In a large, deep saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the washed chard (it’s okay if it’s still wet) and garlic to pan. Add in stages if necessary. Turn the chard in the pan with tongs until everything has a coating of butter and begins to wilt down. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add cream, cover and reduce heat. Let simmer until chard is tender. Remove lid and increase heat to medium-high. Cook until liquid has reduced. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve.
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Pickled Chard Stems makes one pint Stems from 2 bunches rainbow chard cup apple cider vinegar 1 tsp sea salt 2 cloves peeled garlic tsp brown mustard seeds tsp black peppercorns
Wash stems well. Trim ends and cut into two-inch long pieces. Set aside. Combine vinegar with sea salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Put garlic cloves, mustard seeds and peppercorns in the jar. Pack chard stems into jar. Pour brine over top. Gently tap the bottom of the jar to loosen any air bubbles and add more brine if there’s room. Place lid on jar. Let chard stems sit on counter until cool. Once the jar has returned to room temperature, place in the refrigerator. Let stems marinate in brine for at least 48 hours before eating. Serve with cheese or chopped and stirred into tuna salad. november 20 11
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Arrange squash slices on prepared baking sheet. They should all fit on one pan. Pour any remaining oil/syrup from the bowl over the squash. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until squash is tender and browned on top.
Toasted Acorn Squash Seeds makes half cup of toasted seeds Seeds from two acorn squash 1 tsp sea salt 1 tsp coconut oil
Acorn Squash Look for squash that feel heavy for their size. No need to peel; the skin on acorn squash is entirely edible.
Roasted Acorn Squash serves four as a side dish 2
acorn squash (approximately 2 to 3 lbs total weight) 2 Tbsp olive oil 3 Tbsp real maple syrup 1 tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent maple syrup from burning on your pan. Wash squash well and cut in half. Scoop seeds and stringy flesh out and set aside. Trim away stem end and cut squash into halfmoons of approximately a half-inch in width. Place squash slices in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup. Toss with hands to coat.
cheese of the month
Red Leaf Fall is a great time to explore the cheeses of Chester County. The area is home to eight fabulous cheesemakers, including one of my favorites, Yellow Springs Farm. Al and Catherine Renzi are passionate about Nubian goats and native plants, and these two things come together in the form of beautiful, subtle cheeses that are inspired by the landscape where they are created. If you visit their dairy, you’ll find wheels of Fieldstone, Yellow Brick Road and walnut-speckled Nutcracker. Red Leaf is a tribute to the looming sycamores that shade Yellow Springs Farm. The leaves are gathered, washed, soaked in red wine, then wrapped around wheels of goat cheese. After 45 days in the aging cave, the wheels are sweet and earthy, with an incredibly clean taste. The rind, wild as it looks, is edible. This October, Yellow Springs welcomes new members to its goat cheese CSA. Members receive handmade cheeses from the farm twice a month. This is a great way to taste a spectrum of goat cheeses, from fresh to aged, and to observe the seasonal changes from May through November. For more information, visit the Renzi website. Farm visits can be arranged by appointment. —Tenaya Darlington, madamefromage.blogspot.com
Yellow Springs Farm, 1165 Yellow Springs Rd., Chester Springs; yellowspringsfarm.com. For a list of Chester County cheeses, visit chestercountycheese.org.
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Rinse seeds and separate from stringy flesh. Place seeds in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Add salt to water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Drain. Let seeds dry for a few moments. Place in bowl and toss with coconut oil. Spread on a baking sheet and broil for 3-4 minutes (time varies depending on the strength of your broiler). Cook until seeds start to brown and pop. Remove and allow to cool. Eat plain or use as garnish for blended soups.
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OktoberFish is great with food and especially great with Lederhosen! ™
flyingfish.com Flying Fish Brewing Co. • Cherry Hill, NJ
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ENT WARNING: (1) ACCORDING TO THE SURGEON GENERAL, WOMEN SHOULD K ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES DURING PREGNANCY BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF ECTS. (2) CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IMPAIRS YOUR ABILITY CAR OR OPERATE MACHINERY, AND MAY CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS.
OktoberFish This classic Oktoberfest style uses European malts, hops and yeast. A beautiful reddish color, savory malt profile and tasty hop flavor make this Fest beer quite drinkable.
COMMU NI T Y D ES IGN C O L L A B O R AT I V E
letter from the director
COMMUN I T Y D E S I G N
Dear GRID Reader,
To learn how the Collaborative designs sustainable neighborhoods, please visit cdesignc.org.
The Community Design Collaborative, like you, believes in building communities with strong futures. In 1991, a group of dedicated and self-described “anarchist architects” created the Collaborative to meet a critical need. In the 20 years since then, we have helped community organizations imagine their highest hopes for their neighborhoods. The Collaborative specializes in transforming the kinds of places that knit people together –schools, stores, parks, community centers, streetscapes, and housing. As our name suggests, the Community Design Collaborative works collaboratively. We collaborate with community development corporations, civic associations, social service agencies and other non-profits who serve neighborhoods. We bring all the stakeholders together, public and private. The designs that have emerged are as diverse as our clients’ visions. Many of the Collaborative’s clients serve lowand moderate-income communities, and do so with limited resources. Fortunately, the needs of our clients have always been met by the generosity of many of Philadelphia’s finest designers. Since 1991, the Collaborative staff, its board and advisory council have attracted more than a thousand volunteers, who’ve donated more than 100,000 hours of care and creativity on 600 projects. Collaborating with communities, our volunteer architects, engineers, planners and cost estimators do the design legwork needed to move ahead: conceptual drawings to reach consensus; building assessments to prove that ideas are feasible; and expert estimates to attract funding. Together, we create the foundations on which dreams are built. In this special section we share a small sample of our projects: to inspire your sustainability efforts in own neighborhood, and to invite you to consider collaborating with us. Beth Miller Executive Director, Community Design Collaborative
C O L L A B O R AT I V E
1216 Arch Street, First Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.587.9290 cdesignc.org Staf f
Elizabeth K. Miller Executive Director Heidi Segall Levy AIA Project Manager Linda Dottor AICP Program Manager Chris Mohr Development Manager Robin Kohles AIA Project Associate Camille Cazon Project Assistant
B oar d
Mami Hara ASLA, AICP Paul Marcus Co-Chairs Alice K. Berman AIA John Claypool AIA, AICP Brian Cohen S. Michael Cohen Mary Ann Conway Cecelia Denegre AIA Tavis Dockwiller ASLA Eva Gladstein Eric Larsen PE Joe Matje PE Darrick Mix Esq. Michael Paul PE Brian Phillips AIA, LEED AP Laura Raymond LEED AP Paul Sehnert RA Paul Vernon RA Dick Winston AIA Roy Yaffe Esq. Pam Zimmerman AIA, LEED AP
The Collaborative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with tax-exempt status, tax ID #23-2835435.
Red Flag Media 1032 Arch Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.625.9850 gridphilly.com
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Proceeds go to the Community Design Collaborative
2 | Community Design Collaborative
ARCHITECTURE ENGINEERING INTERIORS
THE WISCONSIN INSTITUTES FOR DISCOVERY
BarberGale designing sustainable brands In one of his first speeches after reading Paul Hawken’s book, “The Ecology of Commerce,” Mr. Ray Anderson told an audience of business executives: “We are all part of the continuum of humanity and life. We will have lived our brief span and either helped or hurt that continuum and the earth that sustains all life.
It’s that simple. Which will it be?”
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Community Design Collaborative | 3
Is it possible? Thatâ€™s the question
all dreamers have to answer. Unfortunately, especially for wellintentioned but sometimes poorly-funded nonprofits, answering that question can be very expensive. Investigating the feasibility of even a small project can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Whatâ€™s the vision?
The nonprofit sees a need and an opportunity. The first step for the Collaborative is fully understanding what the client imagines and how they expect it to work.
What do we have?
Some projects begin with assets such as land, a building, an existing program, or an engaged community. The client and the Collaborative visit the site and ask the hard questions. Is the existing building sound? Is it compliant and up to code? What is the real value of what they have?
What do we need?
After assessing the condition of the assets and determining the direction of the vision, what will they need to make it happen?
What will it look like?
What will it cost?
Thatâ€™s why, when a nonprofit has an idea about how they can help their neighborhood, the services the Community Design Collaborative provides are so critical. In architectural terms, what the Collaborative does is preliminary design and schematic design, but what that really means is a series of questions is answered, determining whether a project is viable or not. Here are some of those essential questions:
Can the project graduate from a dream to a reality? Volunteer designers get to work on conceptual design, feasibility studies and renderings.
The Collaborative prepares a preliminary cost estimate for the design. The client can then present to potential funders, consultants and constituent supporters.
Finish these steps and you are on your way! Sure, the road to completing your project will be long and difficult, but now you have a plan. And when your plan is executed, your community will be a better place.
4 | Community Design Collaborative
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Community Design Collaborative | 5
All Together Now Without volunteers, there would be no Community Design Collaborative. Good thing they have legions – 1,000 individuals total – who offer their time, skills and enthusiasm for design free of charge. Volunteers can be industry veterans and those relatively new to their field, and include architects, planners, landscape architects, engineers and historic preservationists, among others. We asked two basic questions to a handful of these folks: Why does design matter? And why do they choose to volunteer for the Collaborative?
Why does design matter? [Design] starts a dialogue that gives neighbors the ability to identify opportunities and challenges, then seek ways to make the places we call home more livable, enjoyable and vibrant. Design can remind us why we love a place, and can make our neighborhoods more than we had ever imagined. Brian Szymanik Principal, Brian Szymanik Architects Collaborative Projects: Cyber Village Senior Housing, Reconfiguring Blocks to Reduce Density and Enhance Safety in St. Elizabeth’s, Devon Movie Theater Renovations, Spiral Q Puppet Theater and Site Feasibility Study
Beautification of a neighborhood is no longer seen as an extravagance; it is now recognized as integral to improving the function of a neighborhood.
Benjamin Cromie Urban Planner, currently Research Fellow at Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia Collaborative Projects: Overbrook Environmental Education Center, Libertae Learning Center, Conceptual Design for Millbourne Redevelopment, Pretzel Park in Manayunk
6 | Community Design Collaborative
Landscape Architecture is not just about understanding ecological processes, but enhancing the spaces in which we live. Design is important because it can restore ecological function and reveal the beauty of a place. People need working ecology and beauty. Beauty matters.
Tavis Dockwiller Landscape Architect, Viridian Landscape Studio Collaborative Projects:
Cook-Wissahickon School, Cranalieth Spiritual Center, Greenfield Elementary School, InFill Philadelphia Charrette, Lindley Mural Arts Garden for the Mural Arts Advocates, Meadowood Nature Reserve, Overbrook Environmental Education Center, SHARE Charrette and Master Plan
In our cities, and particularly in underserved areas of our cities, we have settled for poor design or no design at all. Design matters because it creates the settings for all that is meaningful in our lives.
Todd Woodward Architect, SMP Architects Collaborative Projects: Mount Airy Presbyterian Church, Overbrook Environmental Education Center, Frankford Friends School, Infill Philadelphia Industrial Sites
Quality design can impact the people in a neighborhood in countless ways, with the end result typically being a better quality of life and increased pride of place. The Collaborative helps prove time and time again that design does have an impact [on] your life through your surroundings.
Joe Matje Project Engineer, Bruce E. Brooks and Associates Consulting Engineers Collaborative Projects: Has worked on 12 projects, including Mt. Airy Learning Tree, Libertae Learning Center, Cyber Village Senior Housing, Narberth Community Library
The built environment affects each and every one of us every day, in countless ways big and small. Better places to live, work, play, and pray enhance our lives and help make us better people.
Michael Paul Structural Engineer, Duffield Associates, Inc. Collaborative Projects: Began volunteering in 1991 and has worked on more than 20 projects since. These include the Masterman High School Design Charrette, Spiral Q Puppet Theater, Overbrook Environmental Education Center
Why do you volunteer for the Collaborative? As a designer, the Collaborative gives you an opportunity to expose yourself to new situations and stretch yourself a little. Many of the clients have limited resources, but very ambitious goals— which can pose some interesting challenges. Jesse Forrester Landscape Architect, Jonathan Alderson Landscape Architects, Inc. Collaborative Projects:
Libertae Learning Center, Pretzel Park in Manayunk
As a young engineer, the Collaborative gives me the opportunity to not only give back to my community, but also to develop my watershed management design skills. It is easy to become engaged in these projects because the client—the community itself—is so engaged and passionate.
Molly Julian Water Resources Designer, Meliora Environmental Design, LLC Collaborative Project:
Meadowood Nature Preserve
I started volunteering with the Collaborative because I wanted to contrast my more focused professional experience with the often raw, yet perhaps more gratifying experience of dealing with design in the public realm.
Amy Yaskowski Landscape Architectural Designer, Viridian Landscape Studio Collaborative Projects:
Marconi Plaza, Meadowood Nature Preserve, Meredith Green (in progress)
The types of organizations [the] Collaborative helps need the input of design professionals to realize what is possible and how to achieve their goals. Many of these [organizations] could never afford these services or know where to start looking to get them on their own.
Gifts with joy & purpose A cut paper lamp will fill holiday homes and hearts with the light of hope. Artisans of Shuktara Handmade Paper workshop
Michael Funk President and Senior Estimator, International Consultants, Inc. Collaborative Projects:
Long time volunteer who has worked on more than 25 projects. Most recent include: Bache Martin School Site Planning Study, PRooF Rooftop Farm Study, Southwest Community Development Center Improvements
Working directly with the clients to create and present our designs is [a] strong draw for me because you can have a direct involvement that you don’t always achieve in standard corporate projects.
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Jeffrey Brummer Architect, Charles Matsinger Associates Collaborative Projects:
Aldersgate Youth Service Bureau, Overbrook Farms Club Commercial Corridor Improvement, Impact Services Corporation Master Plan
...the excitement and sense of accomplishment at the end of a Collaborative project is priceless. Marguerite Anglin
CENTER CiTy CHESTNuT HiLL ExTON KiNg OF PRuSSiA MEDiA SOuDERTON WiLMiNgTON
Architect, Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC
Cramer Hill Community Lounge, CW Henry Elementary School Gymnasium and Cafeteria Renovations
To volunteer with the Collaborative, visit cdesignc.org.
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Community Design Collaborative | 7
Mt. Tabor Community Education & Economic Development Corporation Conceptual Plan for Housing for Seniors Location 973-99 N. 7th St. Value of services $39,516
Outcome Built, 2009
Volunteer Team BWA Architecture + Planning, Construction Management Solution, Thornton Tomasetti and Joe Matje
Senior Class Mt. Tabor Cyber Village provides a green haven for North Philadelphiaâ€™s over-55 crowd by Liz Pacheco
The yellow-painted halls
of Mt. Tabor Cyber Village looks more like a college dorm than a senior living center. Apartments are decorated with welcome mats and doorhangers, and residents have personalized the individual shelves outside their doors. Thereâ€™s a computer lab, fitness center and community room on the first floor. And each of the four floors boast a shared laundry area and common room where residents can read, play cards, watch TV or just hang out. Being 55 or older never looked more fun.
8 | Community Design Collaborative
Top left: The Cyber Village was the special project of Mt. Taborâ€™s Reverends Mary Moore and Martha Lang. Credit: Haley Loram. Top right: A look inside the spacious entrance area at the Cyber Village. Bottom: The Cyber Village is neighbors with the Mt. Tabor AME Church, which was founded in 1803. Credit: BWA Architects + Planners/ Don Pearse Photographers.
Community Design Collaborative | 9
“[We have] a close-knit type of atmosphere here in this building,” says Mary Reese, who moved to Cyber Village in June 2009, six months after it opened. “I know everyone in the building and they know me.” Reese loves living here—it’s safe and well cared for, she says. “You couldn’t ask for a better place.” The Cyber Village is a project of the Mt. Tabor African Methodist Episcopal Church, a fixture in the Philadelphia religious community. Founded in 1803, the church is still at its original location on North 7th Street, between Girard and Poplar Streets. In addition to regular religious services, Mt. Tabor provides outreach services, such as educational and after-school programs, activity days and prison inmate rehabilitation. While Mt. Tabor has many leaders, Rev. Martha Lang and Rev. Mary Moore spearheaded the Cyber Village project. Rev. Lang joined Mt. Tabor as pastor in 1983 and Rev. Moore arrived almost 10 years later, in 1992. They make a lively pair, full of joy and pride in their church community. The initial idea for the Cyber Village came from what Rev. Lang describes as her vision. “I believe God gave me a vision to do something for the community to help bring it alive because this area was dying,” she says. Her vision
[We have] a close-knit type of atmosphere here in this building, I know everyone in the building and they know me. You couldn’t ask for a better place. ” —Mary Reese, resident Top: The first floor computer lab has regular technology skills lessons for residents. Bottom: Staff member Lorraine Esbensen helps resident Sandra Baker navigate on the computer. Credit: Gene Smirnov.
10 | Community Design Collaborative
was specifically directed at youth and seniors. A study by the Mt. Tabor Community Education and Economic Development Corporation (CEED) showed both groups as those most in need in their community. “The neighborhood has been changing for the past several years,” says Richard Winston, the Cyber Village architect from BWA Architecture + Planning. “[It] had a pattern of empty lots… run-down housing. A fair percentage of the seniors were underserved.” So Reverends Moore, Lang and Lang’s late husband, Rev. Larry Lang, worked with the Mt. Tabor CEED team to find a solution. “Their vision was to have an apartment building that would be loosely affiliated with Mt. Tabor Church, but stand on its own,” says Winston. With an empty lot on both sides of the church, adding an affordable housing center seemed viable. However, developing a plan was
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The people that were displaced and… have come from other areas of the city, they love it here. They found a home.” —Reverend Martha Lang Top: (From left to right)
Residents Sandra Baker, Thomas Ross, Maudeen McCall and Jerome Riggs gather around a book. Above: Mary Reese has lived at the Cyber Village since June 2009. Credit: Gene Smirnov.
complicated and expensive. That’s when Rev. Moore reached out to the Collaborative. With the Collaborative’s help, a site plan and conceptual design were created in 2005. Five years later, the affordable housing for seniors center opened. Reverends Lang and Moore refer to it as “the miracle on Seventh Street.” Before the Cyber Village, the empty lots were regularly abused by the neighborhood. “They were trashing it. We had to keep it clean. We had to remove the snow,” says Rev. Lang. “The city didn’t take care of it. We took care of it.” Though they performed owner-like duties, the lots didn’t belong to Mt. Tabor, and no one was really sure who owned the land. Mt. Tabor began applying for ownership in
12 | Community Design Collaborative
1999. Ten years and multiple disputes between the city and the Redevelopment Authority later, Mt. Tabor finally owned the space. Acquiring the lot wasn’t the only major obstacle. To receive tax credits for an affordable housing building, the design had to pass specific requirements of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Consequently, many elements of the Collaborative’s original conceptual design had to be altered. “When we first came to the table, we wanted the first floor to be commercial,” says Rev. Moore. “We had wanted a little café and a doctor’s office, all to be convenient to the seniors.” But receiving tax credits for a commercial
space wasn’t viable. The number of units was also reduced and other changes were made to the design. Most sustainable features were kept. The Cyber Village has a green roof, which is critical for stormwater management and provides insulation. The building is energy-efficient with Energy Star appliances, lighting and HVAC equipment, low-flow plumbing, and green materials used wherever possible. Another crucial design element was the “cyber village” theme. “[The Mt. Tabor CEED] expressed from the outset the vision of a community of older adults who are connected to the larger community through the use of technology,” says Winston. Residents are provided with their own laptops, and technology skills are taught in the first floor computer lab. Winston and the other architects even went so far as to include the theme in the building’s façade. “This was one of those funny leaps that designers sometimes take,” says Winston. “We thought about digital technologies and then we thought about pixilation on your computer screens. We had this idea that if we used modestly priced materials and just a little bit of articulation, we could alternately push the façade in and out.” The concept is modern, unusual and aesthetically pleasing, but looks nothing like the regal, stone-covered church next door. Despite the architect’s fears that the design might be too daring, the Reverends embraced the concept, which Winston attributes to the project’s overall goal: providing a modern place for older adults who are independent and still an active part of the community. Even with those early obstacles, the Reverends describe the design and construction process as very smooth. “Usually, when you’re building anything, there’s always different conflict,” says Rev. Lang. “We had none of that.” Rev. Moore chimes in, revealing the secret to their success. “Pastor Lang brought this faith… always praising God and saying Hallelujah. They went from cursing to Christ!” With the Cyber Village complete, the Reverends are looking ahead. Winston is helping them put a sitting garden behind the housing center, where residents and the local youth organization Teens 4 Good will have a vegetable garden. And there are more construction plans. Eventually, the other empty lot will become the Mt. Tabor Intergenerational Community Recreation and Education Center—a place specifically for youth. “The people that were displaced and… have come from other areas of the city, they love it here. They found a home,” says Rev. Lang. “All the things we had dreamed and hoped for and worked hard for, they were realized with the people that are here.”
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Community Design Collaborative | 13
Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia Feasibility Study And Conceptual Design of Affordable Housing Location 4200 block of W. Stiles St. Value of services $21,680
Outcome Built, Phase 1: 2007/Phase 2: 2009 Volunteer Team Wallace Roberts & Todd and Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia
Highly efficient low-income housing comes to East Parkside Historic District by Shaun Brady West Philadelphia’s Parkside Historic District is known for its architectural diversity. The streets feature Victorian homes, turn-of-the-century Flemish-style structures, and buildings inspired by intricate Dutch and German designs. But now there’s a new architecture in town. In September 2009, the 4200 block of W. Stiles Street made history with the opening of some of Philadelphia’s first green-designed, low-income housing. Maarten Pesch, a volunteer architect on the project, consults with future homeowner Michele Holland during a workday at the Stiles Street site. Credit: Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia
The seven LEED-certified rowhomes (to be joined later by a pair across the street) incorporate insulated concrete form foundations and walls, bamboo flooring, solar-light pipes, cement board siding, ultra-high efficiency heating systems, and other sustainable design elements. The project was undertaken by Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, whose interest in sustainable design was
14 | Community Design Collaborative
prompted by “the long-term durability and affordability to operate and maintain [that] it provides for homeowners,” says Jon Musselman, Habitat’s director of project planning. “We also hoped that going into the LEED program would attract partners who would want to invest in a project that pushed the envelope a little bit.” Through the Collaborative, Habitat Philadelphia was connected with a team of architects from the firm of Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT), who designed the homes in response to the concerns of both Habitat and the East Parkside Residents’ Association. The local community, explains Maarten Pesch, the lead WRT volunteer architect on the project, had three main concerns they wanted this project to address: Restoring an uninterrupted streetwall to remedy the number of vacant lots on the street; rebuilding facades in brick to maintain the character of the neighborhood; and improving the sustainability of the area. The number one obstacle in building these homes, as with any sustainable building project, was upfront costs. But despite the expense and difficulties in the planning and construction period, which spanned roughly five years, Pesch says that ultimately the green approach will pay off for residents. “For people living in these homes, their utility bills will be significantly reduced,” he says. “Also, when you build with sustainable materials and put sustainable mechanical systems in, the air quality will automatically be better, which is especially important in urban environments.” Working with Habitat also provided its own unique challenges. “Habitat typically selects construction methods and materials that are volunteer friendly,” Pesch says. While swinging hammers and putting up siding is easily teachable, some aspects of sustainable building require specialized skills. “So, there was an interesting dance between what works for Habitat, what works for the residents, what works for the volunteers, and what would be the right method and systems to approach the project in a sustainable way.”
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Community Design Collaborative | 15
Asociación de Puertorriqueños en Marcha, Inc. (APM)
Little Green Giants The Sheridan Street Houses are changing the face of affordable housing by Samantha Wittchen
Affordable Infill Housing Design Challenge: Green Construction Strategies Location 1800 Sheridan St. Value of Services $18,205
Outcome Built, 2011
Volunteer Team Interface Studio and Jody Beck
the 1800 Block of Sheridan StreeT in North Philadelphia defies the expectations of what affordable housing looks like. The homes aren’t suburban style, semidetached houses, or the 1950s high-rises they replaced. Instead, you’ll find a block of sleekly designed, eco-friendly homes. Designed by Interface Studio Architects (ISA), the 13 homes on Sheridan Street were built for the Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) in response to the Community Design Collaborative’s 2005 Affordable Infill Housing Design Challenge. Infill Philadelphia is a design initiative by the Collaborative to revitalize neighborhoods by re-envisioning vacant buildings and spaces. APM, which is well-known for developing extensive affordable housing in the blocks just east of Temple University, found through focus groups that APM’s community wanted green housing options, according to Rose Gray, APM’s Vice President of Community and Economic Development. The Sheridan homes, slated for LEED Gold certification, have solar hot water, pervious pavement that allows rainwater to seep through, and green roofs, among other sustainable features. However, it’s the design that truly makes these homes unique. “The defining characteristic of the project was its ridiculous dimensional constraint,” says Brian Phillips, ISA Principal and Collaborative board member. The block is 450 feet long and 39 feet deep—extremely long and skinny—which made it tricky to design houses that would conform to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s (PHFA) 1,300 square-feet, three bedroom, 1.5 bathroom standard requirements. So ISA decided to re-conceive the process of developing affordable housing. Instead of starting with preconceived notions about how the houses should look, or accepting the idea that, because the budget was limited, the houses would inevitably be low-quality, ISA first looked at the performance requirements of the houses. Then, they de16 | Community Design Collaborative
signed them to meet those requirements within the budget. The result is six L-shaped couplets of homes (there is one unit that is not a twin) that all feel like they open to the street, even though some don’t. It’s very different from the “filing cabinet” layout of homes so prevalent in Philadelphia, Phillips says. In fact, it works so well that it attracted the attention of Postgreen’s Chad Ludeman, who approached Phillips after a presentation on the project. A series of coffee shop meetings between Phillips and Ludeman led to the 100K House project, Postgreen’s flagship affordable, market-priced, LEED-certified homes. Since then, ISA has designed all of Postgreen’s projects. Phillips says that there’s a strong synergy between the 100K House and the Sheridan Street Homes. While one’s been featured in the upscale architecture magazine Dwell, the other has appeared in the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency newsletter. They’re so similar in aesthetic and design strategy that they’re beginning to bridge the gap between affordable and market-rate housing, making green available to everyone.
Above and below:
Images from the original conceptual design for Sheridan Street developed with help from the Collaborative.
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9/2/11 9:01 AM
food access air distribution using heat recover from refrigeration
operable clerestory skylights
high efficiency fluorescent light fixtures on daylight and occupancy sensors
parapet - finish height 42â€? min
air handling unit
casework and signage made from salvaged wood pallets
DRY GOOD STORAGE
LED strip display lighting at shelving units
Mariposa Food Co-op relocates to a larger, greener renovated storefront by liz pacheco
cisterns for rainwater harvesting for irrigation
high efficiency boiler and domestic hot water heater
Mariposa Food Co-op has long been a Philadelphia favorite. Since opening in the early â€™80s, membership has reached nearly 1,000, but popularity has taxed their tiny 500-square-foot storefront on Baltimore Avenue. Now, thanks to conceptual design done by the Collaborative in 2008, Mariposa is renovating a new, 5,500-square-foot space. With help from the conceptual designer, Re:Vision Architecture, the future storefront will have plenty of space for retail, storage and kitchen space, as well as sustainable features, including a vertical garden, LED lighting and rain cisterns. An official groundbreaking was held in June 2011, and Mariposa is completing $1 million of the estimated $2.25 million renovations. Mariposa is moving from 4726 Baltimore Ave. to 4824 Baltimore Ave. To learn more about the move and fundraising events, visit mariposa.coop.
18 | Community Design Collaborative
Mariposa Inc. Mariposa Co-op: Conceptual Design for Relocation and Expansion Location: 4824 Baltimore Ave.
Value of Services: $79,020
Outcome: Funded, under construction, 2011 Volunteer Team: Advanced Foodservice Solutions, Gardner Fox
Associates, Larsen & Landis, Re:Vision Architecture, Thomas A. Monari, PE, and John Colarelli
produce prep & demonstration area
below: Existing rear-facade on Baltimore Ave. bottom: proposed alterations
Community Design Collaborative | 19
The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation
Walnut Hill Mini-Farm
Location 4610-16 Market St. Value of services $18,870
Outcome Built, 2011
Volunteer Team Owners Rep, Inc. and Lisa McDonald Hanes, Marcus Johnson, Michael Nairn and Robin Rick
Nic Esposito, co-founder of Philly Rooted and developer of the Walnut Hill Community Farm, explains how the Collaborative helped make his farm a masterpiece In my experience creating urban farms, the conflict I have most often faced is between the desire for high-end craftsmanship and the need to just get the project going. I’ll be the first to admit that the community organizer in me usually errs on the side of the latter. But with the Walnut Hill Community Farm, the Collaborative’s consulting helped Philly Rooted attain this elusive equilibrium. I’ll also admit that we weren’t the easiest to work with. By the time Greg Heller of the Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation (the lease holders of the farm site and main structural support for the farm) informed us that he had secured the Collaborative’s support, Philly Rooted had already built eight raised beds, six farm rows and an herb spiral. I vividly remember Collaborative volunteer landscape architect and witty pragmatist Michael Nairn asking, “So, I’m not sure what you need us for?” The truth is that we needed them a great deal. It was their advising that helped us fit an urban farm, pocket park and community garden in our third-of-an-acre space. It was their foresight that made us address the drastic slope between the farm and the park by leveling off the land, installing porous pavers and planting
20 | Community Design Collaborative
an orchard to manage storm water runoff. And it was their diplomacy and innovation that helped us solve the ideological debate over having a fence by suggesting we plant a living fence of blackberries and raspberries. The brilliance of the Collaborative structure is that it provides professionals with manageable volunteer commitments and community groups with the high quality consulting their budgets could never afford. Thanks to the Collaborative, Walnut Hill boasts a safe, space-efficient and creative design that takes into account the needs of the land and the community. The result is a utilitarian aesthetic I feel every day I step onto the farm.
Left: A view of the lot
before the Walnut Hill Farm. Bottom: Thanks to the Collaborative, Walnut Hill implemented an efficient and creative design for their urban farming haven. Below: A colorful shed and composting vessel on site.
HELP GARDENS GROW their
Grant a school’s garden wish with your donation at the register. Access details and the application at www.wholekidsfoundation.org/gardengrants.php
Wynnewood • Devon • Plymouth Meeting • North Wales • Jenkintown • Philadelphia • South Street • Marlton • Princeton
THE GREENHOUSE Projects
Five Takes on an Exhibition
Five takes on Of Elephants & APS Roses: Encounters with French Natural History Fivecontemporary contemporary takestakes on theOf Museum’s Elephants andexhibition Roses: Encounters with1790-1830 French Natural Histo
Greenhouse and Cabinet of Future Fossils September 9 – December 3 Experience a sustainable greenhouse for the21st 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.
GPS Expedition Launching September 9
French Farce 8 Performances/F/Sa/Sun/ September 2 – 16
Bon Appétit Launching September 9
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.
The Greenhouse Projects has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program.
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
104S. Fifth Street Philadelphia, PA 19106
Community Design Collaborative | 21
Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association Master Plan for Park Revitalization
Community Effort Innovative, neighborhood-based design leads park renovations by Julie Lorch Wissahickon Neighbors Park has a history of redevelopment. Situated on the corner of Terrace and Hermit Streets in Manayunk, the park is built on the site of a church that burned down in 1971. Following the fire, the city bought the land and built the park in 1976. As one of the first small neighborhood playgrounds in the city, Wissahickon Neighbors Park was originally considered to be a highly innovative use of space. But since its construction and major renovations in 1994, the park has been largely untouched.
A bird’s eye view of renovations proposed in the Collaborative’s conceptual design.
The Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association (WNCA), which was already taking small actions to restore the park, enlisted the help of the Collaborative to create a unified vision for the park’s master plan for revitalization. The redesign, done by Danielle Denk, the Collaborative’s volunteer architect from Dendridic Design, drew on the same innovative use-of-space idea utilized by the original park. The park design is based on the flow of water and an integrated catchment, or collection, system. The proposal includes a large rain garden with native plants and, eventually, green roofs on the existing buildings. The catchment system is one of the features Denk is most excited about. “This design is really all about water. By keeping the water on site in the rain garden, we feed the native plants,” says
22 | Community Design Collaborative
Location Terrace and Hermit Sts. Value of Services $25,000
Outcome Phase 1 funded, 2010
Volunteer Team Flatiron Building Company, Tim Sienold 3D Artist/Animator, and Danielle Denk, Terra Edenhart-Pepe and Samirah Steinmeyer
Denk. “Most importantly, we are keeping the water on site during storm events, thereby helping to slow the flow of water in the Philadelphia sewer system. Fast-moving water leads to erosion and flooding, and we don’t want to see any more of that.” Another critical feature of the redesign includes taking down the stone wall around the park to create a more inviting entrance to a “neighborhood porch” for public gathering. Other elements of the proposal will foster intergenerational use of the park, including chess tables, a climbing wall, sprinkler area and sand bed. The basketball court will stay, but will get lines for a four-square court and hopscotch. WNCA hopes these renovations will help entice more family-oriented renters and first-time homeowners into making the Wissahickon neighborhood their permanent community. The master plan inched closer to reality in 2010, when Craig Ablin, leader of the WNCA’s park revitalization committee, shared the Collaborative’s proposal and renderings with Councilman Curtis Jones’ office. That May, Jones’ office announced the park would receive $200,000 to begin implementing Phase 1 of the master plan, which includes the new entryway, the “neighborhood porch,” and the rain garden. With this funding, WNCA hopes to begin the renovation project shortly.
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People’s Emergency Center
on 20 Amazing Years
Public Computer Centers
We love you, West & North Philadelphia Community Design Collaborative
Free Computer Classes brought to you by People’s Emergency Center
Thanks to the staff and volunteers for 20 years of Impact
To find your nearest Public Computer Center, visit www.pec-cares.org or call 215-382-7522 x340
Congratulations to the Collaborative on 20 years of strengthening neighborhoods through Design. Alice K Berman, AIA
Marcus Reinvestment Strategies, LLC Paul Marcus, Principal 35 Thompson Street Bordentown, NJ 08505
Hellyer Berman Lewis, Inc. 211 S 12th St • Philadelphia, PA 19107 215-922-7066 FA X 215-922-3778 email@example.com www.hbl-arch.com
Community Design Collaborative | 23
Friends of Schuylkill River Park Conceptual Design for Gateway Improvements
Location Taney and Pine Sts. Value of services $24,795
Schuylkill River Park is being redesigned, starting with the entrance
Volunteer Team International Consultants and Allen Guenther, Clifford Schwinger, Ari Miller and Daniel Stanislaw
The former site of ’70s-era warehouses and an impound lot for towed cars, the Schuylkill River Park is now one of Southwest Center City’s largest green spaces. While the park boasts multiple fields, courts, a community garden and recreation center, time and frequent use have qualified this space for a makeover. After commissioning a master plan in 2006, the Friends of the Schuylkill River Park (FSRP) brought in the Collaborative to focus on one portion of the park: the entrance at the corner of Taney and Pine Streets. Mostly paved surfaces, this gateway is plagued by crumbling concrete tables and chairs, cracked and buckled pavement, and a fountain sculpture with water circulation problems. The gateway also includes a poorly designed portico for the recreation center. Published in February 2011, the conceptual design addresses functionality, aesthetics and stormwater management, touting features like rain gardens, porous surfaces, solar-powered lights and native plants. Now, FSRP is looking for funding and Sean O’Rourke, the group’s vice president, says they’re looking to those stakeholders who were involved in the conceptual design. “You know about this [project], you gave us all these great ideas,” reminds O’Rourke, “[now] how can you give us support?” —Liz Pacheco
Green Edge Community leader Maureen Tate explains how Cedar Park RESIDENTS reclaimed their NEIGHBORHOOD by Shaun brady
Outcome Phase 1 funded
Phase 1 of the park renovations will be an overhaul of the pavement-covered entranceway at Taney and Pine Streets.
GRID: Your first partnership with the Collaborative focused on Cedar Park itself? Tate: From the perspective of the community, it was a very underutilized and a very abused
park. There was a lot of criminal activity, drug dealing, violence; we needed to do something about this park as part of a larger neighborhood improvement project. So we submitted an application to the Community Design Collaborative to help us with a vision for that park. Now it’s turned totally around and is a really pleasant, vibrant green space at the heart of the community. GRID: You then parlayed that success into a grander plan for Baltimore Avenue?
For a long time, Cedar Park Neighbors has been concerned about the 5000-5100 blocks of Baltimore, because as soon as you pass 50th Street, things change dramatically. This is a much more complex situation than a park, but we thought maybe Maureen Tate the same process could happen again, where we’d have the benefit of the (center) poses Collaborative’s professional expertise to guide a conversation and shape with other garden the vision. Even with great ideas, groups like ours would never have the volunteers during a workday at capacity to take the kinds of steps that we’ve taken without that. Tate:
Since 2003, the all-volunteer Cedar Park Neighbors have worked with the Collaborative to devise a longterm vision for regaining control of blighted segments of their diverse community. Maureen Tate, longtime resident and former vice president of Cedar Park Neighbors, has been active in those efforts from the beginning, and sees them as both a success story and a work in progress.
GRID: One thing you’ve insisted on is maintaining the unique personality of Cedar Park. How would you define that?
Cedar Park Neighbors
Tate: Cedar Park is one of the most diverse
Baltimore Avenue Community Corridor Design Study (2009) and Conceptual Design for Cedar Park (2003) Location: Baltimore Ave. and 50th St. Value of services: $10,700
Outcome: Cedar Park, 2006
Volunteer Team: Dan Garofalo, Anne Harnish,
Robert Lundgren and Laura Raymond
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neighborhoods that I’ve seen in the city. Some people describe the neighborhood as a little edgy—if you have three people in a room, there’ll be five opinions. And that’s a good thing in terms of keeping us open to new ideas. For more information visit: www.cedarparkneighbors.org
Friends of dickinson square Conceptual Master Plan for Park Revitalization Location 4th and Tasker Sts. Value of Services $15,200 Outcome Funded, under construction, Fall 2011 Volunteer Team Christina Grimes, Donald Raymond, Devinder Soin and Jane Winkel
Congratulations to the
Community Design Collaborative! In their original conceptual design, the Collaborative considered building a green wall at the Park.
A Room with a View
Dickinson Square Park is getting more scenic with a long-awaited makeover Thirty years ago, South Philadelphia’s Dickinson Square Park was a mess. “Cans were throughout the whole park. Dog poop was absolutely everywhere. It was a dump,” says Ron Cohen, former president of Friends of Dickinson Square. Cohen has had a third-floor view of the park since his family moved into their apartment in the 1980s. Over the years, his view has improved. The Friends of Dickinson Square keep up the general maintenance, and now the wellused community space is getting a facelift with help from the Collaborative. “[The Collaborative took] our ideas in conjunction with their concepts and put [them] into a format that was easily readable for the city and state,” says Cohen. The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, which is responsible for the space, has since adapted the Collaborative’s 2007 design. New lighting and playground equipment is being installed. More trees will be planted, surfaces repaved, fencing fixed and a mostly unused, large, circular building will be taken down. Construction started this fall and should be completed by Spring 2012. —Liz Pacheco
changing the way you think about construction
BITTENBENDER C ON STR U C TION,LP
HAPPY 20TH ANNIVERSARY COMMUNITY DESIGN COLLABORATIVE CHEERS TO ANOTHER YEAR!
509 Vine Street, Suite LL200 Philadelphia, PA 19106 215.925.8900 215.925.6270 FX www.bittenbenderconstruction.com
Community Design Collaborative | 25
Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial Conceptual Plan for a Children’s Garden Location 719 Catherine St.
Value of services $14,860
Outcome Built, 2007 Volunteer Team Elwell Studio
A Children’s garden WELCOMES VISITors to the Fleisher Art memorial by liz pacheco
Behind a rowhome on Catharine Street, in South Philadelphia’s Bella Vista neighborhood, is a haven for young artists. What was formerly a backyard used for trash storage and HVAC equipment is now a pocket garden for children. The garden opened in 2007 as part of the Fleisher Art Memorial, the country’s oldest free art school for children and adults. The space, designed with help from the Collaborative, serves as a gathering place for children’s workshops and end-of-term celebrations. The wall separating the backyard from the neighboring Palumbo Park was replaced with a custom-crafted, wrought iron gate. “It was really important to us to match the finished project with our organization’s mission and values, so to be able to provide access to that space for everyone,” says Matt Braun, Fleisher’s executive director, “whether inside of Fleisher or coming from the park side, was really important.”
26 | Community Design Collaborative
after top: Dedication of the
Fleisher Art Memorial’s Bootsie Weiss Children’s Garden. Left: A drawing from the Collaborative’s original conceptual design for the children’s garden. Credit for photos: Fleisher Art Memorial
Congratulates the Collaborative. Thank you for all your assistance.
OMG bcard 4-11:Layout 1
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TELEPHONE 215.732.2200 FAX 215.732.8123
The University of the Arts
planning | urban design | Community development
www.groupmelvindesign.com robert Melvin, AiCp/pp, principal Martha J. Cross, AiCp, Leed Ap, director of design
We are proud to support the Community Design Collaborative and its 20 years of service to Greater Philadelphia
Logan CDC wishes Community Design Collaborative
Happy Birthday! economic development I community organizing I technology access
www.LoganCDC.org Philadelphia | Washington
Follow Us: @LoganCDC
(215) 302-1604 Like Us: facebook.com/LoganCDC
C O M M U N I C A T I O N S, L L C
Community Design Collaborative | 27
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Saturday, November 5, 2011, 1–5 PM, at Dansko, 8 Federal Road, West Grove PA 19390. Land walk, tour of Dansko’s LEED Gold facility, talks from the developer & future residents, Q&A, refreshments. RSVP to 610-643-4411 or email@example.com www.threegrovesecovillage.org
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Homemade gifts for sale and magical children’s activities Friday, Nov. 18th · 6pm-10pm Saturday, Nov. 19th ·10am-5pm 7500 Germantown Avenue, Phila. PA 19119 (across from the Trolley Car Diner in Mt. Airy)
Tile and Stone Sales and Installation 3rd Generation Craftsmanship Showroom Hours Wed-Fri 12-6 • Sat 12-5
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Community Design Collaborative | 29
Four new projects in the Community Design Collaborative’s queue Each year the Collaborative provides more than 30 service grants to nonprofits. The grants provide organizations with the predevelopment design services necessary to getting their projects off the ground. Below are four of the latest projects from the Collaborative, all offering a unique vision for improving a community.
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Hamilton Village Project Conceptual Master Plan for Expansion The idea Creating more visibility for great community programs. St. Mary’s, located near Locust Walk on University of Pennsylvania’s campus, houses a group of community programs including Neighborhood Bike Works, a soup kitchen run by students and a daycare facility. The conceptual plan proposes a new building nearby Locust Walk with a storefront workshop for Neighborhood Bike Works and a shared community space.
New Kensington Community Development Corporation
SHARE Food Program, Green Village Philadelphia, Common Market
Project 2010 Pilot Project: Conceptual Design for Residential Rooftop Planter System
Project Conceptual Neighborhood Master Plan
Project Design Charrette for an Urban Eco-Village
The idea Transforming Philadelphia’s thousands of flat roofs into organic farmland.
The idea Utilizing an old industrial landscape to revitalize a neighborhood.
The idea Developing an urban green business marketplace.
PRooF’s mission is to create and sustain a citywide rooftop farm to grow and distribute vegetables to urban communities. The design study offers workable design prototypes for the standard, flat-roofed rowhome.
This master plan proposes many ways to reframe Kensington’s gritty landmarks: a greenway along Lehigh Avenue, a community kitchen and servery near Somerset Station, and a mixed-use neighborhood hub at the now-vacant Orinoko Mills.
Can a former ball bearing factory in North Philly become the nexus for a mixed-use green business marketplace? Over 40 design and sustainability professionals convened in April to sketch out ideas for making that happen—sustainably— on a five-acre site in Hunting Park.
Philadelphia Rooftop Farm (PRooF)
30 | Community Design Collaborative
architecture + planning 215.923.2420 www.bwa-architects.com
Structural Engineers Analysis & Design :: Evaluation of Existing Structures Historic Preservation :: Due Diligence Studies Facade Investigations :: Expert Testimony
www.LarsenLandis.com 1400 N American Street . Suite 205 . Philadelphia, PA 19122 p. (215) 232-7207 f. (215) 232-2708
Cyber Village Senior Housing
W i l m i n g t o n , D e l a w a r e . P h i l a d e l p h i a , Pe n n s y l v a n i a
Honored to be featured in this month’s griD
S ECOND A NNUAL
Congratulations to the Collaborative on 20 great years!
Saturday, October 22 12 to 4 pm Weavers Way Chestnut Hill 8424 Germantown Ave.
sampsliwng d o o • f(natural brands a ell as local vendors) e painting • fac music live Quality Apartment Living S. Michael Cohen President
A Great Time to Join!
O C TO BER I S CO - O P MO N TH!
One Wynnewood Road • P.O. Box 678 Wynnewood, PA 19096 • (484) 708-5100
Visit www.weaversway.coop & click on Events for more! 215.843.2350
Community owned & open to the public
Community Design Collaborative | 31
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november 20 11
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The Greenhouse Projects exhibit combines historical science with modern growing methods in a high-tech eco-structure by julie lorch
g ridp h il ly.c o m
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eeking out between the colonial brick buildings on South 5th Street, a 52-foot, ribcage-like structure is a stranger amidst the relics of Old City. Neon orange, green and blue plastic panels, as well as plant life, stick out from all angles. The structure is a greenhouse and part of “The Greenhouse Projects,” a special exhibit at the American Philosophical Society (APS) Museum. “We invite artists to take historical materials, themes or objects from exhibitions and ask them to come up with something that will put a contemporary spin on the exhibitions,” says Dr. Sue Ann Prince, the director and curator at APS. The museum’s latest exhibition, “Of Elephants and Roses: Encounters with French and Natural History, 1790-1830,” is an exploration of natural history in post-revolutionary France. Philadelphiabased architectural designer Jenny Sabin, a 2010 Pew Fellow and professor in Design and Emerging Technologies at Cornell University, was invited to participate in the exhibit. The result: “The Greenhouse and Cabinet of Future Fossils,” an interactive, high-tech eco-structure. When creating the greenhouse, Sabin considered how information about nature is disseminated to the public, both historically and in modern times. In the early 19th century, there was a shift in the way scientific research was conducted. “There was the scientist out in the field, collecting data and then all of a sudden,”
says Sabin, “scientists began moving away from nature, becoming distanced. And there was the birth of the lab.” At the time the Jardin des Plantes, the main botanical garden in Paris, put scientists and their labs (or “cabinets”) on display. Sabin plays on this idea of the cabinet. Instead of putting nature behind glass, she reverses the enclosed geometry of the scientist in the lab, designing a structure that allows plants to flow into the urban fabric. Inspired by a series of mathematical studies of unraveling knots, Sabin created a canopy of 25 undulating white ribs through which visitors can walk and peek inside 110 colorful snap-fit coldframes, an age old gardening technique to grow food and plants in a fluctuating climate. These multi-colored, boxlike structures have lids, which can be raised and lowered depending on the outside temperature, and angled sides that maximize sun exposure. Organic matter grows up and out of the greenhouse coldframes, blending interior and exterior spatial conditions, and granting easy access to
nature. In the warm days of late September, the lids to the coldframes were open. But as the months progress, gardeners will start to close the lids to stabilize the internal temperature. Some of the coldframes hold “future fossils,” 3D printed items inspired by pods, cellular systems and mathematical flowers. Next to the organic matter, they display a kind of “synthetic organi-cism.” To create the actual greenhouse Sabin developed a series of custom-designed algorithms that she entered into a 3D modeling program. It was a generative process, meaning she didn’t know what the form would look like when she began. Though the materials are either 100 percent recycled or recyclable, the greenhouse juxtaposes the natural with the man-made. “The entire thing is made out of plastic” says Sabin, “but it’s the synthetic quality against the plants that was of most interest to me.” “Her work is really brilliant,” says Prince of Sabin’s greenhouse, which marks the the first collaboration between APS and an architect to construct a pavilion in the garden. “I view this as a work of art that’s also a greenhouse.” While the greenhouse is the main attraction, it isn’t just a visual project. A sound installation composed by Kyle Bartlett, another artist commissioned by APS, plays in the greenhouse. It’s a combination of natural sounds and French Revolutionary melodies with Bartlett’s own electronic compositions. The structure also served as a backdrop for a play written by Aaron Cromie, performed during the Philly Fringe Festival. A podcast series and geocaching treasure hunt, which uses GPS technology, are also part of the exhibit. In October, Sabin is giving a lecture on the greenhouse as part of DesignPhiladelphia and APS is hosting various “Greenhouse Project” workshops in association with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s City Gardening Series. The workshops include a session on extending the growing season, planting herbs in containers,and growing in coldframes. This last workshop will teach visitors about coldframe technology, and could offer a chance to take home a piece of the exhibit. Sabin would like the greenhouse to travel, so distributing coldframes and creating new ones would all be part of the project. “The hope is to fab[ricate] a new set of cabinets before it reaches its next destination," says Sabin, "so that the greenhouse develops a type of ‘urban tapestry.’” For more information about “The Greenhouse Project” and details on events and hours, visit the museum’s website, www.apsmuseum.org. november 20 11
g r i d p h i l ly. c o m
A Natural build Re:Vision Architecture designs buildings that do the work, and teaches people why it matters
story by g.w. miller iii photos by gene smirnov
Re:Vision co-founder, steps away from the conference table in the firm’s Manayunk office and explains how they utilized the available light to create a comfortable environment. “There is very little daylight coming in through here,” he says as he stands near the north-facing window. There’s just a faint shadow behind him despite it being midday. The lights are off. “The reason you can see very well in this room is because the light levels are balanced.” He walks away from the window and his faint shadow follows him until he is below one of two narrow, tube-shaped skylights in the ceiling. “The light falls as you step away from the windows,” Kelly says, “but the two small tubes balance the light.”
It’s dim, he admits, but your eyes easily adjust because the light is even throughout the room. With no lights switched on, no energy is used, and the small skylights allow little solar gain (additional heat from the sun). Even when the lights are on, they seamlessly integrate with the ambient light. Jenn Rezeli, Re:Vision’s co-founder and Kelly’s wife, says that in green planning, “your building should be doing 90 percent of the work.” “The architecture does the heavy lifting,” adds Kelly. “The mechanical systems supplement.” Kelly and Rezeli speak with a passion that draws one into their world of thinking. Their 20
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opinions aren’t pushy or condescending; they genuinely want to educate others about having a smaller impact on the natural environment. That’s the mission of their firm, and of their personal lives.
Small Beginnings, Big Success The couple launched Re:Vision Architecture out of their home in 2001. Since then, the firm has grown to 15 employees and a branch in California. They have designed more than 60 LEED-certified projects (LEED is the standard developed by the United States Green Building Council [USGBC] to measure green building practices). They earned
the first and second LEED Platinum certifications, the highest award USGBC gives, in Delaware, and in Pennsylvania, they’ve worked on seven LEED Platinum commercial and eight LEED Platinum home projects. They also helped found the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, which, like Re:Vision, has just reached the 10-year mark. In 2008, they designed, in collaboration with Roofscapes, Inc., perhaps their best-known project in Philadelphia: a 45,000 square-foot green roof on the PECO building. The roof soaks up roughly 1.5 million gallons of rainwater runoff annually. Other recognized Philadelphia projects include eco-renovations for the White Dog Cafe,
the renovation design for the Mariposa Food Coop and the Fair Food Farmstand at the Reading Terminal Market. Re:Vision’s staff and projects have received numerous green building and sustainable business awards—most recently a nomination from Bloomberg Businessweek for America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneur for 2011. And, of course, they’ve turned their office space, a former stable, into a model of smart, efficient design: radiant heating in the floors, bamboo workstations, skylights throughout the building and open-air flow. Kelly, 43, the firm’s principal architect, and Re-
zeli, 38, the managing principal, approach their for-profit operation with a nonprofit mentality. The clients, developers, contractors and code officials on their projects are all involved from the very beginning. And they continue monitoring their buildings long after they’re built. They even educate their clients on how to best use the space by analyzing utility bills. “We spend a tremendous amount of time helping our clients understand the value—where they get benefits and where they don’t,” says Kelly. “I think that’s really unique about our firm. No one pays for that. It’s still our mission. We’re still going to do it.”
A History of Saving Rezeli’s enthusiasm for the environment stems from her upbringing in a family with a Depression-era ethos. “You don’t waste,” she says with a modest laugh. “That was always my motto. You always darn your socks. You turn out the lights.” After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, she took a job in the nonprofit sector, working on conservation projects and urban planning projects. She led students on energy audits of their schools, daylighting projects and stream-cleaning expeditions. “I saw the impact on the kids and on the teachnovember 20 11
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ers," Rezeli says, "and how much passion they were bringing to green building projects.” Kelly’s impetus to start the business came from a cross-country drive he took in 1996. He had visited a small-town café in South Dakota five years prior and loved their soup. On the 1996 trip, he went 400 miles out of his way to return to that café, but it was gone. Most of the businesses surrounding the former restaurant were boarded up as well. “They built a couple of strip centers outside of town,” Kelly recalls. “It just killed the economy there. I’ll always remember that moment and what a bad design decision was made there.
The old town essentially died in a very short time because they wanted the new, suburban, big-box strip mall.” Originally from Lower Merion, Kelly had been doing historic preservation—finding new uses for old schools and churches—but felt he could be doing more. When he was sitting on the local board of advisors for Earth Force, the nonprofit organization where Rezeli served as national director, the two spoke and hit it off. “When we met,” Kelly says, “it was kind of the perfect fit.” In more ways than one—the couple’s second child is due in late October.
We spend a tremendous amount of time helping our clients understand the value— where they get benefits and where they don’t. I think that’s really unique about our firm. No one pays for that. It’s still our mission. We’re still going to do it. —scott kelly
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A NonProfit Ethos The firm began small, with only a handful of projects. They often shared their green expertise with other design firms—essentially working with their potential competitors. “I don’t know how to run a corporation but I know how to run a nonprofit,” Rezeli says. “When you work for a nonprofit, everything is about, ‘Does this fit our mission?’ and ‘How can we have better impact with fewer resources?’ You’re not as concerned about competition as you might be in the corporate world.” In time their reputation, and business, began to grow. “We’re still a little firm, a little snowball,” says Rezeli. “We’re not an avalanche of a firm.” “I don’t think we want to be,” Kelly adds. “We just want to do good, high-quality design work and be green, sustainable and responsible.” “It’s not about volume of projects as much as impact of projects,” Rezeli continues. “We’re always looking for the right kind of projects.” Jackie O’Neil approached Re:Vision in 2003. She knew that she wanted to build a pair of sustainable homes in Perkiomenville at market rate, but that’s about all she knew. “I didn’t even really know what the requirements would be for a green home,” O’Neil remembers. “I just threw out the challenge.” Kelly and O’Neil sat down, discussed goals and
went through building models. Everything was tested, and results discussed. The ultimate design came through collaboration. “They did a great job of helping me focus on what we could do to build a green home,” O’Neil says. The results were the first two LEED-homes projects in Pennsylvania. They are zero energy, passive solar structures with radiant heating under concrete floors and a solar panel array that C produces 5kW of power. Rezeli and Kelly debriefed at O’Neil’s home M a few weeks after she moved in, further bonding over dinner. Their working relationshipY has grown into a friendship, and has spawned more CM business—Re:Vision is currently partnering with MY O’Neil on a 37-unit eco-village development in London Grove, Pa. CY “Every project is their baby,” says O’Neil of CMY Rezeli and Kelly. “I want to work with people who care about the work and care aboutK the mission.”
Riding SEPTA lowers harmful car emissions. Go ahead, breathe. go green go 215-580-7800
All About Education “Being a good architect is about listening to the client’s ideas,” says Pierre Noack, the president of Aerzen USA, a Coatesville-based company that manufactures wastewater treatment equipment. “The Re:Vision team not only understood what I was saying, but also the intent.” Noack included his staff, the HVAC team, crane operators, Philadelphia University students, landscape architects and the Re:Vision crew in the design process, with Rezeli leading the charrette, a collaborative session where designers discuss how to solve a problem. Around 30 to 40 people gathered every day for one week to envision Aerzen’s new, 42,000 square-foot office building and light manufacturing plant. “It was completely different from a typical building project,” Noack says. “It was a fantastic process.” The facility features a geothermal heating and cooling system, and straw bales in the walls for insulation. “That is something we had to do a lot of education with code officials around,” says Rezeli. “We had to have independent testing done on the straw bales.” The education process at Re:Vision starts with the clients, but goes through the developers, contractors, policy makers, end users and even back to the firm. They are constantly learning. “It’s so important to have contractors understand what the design intent is,” says Kelly. “But we also have to tell them why it should be important to them.” He says that he often walks into construction meetings, picks up a tube of caulk and explains why he wants them to use that brand. “The volatile organic compounds, the VOC, are 25 grams per liter,” he tells the construction crew. “It’s very low. It’s not going to give you cancer like the other stuff.”
Then he hands them the caulk and walks away. He sees the light bulb go on in their heads when they think about their fathers and brothers suffering from cancer. “All of the sudden, they understand that we’re trying to make them less sick,” Kelly says. “Here are these guys who are not environmentalists, but are now believers because they see the benefit of what we’re trying to do.” In Philadelphia, Re:Vision championed the waterless urinal system at the Comcast Center. The plumbers union originally opposed a building code change that would allow the waterless system. “Anytime you’re doing something officials don’t typically see, you’re going to have to do additional education,” Kelly says. “That’s something we’re usually excited about,” Rezeli adds. “It’s something the client might be excited about, but they’re like, ‘I’m not going to pay you to change this policy.’ But we’ll spend a good amount of time educating the code officials.” Kelly pauses and notes that in that project they were representing Liberty Property Trust, the developers of the Comcast Center, with whom they have worked on several projects. “I think on that one,” Rezeli offers, “we were probably volunteering.”
Simply Green “It’s almost hard to believe how different environmental architecture is now compared to when we started,” Rezeli says. “Literally, people did not know what we were talking about 10 years ago. It was that foreign in Philadelphia. It was that unusual.” Builders in the U.S. were once environmentally conscious because they had to be, Kelly explains. Then, about 50 years ago, glass became inexpensive. Energy prices dropped. Projects were built that didn’t factor in natural systems for light and heat. Instead, construction began to rely on mechanicals. “The best architecture uses natural systems to its fullest abilities,” explains Kelly. It’s that simplicity that Re:Vision employs today—cisterns and rain chains to collect stormwater, proper site alignment, vines serving as living walls, skylights, proper ventilation, water in the walls as insulation. “Who thinks of this stuff ?” asks Scott Seibert, the developer of Bancroft Green, a set of 11 energy-efficient homes in Center City designed by Re:Vision. “I certainly don’t.” Seibert and his brother are planning another project with Re:Vision in Queen Village. “They leave their egos at the door,” Seibert says. “Scott? He’s a really big deal, but you’d never know it. He’ll explain every little thing to you, and then roll up his sleeves and get to work.” n ovember 20 11
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by bernard brown
Meet the little brown birds who vacation in Philadelphia
veryone knows what a sparrow is, right? Those ubiquitous little birds that compete with the pigeons for crumbs in front of park benches across Philadelphia? Well, they are and they aren’t. Most of them, Eurasian house sparrows, don’t belong here. They’re completely different birds in a completely different family than our native sparrows, except that they look almost the same. They’re all Little Brown Birds (LBBs). That’s birder lingo for, you guessed it, all the little brown birds that look the same. For a long time I’ve known native sparrows were out there, but I figured they were way out there, in the forests and meadows, not in the urban jungles in which I live and work. But then I sawLBBs (presumptive house sparrows) in the garden that looked a little off: crisp stripes on the heads where I expected patches, sharper beaks, longer tails. I had a hard
time getting a good look, though. They seemed to materialize out of dead leaves and twigs, and then zip back into the bushes before my brain could work through the search patterns. I treasure the moment when the background monotony resolves into beautiful diversity. My “sparrows” category was starting to crack. Soon it shattered into multiple fascinating species of birds, each with its own natural history. This is one of the highlights of learning about the natural world, though in this case it took a morbid walk in Center City for the vision to come fully into focus. Keith Russell, outreach coordinator for Audubon in Philadelphia, let me tag along one October as he collected dead migratory birds for building-collision research. Several were white-throated sparrows (from upstate Pennsylvania into Canada), and it was easier to get a good look at them dead (however depress-
ing). At the end of the shift, Russell paused at a pocket park next to a skyscraper and cocked his head with a grin. Little “chip” sounds around us meant we were in the presence of white-throated sparrows, live ones. It turns out that a lot of the migrating whitethroated sparrows, presumably ones that figure out how to avoid windows, spend the winter in Philadelphia. “They’re everywhere,” Tony Croasdale, a naturalist and environmental educator, told me. “Cobbs Creek, Temple’s campus, Center City.” There is a downside to wintering in Center City. “They do make up a large proportion of the window strikes,” Russell noted when we spoke recently. “This is partly because they’re so common, but they like the habitat around Center City. They might see buildings as acceptable habitat.” So, what is that LBB you’re looking at on your way to work this fall? It’s probably a house sparrow, but take a closer look. Aside from the white throat and the different shape, white-throated sparrows have dark stripes running back from the tops of their heads. Russell pointed out that the white-throats move differently than our house sparrows. “House sparrows hop on the ground. [White-throated sparrows] jump forward and scoot back, scratching at the leaves to see what’s underneath.” Croasdale noted that the song sparrow, another native, lives in overgrown Philadelphia fields (meaning vacant lots) year round, and that we have several other sparrow species in our parks. The next time you’re walking just about anywhere in Philadelphia, take a closer look at the LBBs. They just might be something special. 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.
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ph oto by c h ri st i an hu nol d
by char vandermeer
Office Gardens F
Line the catch tray with an inch or so of small pebbles, marbles, beer caps or seashells (anything small will do). Not only will you find this to be rather aesthetically pleasing, but it will also provide a little additional humidity for the plants once your office hits that Death Valley dry stretch in early January. Before nestling your pots into your pretty little catch tray and filling them with clean soil, sprinkle a handful of those pebbles or marbles to help promote drainage. Herbs do pretty darn well in the office. Thyme, rosemary, chives, garlic chives, oregano and tarragon adapt well enough indoors and serve as excellent additions to winter stews, tomato sauce or roasted chicken. Do yourself a favor, though—don’t start these from seed. Spring for a young start at your local nursery, or if you have healthy plants in your garden, bring pieces of your outdoor stalwarts inside. (A word to the wise: inspect all outdoor-to-indoor transplants carefully. If you see any pests or indications of disease, leave them outdoors.) Starting plants from seed is super fun, though, and nothing says super fun like an office garden. Leaf lettuce, Thai chilies, spinach, parsley and cilantro are good candidates. For instant gratification, plant a few radish seeds in pre-moistened soil, cover with a quarter inch of soil and cover the pots with plastic wrap. The mini-greenhouse effect accelerates growth rates. You’ll want to plant another crop every two weeks to ensure semi-regular harvests. Carrots, such as the thinskinned Parmex, which produces golf ball-sized vegetables, can be grown the same way. However, they’ll take much longer to mature. If you’re very ambitious, I hear Tiny Tim tomatoes, which reach a towering height of 15 inches, aren’t out of the realm of possibility, either. If you try to grow tomatoes, you’ll want to rig up a supplemental light system, regardless of how swank your south-facing office window happens to be. And you’ll need some luck, too. char vandermeer tends a container garden on her South Philly roof deck; she chronicles her triumphs and travails at plantsondeck.com
ear that cooler temps and shorter days will put an end to your garden-fresh produce? Fear no more, my friends, fear no more. The time is ripe for an office garden. First, determine how much light your office gets. If you’re lucky enough to have a south-facing window all to yourself, you’re in good shape. If you’re one of the windowless masses, ask around the office to see if you can convince someone to share their sunshine. And if that fails, set up a broad-spectrum grow light, as your crops will need at least eight hours of light per day. Once you’ve found a suitable sill, dig up a few smallish containers—28-oz tomato cans, quartsized take-out containers, or whatever pots you have lurking in the basement will do the trick. Poke a few holes in the bottom of each receptacle and toss them into that oversized courier bag you schlep around. Ignore the weird looks security guards and co-workers send your way as you clank past them with your oddly-stuffed bag. Next, grab some fresh, sterile dirt and bring that in, too. The key word here is “sterile”—you certainly don’t want to invite creepy nasties into the workplace; after all, you probably work with a few already and you don’t want to actually deserve those weird looks. And unless you’re into excuses like, “I over-watered that report you asked for, boss,” you’ll want to remember some kind of catch tray for any runoff that may drain through your mini-container garden. An old, warped cookie sheet works well, as does a tray fashioned from lightly-used aluminum foil.
Take your garden to work, and make sure it has a window seat
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Leadership in Landscapes Symposium 07 Visit Longwood Gardens for a day of discussion as two leading landscape architects share their innovative projects and design philosophies: Adriaan Geuze (Founder, West 8) and Julie Moir Messervy (Principal, JMM Design Studio). Registration fee includes lunch and admission to Longwood Gardens. →→ Fri., Oct. 7, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., $50,
1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square. For more information and to register, visit longwoodgardens.org.
YIKES Open House the new home of YIKES, Inc., an 07 Visit office rehab project with LEED Platinum ambitions. This special event will give you the opportunity to see some amazing architectural and construction work. From bleacher boards used as flooring to incorporated pieces of movie sets, the buildings demonstrate quality work with high sustainable and green standards. Enjoy refreshments at this waste-free event and music by DJ K-tell. The buildings are a project of Greensaw, Plumbob, Sustainable Solutions Corp. and Leveque Urban, LLC. →→ Fri., Oct. 7, 5-7 p.m., 204/206 E. Girard Ave. For more information, visit yikesinc.com/blog.
Greenable Kennett Grand Block Party 07 Opening Join Greenable in celebrating the grand opening of their new store during Downtown Historic Kennett Square’s First Friday Art Stroll. Enjoy refreshments and entertainment from local talent. Historic Kennett Square will hold a joint ribbon cutting ceremony for the cluster of new businesses that have recently opened in the borough. PA State Representative Chris Ross will perform the ceremony, followed by tours of the new businesses and a wine reception at Flickerwood Tasting Room. →→ Fri., Oct. 7, 6 – 9 p.m., 116 S. Union St., greenable.net.
Frecon Farms’ Annual Pickfest 08 Fifth Join Frecon for its fifth annual Pickfest. Enjoy music from local bands, including Manatawny Creek Ramblers, Mason Porter and the Brad Hinton Band, while sipping on cider and exploring the wine garden. Take part in open mic fun, kids’ crafts and picking your own fruits. →→ Sat., Oct. 8, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., 501 S. Reading
Ave., Boyertown. For more information, visit freconfarms.com.
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Design in Action 2011 Presented by the Association for Com09 munity Design, the Association of Ar10 chitectural Organizations and Archi11 tecture + 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.
→→ Tue., Oct. 11, 6-9 p.m. For more informa-
tion and to reserve your free ticket, visit stateofyoungphilly.com.
No Mow! staff from Bartram’s Garden and 15 Join the Natural Lands Trust for a free program focused on managing and enhancing native meadows in the urban environment. You will learn about the diverse flora and fauna of native meadows, and the benefits they offer to people and wildlife, as well as current issues in meadow management.
→→ 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.
Sustainable Philly Walking Tour Young Involved Philadelphia, the 11 Join Next Great City, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for a hands-on tour of what sustainability in Philadelphia looks like. As part of the State of Young Philly conference, the Sustainable Philly Walking Tour will take you to key sites in Center City where green technology and sustainable thinking are already impacting our lives.
→→ Sat., Oct. 15, 9 a.m. – noon, Bartram’s
Garden, 54th and Lindbergh Blvd. Visit urbanmeadow.eventbrite.com more information and to register online.
Compost Dye Workshop to find a natural method for dy15 Want ing your textiles? Learn how to use food scraps to dye fabrics at Greensgrow Farm’s workshop. →→ Sat., Oct. 15, noon-2 p.m., Greensgrow Farm,
2501 E. Cumberland St. RSVP by emailing email@example.com.
CAFé 2011 in partnership with ArtsRis16 InLiquid, ing, Crane Arts and Kensington South Neighborhood Advisory Council, presents CAFé 2011 Community Arts Festival, at the Crane Arts Building. This event—in conjunction with POST (Philadelphia Open Studio Tours) East of Broad— will bring together art and environmental education programs from all over the city. Through CAFé, art and environmental organizations and audiences of all ages from around the Philadelphia area will gather to make a show of solidarity to support art, the environment and one another. The day will include live music, performances and delicious goodies from Philadelphia’s most innovative food truck entrepreneurs. →→ Sun., Oct. 16, noon-4 p.m., Crane Arts Building,
1400 N. American St. For more information, visit inliquid.org.
The Switched-On Garden Data Garden at the oldest 16 Join surviving botanic garden in North America for an interactive exhibition exploring the relationship between plants, music and technology. Participants will have the opportunity to wander Bartram’s Garden and connect with their natural environment through live music, performance and sculpture that blurs the distinction between biological and digital worlds. →→ Sun., Oct. 16, 3-6 p.m., free, Bartram’s
Garden, 54th and Lindbergh Blvd. For more information, visit datagarden.org
Bugs...it was trendy! Outside the Box Discover the Art Within the Science
Oct. 22 – Jan. 16 examine all the intricacies of the insect world—without a CALL 215.510.0647 OR EMAIL microscope! INFO@THESTOCKGROUP.NET a long-armed beetle more than
ten feet tall a giant butterfly with a five-foot wingspan heavily armored stag beetles with jaws as big as your leg
salvage RECLAIMING P H I L A D E LP H I A ’ S HFree I Swith T Ogeneral R Y admission.
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it 542 Carpenter Lane • Philadelphia, PA 19119
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→→ Sun., Oct. 16, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Kimberton Wal-
Camphill Challenge Bike Ride the Camphill Communities in Ches16 Join ter County (including Camphill Kimberton Hills, featured in the August 2011 GRID) for this fifth annual cycling event to support educational opportunities for children, youth and adults with developmental disabilities. Since its inception, the ride has grown from 12 to more than 300 cyclists. Participants may choose from a 10-, 25- or 50-mile route, all traversing the horse farms, historic homes and covered bridges of the county. All rides will culminate with a picnic featuring live music.
dorf School, 410 W. Seven Stars Rd., Phoenixville. For more information, to register or to become a sponsor, contact Bernadette Kovaleski at 610-935-8660 or bernadette@ camphillkimberton.org, or visit camphillchallenge.org or camphillkimberton.org.
Sustainable Energy Conference Sustainable Energy Conference, 17 The sponsored by the Energy Coordinating Agency, will highlight innovative neighborhood strategies, sustainable energy panel discussions and do-it-yourself workshops.
Greener Partners’ Farm Festival 22 Hillside Join Greener Partners for a funfilled day on the farm featuring local foods, apple cider pressing, kids’ activities, hayrides, cooking demonstrations, live music and square dancing, as well as an annual Seasonal Pie Bake Off. Enter to win a half share for the 2012 season at Hillside Farm. →→ Sat., Oct. 22, 1-5 p.m., Hillside
Farm at Elwyn, 111 Elwyn Rd., Media. For more information, visit greenerpartners.org.
→→ Mon., Oct. 17, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., PECO Energy
Hall, 2301 Market St. For more information, visit ecasavesenergy.org/events or call 215609-1034.
World Green Energy Symposium The 2011 World Green Energy Sympo21 sium will showcase new, alternative, 22 sustainable and innovative product 23 development, as well as green energy opportunities for businesses and the public. Topics will include current policy information, new policy ideas and world policy views. The symposium provides opportunities for networking, learning, exchanging, exhibiting and investing in new energy and green technology, as well as for businesses of all sizes to showcase their products and knowledge. →→ Fri.-Sun, Oct. 21-23, Philadelphia Convention
Center, 1101 Arch St. For more information, visit worldgreenenergysymposium.us.
SBN Annual Members Meeting the Sustainable Business Network 24 Join of Philadelphia’s staff, board and members for an evening of networking and SBN business. Results from the Annual Member Survey will be shared, as well as a sneak peek at the exciting initiatives planned for 2012. 28
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→→ Mon., Oct. 24, 7-9 p.m., The Law Firm
of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoades, 123 S. Broad St.
Community Garden Potluck School of Art will host a potluck 25 Tyler meal made from foods grown in community gardens across the city. This meal will incorporate dishes made from six gardens. The dishes brought to the meal will reflect the diversity of cultures driving Philadelphia’s boom in urban agriculture, as well as the important role food plays in expressing our identity. Southern African American, Bhutanese, Burmese and Latino communities will be bringing locally-grown examples of their cuisines to share at the table. For many participating groups, such as the resettled Bhutanese and Burmese refugees of South Philadelphia, the gardens and foods they grow are more than an opportunity to beautify Philadelphia’s wealth of vacant lots. Their gardens are improving their diet by providing nutritious produce indigenous to their ethnic backgrounds, offering these refugees therapeutic outdoor space in which to build community with their neighbors and reconnect to their agricultural roots. →→ Tue., Oct. 25, 6 p.m., Tyler School of Art’s
Temple Gallery, 2001 N. 13th St. For more information and to make a reservation, call 215-777-9139.
Scare Trade Ball became the first Fair Trade Town 29 Media in the country in 2006, and has since inspired 22 other towns to do the same. Help raise funds for their Fair Trade Town Committee at this gala dance and silent auction. Food and beverages are included, along with dance demonstrations, raffles and more. Costumes or fancy dress encouraged. Kids are welcome.
salvage RECLAIMING P H I L A D E LP H I A ’ S HISTORY
it was trendy! 542 Carpenter Lane • Philadelphia, PA 19119
www.philadelphiasalvage.com ALSO ON FACEBOOK!
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First Annual World’s Greatest Showdown 05 Farmer Greener Partners, in collaboration with PASA, invites you to celebrate the growers of the harvest in a day of friendly competition for area farmers. Area farms will compete in events like chicken-catching, pumpkin shot put, wheelbarrow and reverse tractor races, the farmer decathalon, a farmer tan competition and more. Local food, drink and family activities will round out the day of celebration. Enter as a farm team, or come support your favorite farmers. →→ Sat., Nov. 5, noon – 5 p.m., The Longview
Center, Collegeville. For more information and to enter, visit greenerpartners.org.
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by allison bart
never thought i would voluntarily shorten my summer vacation. Sure, I was excited to start my freshman year at Penn, but my plan was to enjoy a long, leisurely vacation in Maine. But at the beginning of the summer, while browsing my new school’s website, a preorientation program caught my eye: PennGreen. The five-day program promised to immerse new students in the many local green opportunities that both Philadelphia and Penn offer. A requirement for the program was a brief essay, and I wrote an ode to the Brussels sprout: “The smell of feet fills up other peoples’ kitchens when you are cooked, but all I smell is your sultry leaves covered in garlic and olive oil, slowly caramelizing.” Happily, I made the cut. Having grown up a short drive from campus, and having spent a spring term interning at GRID, I felt like I might have a pretty good handle on what Philadelphia offers regarding sustainability. Even so, it was truly amazing to crisscross the city and beyond to witness what a rich sustainability scene we have. Though Mother Nature was not feeling too friendly when we arrived (thanks, Hurricane Irene), we were able to take a walk to Clark Park for games and to learn about local farmers markets. The following day, Dan Garofalo, Penn’s environmental sustainability director, spoke to us about the university’s recycling initiatives, outlining Penn’s hopes to reach a 40 percent recycling rate on campus. Next, we ate dinner at Rx, a restaurant focused on quality locallysourced food. Day two began with a tour of the Wilmington Organic Recycling Center, a truly remarkable composting facility, followed by lunch at Morris Arboretum and a get-to-know-the-place scavenger hunt. Later that day, I was lucky enough to participate in a lecture and Q&A with Sarah Wu, the policy and outreach manager for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. Wu explained the city’s initiatives through the five Es: energy, environment, equity, economy and engagement. The day ended with a ride on SEPTA to the Reading Terminal Market, where we picked up ingredients for a dinner made at our leaders’ houses. Though I have been to Reading Terminal on countless occasions—especially during my internship at 30
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GRID—seeing some of my classmates experience it for the first time filled me with Philly pride. The next day, we were taken on a private tour of the recently opened Penn Park, which just last year was a vacant lot. From there, the PennGreeners took a bus out to Phoenixville, Pa. to meet the dynamic Liz Anderson of Charlestown Farm, and heard about some of the challenges of organic farming. After an afternoon of farm work and delicious homemade pizza, we prepared for a night of camping at Gifford Pinchot State Park. The following morning, we took a bus ride to the Susquehanna River, where we embarked on canoes for an ecological river tour. Of all of the experiences with PennGreen, this one resonated with me the most, as we were able both to witness the effects of human activity on the environment and have a day of canoeing with our many new friends. After completing the tour, which involved some highly competitive canoe races, we got on the bus and prepared for the beginning of another set of introductions to Penn, the new student orientation. So, was it worth clipping my summer vacation by a few days? Though we did a fair amount of traveling, the five days were more exhilarating than exhausting. And I completely recommend seeing as many of these places for yourself as you can. Perhaps just as important as seeing sustainability in action is the community the program fostered. I will always remember the conversations I had with my classmates and leaders. And isn’t community what sustainability is all about? ph otos by Wi ll Da rwa l l
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What matters most? Food matters.
Walk-In wednesdays Walk-In wednesdays Environmental Studies featured the first Wednesday of each month
The University of Pennsylvaniaâ€™s interdisciplinary Master of Environmental Studies program poises wednesdays students to tackle the complex issues that create food scarcityâ€”among them, global climate change, urban development, population growth, water shortages, and unsustainable agriculture methods.
Coursework in Metropolitan Food Systems, International Nutrition, and Global Water
The Second Annual MES Lecture Series continues in November with more topics of interest to the environmental community. Check our website for dates and locations. 32
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Issues prepare graduates to change the face of world hunger locally and globally through careers in environmental advocacy, policy, and resource management.
Give purpose to your passion at Penn. www.sas.upenn.edu/lps or search penn mes
Toward a Sustainable Philadelphia