Anger Is an Energy: Lack of mainstream coverage leads to online hub for eco-conscious citizens

Jacques Sapriel at TEDxSoudertonHS in 2012During the 2008 Philadelphia mayoral election, the Academy of Natural Sciences hosted a series of debates centered on sustainability issues. If you don’t remember hearing about them at the time, Jacques Sapriel wouldn’t be surprised.

“There was very little coverage,” Sapriel recalls, obviously still annoyed by the memory. “I was incensed. And the way I function is, I get very frustrated and then I decide to do something about it. I’ve been working in technology for 30 years, so my initial idea was to create a central platform and a place for conversations.”

That anger-fueled inspiration led Sapriel to design PhillyEcoCity.com, envisioned as a hub for eco-conscious citizens to meet, discuss and find information. The site features a news blog, an event calendar, a database of green organizations in the region and forums for green jobs and volunteer opportunities.

“I would like it to be a place where people who have an interest in sustainability, whether it’s minimal or passionate, can find out who is doing what, where, easily,” Sapriel says. “I’d like people to be able to find cool things that inspire them and a way to connect with other people who are on the same wavelength.”

Originally from Strasbourg, France, Sapriel initially became concerned about the environment and climate change during the energy crisis of the 1970s. That concern has only grown in the three decades since he arrived in Philadelphia, heightened, he says, by the fact that he has two sons, both now in their twenties.

“We’re just seeing the beginning of what global warming is looking like, and 15 years from now it’s going to be much more blatant,” he says. “If I just go to despair and anger, that’s not productive. I am quite angry, to be honest; that’s one of the ways that I motivate myself. But we cannot do nothing. That’s only going to make things worse.” 

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Story by Shaun Brady.