May: Comings & Goings

Philly Releases Action Guide After Trump’s Executive Order on Climate Change
Mayor Jim Kenney released a response in late March to the Trump administration’s executive order aimed at rolling back climate change programs and regulations. The order includes directing the Environmental Protection Agency to rescind the Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing carbon emission from power plants. 

“Eliminating the Clean Power Plan and other programs that fight climate change is irresponsible. A hotter and wetter climate will have a disastrous impact on the health of our residents and our communities,” said Mayor Kenney. “Additionally, the proposed Trump budget would have immediate and drastic effects on many programs that Philadelphians rely on, such as those that support local air pollution prevention efforts, or that help residents save money on energy.”

The order also removes barriers to coal, oil and gas development on federal lands, and rolls back orders for federal agencies to consider climate change in decision-making. The executive order came two weeks after the Trump administration released a proposed budget that includes cutting the appropriation for the EPA by 31 percent and eliminating funding for a variety of environmental and climate change programs.

In order to help residents take action against these cuts and the dismantling of environmental programs, Philadelphia officials put together a guide at phila.gov that includes facts about the environment and resources for contributing to environmental causes locally.

Mayor Kenney is among 35 U.S. mayors who have sent a letter to the president objecting to the executive order on climate change. The letter, issued in March by the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, tells President Trump that they “fear your administration’s actions and executive order will undermine America’s leadership on climate action, if not take us backwards.” 

Housing Authority Breaks Ground for Affordable Homes in Strawberry Mansion 
The Philadelphia Housing Authority broke ground in March on a new 55-unit development in the historic Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of North Philadelphia. 

“This new housing development—which will provide several different housing options to the residents and families of Strawberry Mansion—will help to ensure that there is affordable housing available here, so that the neighborhood’s residents have real choices when looking for homes where they can build and grow their families,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. 

The 55 new apartments will comprise one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom homes and will exceed 2015 Enterprise Green Communities criteria—the leading U.S. standard for the design, construction and operation of energy efficient and environmentally responsible affordable housing, according to a press release from the city. Renovations along the perimeter will include trees, lighting, curbs and sidewalks.  

Philadelphia Housing Authority is investing $23 million in the homes and in neighborhood upgrades, of which $13 million will come from private investors via the sale of low-income housing tax credits. The balance will come from public housing funds and private financing through the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program.

West Philly Garden Won’t be Sold
The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority unanimously rejected a deal April 12 that would have sold 11,000 square feet of green space at Powelton Avenue and Wiota Street to developer AJR Endeavors LLC, which had planned to build eight single-family homes on the site, philly.com reported

The space includes a garden that was started by residents in 1984.

Philadelphia Orchard Project Celebrates a Decade of Planting and Volunteerism
To mark its 10-year anniversary, Philadelphia Orchard Project is posting articles delving into each year of its history at phillyorchards.org, profiling volunteers as well as urban-renewal projects—which include planting edible fruits and vegetables in formerly vacant lots, community gardens and school yards.

“We are proud to have planted five new community orchards and involved 1,330 volunteers and 3,382 total participants in planting, caring for, and celebrating community orchards in 2016,” said Executive Director Phil Forsyth on the POP website. “POP staff expanded our educational offerings, including workshops on organic pest management, mushroom cultivation, and a four-part urban ecosystem design course.” 

POP also recently hired Alyssa Schimmel to serve as part-time education director. 

Sustainable Business Network Names New Director
Anna Shipp has been promoted to the role of executive director of Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. Shipp has 14 years of experience in nonprofit programming and management, as well as a four-year history with SBN serving as manager of the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Partners.

“We received dozens of applications and interviewed many very qualified and talented candidates for this role, but Anna continuously stood out among them,” said SBN Board Chair Colleen Bracken. “Anna has proven her effectiveness by growing the GSI Partner program into a thriving global model for local, sustainable economic development.”

Temple University Unveils Sustainable New ‘Tiny House’
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held April 7 after the completion of a sustainable tiny house at the Temple Community Garden. The 160-square-foot structure includes thermal envelope construction, a green roof, rainwater harvesting, solar photovoltaic system and a composting toilet. 

Thirty-five Temple students from 18 disciplines competed in a contest to create conceptual design ideas for the sustainable tiny house, then assisted with engineering and construction of the building. The tiny house will host workshops, demonstrations and meetings for the university and neighboring community.