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Entries in Dispatch (31)


Connecting the Dots: Civil rights protests, Woodstock, a Commodore 64 computer and my inevitable path to Greenbuild

It is the night before greenbuild, the U.S. Green Building Council’s international conference and expo, and tens of thousands are flocking to Philadelphia to celebrate and promote sustainability as a genuine worldwide movement. As an architect and professor of sustainable design, it’s more than an amazing moment in our city’s history; it’s a validation of 18 years of hard work and dedication. Too excited to sleep, instead, I think back on the moments of my life that brought me here.

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Local Girl: Dealing direct with regional producers expands notions of local

Not long ago, people would react with surprise when I told them that what brought me to Philadelphia was my desire to work in the local, sustainable agriculture movement. But Philadelphia has long been at the forefront of the local food movement, and as you can see from the ever-expanding Local Food Guide, more and more people—more and more Philadelphians—are learning what it means to be connected to their food.

I became aware of the importance of that connection at a young age, but it had nothing to do with bucolic ideals or insight into the plight of the modern farmer. Growing up outside Cleveland, Ohio, the connection was as simple as the Midwestern ideal of home-cooked meals, made-from-scratch. Early on, I was obsessed with the queen of all things homemade—Martha Stewart—and I grew up most interested in learning how to make the perfect piecrust. But despite my suburban roots, the memories from my childhood that stand out the most are of pick-your-own berry farms, bonfires, and hands stained from cracking piles of black walnuts from our neighbor’s tree.

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Sustainable Economy = Sustainable Community What the sustainable economy movement means to me

Story by Jamie Gaulthier | Illustration by Stephen Haigh

I was born in southwest philly and lived there until I was 9. The sights and sounds of that time are vibrant — hopscotch, penny candy, water ice, jump rope. It would never be called a “good” Philly neighborhood, but it’s what comes to mind when I think of a typical one. I remember starkly when things began to change for the worse — the crime, the drugs, the poverty. A standout event was the time a neighbor broke into our house when my mom and I were home alone. We heard the glass shatter and my mom told me to run. I did, as quickly as I could, up the street to my grandmom’s house, the wind roaring in my ears, my heart a drumbeat. We moved soon after — by then, we could afford it, my parents having both recently attained professional degrees. The new neighborhood, Wynnefield, was nicer and safer.

 Over time, I noticed what happened to those we left behind in the other neighborhood. How poverty kept them from learning, and blocked their access to fresh, healthy food. How it incarcerated them and killed them. How poverty led many to accept that there was not much of a world beyond the confines of their block. That to me is about a lack of equity and it is what attracts me to the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) and the sustainable economy movement. I believe that over time this effort will ensure equity.

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Seeds With Deep Roots: Heirloom seeds keep alive memories of people and place

illustration by Kirsten Harper

by William Woys Weavers

As far back as I can remember, I have always been surrounded by seeds. During my preschool years, I farmed with my grandparents, and it was my Grandfather Weaver, with his acre or so kitchen garden in West Chester, who raised me at his knee.

My grandfather ran an accounting business, but his heart was in plants. He started collecting seeds in the early 1930s from relatives in Lancaster County where he was born. Before long, his entire property had become a botanical showplace, with fruit trees, bee hives, a pigeon house for racing pigeons (which provided manure for the gardens) and all sorts of wonderful things no one sees today, like Pineapple Rhubarb with yellow stems.

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Wealth of Opportunities: Short on cash? Make your own 

story by Paul Glover │illustration by Justin RentzelTwenty years ago I started printing money. Soon after, residents of Ithaca, N.Y., began exchanging colorful cash featuring children, waterfalls, trolleys and bugs. Since then, millions of dollars worth of Ithaca Hours have been traded by thousands of individuals and more than 500 businesses. They’ve purchased everything that dollars can: groceries, fuel, housing, land, healthcare and all the fun stuff.

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