Spruce Street Harbor Park Opening 

Fri, May 22, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Cheese Making 101

Sat., May 23, 12 to 2 p.m.

Wild Edibles Walk

Wed., May 27, 6 to 8:30 p.m.





Entries in environment (59)


A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings

Can recycled art at the Philadelphia Zoo help protect habitat and change habits?

by Heather Shayne BlakesleeNine-foot-tall recycled-cardboard gorilla sculpture created by Canadian artist Laurence Vallieres for the Philadelphia Zoo’s Second Nature: Junk Rethunk exhibit.

The newest animals at the Philadelphia Zoo aren’t in cages, although some of them—including a life-sized alligator sculpted from bubblegum—will remain safely behind glass. Second Nature: Junk Rethunk, an exhibit of whimsical sculptures made from recycled and salvaged materials, features the work of a dozen artists and artist collaboratives from around the world. Among the menagerie is a 900-pound gorilla made from recycled car steel, delicate miniature mechanical birds forged from used machine parts and cast-off electronics, and a majestic silver rhinoceros crafted from old serving ware and dinner plates, created by Philadelphia’s own Leo Sewell. 

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Let it Grow

Awbury Arboretum’s unlikely stewards let nature—and discovery—run wild

Awbury staff from left to right: Denis Lucey, Karen Flick, Heather Zimmerman and Chris van de Velde.Philadelphians are familiar with the sounds of city life: the laughter of kids walking home from school, bus engines and car horns on the busy streets, music flowing from rowhome windows. Amid the bustle in Germantown, a forest is quietly growing. The people entrusted with the 55-acre refuge at Awbury Arboretum believe that it’s a place to escape the hardscape, wonder at nature’s resilience and power, and maybe to fall in love.

Between a trickling creek bed on the grounds of Awbury Arboretum in Northwest Philadelphia and the abrasive honking of East Washington Lane, Denis Lucey is out on one of his many walks.

He stops to point out a mutated form of a snow drop flower and invites me to have a gnaw on a native spice bush. “It’s got an interesting flavor,” he encourages. “If you’ve ever been operated on, the orange dye they spray you with before they put the bandages on is a glue that originally comes from this plant.”

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Environmental Justice Lecture at Temple University


Dr. Robert D. BullardTonight, Temple University hosts Dr. Robert Bullard, a lauded environmental justice advocate, author and scholar, for their 5th Annual Kelch Lecture. His most recent book, The Wrong Complexion for Protection: How the Government Response to Disaster Endangers African American Communities, is the latest in a life-long body of groundbreaking work. Dr. Bullard and his co-author B.H. Right examine how poor communities and people of color disproportionally bear the costs and poor health that result from misguided public policy, proximity to industrial development and poorly executed disaster response. “My talk is to look at building just and sustainable communities for all. It’s a presentation that looks at environmental justice, sustainability, and building healthy, livable communities.” says Dr. Bullard.

Dr. Bullard’s work on the subject began in 1979, when his wife, attorney Linda McKeever Bullard decided to represent black communities in Houston, TX that were being unfairly targeted as waste disposal sites. Dr. Bullard served as expert testimony in the case, Bean v. Southwestern Waste Management, Inc., which became landmark legislation. Dr. Bullard’s later book Dumping on Dixie: Race Class, and Environmental Quality is a seminal text in the environmental justice movement.

Dr. Bullard’s message is clear. “It’s important to understand that in America, every institution in our society is impacted by racism,” he says. “Because we have not erased racism from our psyches or from our society … to think that somehow it doesn’t play a big part is a bit naïve. I think when we talk about public policies, oftentimes that may give the appearance that it’s neutral and objective, in many cases those policies—whether intended or unintended—hit people of color and poor people hardest. That’s what we’ve been doing over the last three decades is documenting those disproportional impacts and adverse impacts of environmental policies on people of color and poor people.”

April 15th, 6 p.m., Walk Auditorium at Ritter Hall, Temple University



Top of the Heap

Scott Blunk teaches Theresa Harter, a junior, how to work a loader at W.B. Saul High School in Roxborough. | Photos by Stephen Dyer

Compost expert and volunteer teacher makes educational programs possible for high school students

The compost pile at W.B. Saul High School in Roxborogh is about the size of a school bus—and that’s a good thing. When Scott Blunk, a volunteer for the agricultural high school’s compost operation, started working in September of 2011, he says the compost pile was 10 times the size. 

“This is my laboratory; this is where the magic happens,” says Blunk, staring over the heap of composting animal waste, hay, egg cartons, fruit and vegetable skins, and even old jeans.

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Meet the Mayoral Candidates - Anthony Williams

His Story:

Williams is son of a father who was both a judge and community activist. He went to The College of  William & Mary, where he earned a degree in economics, and rose through the ranks at PepsiCo to become a mid-level executive. The rise of gang violence, blighted communities, and lack of opportunity in Philadelphia led him away from the private sector and into politics in 1988, when he first served as a Representative in the Pennsylvania State Legislature. For the last 16 years, he’s served in the State Senate. He is a strong community advocate, and his main campaign message is about creating One Philadelphia: “The destiny of our community isn’t tied to the magnitude of our challenges, but our ability to find solutions together.” 

Vision for a Sustainable Philadelphia

I’ve been a proponent of environmental and conservation issues since the 1980s. As a state legislator who represented both urban and suburban areas, I worked to establish the Cobbs Creek Environmental Center, helped constituents create a political action committee to address environmental justice, and sponsored bills to address the adverse health impacts of toxic chemicals in low--income communities. As mayor, I am committed to building One Philadelphia,- a city where every neighborhood benefits from sustainability because it improves our quality of life. I’ll focus on two areas that will position Philadelphia as a
national leader in sustainability: 

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