By Claire Marie Porter
Did you know that you can major in sustainability? Colleges and universities all across the nation offer programs on the subject. “A lot of people assume that sustainability is [just] environmentalism. It’s not,” says Rob Fleming, an architect, professor and director in the sustainable design program at Thomas Jefferson University. The term “sustainability” has become ubiquitous, and thus vague—it’s often lumped with buzzwords like “eco-friendly” and “green” and thrown around to describe corporate initiatives, food sourcing and hybrid vehicles. While students may learn about some of these concepts in academic programs, there’s much more to the subject of sustainability than what we’re routinely exposed to in the marketplace. In fact, there are certain hallmarks aspiring sustainability students should keep in mind as they’re deciding on their program—hallmarks that will allow them to suss out which degrees are legit. Read More
By Alexandra Jones
The teen years are an opportune time to learn smart money habits. High school students are on the verge of making big decisions—choosing colleges and career paths, opening bank accounts and sometimes getting their first cars and credit cards—that may have long-term effects on their lives.
A few fundamental lessons can set them up for success while avoiding common pitfalls—like overspending and racking up credit card debt. Read More
By Claire Marie Porter
Ryan Ebner is a construction consultant by day and a cooper by night. In a rented workspace in West Philadelphia, shared with Ice Sculpture Philly, he and his father, Jeff, moonlight amongst smells of smoke and wood.
The father-son duo started Anthony Barrel Company in 2015 as a side hustle. Jeff is a retired Volvo logistics engineer who commutes from Reading. His son Ryan lives in South Philadelphia. With two decades between them, they experiment with old and new methods for barrel-making. Their handiwork is intended for craft whiskey distillers. Read More
By Constance Garcia-Barrio
For a black transgender woman, being true to one’s self sometimes exacts a horrific price. One hears little about them unless they make lurid headlines as victims of violence—as did Michelle “Tamika” Washington, shot to death on May 19 in North Philly. Read More
By Bernard Brown
Gardeners who have taken a peek inside the hand-sized yellow flowers on their squash plants have probably witnessed what looks like a bee dance party.
On smaller flowers, bees perch themselves and deploy their long tongues to suck up the tiny droplets of nectar inside. By contrast, on winter squash plants (like pumpkins, butternuts or hubbards) and summer squash plants (like zucchini), flowers present bees with a virtual swimming pool of nectar, and they dive right in. Read More
By Randy LoBasso
After I testified at City Council on a Vision Zero issue in the spring, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, where I work, put up a blog post with a bit of context and the transcript of my testimony, which was then shared far and wide on social media, including in the local Fishtown neighborhood group Fishtown is AWESOME OLD/NEW/EVERYONE! Read More
It isn’t easy to accept that our dirt and mess are important. Why would we want to? Many of us feel there are bigger, better and more exciting things to do with our lives than to vacuum and dust the house. In actuality, the mess is a window through which we see the deep, unknown world of inner consciousness calling us to engage with life in a very practical way. The dust on the shelves is us—the dead part of us. The death, the dirt, the unsavory aspects of our tangible reality, they don’t need the negative connotations, and addressing them does not have to be a “chore.” Read More
By Meenal Raval
Thanks to the climate crisis, we’re guaranteed hotter and wetter weather in the years to come. We’re used to our humid summers in Philly—but hotter and more humid? How are we all going to cope with that? When we cool our indoor spaces with air conditioners, we’re basically pushing the heat and moisture outside, making the outdoors even more uncomfortable. Using AC also means we use more electricity, meaning more greenhouse gases from the power plant.
So, how do we keep our cool? It’s time to think outside the (AC) box. Read More
By Alex Mulcahy
My pockets are empty. I am free. I have, at least briefly, escaped modern life.
It wasn’t easy. I’m on vacation, writing you from Camp Common Ground in Vermont.
It’s a 400-mile trip, an especially long one when made with a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old. There are stops at gas stations, where my children pluck one bag of junk food after another and present them to me in the hopes that I will approve, which I do not. But I compromise and buy a pack of gum. Read More
By Jillian Baxter
As the city experienced its hottest day of the year on July 19th, the Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) dropped a 50-foot banner from the roof of PECO’s Market Street headquarters that read: “Climate is Changing: Why isn’t PECO?” Three EQAT members, who hopped a fence to drop the banner while on a tour of PECO’s green roof, were arrested and taken to a nearby police station. Read More
Lois Volta responded to a reader’s question on Facebook. We are re-posting to make sure everyone can see it.
I never really feel like my floors are clean with the dirty city making its way in (robot vacuum and all). I was thinking about taking my shoes off at the door but don’t want a pile of shoes as soon as you walk into my house and could foresee this being an issue. Any suggestions?
Lois: Dirt will come into the home, and this is OK. Be at peace with this when settling into a floor cleaning routine. I encourage people to deep clean ‘problem’ areas, thus setting the reset button, and then watch what happens. Pay attention to how you wipe your feet, where you put your shoes, whether there is an entry mat to collect dirt, etc.
We vacuum or sweep our high traffic entryway every few days and wipe it down once a week. We don’t have a set cleaning day or rigid schedule—we take note of when the floor starts to look dirty and squeeze in a cleaning when we can. (It only takes a couple of minutes—it really doesn’t have to feel like a chore.)
By Alexandra W. Jones
If you’re thinking that this summer might be a great time to escape from Philadelphia’s city streets and explore the outdoors, this is the list for you. The Philly area has tons of nature havens that can serve as the perfect getaway from your metropolitan life. Whether you like to camp, bike or simply enjoy the outdoors, there’s a great location for an adventure closeby. Read More
By Rob Fleming
It is a rare day, indeed, when Philadelphia gets a new art museum. Major buildings like the Barnes Foundation are like central characters in an unfolding drama of time and space within the civic heart of the city. Read More
By Meenal Raval
Fossil fuels are everywhere in our daily lives. So much so that we hardly notice them. Doing the laundry? Your dryer is likely burning gas. Taking a shower? Your basement water heater is likely burning gas, too. A quick quesadilla before heading out? Umm…likely your stove is a gas stove. And that disposable water bottle you just tossed into your bag for the day? It’s made of plastic, which is made from oil. Read More
By Randy LoBasso
Four weeks after 9/11, the Delaware River Port Authority ordered a shutdown of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge walkway after local reporter Paul Moriarty broadcast a report speculating about the walkway’s vulnerability to a terrorist attack. Read More
By Lois Volta
There’s no right or wrong way to run a household, so balance in the home means something different for everyone. We all come from our own places, have our own intimate, ingrained domestic habits, and generally don’t like being told what to do. Disagreement within the home can threaten our sense of autonomy, personal space and conceptions of fairness. If you bear the brunt of the mental and physical load of the home, it’s natural to be upset. In asking our partners or housemates to engage in domesticity, we can expect a vulnerable and sometimes volatile experience Read More
by Claire Marie Porter
In his battle against invasive plant species in the Philadelphia region, Max Blaustein is taking prisoners.
Boards displaying various vine cuttings are tacked to a barn wall at the Greenland Nursery, which Blaustein has managed for the last decade. Chinese Wisteria vine, thick and bendy, a hairy English ivy clipping and the pale-colored flaky Japanese honeysuckle vine are lined up like criminal suspects. Read More
by Bernard Brown
When Craig Johnson saw his neighbors getting picked on, he knew he had to get involved. It didn’t matter a bit to Johnson that his neighbors were snakes.
Johnson lives in Glen Fern, a historic house dating back to the mid-1700s that sits at the end of Livezey Lane—a street that is crossed by the Wissahickon’s Orange Trail and is close to Devil’s Pool, a popular swimming hole. Although Glen Fern is the last house on the Lane, a den of northern water snakes occupy a prime bit of real estate a few yards just beyond at the base of an old stone dam on Wissahickon Creek. Read More
by Grid staff
Green Building United, a green building education and advocacy nonprofit, is now accepting nominations for its annual Groundbreaker Awards. The award celebrates green building leadership, innovation and impact in greater Philadelphia that is helping move our region towards a sustainable and healthy built environment.
To celebrate the awards winners and finalists, Green Building United will host a Groundbreaker Awards event on Wednesday, September 25 in the Comcast Technology Center.
2018 Groundbreaker Awardees and Finalists included: Read More
By Claire Marie Porter
Dr. Anna O. Marley, curator of historical American art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) wants to set the record straight: The history of landscape painting in America does not begin in New York, as has been historically believed, but right here in Philadelphia. Read More