Resistance Futile?

Emerald ash borer beetles target ash trees, like this one at Fairmount Park’s Smith Playground. | Photo by Christian Hunold

Tiny green beetles are coming to kill our ash trees

You might expect something as scary as the emerald ash borer to be much larger than it is. The shiny green beetles from East Asia top out at about a centimeter, but they’re enough to bring down an 80-foot ash tree as their populations explode.

“Once they show up, the trees in an area just start to crash really rapidly because they get so overwhelmed,” says Curtis Helm, Project Manager in Philadelphia Parks and Recreation’s Urban Forestry and Ecosystem Management unit.

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The Trash Not Taken

Illustration by NARRATOR

Wissahickon's litter problem prompts man to collect it for a year, turning it into a powerful art project

Since moving to Philadelphia from my small Central Pennsylvania hometown in 2000, the single biggest gripe I’ve had with the city is its litter problem. Many anti-litter programs have come and gone—and even exist today—and still, it persists. It was one of the main reasons I moved to considerably cleaner Portland, Oregon, in the fall of 2009.

Before I did, I took one last hike in the Wissahickon, the most scenic 1,800 acres in the Fairmount Park system. I was appalled and disheartened by the graffiti and the litter I saw trailside, in the woods, even around (but not in) the trash cans near trailheads that lead out into the park.

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Haunted by an Industrial Future

 Illustrations by Kathleen White

Is a proposed petrochemical hub a devil’s bargain? The CEO Council for Growth says it is an opportunity for economic revitalization, while organized opposition throughout the city says it will drag us into our past. Must we choose between prosperity and pollution?

Philadelphia’s role as a vibrant manufacturing center faded decades ago, bringing both hardship and benefits. The loss of companies that employed hundreds of thousands of people was an economic blow, but also allowed the city to literally breathe a sigh of relief. Following a century of intense pollution, the shift away from heavy industry—as well as reduced use of coal, conservation, and technological improvements—contributed to a nearly 70 percent drop in toxic emissions in fewer than 20 years, from 1966 to 1985. Pollution levels have continued to fall since then.

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Fight Back

Protesters from the Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) demonstrate in Sarasota, Florida—one of 31 U.S. locations—during Flood PNC Day of Action on Dec. 6. | Photo courtesy EQAT

Five ways to make your activism more strategic

Thirteen years ago, at an anti-war rally where a small group of protestors gave speeches to each other in a park, my precocious five-year-old looked up at me and said, “Mom, this is not going to change George Bush’s mind. Can we go get ice cream?”

Of course, she was right, though at the time I didn’t know what was missing from all those rallies and marches I’d attended over the years. It was only through my involvement with Earth Quaker Action Team—a group founded five years ago that uses nonviolent direct action to work for a just and sustainable economy—that I learned the following keys to effective activism.

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Lost and Found

When he’s not working with the Fairmount Civic Association, Sam Holloschutz picks up trash at the wooded area near his apartment. | Photo by Stephen Dyer

A popular TV show awakens an environmentalist in Fairmount

Sam Holloschutz credits an unlikely source of inspiration for his devotion to sustainability: the TV show Lost. “Just seeing how beautiful Hawaii is made it click.” Suddenly, he became acutely aware of the beauty of nature, and simultaneously the effect human life has on the planet.

Holloschutz is a Fairmount resident and former Temple University graduate with a degree in real estate and marketing. In 2013, he joined the Neighborhood Improvement Committee of the Fairmount Civic Association, a nonprofit community development organization.

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