A Cut Above: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia gets serious about going green with EcoCHOP

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is no stranger to innovation. Consider it’s new EcoCHOP initiative, which aims to implement responsible practices—from recycling, building and purchasing, to more healthcare-specific areas—that ultimately care for the health of the environment.

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There Is a Light That Sometimes Goes Out: Lutron has been making cutting-edge, energy-saving light switches for 50 years

In 1959, a light bulb illuminated, perhaps gradually, in Brooklyn native Joel Spira’s head. His proverbial bright idea was for a switch that would allow people to vary the intensity of their lighting, and at long last, he’d done it. À la Thomas Edison, Spira emerged from the spare bedroom-turned-makeshift lab in his home with a solid-state rotary dimmer. In 1961, inspired by his innovation, he founded Lutron Electronics, a lighting company with an environmentally conscious edge.
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Put It In Your Pocket: How the garden at Southwest Philly’s Mitten cooperative house became the neighborhood-magnet Pocket Farm

"Kids will knock on our door and ask for collards for their grandmum,” says Emily Wren, one of six members of Mitten, a cooperative house of twentysomething coeds that runs an urban farming venture in Southwest Philadelphia known as Pocket Farm. What began three years ago as a household garden to grow food for Mitten and a neighboring house has quite literally blossomed into a community effort. When neighbors began noticing the vibrant colors and scents of fresh veggies, requests for produce and farming education began pouring in.

The garden needed to grow, and fast.

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Sustainable Communities in Action: Sustainable 19125

Philadelphia, as the old trope goes, is a city of neighborhoods. While each has its own concerns and culture, sustainability is a key for all in establishing and maintaining a neighborhood that nurtures and uplifts those who live there. In our Sustainable Communities in Action series, GRID will highlight organizations that are working to make their neighborhoods greener, safer places that residents can feel proud of.

Residents of the east kensington, Fishtown and Port Richmond areas of the city are served by Sustainable 19125, an innovative community partnership created by the New Kensington Community Development Corp. (NKCDC) to address sustainability issues and quality-of-life concerns. The initiative’s goal is equal parts community revitalization, greening and neighbor-to-neighbor camaraderie.

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Nature Boy: Mike Weilbacher, new head of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, on the importance of educating children and adults on environmental issues

For a self-described “ecology geek” like Mike Weilbacher, the chance to direct the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education—Northwest Philly’s 340-acre green treasure—is a dream realized. Formerly executive director of Lower Merion Conservancy and, for the last year, Abington’s Briar Bush Nature Center, the Long Island native is one month into his new post, and busy creating new programming that will attract both children and adults to what he refers to as the “Mother Ship” of local nature centers.

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NBW Goes to Washington

Last summer marked the first ever Ride of Dreams, a 240-mile bike ride from West Philadelphia to the state capital in Harrisburg and back to raise funds for Neighborhood Bike Works (NBW), the Philly-based nonprofit that teaches urban youth the benefits and joy of cycling. This year, NBW will ride from Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania Avenue; the second annual ride will commence on July 22, kicking off at NBW’s headquarters and rolling down to Washington, D.C., where riders will celebrate their successful journey on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building on July 24.

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MEDIA: Planetwalker by John Francis

When you walk the walk like John Francis, you don’t necessarily need to talk the talk. Planetwalker: 17 Years of Silence, 22 Years of Walking is the true story of a native Philadelphian who, after witnessing a devastating 1971 California oil spill, chose to abstain from all motorized transportation. Instead, Francis walked. When his walking led to arguments with those who did not understand his beliefs, he gave up using his voice, as well

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Getting There: Drexel's Ridaroo makes carpool connections.

The brainchild of Drexel grads Aksel Gungor and Andy Guy, Ridaroo is an online application that solves one simple problem: carpool coordination. After spotting an on-campus “ride board” where students and faculty would tack Post-it notes offering and requesting transportation, Gungor had the idea to streamline the process—eliminating the time needed for the board’s one-woman staff to call and coordinate rides, and increasing the comfort level of the carpool-curious.
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