Unity in Community Picnic: Sunday Sept. 3

We cordially invite you to our end-of-summer Unity in Community Picnic, sponsored by the Sierra Club Sustainability Committee, Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Food Co-op–3 groups working together for people and the environment. This celebration of growth–both in our numbers and in public consciousness of our message–will take place on Sunday, September 3, from 4 to 6 p.m., in Everhart Park, on the Union St. side, between S. Brandywine and S. Bradford Streets. West Chester Borough. (Rain date: Labor Day, Monday Sept. 4.)

Come learn about Bat House-making, get the kids involved in fun environmental games, enjoy sample food from the Food Co-op, experience Tai Chi and Yoga demonstrations, Sierra Club displays, and plenty of good company. Please bring your own picnic and utensils.

We also commemorate the life of Graham Hudgings, an inspiration to our founding and all of our activities and a long-time sufferer from multiple chemical hypersensitivities, who tragically left us earlier this year.

For more information contact Margaret Hudgings at mhudgings@gmail.com/ or 610-692-3849.

Memorial Service for Graham Hudgings June 23

The Hudgings family cordially invites all supporters of Don’t Spray Me  to the memorial service for Graham Hudgings on Friday June 23rd in the meeting house on the campus of Westtown School at 11 in the morning.
The meeting house is not air conditioned so dress lightly and wear business casual. Dragons baseball players can wear their jerseys. Baseball hats can be worn after the service.
At the reception, kids are welcome to use the nearby fields to play wiffle ball. I will have all the equipment. Hopefully the weather will be good. Graham always wanted any event to be kid-friendly and informal so we hope that we will accomplish both!

The reception is adjacent to the meeting house and is air conditioned. There will be signs to direct traffic and attendants to assist with parking. There will be parking right in front of the meeting house for those that have mobility issues.

You can view this link for campus map and parking info.

See more about Graham here.

Don’t Spray Me & Sierra Club picnic & celebration

Thank you to all who were able to come to the Don’t Spray Me & Sierra Club picnic & celebration in Everhart Park on Sunday May 28.  Defending our environment and health is not all work! We are expanding our network of conscientious citizens and have been reaching out effectively beyond West Chester Borough.

Here are a few photos of the event.

Decorated bicycles:

Mosquito-repelling plants, courtesy of master gardener Halyna Church:

Jim Wylie prepares participants for  a “Clean Energy for All” photo promoting Sierra Club‘s “Ready for 100” initiative:

Clean Energy for All:

Picnic & celebrate with DSM and Sierra Club on Sunday May 28

Please  join us our season-opening Dontsprayme / Sierra Club celebration in Everhart Park at 4-6 p.m. on Sunday May 28.

As in September, we’ll have various displays (like the ever-popular bat houses), environmental games, and (new this  year) music and bike-decorating.

What do we have to celebrate?

– A 2016 summer of fewer mosquitoes and no spraying in West Chester

– Branching out in neighboring communities.

– Renewed consciousness of people standing up to threats against environmental and human health in American life today.

We’ll also be  bringing you up to date on plans for pushing back both mosquitoes and pesticides this summer and other measures to defend our environment.

If you didn’t receive the invitation with further details, please contact us by emailing Margaret Hudgings or calling 610-692-3849.

Scene from our Sept 4,  2016 picnic:

DSM mourns the loss of Graham Hudgings

The Don’t Spray Me community was devastated by the recent loss of Graham Hudgings, who for almost half his life had struggled against the results of chemical-induced poisoning and resulting hypersensitivity not only to pesticides and herbicides but also to chemicals to which most of us pay inadequate attention, such as those found in household cleaners, paints, and perfumes.

Graham has been an inspiration to all of us concerned about environmental contamination. If chemicals could have such tragic effects on even one person, how many more of us are being affected in less noticeable ways? As disorders like autism, allergies,  and auto-immune diseases continue to increase in the American population, how do we know that exposure to chemicals, even at low levels, is not to blame, especially in children, who are always less resistant? As species die out, can we trace their mortality to chemical exposure, remembering that DDT spraying as an insecticide came very close to exterminating our own national bird, the bald eagle?

At Don’t Spray Me, we have carved out for ourselves the niche of preventing unnecessary airborne spraying to kill mosquitoes, since exposure to a 2012 spraying in his home town caused Graham to suffer a notable relapse in his health. Spraying cannot be shown to have a long-term benefit and has many dangers, both immediate and long-term (including, ironically,  building pesticide resistance in mosquitoes). It is safer, cheaper, and more efficient to head off the mosquito population where it starts: in stagnant water, often in our own property.

In Graham’s memory, we rededicate ourselves to this quest, confident that we are on the winning side and that common sense will triumph in protecting both human and environmental health.

The following obituary was written by Graham’s family;

Graham Robert Hudgings departed this life on May 5, 2017, at the age of 47. Graham’s life was defined by his abiding love of others and his ability to help people realize their unique gifts and abilities. As a parent, spouse, brother, son, friend and coach, Graham recognized people’s strengths and needs and worked to bring out the best in each of them. He was a lifelong sports fan who had strong interests in basketball and baseball and was a talented musician, often entertaining family and friends with humorous spur-of the moment serenades. With his humor and cheerful nature, Graham changed the lives of everyone with whom he came into contact.

Graham comes from a close and loving family. He is survived by his wife Sarah and sons Patrick, 25, and Liam, 15; his parents, Margaret and Jim; brother Ian, his wife Selay, and their daughter Maya; sister Meg Niiler, her husband Tim, and their children Mateo and Ana Maria.

In recent years, Graham’s life revolved around the West Chester Dragons baseball league which he founded in 2010. Graham emphasized the importance of skill development and enjoyment of the game while demonstrating sportsmanship and character. View the tribute from the Dragons family at https://wcdragons.com.

Graham was a graduate of Westtown School (1988) and Kenyon College (1992,  with honors). He earned an MA degree in Psychology from Immaculata University (1996). Throughout his life, Graham enjoyed connecting with people. He sang in the Holy Trinity Boys Choir, participated in CISV (Children’s International Summer Villages), belonged to multiple musical groups, led YMCA camps, tutored students with reading issues, worked at Auto Wise, and founded Dragons baseball. Graham was appreciated for his ability to connect with people, his creativity, and his sharp wit.

An exposure to chemicals compromised his health and for 22 years, he fought the illness that ensued. He wanted to be sure that everyone is aware of the dangers of pesticides and chemicals in our air, food and water. He and his family started an organization called Don’t Spray Me in West Chester in 2015 to try to educate the community about the dangers to human health and the environment of spraying toxic substances.

Graham’s family will miss him tremendously but is comforted by the memories, their love for him, and the stories of his impact on people’s lives. The family has planned a memorial service for Friday, June 23rd, at 11 a.m. on the campus of Westtown School. The service will be held in the Meeting House, where Graham’s life will be celebrated. After the service, please join the family for refreshments and fellowship. The family invites everyone to bring a photo and/or written memory of Graham to post on display boards at the service and to bring solace to the family. Weather permitting, there will be baseball of some sort.

Arrangements are being handled by DeBaptiste Funeral Home. Contributions in Graham’s memory may be made to West Chester Dragons at https://wcdragons.com or to the Sierra Club of Chester County (Sustainability Committee) at http://sc.org/pa-spg, “SPG/Sustain’ty Cmte”.

 

Background to Westtown meeting Feb. 27

Dontsprayme is meeting with interested Westtown citizens on Mon.  Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Church of the Loving Shepherd, 1066 New St., West Chester 19382.

Our agenda will be to review the Don’t Spray Me mission and goals, and to look at what residents could do now in Westtown, before the warmer season arrives (bringing mosquitoes along with it!).

Please reply to “Sheila A. Burke” at sannburk@yahoo.com by Sunday evening, 2/26, so we can know whom to expect. Come prepared to contribute your great ideas and enthusiasm!

In West Chester we’ve learned a lot since we started on this path in the summer of 2015. The Borough government and County Health Department have been very cooperative. Municipal authorities need to hear from their own citizens so that they and the County can hear of concerns and ideas.

Here are answers to some questions our neighbors may have for those of us in Dontsprayme and West Chester:

Does Dontsprayme want to expand into other communities?

Not as an organization, just as a source of ideas. We have plenty to do in the Borough. We do want to encourage our neighboring municipalities to take the sorts of measures that West Chester has. If you can get your own municipal Response Plan set up, great, and the County will want to work with you. We met with a dozen interested East Bradford residents on Feb. 21 and Westtown is next on Feb. 27. If you know anyone in West Goshen who might be interested, please let us know.

Do you want to ban all pesticide  use?

We are focused on truck-delivered aerial spraying to kill adult mosquitoes. Our point is to take all measures to make such truck-borne pesticide spraying by the County less likely. Others may want to turn their attention to pesticides and herbicides in general, but we have enough to do with mosquitoes.

Is there anything citizens can do?

Yes! We found most property owners had no idea they themselves were contributing to the mosquito problem and thereby making spraying more likely. Vast improvements can be as simple as covering trash containers and turning over bird baths every few days, putting larvacide (harmless except to mosquitoes) in standing water, or adding some fish to ponds.

Aren’t our municipal governments dealing with the situation?

Probably not. They receive a notice from the Chesco Health Department when spraying is imminent, but most municipalities don’t promote awareness or take basic measures to inform their residents about basic measures to protect themselves, their children and their pets.

The County gives good information on how to cut down on mosquito numbers, but unless municipalities help spread the word, probably people don’t pay attention.

What are the dangers of the current system?

Anti-mosquito pesticides are toxic to bees, butterflies, other beneficial insects, and did you know: cats. They are also bad for people, especially small children or allergic individuals.

Aren’t mosquitoes just a nuisance?

Unfortunately, they can pass along viruses from infected animals, particularly birds. West Nile Virus  does occur in PA, though its serious effect, encephalitis, has been very rare this far north. Horses and birds, which have a lot more exposure to mosquitoes than people do, can also die of West Nile disease. Other diseases may not be far behind as the climate warms.

What can our municipality do?

Municipalities should pass along needed information to their citizens and fight standing water.

In West Chester, we found that the storm drain system was contributing to the problem, because if an underground inlet is not functioning properly and retains standing water, it provides an ideal mosquito mosquito breeding ground. The Borough has that under control now. Not all municipalities have storm drain systems, but many do.

Can’t the current system just continue?

Not safely. By cutting down on the mosquito population we prepare better for the next mosquito-borne disease to come our way. This could be Zika virus, which caused big problems in southern Florida in 2016. We really have to have good systems in place.

Also, the pesticide the County has been using is one that already mosquitoes in Florida are becoming resistant to. When that happens through overuse, anti-mosquito programs have to upgrade to more toxic pesticides.

Can’t we just ask the County not to spray our property?

No, if the County decides to spray, you can’t just put out a sign. All you can do is leave town for a few days. There are people in the Borough who would have to do that. If you are hypersensitive to chemicals, you can get on a registry, but that just means they notify you personally and you draw your own conclusions.

 

Community activists fight mosquitoes and spraying

by Pete Bannan, Daily Local News, 9/10/16

WEST CHESTER >> Motorists driving through the streets of the borough this summer may have noticed the lawn signs with a baby wearing a gas mask stating ‘Don’t Spray Me.’ Those provocative signs belong to a group of community activists formed to stop Chester County from spraying pesticides in the borough.

Co-founders Margaret Hudgings and Nathaniel Smith recently sat down with a reporter to talk about the group.

“In 2012 the county sprayed in the southwest quadrant of the borough,” said Hudgings. “The morning after it was like silent spring, and we had a lot of people reporting illnesses.”

Three years later, Hudgings and Smith received reports of a plan by the county to spray in the Marshall Square Park area for West Nile mosquitoes which had been discovered in that neighborhood. County Health Department officials planned to use permethrin with permanone, sprayed by truck in the evening after winds had calmed down.

Concerned about the health effects on people and the environment, the two drew up a petition calling for a stop to spraying.

“We assembled a group of five volunteers who walked the southwest quadrant of the borough with a petition asking the county not to spray,” Hedging said. “We got a 98-percent signing rate. People don’t want to be sprayed.”

They presented it to West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta and county health officials…

dln-dsm

read more at Daily Local News

Don’t Spray Me community celebration on Sunday, September 4, at 4-7 p.m. in Everhart Park

Community celebration for Dontsprayme members: Block Captains, displayers of signs, others who support our goals — we’ll ask you to fill out a brief survey and sign in free as members.

What’s happening?

Mayor Carolyn Comitta, who has been indispensable in our successes this year, will speak to us
Friends of Everhart Park
Sierra Club of Chester County
West Chester Food Co-op
West Chester Community Rights Alliance
Info on the Borough’s various green efforts
Games for children; face painting
Bat house construction
Martial arts demo
Meeting lots of local, like-minded people

Union St. side of Everhart Park 

Please bring whatever food and drink you wish to consume (no alcohol), with utensils, plus a blanket or lawn chairs, if desired.

Come celebrate our success in a summer of fewer mosquitoes and no spraying in West Chester!

In case of threatening weather, please check here for any update. Rain date Monday.