Local sustainability activism panel: Fourth Annual Environmental Film and Forum Series at WCU sponsored by the Office of Sustainability at West Chester University and the West Chester Green Team, in memory of Graham Hudgings.
December 11, 7pm, via live internet: Local sustainability activism, featuring 5 local panelists on what campus and community groups can do to promote sustainability, outreach techniques, working successfully with non-profit and public entities, and Local Environmental Empowerment.
The West Chester Co-op is working hard to build a member-owned (cooperative) full-service grocery store in West Chester. The store will provide daily access to fresh, healthy, local food, and will be walkable for those in the Borough and have parking for those who don’t.
They now have over 300 members in their campaign to launch full-scale operations! The Co-op already has regular special events and a table on Saturdays at the West Chester Growers Market.
Cooperatives are businesses formed not to earn profits for investors but to serve the needs of their members. A cooperative offers our community the opportunity to build together something we all want.
The Food Co-op hired a consultant to produce an investment-grade projection of revenue for a store in our community; so we know it can work.
Cooperatives start through community support: many small investments from as broad a base as possible assure that the business reflects the community. The Co-op is building that equity base right now.
The Food Co-op is more than a grocery store: its mission is to enhance the well-being of the people of West Chester by promoting healthy and mindful eating, improving access to sustainably produced food, helping those in need to secure quality food, advancing sustainable and humane agriculture, supporting local farms, and building community through cooperative enterprise.
The Co-op seeks to bring transparency and accountability to every step of the food production and distribution process from farm to table, providing confidence for educated consumer choice and food that the community can trust. Nutritious food is a gift to the health and well-being of an entire population.
Member-owners make a one-time $400 investment (there is an installment plan and gift certificates are available). The Co-op is nearing its target to move into the next phase of development; your investment will help put them over the top.
You may email the Co-op here or join on-line. Please support our friends and community: we’re all on the same team for healthy environment and food!
As part of the environmental film series, the new documentary Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom will be shown THIS Thursday (11/6) at 6pm in the West Chester University Sykes theater. The documentary “tells the backstory of clean energy from innovation to installation”.
The film will focus on clean energy, but will also cover other themes such as job security, innovation, community benefits, workforce diversity, and much more. If you plan on attending the event, or if you would like to learn more about clean energy, let’s brush up on some fast facts about renewable energy!
Many people are worried about the cost of switching to clean energy – but actually, in many areas, renewable energy is cheaper than coal and fracked gas (Lazard). Also, the costs of wind and solar power are dropping rapidly.
Since 2009, the price of solar has dropped 85%, and the price of wind power is down 66% (CleanTechnica)
Solar power is now cheaper than the current cost of utility-provided electricity in 42 of our nation’s 50 biggest cities and in nearly half of all states
People also worry that converting to clean energy will take away jobs from workers in the coal and gas industries. However, there is a predicted 108% growth in wind turbine technician jobs from 2014 to 2024, the largest growth rate of any occupation in the country and double the rate of the second fastest-growing job (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Not only does clean energy create jobs, clean energy jobs can be created anywhere!
A major reason we should convert to clean energy is because fossil fuels pollute our air and water. Large populations of people are impacted by pollution due to fossil fuels, especially in areas of low-income or in communities of color. Once we switch to clean energy, everyone will benefit from cleaner air and water.
The switch to clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar has already prevented 12,700 premature deaths from fossil fuel pollution in the United States in this past decade (Nature)
Replacing fossil fuel vehicles with electric vehicles and clean transportation could prevent 10,000 asthma attacks annually (Environment California)
Our current sources of energy aren’t always reliable. Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear power fluctuate rapidly in price. Many power plants are decades old, and are starting to become a liability in the industry. Something else to worry about? Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear may fail during heat waves because they require so much water to manufacture. And with climate change on the rise, we will be seeing more extreme weather, and perhaps hotter summer. But when we make the switch, we will be working with much more reliable power.
In extreme weather events, like a hurricane, renewables are resilient. During Hurricane Sandy, for example, solar panels both weathered the storm and quickly repowered damaged areas (Christian Science Monitor)
Even for other uses of energy, like transportation, renewables come out on top on reliability. For example, electric vehicles require far less maintenance than fossil fuel vehicles, and their drivers avoid volatile gasoline prices (Department of Energy)
Emerging resources like energy storage, demand response technologies, and new transmission will create a more flexible energy system to produce even greater amounts of renewable energy
If you’d like to learn even more about clean energy, and how we’re going to get to 100% clean, please join us for the film tomorrow! Again, it is Thursday 11/6 at West Chester University in the Sykes Theater, at 6pm. And here is a quick trailer of the documentary:
Since 2015, with many others, I have been part of the West Chester PA activist group Don’t Spray Me, whose immediate purpose is to cut down on both mosquitoes and the pesticides sprayed to kill them.
The Don’t Spray Me effort is not “just” about mosquitoes and even not “just” about pesticides.
The short version is that if we, as individuals, organizations, and municipalities, can prevent mosquitoes from breeding in standing water, then we won’t be threatened with toxic air-borne spraying that has less lasting negative impact on mosquito populations than on many other vulnerable species, including but not limited to hypersensitive humans, beneficial insects like bees, and some other species.
Many things we believe in are under assault today. Americans have become very skeptical of trusting the status quo, and we rightly worry what could happen next if we aren’t vigilant.
When I have the mosquito conversation with anyone who grew up in the 1950s and 60s, they usually recall being exposed to DDT in their neighborhoods, when that chemical was being sprayed liberally in a futile attempt to save elm trees from Dutch Elm Disease. Many of us recall basking in the cooling DDT mist as it drifted down from the treetops….
I would like to reflect briefly on how the anti-mosquito & non-spray effort fits in to the sustainability theme.
Occasionally people ask us: Aren’t mosquitoes part of the balance of nature too?
Yes, but in an urban environment like West Chester, where the balance of nature is disrupted, they become pests
The stream protection plan, just discussed, fits in nicely here, because natural, healthy streams bring us good drainage and mosquito-eating fish and dragonflies.
If West Chester didn’t have people, we wouldn’t need a Sustainability Advisory Committee. But people are also part of the solution.
The mission statement of this Committee is ”to increase collaboration between Borough departments on issues regarding the economic vitality and environmental sustainability of West Chester Borough.”
And Borough code also says: “The Committee seeks to develop initiatives aimed at increasing Borough staff knowledge, developing community partnerships, and fostering sustainable best management practices.”
In my view, sustainability also extends beyond preserving the balance of nature to assuring that people live in an attractive and healthy natural environment.
The County Health Department is part of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program, which “promotes the adoption of innovative, alternative pest control practices.” In the EPA’s words, we wish to “work toward pest management practices that reduce the risks to humans and the environment.”
We are asking SAC to also support those goals and to:
– accept the mosquito Task Force as a SAC project
– appoint a SAC member as a regular liaison to the Task Force
– help publicize the Task Force’s outreach to residents