Ken Hemphill’s talk on Earth Day, West Chester, April 22

Text of the talk given at the April 22 Earth Day rally by Ken Hemphill, Open Space Advocate and Southeast PA Sierra Club Executive Committee Member:

There are two axioms that have inspired me in my involvement to save open space. The first is Margaret Mead’s point that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. The second is that we should think globally but act locally. And both of these were certainly true the first time I got involved fighting with a small group against the destruction of a local place known as Beaver Valley on the DE PA border.

A politically connected developer wanted to build 450 ticky tacky houses in a 325 acre publicly subsidized wildlife refuge that had been open for public use for 40 years. In late 2012, when the plans were introduced, things looked really grim and our mood reflected that. Few in the group believed we could win. Some were just hoping to scale down the plans and make them less egregious and reduce the traffic impact. Everyone thought it was a done deal since the supervisors in Concord Township were advocating for the development in various newspapers.

Nevertheless, a few of us felt that we could fight city hall and save Beaver Valley. So we formed a second group called Save the Valley and we hunkered down knowing it would be a long fight. We held rallies and protests. We built a massive Facebook presence. We published dozens of our own articles. We sent mailers. We put flyers on windshields all over the Brandywine Valley. Grew our email list. We canvassed. We got in the newspaper, on the radio, and TV. We flooded public meetings, at one point turning out 1,000 people to a meeting in May of 2013. We were everywhere and relentless. And we won. We didn’t settle for a smaller development. We didn’t settle for a little less traffic. We saved all of it. Five years later, that wildlife refuge in Beaver Valley will be added to the First State National Historical Park and will be permanently protected.

With that success showing what was possible, someone mentioned to me what Toll Brothers wanted to do to Crebilly Farm right down the road on 202. I went to a meeting at Stetson Middle School and I dove in head first with Neighbors for Crebilly. As many of you know, Crebilly Farm is one of Chester County’s most iconic farms and a place that saw action with Hessians during the Battle of the Brandywine on September 11, 1777. During WW2, German POWs built a barn on the property. And yet all of this history and beautiful open space would be lost if Toll Brothers were to plop 317 of their plastic houses on this hallowed ground. But Toll didn’t expect people to organize and fight back. And that’s what Neighbors for Crebilly has been doing for the last year and a half. The fight now heads to court and we’re in this for as long as it takes to save Crebilly Farm.

If I could boil my involvement with open space advocacy down to one common truth it would be this: you don’t have to take it. You can fight back against corporations and a government that enables them. Small groups are having an impact and effecting change all over this country. If you think that your voice won’t be heard, that you’re too small to fight back just remember that one woman saw the damage that DDT was doing to our environment and she did something about it. But she didn’t just write Silent Spring cataloguing the harm of a pesticide, she devoted herself to seeing its use banned. And the movement Rachel Carson started was successful in having DDT banned.

To invoke John Kennedy, don’t ask what others are doing to protect YOUR environment. Ask what you can do to help. You can join Sierra Club volunteers working to circumvent the federal government to get municipalities to commit to 100% renewable energy. You can join Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety fighting Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 dragonpipe. You can sign up with the Don’t Spray Me group organized to stop the unneeded spraying of toxins in our communities. You can get involved with the group fighting to clean up the old Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland. You can join Neighbors for Crebilly and fight for our landscapes and history. Or you can organize your own group to fight some other environmental injustice.

But, remember, we lose the right to complain about things when we refuse to get involved. When we refuse to become part of the solution, we are part of the problem. But, if you’re willing to work, you can win. We won in Beaver Valley and we will save Crebilly Farm. And you can win, too. But you just have to put your shoes on and get involved. You don’t need your entire community to support you. It only takes a small group of thoughtful people to change the world. Nothing is ever a done deal.

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More than 150 take part in Earth Day demonstration in West Chester

By Bill Rettew, Daily Local News, 4/22/18

WEST CHESTER >> Mother Nature couldn’t have smiled more brilliantly on 150 Earth Day demonstrators participating in the “March for the Environment” Sunday in the borough.

Sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60s embraced those supporting sustainable energy, a healthy environment and preservation of the environment, at the historic Chester County courthouse steps Sunday afternoon.

Holding up signs while chanting loudly, the group of Earth Day supporters marched seven blocks down High Street to the Unitarian Congregation where organizations passed out literature and cookies, and both adults and kids lined up to color reusable bags with crayons. …

read more and see photos at Daily Local News

Photos by don’t Spray Me!:


The march down S. High St. starts out


In the Unitarian Congregation: info tables, activities, food by West Chester Co-operative…

March for the Environment #2 on Earth Day, April 22, 2018

March for the Environment-2

We did it last year, with 200 attendees, great speeches and an effective march. Now we are aiming for at least 100 more people to rally and march in West Chester on Earth Day, April 22!

You could say Chester County is lucky to have preserved so much open space, to have a consensus to prioritize clean air and water, to build parks and trails, and to promote renewable energy. Or, you could say residents, municipalities, county government, non-profits, and foundations have worked really hard at it.

Members of all participating groups, and all concerned citizens, please join us to reaffirm our determination to protect air, water, climate, vulnerable species, open space, and human health! And be part of bringing many groups together with added strength to celebrate Earth Day and our environment, in 2018 and beyond!

download full 8.5X11″ flyer here, please print, and distribute to friends: March for Envt 18

Sunday, April 22, 1:00pm – 3:00pm, in 3 locations:

• Rally at the Historic Court House, 2 North High St., West Chester. At 1pm, we will gather to listen to speakers, including: PA State Representative (156th district) Carolyn Comitta; West Chester Mayor Dianne Herrin; Open Space Advocate and Southeast PA Sierra Club Executive Committee Member Ken Hemphill; and former West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley. Rev. Dan Schatz, Minister of the Unitarian Congregation, West Chester, will perform environmentally-oriented songs. Claire Witzleben of CCAG will be master of ceremonies.

• March for the Environment down the sidewalk of South High St. displaying signs and banners

• At the Unitarian Congregation, 501 S. High St., wrap-up session, final statements, environmental petitions and attendee list, tables with participants’ info, refreshments by West Chester Co-op, tree dedication, child-oriented activities (coloring postcards, decorating reusable shopping bags, potting small trees to plant at home), etc., till about 3 p.m.

organizing groups:
Don’t Spray Me!
Sierra Club
Concerned Constituents Action Group (CCAG)

cosponsors:
Barclay Grounds Preservation Alliance (BGPA)
Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection (4CP)

Citizens Climate Lobby – Chester County group
Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety
Food and Water Watch
PennEnvironment
PennFuture
Ready for 100 Chester County
Unitarian Congregation of West Chester
West Chester Co-operative
West Chester Friends School

If you drive, park in parking garages or on the street as permitted.

A view of last year’s March for the Environment in West Chester:



This photo by Bill Rettew is reproduced with permission from “Hundreds rally in West Chester to support the environment,” Daily Local News, 4/29/17.

download full 8.5X11″ flyer here, please print, and distribute to friends: March for Envt 18

Nostalgia Department – from the first Earth Day march in Philadelphia, 1970 (photo kindly supplied by Jeff Cantwell, who is all the way on the right, in line with the banner):