Fri, 17 August 2007
Watershed health, especially in very populous areas, is greatly impacted by the manner in which we manage stormwater runoff. As you will hear and see in this video podcast, it's not the rain that's the problem. It's what happens to it once it hits the roofs, parking lots, and myriad other impermeable surfaces we've done such a thorough job of proliferating.
In this podcast, we join Jeff Bergman and Tim Converse of Pittsburgh's Nine Mile Run Watershed Association as they demonstrate proper rain barrel installation on residences in the area as part of the organization's Rain Barrel Initiative.
Rain barrels come in different sizes, colors, and specifications, but the basic principles remain the same: capture and store water from a roof, and then use the water for such applications as gardening or watering your lawn. In doing so, you've kept stormwater out of the storm sewer system, which in many urban areas in Pennsylvania and beyond, is horribly overtaxed as-is. Plus you're saving money on water usage.
Stormwater overflows are more and more commonplace, as sewer infrastructure is stretched far beyond capacity, and as the systems designed and installed many decades ago fail and decay. Helping to stem the tide in watersheds like Pittsburgh's Nine Mile Run dramatically help to improve water quality in the streams, benefiting everyone in the community-- humans and wildlife alike.
Of course, Pittsburgh isn't the only place where you'll find rain barrels popping up all over the place! Throughout the state, there are programs and initiatives underway. And many people simply make their own rain barrels, and have done so for ages. In arid states, capturing stormwater runoff is even required to help save water. Give it a try!
To learn more about how PennFuture is working around the state to improve water quality, visit our Web site. There you can make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work. As always, we welcome your comments. Just e-mail us at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org, or click on "Comments" below.
Fri, 10 August 2007
In this podcast, PennFuture's Joy Bergey and Alex Bard take us through a whirlwind tour of some of Pennsylvania's many outstanding options for enjoying locally-grown and organic foods. Eating locally-grown and -raised foods (ideally organic) provides a cornucopia of benefits, ranging from personal health, to the health of soil and water, to the health of the planet as we help to reduce global warming impacts, and of course to the vitality of local economies as small farmers thrive.
Our first stop takes us to southeastern Pennsylvania, where Joy speaks with Mary Ann Flaherty Ford, co-owner of Farm Fresh Express (which we are happy to recognize is one of the hundreds of Pennsylvania organizations proudly endorsing our Cool Pennsylvania campaign to stop global warming here at home). Mary Ann details several important reasons to eat local. Farm Fresh Express is a food delivery service in the Philadelphia area that offers only fresh, locally-grown grocery products brought right to your door. You can also visit their storefront farm stand in Lansdowne, PA if you prefer.
Joy moves on to central Pennsylvania talk with David Robb, manager of the Tuscarora Organic Growers Co-Op, which brought together growers and farmers in the region to collectively market and sell their organic products. The co-op now serves the Washington, D.C. metro area and some other mid-Atlantic markets. While there, Joy also spoke with a founding member of the co-op as well as one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), Jim Crawford. Jim has been a successful organic farmer for more than 35 years.
Finally, we hear from Alex who stops into the fantastic Six Penn Kitchen restaurant located in downtown Pittsburgh to chat with executive sous chef Keith Fuller. Keith describes the variety of locally-grown foods that Six Penn uses in their ever-changing menus, designed to adjust with the seasons, sometimes a couple times each month. Six Penn even features local products in its bar selections!
Local foods are easy to find with a little looking. Two outstanding sources of information can be found here and here. So no matter what corner of Pennsylvania you find yourself in, be sure not to miss the wealth of local foods that await just outside your door. You are what you eat, so be sure to eat well.
For more information on PennFuture's work to ensure safer foods for our families, visit our Web site. There you can also make a secure, tax-deductible contribution to support our work. We welcome your comments at any time; just send us an e-mail at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org, or click on "Comments" below.
Wed, 8 August 2007
Decision making at the local level can have a strong impact on the quality of our air, water and visual environment. The 2007 Mayoral election in Philadelphia has seen the rise of environmental issues into prominence, causing most of the primary candidates to release their own plans to clean up the city - literally. The Next Great City initiative, spearheaded by PennFuture, played a large role in making that happen.
WHYY invited four panelists - Christine Knapp from Penn Future, Dr. Mary Myers of the Center for Sustainable Communities, Joe Minott from the Clean Air Council, and Mary Tracy of SCRUB (the Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight)- to outline a list of immediate priorities for the next mayor. These range from recycling, to rethinking storm water management to stricter enforcement of littering laws.
Check out the video here. Then leave us your comments by clicking on "Comments" below! We'd like to know your thoughts on Philadelphia, the Next Great City. To join the NGC e-mail update list, contact Christine Knapp at knapp (at) pennfuture (dot) org. To support our work in Philadelphia and statewide, visit our secure Web site to make a tax-deductible contribution.
Category:Philadelphia: The Next Great City -- posted at: 1:32 PM
Fri, 3 August 2007
PennFuture Reflections by Sarah Goetz
For a college student, activism is not hard to find. A walk through the quad can mean wading through protests, petitions, flyers, and other campaigns for worthy causes. Campus is the perfect canvas for activism: the combination of carefree youth, idealism, and energy empowers students and their diverse passions. Masterfully wielding the charisma and informed optimism that seem to come naturally at this stage of life, student activists fight for what they believe in. Sometimes the mere fight for the sake of counterculture is enough to call a student rally successful.
But college campuses are a far cry from the real world. And the onset of reality and the working world forces many to abandon their idealism and former causes. So, as I exited the gates of my campus this May for a brief respite from college life, I braced myself for a change of pace. Expecting the monotony that is standard in an office setting, the vitality within the walls of PennFuture’s Harrisburg office building continuously surprised me from the first time I was buzzed through the door.
The staff members at PennFuture are the people who, even after youth has worn off and reality set it, still fight for the causes that engage them. Less idealistic and more grounded, they rely on experience and expertise to deliver their messages and to conduct environmental business with some serious clout. And the result of their work is not measured by the mere satisfaction of the fight, but by the tangible victories that are won in the courtroom, through the legislature, and with citizen support.
It is vital that these staff members still possess the will to fight, because environmental advocacy is often an uphill battle against many and diverse opponents.
I walked into PennFuture just as the battle for Governor Rendell’s Energy Independence Strategy became red hot in the state legislature. In the past, my only involvement in legislation was reading about the finished product in the newspaper. Here, I was privy to the gritty and complex process of a bill’s voyage through the state legislature.
PennFuture’s staff hatched ideas and strategies in the conference room and promptly spread them to the state capitol building and to media outlets. They had to equip politicians and the public with the knowledge and precision to ward off the persuasive opposition – which arose from every angle – in order to enact environmental policy. An incessant flow of information and personal contacts passed between PennFuture’s office and the Capitol building.
Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of the process was PennFuture’s constant vigilance over the bills as they passed through the hands of legislators. Battles on the Hill seem to be unpredictable; a steady climb in the support for a bill could overnight slink in the opposite direction. And then it might be back to the conference room for more strategizing.
As a result of my internship at PennFuture, I have gained some skills and garnered just a glimpse of that ever-elusive “real world? experience. The most valuable part of my learning experience here has been the opportunity to observe the skills displayed each day by the staff of PennFuture. Their ability to reach and accommodate diverse audiences contributes to PennFuture’s growing citizen support and validates its authority as an organization.
I will carry all I have learned long after I leave the office. My experiences in this real world setting should be of great use as I reenter the gates of my college campus this fall.
We hope other interns, past, present and future, will join in this discussion. Let us know how we're doing as mentors and whether your internship made a difference in your life's plan.
And PennFuture is always looking for interns. If you have an interest in volunteering or interning at PennFuture, we welcome your support. Contact our Director of Outreach Heather Sage at: sage (at) pennfuture (dot) org, or visit our website to locate a staff person focused on your specific area of interest. You can also take a look at our Jobs Board, where we post opportunities for employment at PennFuture and elsewhere. We welcome your support as a new member of PennFuture! And remember, citizen action really does work, so check out our Action Center and brand new "Legislation to Watch" section of our site to find out more about how you can affect Pennsylvania policies.
Category:Student Initiatives -- posted at: 11:01 AM