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Recap of Climate Promises to Action, Green Philly’s Virtual Symposium
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Recap of Climate Promises to Action, Green Philly’s Virtual Symposium

The unofficial theme was “We, not me.”

In sustainability efforts, people often ask what “they” can do. However, they should be asking what “we” can do.

Green Philly hosted our second annual virtual sustainability symposium, Climate Promises to Action, on Thursday, February 17th.

Throughout the day, experts discussed the importance of coming together to improve our communities and environment. As Judy Wicks talked about the importance of working together, riding the urban and rural divide, and Terrill Haigler talked about communities coming together to better their neighborhoods, the fight against climate is a group effort. Meteorologist Steve Sosna discussed having a conversation with viewers about climate change. Dr. John Jackson and Aaliyah Green Ross referenced that even though individual actions matter, it’s a larger collective effort necessary to care for our watershed.

Want to watch sessions in full? You can purchase access to the recordings and can watch for 30 days (until March 16th).

The morning kicked off with a Fireside Chat with Judy Wicks, founder of All Together Now PA, a nonprofit with a mission to both mitigate and prepare for climate change by building resilient, regenerative, and inclusive regional economies that are self-reliant in basic needs. Wicks has been a staple of the sustainability scene, founding Sustainable Business Network, Circle of Aunts and Uncles, and Fair Food.

All Together Now is a culmination of Wick’s career, providing a self-resilient economy for Pennsylvania. Their current campaign? Legal cannabis in the state, AKA the “3Ps:” Pot, Pennsylvania & Profit.

Envisioning a Circular Economy IRL

Circular Reality Symposium panel

Our first session was “Meet Changemakers making City-wide circularity a reality – and how you can too” with Tajah Patel, Board member of Circular Philadelphia moderating. Munish Narula (President, Tiffin Indian Cuisine), Rachel Higgins (All Together Now), and Danielle Ruttenberg (Remark Glass). Businesses are already implementing the circular economy in the city. As Narula mentioned, the reusable container program “Return 2 Tiffin’ makes up 19% of their total takeout orders.

How Graffiti Pier is considering access for everyone

graffiti pier

Our second station was Graffiti Pier: Honoring its Past and Present by Protecting its Future. Sara Zewde (Principal, Studio Zewde), Jared Green (Principal, Langan), Miwa Ng (Project Manager, Sherwood Design Engineers), and Karen Thompson (Director of Planning, Delaware River Waterfront Corporation) discussed how Graffiti Pier gained popularity through Instagram and is using public engagement for its future.

For more information, visit the Graffiti Pier Park project page.

Flash Sessions: Hearing from local experts

Do environmental nonprofits have a target budget number in mind? Do they cut costs through in-kind donations? Lawanda Horton Sauter, President & CEO of Mission Incorporated, provided tips on Fundraising 101 for Environmental Nonprofits. As Horton Sauter said, “Corporate Sponsorships is still capitalism.”

Putting your trash out correctly is the first step,” according to “Ya Fav Trashman” Terrill Haiger. Haigler discussed the ties of trash to the community (and problems within) and inspired attendees to start change block by block. “Imagine if everyone bought into a clean Philadelphia,” asked Haigler.

Steve Sosna, NBC 10 meteorologist

Transitioning from Ya Fav Trashman to *our fav* meteorologist, NBC10’s Steve Sosna, presented Weather on Steroids: Climate Change is Already Here. Sosna discussed the 3 S’s of climate (it’s simple, serious, and solvable), including how climate change is affecting many aspects of our lives like beer flavor. NBC10 has taken on an initiative to bring climate change to the forefront, and Steve recommends following sources like Climate Central.

Gary Downing, Founder of Happy Happy Cleaning, shared hacks to clean and grow food at home including pineapples (and bananas as fertilizers) during “Don’t panic, Think organic.”

How Philly is tackling climate change

Our afternoon kicked off with Philly’s Climate Action Playbook: projects, policies, and plans our City has put forward to achieve climate justice. Philadelphia’s Director of Sustainability, Christine Knapp, led the discussion about how the City is working with local groups to reduce the effects of climate change. Sarah Clark Stuart, Executive Director of Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, Marjorie Alexander, Education & Engagement Manager of Green Building United; Tim Ifill, Director of Trees of Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Jose Ferran, leader from Hunting Park, and Samantha Wittchen from Circular Philadelphia all discussed how their groups collaborate towards a sustainable future.

Every human activity affects our watershed

We are what we drink — how our activities impact the watershed featured Aaliyah Green Ross, Director of Education at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Eduardo Duenas, Manager of School Programs at Schuylkill Center, and Dr. John Jackson, Senior Research Scientist at Stroud Water Research Center. Everything humans do affects the stream, from our pharmaceuticals to trash and even road salt. One recent test showed that a stream in Tookany Creek was twice as salty as the Ocean.

Afternoon Keynote – Christa Barfield

Keynote Christa Barfield closed out the day, discussing the importance of community in urban agriculture. Creating the organization Farmer “Jawn” Philly, she wanted to give everyone an opportunity to participate in farming.

Rob Fryer, Director professor & co-founder of Jefferson’s MS Sustainable Design Program, introduced Christa. Here’s more about their sustainable design program:

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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