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Meet the Nominees: Jefferson Sustainability Mentor
Philly

Meet the Nominees: Jefferson Sustainability Mentor


These nominees are digging deeper into sustainability education within our community.

Join us on August 8th at WHYY for the SustainPHL Awards as we celebrate the nominees and announce the recipients!

SustainPHL 2019 Jefferson Sustainability Mentor Nominees

  • Alisa Shargorodsky
  • The Urban Creators
  • Daniel Lawson
  • Ken Hamilton

Alisa Shargorodsky

“We stop trash where it starts.”

Alisa Shargorodsky

ECHO Systems is a hub for Environmentally Conscious Habitat organizations. Alisa and ECHO work with businesses to design and implement alternative models which have one shared goal of source reduction. The ultimate goal is to streamline sustainability consulting in 5 commercial corridors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

By replacing disposable systems with a circular system which sanitizes all the reusable flatware on sight, ECHO Systems has helped Mount Airy Village Fair go from generating 800 pounds of refuse for five hours to 40 pounds. Additionally, ECHO Systems has worked with farmers to assure that all the remaining materials would be properly composted and actively aimed to limit the number of recyclables that the fair generated placing a greater focus on source reduction and public education.

Among other things, Alisa has:

  • Given more than 130 lectures in the past years.
  • Designed a curriculum that is still being used by the Philadelphia Water Department.

The Urban Creators

“When our land is taken from us, so too is our capacity for self-determination.”

The Urban Creators act as a platform for radical and collaborative imagination. As a grassroots collective based in North Philadelphia since their founding in 2010, they have transformed a 2-acre plot of vacant land into Life Do Grow Farm. In addition, they have provided dozens of local families with fresh produce, 117 local youth with jobs and leadership development opportunities, and over 2,500 students and volunteers with opportunities to deepen their relationships with one another, the community at large, and our local environment.

The mission of the Urban Creators is to use food, art, celebration, and political education as tools to nurture resilience, self-determination, equity, and youth empowerment in historically underinvested communities.

Together, they are committed to and rooted in love, mutual respect, and their shared values of:

  • Honoring culture
  • Radical inclusivity
  • Collaborative leadership
  • Racial & Economic Justice
  • Wellness


Daniel Lawson

“I believe that everyone innately wants to do the right thing and wants the opportunity to be valued.”

Daniel Lawson

Part of Daniel’s current role in managing sustainability initiatives for Parks & Recreation involves planning and delivering the department’s Sustainable Land Care Training series (SLCT).  SLCT teaches sustainable skills and lessons to maintenance workers. Topics vary from horticultural practices to zero waste. Participation and earning of training hours both helps long-time civil service veterans refresh their skills and engage in new professional development, and actually serves to qualify seasonal employees for full-time work with the city upon completion.

Other initiatives that Dan has implemented are:

  • Reestablishing recycling operations and 75% of recreation facilities in the past two years
  • Starting the tracking of litter at these assets for the first time

He has accomplished all of this by training and deploying entry-level young people interested in the sustainability field, including three PowerCorpPHL alumni.  Prior to this position, Lawson has managed the projects and training curriculum for PowerCorpsPHL through five of their cohorts, developing new structures for how crews work and how members find growth and purpose in their service.

Ken Hamilton

“I feel that it is my responsibility to do everything I can to make sure our next generation has the cultural values and knowledge needed to make sustainability a the foundation of our cultural shift. “

Ken created an organization, Green Allies, and developed a site specifically designed for students to foster the skills they need to be our community’s sustainability leaders.  This outdoor community activity center known as the Althouse Arboretum was designed by high school students, built by high school students, and the entire education, community, and social activities are developed and run by high school students.  This all takes place within the vision of a world where students lead the way to a more sustainable future. Any and all students may participate.  

In addition, they offer free and low-cost programs for anyone in the community, regardless of the ability to pay.  All programs promote environmental sustainability, even if it is just to help them become familiar with a wooded area.  Here’s a prime example of the impact Ken and Green Allies has made: A student leader stopped Ken during one of their programs for underserved elementary children to show him how one of the children was dressed.  In the middle of the summer, this six-year-old was wearing a raincoat, high rubber boots, and using an umbrella on a warm, sunny July day. When Ken approached her, she said it was the first time she ever walked in the woods and her mother wanted to protect her from all the animals and insects.  At the end of the day, he found the same child running through our grassy meadow – no umbrella, no coat, and barefoot. Mission accomplished by the wonderful student leaders!

On average, every year Ken has impacted:

  • 1,138 college students
  • 1,275 high school students
  • 3,392 elementary school students
  • 11,000+ community members

Join us at SustainPHL on August 8th to find out who will become the 2019 Jefferson Sustainability Mentor award recipient!

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Sarah Jang
Sarah is a junior at the University of Michigan studying Public Health and Chemistry. She hopes to pursue a future that intertwines her interests in education and public health. Her favorite way of learning is by listening to a good podcast (anything NPR). You can almost always find Sarah with a cup of her favorite beverage, tea. View all posts by Sarah Jang

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