For the Birds-No Such Thing as Away

Sustainability advocates and others tout the phrase “There is no such thing as ‘away'” when talking about trash or making something go, well, somewhere else. People and things don’t go away, they end up somewhere else. CBS Sunday Morning’s design episode today (May 19, 2013) included a segment on the ‘designer of fine bird houses,’ Tom Burke (Home Tweet Home),

Beyond the elaborate bird house designs, many of which replicate the homes of well-known actual home owners including Martha Stewart and artist Jaime Wyeth, a short portion of the segment attracted my attention. Tom Burke’s ‘design’ studio is in the basement of his Wilmington, Delaware condo. According to the CBS segment, Burke uses the space rent-free in exchange for what the segment writer called “recycling.” Burke uses items his condo neighbors throw ‘away’ in constructing the bird houses. Some commissions are more than $20,000, so you know these bird houses are really the ‘Four Seasons’ of aviary space.

Consider this: if we spent a little time really thinking about whether we need this item or that item, perhaps we wouldn’t have so much “stuff” that we want to go “away.” Circling back to the original thought: there is no such thing as away, how many times do you run out to the store to pick something up, then find a few days, weeks or months later that you had exactly what you needed at the house, apartment, garage or office and really didn’t need to buy something else. You are left with all this stuff that needs to go ‘away’ at some point.

Jane Pauley’s “Life Re-imagined” segment on The Today Show May 17, 2013, featured Barbara Chandler Allen’s non-profit program “Fresh Artists” that uses proceeds from art pieces created by students and purchased by donors and corporate sponsors to fund school art programs that have dwindled in the past 10 to 20 years. A project such as this prevents us from throwing away talent and creativity that is squandered under the guise of funding cuts.

Collaboration, brainstorming and solid team work are ways to prevent things from going away. The old saying, “God closes a door and opens a window.” is a good one; we put willing, able-bodied, creative minds in a room and come up with solutions to problems. We find ways to make programs and ideas sustainable. We connect people so they can listen, talk and share ideas in order to continue and expand programs. We enable others to join the fray and find productive, creative ways to engage others . Whether it’s an elaborate bird house, children’s talent for art or a valuable program teetering on the edge of extinction, when we step up in any capacity we can, the results are indeed sustainable.

 

When the Goin’ Gets Tough

When the Goin’ Gets Tough

ImageThe heart of any business or personal success is the team you have working on each and every detail.

Look at the Louisville Cardinals team and how those young men banded together to bring home the Midwest Regional trophy while teammate Kevin Ware was carried off the court after suffering a horrendous broken leg. While teammates convulsed in shock and tears streamed down the faces of thousands who watched Ware’s leg snap, the team pulled it together and rallied to put the lid on the regional championship.

I am working with a team of volunteers from Sustainable Cherry Hill and staff members from Cherry Hill Township to put on for the South Jersey region, the 4th Art Blooms Earth Festival. Everyone has a part to play. Volunteers worked with the township police department on safety and route planning for the family-fun bike ride that opens the festival at 9 a.m. Today, I met with John Martorano of Magnum Computer Recycling to find the easiest site location so visitors to the festival April EF2012_20120428_0327th can bring e-waste for safe recycling and disposal. I worked with the Cherry Hill Food Outreach Council which will have a donation station at the festival for non-perishable foods. One of our volunteers has coordinated the entertainment schedule to include several chorus and dance groups and musicians to perform throughout the event. It’s an amazing experience to work with people and maintain a ‘can-do’ attitude so everyone achieves most of what they hope for.

Attitude is everything when it comes to a project involving many people. To have even one team member who seems to work against the grain, can ruin the experience, if not the event, for everyone. The Louisville Cardinals could have folded after they saw what happened to Kevin Ware. The injured Ware yelled to the team to win the game as he was carried out of the stadium. Some hiccups can threaten any event and lead you down the path of ‘CAN’T-do.’ With the team I am fortunate to be associated with – township and Sustainable Cherry Hill – plus our amazing sponsors and supporters – the Cherry Hill Earth Festival and the family-fun bike ride Saturday, April 27th – will be another step toward helping the community and region focus efforts on sustainability in home, work and play.

Today’s News is Yesterday’s Video (or Worse)

News is an event or issue happening in your world that affects many people. At least that’s what I thought was news – and what I was taught was news back in the day. I suppose I became old school because I still believe news should be something many people can care about or something that many people should know about. Issues and happenings that are significant in many people’s lives.

Now, it seems news is what happens to someone’s cat – or dog – or happy baby or on a dash-cam. Since news organizations have cut staffs to the bone, there are fewer and fewer stories – especially locally that affect people’s lives. At least on TV news, much of the time is spent telling you about celebrity news, what will be on that TV station tonight (almost always entertainment) and what fantastic video has shown up on You Tube or via some other internet channel.

NBC News today has broadcast dash-cam video from a New Jersey transit bus versus schoolsiegalbuscrashwebpkg_. whatever happened to the immediacy of news? Yes, the video was probably just released but the only reason the video is ‘news’ today is that NBC or any other news organization has found it. You know the saying “it’s like watching a train wreck?” Well, that is what this and all other video like it is all about. We are human, we can’t stop watching train wrecks. That’s why the Kardashians and Lindsey Lohan and any other bad boy/girl celebrity gets so much coverage.

News organizations used to be leaders. The hard-working staffs (still today) work like the dickens to write, produce, record news that the bosses tell them to put together. Many of the news stories are credible and interesting to a vast majority of people. But the tide turned about 20 years ago with the influx of infotainment programming. Now with instant news coverage and the pressure to get the pictures quickly, there is a lot of nonsense in news.

Len Berman used to do a TV sports segment that was hilarious; he showed all kinds of sports video of amazing shots, sports bloopers and such. He always had one crazy shot with people and things colliding and he would exclaim, “And nobody got hurt.” For a morning TV show, that was enough fun and games. It was a break from reality. Now it seems, the news reality is showing the insipid video from some child’s birthday party or something carved directly from You Tube.

KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia still does the news straight. No antics; perhaps a little too much jingle music AND they still have that crazy old-fashioned ticker. On that station, I get the news. Yes, there’s NPR and they do an honorable, creative and credible job, but for several reasons, I don’t listen often.

For now, the OFF button is where I go when the news is all about nothing that affects my life – or the lives around me. I’ll still watch, read and listen, but enough with the baby-cat-bus crash video.

Save The Camden Children’s Garden

Camden’s reputation for being among the most violent city’s in the nation overshadows the many good organizations and people who work tirelessly to improve the poor and often overlooked city.

ChildGarden LogoIn the gray of winter, leaders of the Camden Children’s Garden have been notified that they will have to vacate the site adjacent to the Adventure Aquarium by March 31st. The Garden’s web site indicates ChildGarden4the site was to reopen full-time March 30th. The fight is underway to save The Children’s Garden and the program that has helped provide more than 2-million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for a city that has just one supermarket located a long bus-ride away for many residents.

Please read a message from a friend of mine – Mark Doorley – president of Camden’s Center for Environmental Transformation and give thought to the plight of The Camden Children’s Garden.

ChildGarden5This is an emergency call for action to support a sister non-profit in the city of Camden that is dedicated to environmental justice and food justice. Two weeks ago the Camden Children’s Garden (CCG) received a letter from the State of New Jersey asking that most of their six acre site be vacated by March 31st. Without even talking to the CCG’s staff, the State wants the organization to continue its work of supporting the many community gardens throughout the City. This will not be possible with what the State has in mind for the CCG. It will be reduced to a rather small greenhouse and some office space, losing its much larger greenhouse facility as well as the meeting spaces where workshops are conducted for Camden gardeners year round. Why does the State want to shut down this gem on the waterfront? To make way for a more “glitzy” destination spot, to join the Susquehanna Center and the Aquarium, making this a “destination” spot. This is an outgrowth of a tired economic development plan which claims that if you make “glitzy” destination places, you will attract more people to Camden and those people will spend money in Camden. The glaring flaw with this analysis is that the people come into Camden, closing their eyes til they get to their “glitzy” destination, and they spend their money at these destinations, and that money ends up, in the case of the Aquarium and the new development under discussion, in the pockets of an Alabama-based entertainment company.

The Camden Children’s Garden serves almost every school in Camden, through summer programs and support for school garden programs. Children from throughout the area visit the Camden Children’s Garden for their many activities. The 50,000 seedlings grown by the CCG have brought to harvest 2.1 million pounds of produce for the people of Camden. It is a place where the children of Camden, particularly, can learn about science and nutrition, in a safe and inviting place. In my opinion, this is the kind of “glitz” we want on our waterfront.

There is reason to believe that the State’s move will not stand up under judicial review. There are now over 6,000 people who have joined the Save the Camden Children’s Garden Facebook page, and legislators are working behind the scenes to resolve this problem.

How can we help?

1. Donate to a legal defense fund; information to make tax-deductible donations can be found at the following link: http://camdenchildrensgarden.wordpress.com/legal-fund/

2. Sign the petition to save the Children’s Garden, which can be found at the following link: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/558/352/791/save-the-camden-childrens-garden/

3. Come out on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 to support CCG. Attend a press conference at the Garden on Tuesday at 4 PM. It is very important that children who have visited and benefited from the CCG be present at this event. Following the press conference, we will be marching to City Hall to make a presentation and plea to save the Garden to City Council. At the press conference, there will be hot chocolate for children to enjoy! More information on this effort can be found at the following link: http://camdenchildrensgarden.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/press-release-state-eviction-statement-for-email-rev2-6-131.pdf.

4. Join the Facebook page of Save the Camden Children’s Garden and invite your friends to do the same.

Thank you.

Mark Doorley

President, Board of Trustees

The Center for Environmental Transformation

1729 Ferry Avenue, Camden, NJ 08104

(p) 609.605.3530

(e) president@cfet.org

 

 

It Takes a Sustainable Village

Brainstorming about sustainability is challenging, invigorating, exciting and yes, exhausting. It’s a complicated topic. Tonight, the South Jersey Green Network led by Sustainable Cherry Hill, brought people from Camden, Stratford, Haddonfield and other communities in and around Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties to hear about best practices and yes, share some of the walls that pop up when trying to establish a Green Team. Sustainable Cherry Hill (SCH) sparked the network a few SJGreenNet_0724 (20)years ago and convening this third tri-county effort brought familiar and new faces to the tables for listening, learning and discussion. Donna Drewes from SJGreenNet_0724 (3)Sustainable Jersey updated the group on the new website and ways to connect with other Green Teams statewide as well as find out about grants and projects; Camden County Freeholder Jeff Nash introduced Chris Waldron, Camden County’s sustainability coordinator who brought a very strong message: make sure when you are explaining what SJGreenNet_0724 (16)sustainability is all about to people who are not on board yet – be sure you tailor that message to them. Sustainability is all-encompassing; it involves how our society will continue for generations to come; sustainability is about education, the economy, transportation, environment, housing, faiths – it’s how everything is connected and how each piece of the puzzle fits.

According to Lori Braunstein, the evening wrapped up with a brief break-out session. Facilitators from SCH and SJ Network  focused the discussions on collaboration.  Each group then reported on the major topics of discussion. People really found that section valuable and seemed to want more of that.

After hearing about successes of Stratford’s Green Team and the collaboration between the school district, business community and other regional groups, there may be more questions than answers for some communities still trying to kick-start their sustainability efforts. Sustainability does take a village; in that room tonight connections were made and the journey continues.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside- Think Warm-Think Earth Festival

It hasn’t been this cold in the Philadelphia region for about four years – and I don’t like it. Thinking about baseball might be where I normally wander off to – but this time, I’m thinking about April 27, 2013. The Cherry Hill Art Blooms Earth Festival Art Blooms Earth Day - Color - TEXT - Copytakes place at historic Croft Farm ( 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – rain or shine). This is the fourth year Sustainable Cherry Hill is collaborating with Cherry Hill Township to put on this free event. We are also collaborating with the Cherry Hill School District to encourage as many of the district’s 17 schools – and any other schools throughout the South Jersey area – to participate. We’re welcoming creative art, science, math or any school project related to the earth and sustainability to be on display at the festival. The event is taking place rain or shine. We have an extremely creative media specialist – Ramona Bregatta – helping coordinate activities from within the schools. We’re talking about a fashion show with students wearing gently used clothing purchased on a budget at Goodwill or a store such as Plato’s EF2012_20120428_23 - CopyCloset (Maple Shade). Or perhaps a fashion show with clothing made from found items  – ‘Trashin’ Fashin’ was the title tossed around at our planning meeting.

We are welcoming ‘green crafters’ – artists who are making items that are from materials sourced locally – or at least in the USA; we welcome businesses that focus on sustainable or resource-saving practices. We’ll have a recycling area – still under discussion; our Gardening Task Force is working on its second EF2012_20120428_03 - Copyplant exchange that will be bigger this year; the township will bring in compost so people can pick up plants along with a few shovels of compost for the  garden. Springdale Farms is a return participant; Chimp Ade (benefits the Jane Goodall Foundation) and J-Dogs are scheduled to provide delicious – and healthy – food selections. It looks as though we will have a great moon bounce for the kids – always popular along with other activities that are family friendly which will go along with Mayor Chuck Cahn’s focus on the township’s wellness program.

EF2012_20120428_59 - CopyWe’ll have two entertainment stages with student groups performing throughout the day. Also, the local DG Band (easy listening) is scheduled to sing original tunes. All this happens as the township’s week-long Art Blooms event gets underway in the Croft Farm Art Center. Local and regional artists will have beautiful workEF2012_20120428_19 - Copys on display in competition and art-for-purchase.

To really warm everyone up and promote healthy and safe biking, the second Family Fun Bike Ride pedals off from Challenge Grove just across from Croft Farm at about 9 a.m. that morning. Sustainable Cherry Hill’s Way to Go Task Force is working with the township and police department on finalizing the route. It will be an easy ride to encourage all ages to participate.

If you are in the South Jersey-Philadelphia area and want to keep up with the plans for the Art Blooms Earth Festival, April 27th, go to www.sustainablecherryhill.org and click on ‘Earth Festival.’ You can also send in the information form below and I will send you information if you are interested in being a vendor, green crafter, food vendor, student entertainment group or you have a display appropriate for the family-friendly earth festival.

EF2012_20120428_99 - CopyAnd…since Sustainable Cherry Hill is a 501C3 non-profit organization and any funds we raise goes back into education and outreach, we are welcoming sponsors for our event. I can also send you the information about that when you fill out the contact form.

As I write this, I can feel the warm, power of the sun that (hopefully) will be shining on that Saturday. We have a lot of planning to do – and it’s so exciting to be part of this engaging – and free event that brings several thousand people out to historic Croft Farm.

There is No Such Thing as Away – Finale

Sustainability goes on. There will be mid-course corrections in the process of getting communities, governments and individuals to understand that all our systems are connected. Sustainability is not just about the environment. As I’ve learned in the NJ Learns program, most people do not enter the sustainability topic from the environment. The topic is complex and can be messy; change happens slowly – almost excruciatingly slowly. Many baby steps lead to real change and understanding that steps taken now will preserve and conserve our society, resources, economy and all of the systems within for generations to come.

After about six months of off and on work to complete my practicum, I have ‘graduated’ from

NJ Learns certificate & reclaimed wood frame by Matt Ryan -One Man Gathers Studio.

NJ Learns certificate & reclaimed wood frame by Matt Ryan -One Man Gathers Studio.

the NJ Learns program. Today our cohort heard the final projects from the educators and community participants in our cohort. The enthusiasm, creativity and persistence among all of the participants is admirable. There is a second grade teacher who has the freedom in her classroom and school to teach sustainability across the curriculum. Students are planting gardens; inner city children are learning that their world has much more than the black top that surrounds their school; Boy Scouts are learning how they can cut energy by simply changing out light bulbs; a science teacher who embraced Green Apple Day and got his school on board is also now reclaiming wood and making frames, trays and other objects as a side business. Sustainability never ends. My project is continuing – working with Sustainable Cherry Hill, the Cherry Hill Schools and PTAs and people in the region who are learning that everything we do now affects our children’s future and their children’s future and so on. One big take-away for me is that “There is no such thing as away.” Think of that when you toss something ‘away’ in the trash. Over time, thinking changes – we all change – and for the better.

There’s No Such Thing as Away

What is sustainability? For months, that burning question has whirled in my mind. Now, as part of the NJ Learns program, not only can I begin to better answer that question, but start to affect the people in my sphere of influence.

“There is no such thing as away.”. You throw away a yogurt cartoon; the coffee grounds are thrown in the garbage; You throw away the wrapping from your sandwich at lunch. Where is AWAY? Away is where we can’t see the stuff anymore, but the impact on the world is far reaching. Thee fuel used by the garbage trucks to haul the trash impacts our carbon footprint;

Do You Have Time to be Bored?

“I’m bored.” The two words parents perhaps loathe most. Whether the child is four or fourteen, those two words can send the most sensible of parents into an emotional frenzy. “When I was your age, I was out working.” “When I was fourteen, I didn’t have time to be bored.” Now, my son has rarely used those two words, but watching and reading about the so-called “flash mobs” invading  Philadelphia’s South Street and weeks ago at the Gallery and Macy’s downtown, I think back to my teenage years. There was no time to be bored. Ever.

We didn’t have cell phones, instant messaging and social networking, but we had telephones. My mother would scream at me to “Get off the phone.” I would spend hours on the telephone, if she let me. I had so many activities before and after school and worked from the time I was 14, I never had a chance to be bored. If I dared utter those words, my mom would find me something to do around the house pretty darn quick. I did plenty of chores as well. I remember scrubbing woodwork and ironing clothes.

I was never allowed to hang out at the mall. That was probably the closest thing to “flash mobs” from my day. A lot of kids would head to Roosevelt Mall and just walk around doing nothing but being seen. I don’t recall hearing any problems from those days of hanging out, but there seem to be so many more kids today. The social networking, cell phones and word of mouth is viral.

I happen to agree with what Police Commissioner Chuck Ramsey and Mayor Michael Nutter have said in their subsequent news conferences following the South Street incident. Parents must be responsible for their children. I can’t imagine NOT knowing where my son is. I can’t imagine him putting himself in a situation where mobs of kids are doing absolutely nothing but ranting, running and mobbing into shops and restaurants.

Commissioner Ramsey is right: if your child says he or she doesn’t have anything to do, it’s YOUR job to find them something to do.Parents have to stop throwing up their arms and give kids some tough love. No threats – only action when the kids wander off without telling you what’s going on. For parents with small kids, this is YOUR teachable moment. Reign in your kids now, and they’ll never be bored. Teach them activities and volunteerism. Be an example – volunteer yourself and take the kids with you. They’ll never be bored.

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local-beat/Mayor-Takes-Anti-Flash-Mob-Message-to-the-Street-89353867.html

Watching Camden Up Close

Driving into Camden from the South Jersey suburbs brings home the thought that Sacred Heart Church’s Father Michael Doyle has pressed for many years: there are a thousands miles between the suburbs and Camden. When I heard Center for Transformation staffer Andrea Feirich and board president Mark Doorley talk about how Camden became cut off from the region when the Ben Franklin Bridge, Admiral Wilson Boulevard and 676 were constructed, it didn’t mean as much to me until today. My husband, son and I drove to help at the weekly dinner at Joe’s Place. The nondescript building across from Sacred Heart Church at Broadway and Jasper is in the heart of Waterfront South.

Once we turned left onto Broadway leaving Rutgers-Camden, Cooper Hospital and Campbell’s Soup in our rearview mirror, it was if we’d stepped into a war zone. There’d be a few decent homes or businesses on Broadway or a side street, then vacant sites or more likely, boarded up homes, business and buildings that probably won’t see attention for years. We passed what looked like a group of volunteers serving a meal right outside in a vacant lot. Once we parked and got to the St. Vincent de Paul Society building, we knocked on the locked door. Once Burt let us in, we were welcomed by Sheryl and John along with the other volunteers who have given of their time, their hearts and souls to the community. This was our first time, so we were glad to do whatever was needed to serve dinner and dessert to about 60 people from the community.

Precisely at 4 p.m. when the doors opened, the people appeared. Their faces showed a road map of hard life. Women and men came. Their clothes worn and torn. There were a few little girls with their young mother. One man had a very pleasant conversation with himself the entire time he was having dinner. But he looked me in the eyes and asked for his pie for dessert; then he went back to his seat to enjoy his dessert and continue his conversation. Except for one angry man, each person was so grateful for every bite they were offered. Many had two plates of food and two (or three desserts). It didn’t matter. Our hosts supplied the lovely meal. We were glad to serve and share a little of ourselves with others who have so little.

When we were leaving today, dinner was still going on at Joe’s Place. I was getting in the car when a man walking through the vacant field next to the building yelled, “It’s not over is it?” I realized he was a regular at Joe’s Place and yelled back, “No, of course not; there’s plenty left.” The big smile on his face led me to think this might be his only good meal of the day and maybe for the week. He was carrying a plastic grocery bag. I know he was going to be taking some leftovers with him.

We drove just 50 yards from our parking spot. Looking down the side street to my right was a drug deal happening before my eyes. The person in the driver’s seat gave the man standing outside the car the money; the two shook hands. The deal was sealed. There is so much work to do in Camden. So many lives that need tending to. But in reality, it must start with the youngest of the people in Camden. There’s a way out. The many good people doing wonderful things on a daily basis in Camden can make it happen for these children. The thing is, my hope is that the children see the light with the right guidance, then they will show others like them the way out. For now, we can all do just a little more – a day at a time. Inside Joe’s Place, everyone is good and safe and has a full belly.