Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 5, 2022 – Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light (PA IPL) is launching a new relationship with Juniata Park Academy and the Juniata Park neighborhood. Following up on a day long series of presentations for Earth Day, PA IPL is holding a tree planting event this Thursday, May 5th at the Juniata Park Academy campus of the School District of Philadelphia. Together with residents of the neighborhood we are planting trees and relaunching the vegetable garden to increase the tree canopy and provide fresh air and vegetables to the community. At PA IPL we believe every day is earth day and arbor day and that we have a moral obligation to be stewards of creation and to mitigate the effects of climate change. All of Philadelphia’s residents deserve clean air, access to fresh food, and a safe environment.
The Juniata Park neighborhood, and several surrounding it in North Philadelphia, compose the city’s largest heat sink, an area where urban density, building materials, and a lack of green space or tree canopy result in extreme heat far greater than surrounding neighborhoods and other sections of the city. This is a result of historical inequities based upon redlining and subsequent lack of investments. The significant heat difference results in the increased use of air conditioning, higher electrical use, and higher bills in a region with many lower income households. In addition to the numerous health impacts of heat, summer heat has also been shown to relate to higher crime rates while the absence of sufficient green space contributes to water runoff and flooding, a constant and increasing threat to our region during severe weather events and hurricanes exacerbated by climate change.
As climate change continues to cause more extreme summer temperatures heat related emergencies and deaths will become more common if measures are not taken to mitigate their effect on the community. Previously PA IPL worked together with Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability, Esperanza, and other partners in the Hunting Park neighborhood on the Beat the Heat Project. This project focused on community listening sessions and the establishment of community cooling stations and kits.
Together with the community we are taking steps to mitigate the effects of extreme heat and climate change built into the inequities of our society. Together we hope to expand these efforts beyond the campus to serve the entire community because climate can’t wait for frontline communities like Juniata Park which are being most immediately, significantly, and directly affected by climate today.
Location: Juniata Park Academy: 801 E Hunting Park Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19124 Dates: May 5th 3:00 – 4:30PM Our website www.paipl.us and social media
“We’re regularly in the cathedral of God’s creation”
Sun shines and birds sing as PA IPL Board member Greg Williams takes us to Detwiler Park in Huntingdon, PA, one of the many locations where he has helped volunteers had made green spaces resistant to climate change through habitat restoration.
2018 and 2019 cyclists stopped there to remove invasive species and plant trees, adding to the 592 events, over 400 participants, and over 3500 person-hours of pruning, clearing, and planting nearly 2500 trees, three wildflower meadows, and over 1000 live stakes in Central Pennsylvania between November 2016 and June 2020! (You can see the live stakes in the video: they are live stick segments from ecosystem-appropriate shrubs stuck into the muck stream side, which then root and grow, protecting the banks!)
Listen to Greg’s story below, or catch his 10 minute sermon for University Mennonite Church’s zoom-based church gathering on Sunday, May 10, 2020 (the rest of the service is pretty great, too!)
Other voices from the road: Mark Smith
Mark Smith of Philadelphia drove a support car for the Philadelphia leg of the 2019 bike trip (that’s him in the little red car!). He leads the Germantown Tree Tenders, part of the work of the PA IPL – Philadelphia, and is also supported by Mark’s home church: the First United Methodist Church of Germantown. Planting and tending trees in the city of Philadelphia is a way to reduce urban heat islands, which are growing and intensifying with climate change. Read Mark’s reflections.
Two ways to DOUBLE your donation!
Feel free to mismatch your socks and your silverware, but get your donations matched while you can!
Supporters of PA IPL’s Stories from the Road Campaign have two ways to see their contributions matched. A group of generous donors has created a matching fund of up to $4,000, doubling the contribution impactof right-now givers during the August campaign.
Those who make a three-year pledge will have their first year of donation matched by an individual donor through our For the Long Haul campaign. We are immensely grateful for the generous people seeding our growing organization’s fundraising efforts.
Take Action: Make your local ecosystem climate change resistant
Here are Greg Williams’ top five ways to combat climate change through habitat restoration. Need more guidance or advice? Contact Greg to get connected to books, trees, and advice for setting up local habitat restoration projects.
1. Read one of these books on restoring native habitat by University of Delaware entomologist Douglas W. Tallamy: Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants; Nature’s Best Hope; or The Living Landscape. Or you can start with a listen to this Bringing Nature Home interview from 2013, or if you really want to get into the relationship between birds and insects and plants, try this Hope for the Wild zoo talk.
2. Reduce the size of the lawn at your home or congregation and replace it with native trees, shrubs, wildflower meadows, or food gardens. Want to know what’s growing there already? The iNaturalist app lets you submit photos of plants and animals for identification, and contribute to research on biodiversity. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has a helpful collection of online fact sheets and photos of invasive plants and how to remove them.
3. Host a series of earth tending parties for your worship community, youth group, neighbors, or budding PA IPL chapter. (Work, Eat, Pray is one example.)
Teach participants to identify and remove invasive species, see the fruits of their labor over time, and have a conversation on the effects of global warming on the natural spaces they love. This can be done on the property of your faith community, or in a local park (with permission from park authorities!) Contact a local naturalist or extension agent for help with plant identification and removal.
4, Ask your local nursery if it sells native trees, shrubs, and flowers which support native pollinators as well as being feeding grounds for native insect larva. These Pennsylvania nurseries do carry native trees, and should be able to help you choose one for your site. The linked list is from our friends at Keystone 10 Million Trees.
5. Plant those trees! They trap and hold (sequester) a huge amount of the carbon dioxide that causes global warming, and they temper the immediate microclimates in the neighborhoods where they are planted. The Philadelphia chapter of PA IPL partners with the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s Tree Tenders program to plant trees in the Philadelphia region. Learn about their Zoom-based training in September.
If you live near central Pennsylvania, Greg Williams, who lives in Williamsburg, is distributing trees from the Keystone 10 Million Trees initiative of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which aims to plant 10 million trees in Pennsylvania by 2025. Contact him. You can also watch a recording of the November 2019 webinar for PA IPL with Keystone 10 Million Trees.
Turn to prayer
Please hold PA IPL and all who are working toward climate justice in your prayers through the week.
In 2019, PA IPL supporters “paved the cyclists’ way with prayer,” submitting original prayers, poems and artwork to express the deep faith that underlies their commitment to climate justice and care. The cyclists shared a compilation of these prayers with elected officials in Washington, as part of their advocacy conversations. Each week we are featuring a different prayer from the collection.
This week’s prayer is excerpted from a poem written in 2019 by Lynn Cashell of Congregation Beth Israel, Media PA:
God is an artist Creating majestic mountains from molten lava and magma Forming stoic woodlands and flowing grasslands; Bursting through the earth’s crust in towering geysers; Sliding down glaciers into rocky moraines.
God is a painter Brushing long flat strokes of plains and prairies; Dabbing puffy white clouds onto azure blue skies; Cascading waterfalls from mountain springs; Coloring rainbows from an unending palette of pigments.
God is a creator Sending aloft soaring bald eagles and osprey; Filling the grassland with bison, sheep and pronghorn deer, Stocking the streams with cutthroat trout and dam building beavers; Varying our sizes, shapes and colors like the landscapes that surround us; Imagining all of us – together.
Save the date— Stories from the Road Live Celebration, Sept. 1
On Sep. 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, we’ll culminate our campaign with a live zoom-based Stories from the Road Celebration, featuring live music, prayer, storytelling, and a chance to share your own stories of climate work with people throughout the state.
The event is free with a donation to PA IPL during the Stories from the Road campaign (June through August) Additional tickets can be purchased for $10. Seating is limited, so donate now!
Grab a friend or collaborator from your congregation and join us on Thursday, November 14th from 7:00-8:15 PM for a free webinar that will help you learn about siting and planting native trees on your land. Trees reduce mowing, act as windbreaks, provide shade and habitat, and provide a sense of time we simply don’t get from calendars or watches — and they are amazing carbon capture machines. Brenda Sieglitz and BJ Small will join us from 10 Million Trees to share their wisdom, and let you in on some opportunities to apply for trees. People and congregations in Lancaster, York, Adams, Franklin, and Cumberland counties, and areas in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed may have some additional opportunities. Registration is free but required.
We close with this excerpt or a prayer from Rabbi Arthur Waskow, and hope you will click through to read the whole prayer, carrying it with you as you move through your days.
We are the generation that stands between the fires: Behind us the flame and smoke that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima; From the burning forests of the Amazon, From the hottest years of human history that bring upon us Melted ice fields, Flooded cities, Scorching droughts. Before us the nightmare of a Flood of Fire, The heat and smoke that could consume all Earth. It is our task to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze But the light in which we see each other fully. All of us different, All of us bearing One Spark. — an excerpt from Between the Fires: A Kavvanah for Lighting Candles of Commitment, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow; Read in full here.