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
Our inspirational spiritual remarks will be given by Donna Kochirka.
Next we will have brief presentations on models to illustrate how our communities and land can become more climate resilient:
· Urban and rural tree planting efforts by the PA IPL by Mark Smith and Greg Williams
· A new nonprofit organization that focuses on local sourcing of materials and building local self-reliance by Judy Wicks
· An initiative in Pittsburgh to install solar panels on front line homes through the Open Ministries.
Then we will have Q & A and participants can share what they are doing as individuals or congregations to make our communities more climate resilient.
This will be a fascinating and uplifting program and should inspire Green Teams within congregations and communities to include new projects.
On February 15th, please join PA IPL for our Statewide Monthly Meeting and Program. To supplement local monthly chapter meetings, PA IPL will be holding a regular meeting & program each month on 3rd Monday evenings at 7:00 PM EST via Zoom.
This month PA IPL Board Member Greg Williams will be offering a program and resources for how to organize and participate in efforts to directly combat climate change through PA IPL Creation Care.
We will describe ways to get involved, address any obstacles, and guide you through the process to actively participate as stewards of creation.
Creation Care is a hands on opportunity to safely connect with each other and restore the environment. Through our tree planting efforts — and collaborations with the Keystone 10 Million Trees project, and scores of local groups across PA — we have planted over 3,000 trees in the last four years and removed invasive species.
These efforts made measurable progress against climate change.
· We increased the biodiversity of our environment
· We cooled our rivers and streams
· We slowed down pollution and erosion
· We enhanced our environment’s ability to sequester CO2.
As we expand these efforts in urban communities and in PA’s northern tier with a new distribution hub in Lewisburg we will plant more than 10,000 in 2021! To sign up to participate in PA IPL’s Creation Care or obtain a tree yourself fill out this Google Form. Register now here!
After planting 1,000 trees last year in Central PA, due to the hard work of PA IPL Board member Greg Williams, and many dedicated stewards of creation across the state, this year PA IPL will receive and plant or distribute 10,000 native trees from the Chesapeake Bay Fund!
This year our Creation Care program will expand the scope of our work in Northeast PA and North Central PA. In addition to our original site in Williamsburg, we will have new distribution centers in Scranton and Lewisburg.
We are actively looking for volunteers to participate in planting events and the removal of invasive species across the state. If you are interested in volunteering or can help in identifying additional sites, please sign up here. Trees will be delivered to the three centers in April and the planting season will go through June but other work is always available year round.
If you are also interested in accepting trees yourself, we will have a limited number of unreserved trees available. All trees are distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis and we cannot guarantee specific species. please register here.
This expansion will also result in greater expenses for PA IPL, any donations to support this important work would be appreciated.
Share a highlight of a past bike trip. I loved being able to show up at scheduled breaks with snacks and water. Maternal feelings of concern and care for the riders were not typical of the ways in which I typically connect to other people.
How has the bike trip continued to impact or sustain you? I learned an important lesson about the power of working with other people. We can’t always do everything on our own. We are more powerful together. I witnessed the support of a rider who was struggling on a particular day by several other riders who stayed with him, even as he fell behind the main group.
In what ways are you continuing to reap inspiration and energy from your experience of the trip? I hope that I will be able to make the trip at some point in the future.
What you are doing right now to support the work of PA IPL in raising climate change as a moral issue? I run Germantown PA IPL Tree Tenders, an official tree planting group of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The group advocates in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia for the moral imperative of PA IPL’s message about the climate crisis through its spring and fall plantings.
What “call to action” would you encourage others to take regarding climate change at this time? Voting for strong environmental candidates, not just in the national election, but in the state and local elections is the most important thing to do this year!
This strong, warmed-from-within group gathered to plant and bless this sapling in Germantown on a blustery, damp day.
Following the work of planting, the group blessed the tree, and with those blessings recalled blessings by other trees they had known.
Each person spoke an appreciation of a tree they had known and loved, and the group responded, together:
Grow straight. Grow strong. Give shade. Share life.
Thank you, Tree Tenders of Germantown!
When your group plants, waters, weeds, or otherwise cares for a tree, we hope you’ll use this blessing led by Rev. Alison Cornish. Share some of your stories and photos with us, and help jog other people’s memories of trees they have known and loved.