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    Meet the SustainPHL Nominees: Sustainable Communities


    These nominees are working to provide communities with equitable access to clean air & water, clean & open spaces, and energy-efficient resources, as well as protecting local wildlife & habitats.

    In August, Philadelphia’s SustainPHL Awards will highlight and celebrate these community changemakers. Join us to celebrate these visionaries and announce the recipient at the SustainPHL Awards on August 3rd at WHYY!


    • Not in Philly
    • Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
    • Soil Generation

    NOT IN Philly

    Not in PhillyUsing technology to tackle the city’s litter problem

    Upon moving to West Philadelphia 7 years ago, Dave Brindley grew concerned that the litter filled streets of his neighborhood conveyed a sense of hopelessness to the community. He noticed that the trash was not only a blight on the streets, but often found its way to storm drains and local waterways after a rainstorm. Dave initially worked alone, going out once or twice a week to pick up litter on his block. Seeking a more collaborative, scalable solution, he connected with Code for Philly and local design firm, Think Company, to build NotinPhilly.org, the country’s first map enabled adopt-a-block site. Participants select their block from the interactive map on the website and then are provided with resources (a trash grabber and garbage bags) and incentives (gift cards from local businesses) to facilitate a weekly clean-up. The site makes civic engagement visible and rewarding. Not in Philly allows individuals to connect with other volunteers in their neighborhood to coordinate efforts, building stronger volunteer commitment and a more connected community.

    Not in Philly claims 822 members across 76 neighborhoods. That’s over 800 blocks in the city that are being cleaned on a regular basis. And more people are signing up all the time—often faster than the organization can keep up with. The technology has been considered so ideal that several other cities (Baltimore, Charlotte, Palm Beach, Pittsburgh, etc.) have reached out and asked to use the code (which Not in Philly freely shares).

    By equipping people to clean up their communities, Not in Philly empowers citizens to bring about a visible change in their neighborhoods. This builds pride of place and has positive psychological effects. It also increases property values (studies say by 7%), and the health of the residents (studies show both the elderly and children are more likely to walk, play outside, and engage with their neighbors when there is not trash on the ground).

    A campus minister at UPenn, founder Dave Brindley is also known for building an unofficial protected bike lane in his West Philadelphia community.


    PHS Tree Tenders

    Transforming communities through horticulture

    The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 1827, that connects people to horticulture and collaboratively creates beautiful, healthy and sustainable communities. PHS’s best known activities include the Philadelphia Flower Show, street tree planting and maintenance, community gardening, public beautification, and the PHS Pop Up Gardens. The work of PHS engages communities throughout the Philadelphia region in ways to reduce pollution, utilize organic practices in gardening, transform urban landscapes, and address social challenges such as food security, job creation, and social equity.

    By using the power of horticulture and greening, the organization transforms the landscape, communities, and thousands of lives. PHS leads the regional tree-planting campaign, Plant One Million, to increase the tree canopy, which reduces air pollution, reduces flooding and pollution of waterways, and cuts energy usage and costs. More than 4,500 volunteer Tree Tenders have been trained to plant and care for the trees, and the campaign has added more than 537,000 trees to the region since 2011. In the effort to manage stormwater runoff, the residential Rain Check program conducted by PHS has installed more than 1,500 rain barrels and held 3,100 workshops that teach homeowners about pervious pavers, rain gardens, and other green infrastructure. PHS also brings organic land care practices to the public landscapes it manages throughout Center City and at the Navy Yard. The sustainability work of also includes the City Harvest program that grows healthy food for neighbors in need, and the re-entry initiatives that train former prison inmates in green industry and workforce skills. PHS is supported by individual members and supporters, foundations, partners and government grants.


    Soil Generation

    A grassroots coalition of urban farmers committed to building a hyper-local food system

    Soil Generation (formerly Healthy Foods Green Spaces) is a black and brown led, grassroots coalition of radical community gardeners and urban farmers working to build a hyper-local food system in Philadelphia that promotes health and equity in historically marginalized communities. The coalition works toward the creation and preservation of safe, healthy, economically secure and culturally-reflective neighborhoods. Using grassroots organizing, community education, and advocacy to achieve these ends, Soil Generation believes that individual communities know what is best for their neighborhoods and should lead advocacy efforts.

    The coalition originally formed in 2011 in response to a proposed zoning amendment that would have threatened 20 percent of existing gardens and farms in the city. In 2013 the coalition formalized its membership and launched under the name Healthy Foods Green Spaces (HFGS). In early 2015, following passage of Philadelphia’s land bank law, and hiring of a new community organizer, coalition membership evolved. The new community organizer, Kirtrina Baxter and individual members of the coalition, prioritized building relationships with individual gardeners that reflect marginalized communities, instead of cultivating relationships with organizations. Through these relationships, they became truly grassroots, and changed their name to Soil Generation. With the new membership and name, the coalition expanded its focus beyond land access policies to include racial and economic justice issues within the food system.

    Since 2011, Soil Generation’s urban garden and farming constituency have supported three successful campaigns: the defeat of the previously-mentioned zoning amendment; passage of Philadelphia’s land bank bill; and, influencing the strategic planning process for the land bank, which prioritizes urban agriculture and open space projects. Over the last year, they have: partnered with the Public Interest Law Center to host three vacant land training sessions, which were attended by more than 200 people; developed a comprehensive “train-the-trainers” program and trained 27 people to run their own vacant land trainings; engaged more than 40 gardeners and farmers through monthly meetings and an annual resource-sharing event; and, offered anti-racism training to coalition members.


    Join us for SustainPHL on August 3rd to find out who will become the 2017 Sustainable Communities recipient!

    Lori Braunstein

    About Lori Braunstein

    Lori Braunstein is the founder of Sustainable Cherry Hill and Director for Change Leadership at The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education. Always evolving, she enjoys figuring out how everyday people can be a force in creating a clean, green future. Reach Lori at braunsteinlori@gmail.com or @lori_braun on Twitter.

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