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    Meet the SustainPHL Nominees: Unsung Hero

    An unsung hero is one who makes a substantive yet unrecognized contribution, usually refraining from claiming too much in return for his/her efforts.

    Our three SustainPHL nominees for Unsung Hero of the Year are quietly improving the quality of life for thousands across Philadelphia. From collecting and documenting litter throughout Philly’s natural spaces to supporting local communities in making healthy choices for themselves (and the planet), each works tirelessly with little expected in return.

    Join us for SustainPHL on August 18th to find out who will become our Unsung Hero of the Year!

    Unsung Hero Nominees

    Jerome Shabazz

    On a Quest to Transform People, Planet, and Community

    I want to see a healthy, safe and viable city where all neighborhoods, regardless of income or demographics, can access the built and natural environments around them.

    Jerome Shabazz

    A former long-time employee of the Philadelphia Water Department, Jerome Shabazz is now the Executive Director of the Overbrook Environmental Center. This 20-year-old community-based non-profit began with the goal of embedding environment and science education programs in Philly’s schools.

    Seeking to expand its mission and make nature and science accessible to underserved communities, Jerome and his team opened the Overbrook Environmental & Arts Center in 2006 on a former brownfield site. Today, the eco-friendly center has 45,000 square feet of stormwater systems, orchard trees, a greenhouse, and more. It also offers courses on art, wellness, nutrition, environmental sustainability, and physical health. The center has a kitchen with cooking classes, a café and grows free, healthy food for local residents.

    These days, Jerome is busy planning the Overbrook Center’s Farmacy Project for Human and Environmental Health. This combination wellness center and farmer’s market is based on a successful model in South Carolina and guided by the idea that early health screenings and brief interventions, combined with access to healthy foods, can significantly improve the overall health of the neighborhood.

    Jerome, also a co-host of “The Green Hour” on WURD-900 AM, has been recognized by numerous civic and media organizations for his environmental justice work, including the PA House of Representatives-Legislative Black Caucus, the City of Philadelphia, Grid Magazine and the 2014 CBS Game Changer Award.

    Nic Esposito

    A Renaissance Man who Lives and Breathes Sustainability

    I do this work because I don’t consider it work. I consider everything I do as part of my life.

    Nic Esposito

    Nic Esposito is a writer, urban farmer and sustainability activist from Philadelphia. He was the co-founder of Philly Rooted, an urban farming organization in West Philadelphia that developed two community gardens, an urban farm and a youth growers’ cooperative. Along with his wife, Elisa, Nic currently co-manages Emerald Street Urban Farm. This community farm produces over 1000 pounds of free food each year for its volunteers and St. Francis Inn Soup Kitchen.

    Nic is the author of the memoir Kensington Homestead and the founder of The Head & The Hand Press. Along with his writing, Nic is also an accomplished lecturer and speaker. He has presented many lectures on urban farming and sustainability, most notably at the 2010 TED X Philly conference.

    Nic’s “day job” is as the Sustainable Practices Manager at Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, where he works on initiatives such as energy efficiency, sustainable land care and recycling. Nic and Elisa live on their urban homestead in the Kensington Section of Philadelphia.

    Brad Maule

    Using his Feet and a Paddle to Fight Litter in Philly’s Great Outdoors

    The message is less we need to have more cleanups and more we need to stop littering in the first place on streets, in the woods, on the river. And the message is for everyone, but especially the folks outdoors.

    Brad Maule

    When it comes to the age-adage, “Change starts with me”, photographer Bradley Maule truly walks the walk. In 2014, he spent an entire year hiking the Wissahickon section of Fairmount Park, collecting and cataloging trash. His weekly treks took him over nearly every inch of Wissahickon Valley Park, cutting through several Northwest Philly neighborhoods, including Chestnut Hill and Roxborough. The project, called One Mans Trash, culminated with a two-month exhibition at the Fairmount Water Works.

    This year, Brad was back documenting trash with an 112-mile journey, kayaking the length of the Schuylkill River. Along the way, he posted photos on Instagram, filed daily reports on his website, phillyskyline.com and has plans to create a photo essay of “trash hot-spots” along the river.

    A native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, Brad’s made his home in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland (Oregon), Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He is also the co-editor of the Hidden City Daily.

    We congratulate the Unsung Hero Award nominees and look forward to celebrating them at the SustainPHL awards on August 18th! Get your tickets online here.

    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 [email protected] or @lori_braun on Twitter.

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