Sustainable Cherry Hill Update

Sustainable Cherry Hill


August 21: The day we “overshot” the Earth  Posted: 21 Aug 2010 10:08 AM PDT  

earth-overshoot-logo-no-yearToday is August 21, 2010.  As of this day, we, as a global community, have just used up all the natural resources that our planet can produce in one year. Tomorrow, well… we start accumulating debt and we all know what a bummer being in debt is.  Humanity currently uses the equivalent of 1.4 planets to provide the resources we use and to absorb our waste, according to Global Footprint Network. This means it now takes the Earth one year and five months to regenerate what we use in a year. Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources puts us in a global “overshoot”, depleting the very resources upon which we depend as a species.  

And, think about this:  That 1.4 planet statistic is a global average.  If everyone lived like we do here in the US, we would need the equivalent of 5 planets.  India (.4 Earths)  and China (1 Earth) are WAY behind us. We are consuming much more than our share.  

Overshoot results in obvious problems, like overfishing, diminishing forests and depletion of fresh water systems, as well as a build up of pollution and waste.  Many people don’t realize that our consumption also leads to resource conflicts like war, mass migrations, famine and disease, which overwhelmingly affect the poor and disenfranchised.  

Since we only have one Earth (says the wombat), it would probably be a good idea to recognize its natural limits and to find new ways to live within those boundaries.  We need to hold a vision of our humanity where we consider these limits in our decision making at a personal, community and global level.  Knowing your own ecological footprint is a great way to start. Consider this quote…  

“Better sign the papers while the Earth is still willing to make a deal.”   

Stephen Jay Gould, Paleontologist  

A weekend of deep work and huge rocks  Posted: 16 Aug 2010 05:16 AM PDT  

elp logoI was up early this morning, reflecting on the past four days that I spent at a Pennsylvania mountain retreat as an Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) Fellow.  ELP’s mission of “inspiring visionary, action oriented and diverse leadership to work for a just and sustainable future” targets “emerging environmental and social change practitioners eager to connect their specialized work to larger environmental and social concerns.”  In the form of three intensive weekend retreats, totaling 11 days, the program offers leadership/skill training, networking opportunities and time for personal/professional reflection and planning. I am a member of the Eastern Regional Network (ERN) class of 2010, as one of 15 individuals from NY, NJ, PA, DE and MD.  

I arrived at Kirkridge Retreat Center in Bangor, PA on Thursday morning and began the process of meeting and mingling with my fellow “Fellows”.  My first impression was one of awe as I spoke to one person after another, each passionately describing their work in the areas of urban farming, environmental justice, green building, youth engagement, chemical education/advocacy, wildlife study and more.  From the Eastern Shore of Maryland’s watershed to the urban jungle of NYC, this group seemed ready to dive right in.  

Day One of this orientation retreat focused on community building and peer to peer learning as we set the foundation for the deep work we would be doing over the next few days in the task of embracing diversity in the environmental movement. Days Two and Three took us deeper into conversations and skill building as we examined our own lenses/filters for viewing the world, participated in a stark interactive exercise in privilege and power and examined our own organization’s dedication to diversity. I had the opportunity to examine SCH’s responsibility to systematically to reach out to the many cultures in our town and to develop an action plan to help us achieve that goal.  We ended the diversity training with a visioning activity that allowed us to express our creativity and to bond further as an ELP community.  Thank you to Marcello Bonto and The Center for Diversity and the Environment for guiding us through this important and often challenging process. Our last day focused on setting the foundation for our “Personal Leadership Plans”, a process we will complete over the course of the three retreats and one that will serve as a future personal and professional roadmap.  

I took a break from the deep work of the retreat to discover the incredible Columcille Megalith Park, an outdoor sanctuary rooted in Celtic spirituality.  This park, with it’s mysterious and magical design of huge rocks, trails and sacred spaces, was a highlight of my retreat experience.  

I headed home from Kirkridge, exhausted, but exhilerated. Our next retreat is at the end  October and the first draft of my Personal Leadership Plan is due to my small group (Pod) earlier that month, so I’d better get to work!  

If you are interested in being a member of the ELP Fellow Class of 2011, please let me know or check out the ELP website for eligibility and requirements.   

Green Drinks is baaaack!  Posted: 11 Aug 2010 06:28 AM PDT  

One Green Night a Month One Green Night a Month  

We know it’s technically still summer, but we are back and ready to network!

Join us on September 1st!

Stop by and hang out with us in the back bar at PJ’s.

SCH has its own chapter of this popular social and business networking happy hour that brings together a wide array of environmentally minded people each month over beverages to discuss green and sustainable solutions, ideas, concepts and much more.  

This laid back, unstructured gathering is part of an international movement and a collaborative effort with Green Drinks Philadelphia.  

And remember, the efforts of SCH are regional and inclusive… you do not need to be a Cherry Hill resident to participate with us.  

Stop by the first Wednesday of EVERY month at PJ Whelihan’s on Rt. 70 and Greentree Rds in Cherry Hill from 6-8 pm to hang with us and other like minded folks in the community.  Everyone is friendly and eager to meet new people!  

Note:  SCH provides the “GREEN” opportunity to network, but not the “DRINKS”!  

Everyone either runs a tab or pays by the drink.  

Contact Lori Braunstein for more information  

The Butterfly Effect in Action  Posted: 10 Aug 2010 03:41 PM PDT  

butterflyIt has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.  This morning, I discovered my own little “Butterfly Effect” right here in Cherry Hill, NJ.  The “flutter” happened about a year and a half ago.  I was asked to give a five minute talk about sustainability to some local businesses at a Breakfast with the Mayor event.  I remember struggling with the challenge of saying the most meaningful thing in the shortest amount of time possible.  I went with a quick overview of sustainability and the importance of adopting sustainable business practices on our changing planet.  Local businessman, Jon Perper of Playdrome Bowling Center attended the breakfast that day.  

This morning I met with Jon. He described it something like this, “I had already been thinking about my lighting and energy use from a narrow dollars and cents perspective. Hearing you talk about sustainability provided me with the whole picture and set me on a new journey.” Since that day, Jon has been quietly making major changes in the way he does business at his Cherry Hill bowling alley. In addition to doing an LED lighting retrofit, putting on a reflective roof and changing many of his food service products, he hosted an energy efficient lighting fair through NJ Clean Energy and is beginning to do education/outreach for his regular customers. Jon told me how he used to try to unsuccessfully motivate his employees to turn off the lights in order to save him money. Now the whole team is collaborating on best practices for sustainability. In fact, one employee took the initiative to find and purchase the most efficient printer, which now sits prominently in Playdrome’s office. Through participation in the SCH GreenBiz Task Force and last summer’s community visioning conference, Jon expanded his understanding of sustainability. He showed me the powerpoint that he created to educate his national bowling association and shared his vision for greening the entire industry.  

This morning I received a valuable lesson. In my role as a sustainable community organizer, I spread a lot of “seeds”.  I don’t always know how much of my message sticks with the people I speak with. It was really gratifying to hear Jon’s story this morning.  I even allowed myself a little daydream about how many seeds Jon is planting in the bowling community, here in Cherry Hill and across the country.  I’ll keep Jon’s story in mind the next time I flutter my wings!