Wednesday, February 10, 2016


POSTED: Saturday, July 20, 2013, 5:12 PM
Filed Under: Art | Policy
Patch Adams.

You may recall Paul Glover as the man behind Green Jobs Philly and the Philadelphia Orchard Project, or as the fellow who wants us to develop our own currency. But he's also a friend and fan of Dr. Patch Adams, who is coming to town this week, as's The Public's Health notes.

Yes, Patch Adams, for those who may have forgotten, is a real-life person who survived his canonization via Robin Williams and Hollywood and is still out and about, changing lives and inspiring people in and beyond the world of medicine. He will be speaking at Drexel University College of Medicine, Geary Auditorium B; 245 N. 15th; 6:30 pm on July 23  and at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries,  20th & Venango, 6:30 pm on July 24.  Admission is free.

The big news that speaks to Adams' inspiring energy and to Philly's own initiative is the Patch Adams Free Clinic now in development.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 5:12 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, January 4, 2013, 9:54 PM
Filed Under: Art
Detail from the Upcycling Trash to Treasure poster.

It's been a while since we caught up with the latest goings-on of Philly's Dumpster Divers, the collective of artists who make cool stuff out of found objects and other throwaway elements. You may recall their previous awards banquets,  the first South Street gallery,  the second South Street gallery and other endeavors.

Partially, the lack of E2P coverage is because we just weren't posting as frequently in 2012. But another factor is that this "fringe" group of "offbeat" creative types has, over the past few years, been mainstreamed.

Not that the artists have changed their attitude or output - rather, society seems to finally be catching up with the Divers. This is evident in the title of their newest exhibition, which opens tomorrow and runs through Feb. 10th: "Upcycling Trash to Treasure." All along the Divers thought they were just creating fun and/or useful objets d'art out of trash - turns out they were "upcycling!"

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 9:54 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, May 12, 2012, 11:53 PM
Filed Under: Art | Tech | Wheels
Skyler Lehmkuhl approaches the boat ramp to exit the water in Baltimore's Kinetic Sculpture Race on May 6, 2012. Photo courtesy of

As part of Earth to Philly's Dumpster Diver Dispatch series, I have in the past kept you updated on the progress of the Dumpster Divers team in Baltimore's AVAM Kinetic Sculpture Race. For those coming in late, these are human-powered vehicles tricked out as works of art that must surmount pavement, sand, mud and water. Its a bona fide movement mixing love for art and sustainable transportation, involving thousands of people, started back in 1969 by Hobart Brown after he souped up his son's tricycle with a couple extra wheels. I've also alerted  you to the ensuing annual Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby held here in Philadelphia, and this year is no exception.

What's exceptional is that the "Dumpster Divers" team (the only team in Baltimore that's done every race) now consists solely of myself -- no longer an official Dumpster Diver -- and my son Skyler, who never was inducted into that group of trash-picking artists.

What's also exceptional was Skyler's determined mastery of the course in his self-designed "Cat-a-maran." And when I put it that way, I'm not just being a doting dad - he brought home an award for the Dumpster Divers, for his performance in exiting the water.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 11:53 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, April 2, 2012, 11:31 AM
Filed Under: Art | Policy | Trends
Official 20th-anniversary group portrait of Philadelphia's Dumpster Divers, taken April 1, 2012. (I. George Bilyk)

It may have sounded to some like an April Fool's joke, but it was as real as a metal trash can: Yesterday the 20th anniversary of Philly's legendary "trash art" group The Dumpster Divers was marked with a group photo and an official Mayoral Tribute from Michael Nutter.

The celebration was held at the site of the first meeting, April 1, 1992, at the American Diner at 5th and Spring Garden. Silk City diner, which now resides at that location, was gracious enough to allow the Divers to use their premises as the site for their revelry.

The Dumpster Divers' motto is "one man's trash is another man's treasure," and the group has established a name for itself by creating art of trash, recycled materials and found objects, turning traditional notions of artistic beauty and worth on their head while generating some of the most eye-catching and original works of art and craft anywhere. (Disclosure: I was a member of the group from 1994 to 2008. I resigned membership upon launching Earth to Philly so I would be able to chronicle the group's exploits with the crystal-clear eye of objectivity required of all jounalist-bloggers.)

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 11:31 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, February 17, 2012, 4:21 PM
Filed Under: Art | Biz | Policy | Tech
Executive Director Gretjen Clausing points a celebratory finger at the 'On Air' sign as PhillyCAM goes live for the first time.

Last week a milestone of sorts was reached in the world of people-based media here in Philly. At an event attended by Earth to Philly and members of other interested groups plus the public at large, PhillyCAM quietly went from playing only prerecorded videos to putting out live, local programming to the region's cable subscribers.

Well, actually it wasn't all that quiet. Mayor Nutter stopped by in the afternoon for an official ribbon-cutting, and the party in the evening was boisterous that I was hard-pressed to do any interviewing on-site and decided to follow up on the event later.

I spoke with two of the head honchos, Executive Director Gretjen Clausing and Programming Director Debbie Rudman, about how things are shaping up for PhillyCAM after a quarter-century fight to bring public access television, something that's been long enjoyed in other cities, to Philly.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 4:21 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, November 27, 2011, 8:13 PM
Filed Under: Art | Biz | Tech
Vintage Vinyl Journals use actual vinyl records as covers.

While vinyl is in the midst of a resurgence as a listening medium, there's still way more old vinyl records than there are hipsters to listen to them, and many old, previously cherished LPs wind up in the wastestream as their owners re-collect the content in digital form. This reflects some of the ambivalence a lot of us have about our old records - they have a special meaning, but not so much that we're going to try to get that turntable working again to hear them.

Katie Pietrak understands that dynamic and is capitalizing on it with Vintage Vinyl Journals, a new product that combines acid-free writing journals with covers made from actual vinyl LPs. "We rescue forgotten vinyl and repurpose it," she told me, adding that people use the journals for all kinds of things, including school notebooks, scrapbooksand other tomes that they consider worthy of a special package.

Pietrak stressed the high-quality acid-free paper in the journals and the glue holding them together, she said, is free of VOCs (volatile organic compounds - at first I heard this as BOC, and wondered what she had against Blue Oyster Cult records). In addition to their marginal eco-friendliness these items call us back to what the company's literature calls "a simpler time - when albums started with a pop and a hiss as needle met groove and thoughts were recorded pen to paper."

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 8:13 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, September 23, 2011, 3:18 PM
Filed Under: Art | Biz | Tech | Trends | Wheels
Art from the poster for the 2011 Manayunk Eco-Arts Festival.

Manayunk's Eco-Arts Festival is back again this weekend, with Main Street (up to Green Lane - so our headline is close enough!) again stuffed with arts vendors, music, kids' activities, an eco-car show and general enviro-education in a festive format.

I could go on about the event - and indeed we tipped you to its ramping-up developments back in July - but you'll find the main details right here.

Worth noting is (relatively) new mom Paige Wolf, the author of Spit That Out! and a tireless advocate for sustainable events in and around Philly. She'll be doing a "green living seminar" she describes this way:

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 3:18 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, September 6, 2011, 4:01 PM
Filed Under: Art | Biz | Policy | Trends | Wheels

It's a theme we've touched on before here at Earth to Philly, but today the Daily News does it up right, asking the musical question, Why don't many Philadelphia businesses recycle, if the law requires them to? Only a quarter of the city's businesses, after all, have even filed their required recycling plans with the city, and many apparently aren't even aware that they have to.

The short answer to the "why" question is that the City doesn't have the same financial stake in getting business owners to recycle as it does for residents.

The city makes $65 for every ton of residential trash it recycles, but makes nothing from most commercial recycling, because that money goes to private haulers. And the amount of money that the city could collect fining businesses wouldn’t cover the cost of handing out the fines.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 4:01 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to

Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.

Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.

Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.

Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.

Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...

Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.

Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.

Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.

In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man

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