Saturday, November 28, 2015

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: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 11:57 AM
Filed Under: Hearth | Policy | Trends
Photo courtesy of the TreePhilly web site.

Does this happen to you? I sometimes go past a corner in Roxborough and think, something's wrong. This doesn't look right. At first I may not be able to put my finger on it, but then I realize that a big tree that used to be part of the scenery has been cut down. The scene now has too much sky, and less character than before.

As trees age, cutting them down does sometimes become necessary. And I hope the ones involved were removed for reasons of health and safety rather than commercial expediency. But either way, we need to be sure we're keeping up on the other end, planting new trees that will help beautify our neighborhoods in addition to other benefits (like, you know, oxygen).

If you have space in your yard for a tree, you have until the end of the month to apply for a free one from TreePhilly. Here's the key pitch from their press release.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 11:57 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, March 23, 2012, 3:50 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Tech | Trends | Wheels
A Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) trash truck from Sustainable Waste Solutions, likely the first in the state to put this trend into operation.

If you go to an Eagles game next season and enjoy a plastic-bottled beer during the game (I know, what are the odds?), that bottle could be part of a former Lincoln Financial Field tarp.

How so? Randy Hendricks, the CEO of Sustainable Waste Solutions, explains: "The Eagles organization has done a tremendous job of looking at everything they buy, and everything they do, for sustainability," and the go-green mindset extends beyond high-profile solar-panel and wind-turbine projects to the nitty-gritty of waste management. Hendricks says the team is on a quest to go "100% landfill-free."

That's where his company enters the picture: "They just had a full field tarp replaced. They were looking into how it could be gotten rid of in the least harmful way, you know, most efficiently - but we said hey, that's a plastic that we can ground up and recycle. That's going to become a beer bottle or something."

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 3:50 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, March 9, 2012, 4:17 PM
Filed Under: Hearth | Policy
An artist's rendering of the new Penn's Landing is part of a detailed Philadelphia master plan that would reshape the central Delaware riverfront as the flagship of a 21st-century lifestyle city. (KieranTimberlake, Brooklyn Digital)

Here is today's Editorial from the Daily News about a victory for fans of the Delaware waterfront.

THE SYMBOL of our squandered, inaccessible Delaware waterfront is not so much the presence of the big-box stores like Walmart, but what lies directly behind Walmart: a hurricane fence plastered with large "No Trespassing" signs (and plastered, as well, with trash). That fence and those signs say everything about how we have, until recently, treated one of the city's great treasures, especially people's access to that treasure.

Slowly but surely, that began to change five years ago, when thousands of citizens participated in creating a new master plan for the central Delaware waterfront, which in turn has led to new trails, a new park, and plans for much more. Last week that very parcel behind Walmart was acquired for a new wetlands park with a $1.25 million grant from the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (and a donation from the property's owners). The park's plan and creation will be overseen by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, which acts as the steward of the waterfront.

Sandra Shea @ 4:17 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, March 5, 2012, 3:51 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Tech | Wheels

NOTE: This piece on a new car-sharing model is cross-posted from Jonathan Takiff's Gizmo Guy blog.

What's environmentally friendly, socially responsible and can make you money? RelayRides, putting a new spin on "car pooling"  and today  hanging out its virtual shingle nationally  at

Like ZipCar and regional deals like Philly CarShare (now owned by Enterprise Rent-a-Car), RelayRides operates on the principle that many people only need a car on a "spot" basis, for a couple hours now and then. 

Jonathan Takiff @ 3:51 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, March 2, 2012, 5:31 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Food | Policy | Trends

The science of assessing environmental impact is a relatively young one, having only gained traction over the past few decades. Methodologies are still being developed and perfected, and best practices are still in the process of being definitively established. So it's no surprise there is disagreement among experts as to the exact environmental impact of a given industry, with the "fracking" controversy being only the latest high-profile example.

Meanwhile, however, an argument has been brewing over the past half-decade about a key environmental-impact assessment: The role of livestock production in climate change, specifically in greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. I've been following this off and on and it's time to take a hard look at it.

At the outset I will remind you of my potential bias (especially since such transparency, or lack thereof, comes into play here): As a vegan, I deplore the institution of animal-based foods and know that they are unnecessary for humans to eat. You may well have a different attitude about the livestock industry, which is why I encourage everyone to read everything at the links herein and see what conclusion you come to.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 5:31 PM  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: Monday, February 6, 2012, 3:39 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Hearth | Policy | Trends
Here is a view, courtesy of, showing that there are fascinating portions of the old train line in town that could benefit from the "green" overhaul.

There have been some interesting twists and turns recently in the Reading Viaduct project, something that could push Philly a long way toward being the literal "Greenest City in America."

The Daily News today chronicles a successful NIMBY campaign to stop a "Neighborhood Improvement District" that would have hiked taxes in return for improvements that were tied to the project.

[The NID] was seen as a precursor to converting the abandoned Reading Viaduct train trestle that runs through the neighborhood into a park modeled after New York's successful High Line.

But Maria Yuen said that the additional tax was too big a burden.

"Everybody agrees we all want to live in a beautiful place with clean streets and green parks," Maria Yuen said. "But with this economy, the priority has to be jobs. People need to put food on the table."

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 3:39 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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