Philly Tree People: Kensington Tree Planting

April 26, 2011

Belated Post, forgive me!

On April 17, 2011, I went (by my lonesome in the group! which was actually a serious accidental disaster…) to Kensington. The bus was late (thank you SEPTA) but we arrived (I went with SEA–Students for Environmental Action) almost on time. I signed a waver for my safety, went to group number 2, and loaded trucks with six trees, 15 gallons of water, clippers, prunes, special growth seeds, and more.

The community was really accepting to the help. There were team leaders for each group, from Philly Tree People, and also prominent community members.

What I learned in particular, was the mechanics of tree planting.

  • a healthy tree needs water every day (duh)
  • in my group, we planted six trees
  • the root flare needs to be  a little above the ground when planting
  • trees should be chosen according to how high they will grow
  • a hole should be dug for the space of the roots
  • pruning trees and clipping bad roots are especially good for roots; if it’s dead or will go out in a different space, then it is okay to trim
  • spread a white gelatin into the soil for growth and nutrients; also, to fight bacteria
  • put gardening soil on top at the end to help the tree and for aesthetic appeal

What we learned in Kensingtion, to our surprise

  • the ground had a lot of topsoil
  • there could possibly be needles (BE CAREFUL)
  • they cut out the wrong sidewalk (but it all worked out)
  • randomly, there was a hammock in this plot of land
  • community members were generally interested in the tree planting and requested certain trees in front of their houses
  • it was difficult to find house numbers because most places were not labeled
  • we celebrated our success by going to the local brewery

That was basically my day in Kensington! I volunteered for four hours and it was worth it.

April 17, 2011 for 4 hours


Case Study: Washington University in St. Louis

April 26, 2011

Blog Post #3 Individual Case Study

A model from Washington University in St. Louis can help Temple University consume less and save more. Water style!

With the recent wave of environmental action, people are looking for small, inexpensive ways to consume less and save more. What most people do not realize is that it is as simple as drinking water from a good plastic bottle, just not bottled water.

Washington University in St. Louis ended the sales of bottled water in early 2009, with only two venues selling bottled water for a few more months due to contractual obligations. The ban encouraged students, guests, and faculty to drink tap water and use reusable water containers because of the hazards of bottled water.

Bottled water uses fine resources, including mass amount of plastics and fresh water. Propaganda from bottled water companies promote that it is healthier than tap water. Yet, bottled water does not have to meet all of the federal, state, and municipal regulations; also, it is more difficult to check water quality.

Students at WUSL are incredibly supportive of the ban of bottled water because it made them take time to think of the impact. Students and faculty supported the decision because it would promote St. Louis’ water supply. In September 2008, students built a ‘tower of consumption’ out of discarded waste bottled water created. The group also started selling reuseable water bottles.

This idea, banning bottled water, should be an incredible issue for Temple University. It can promote conservatism and in the long run it is cheaper for poor college students.

Temple University has the misfortune of being located in urban North Philadelphia and using Philadelphia’s municipal water system. With that system is a lot of negative connotation of the water being dirty and unhealthy.

Unlike WUSL’s water system, North Philadelphia is not one of the best water sources in the country. That said, special water fountains have been placed around campus that filter the water again, furthering environmental action on Temple’s campus.

The case study of WUSL shows Temple University that it is possible to eliminate bottled water purchases and drink tap water. The case study is a perfect example on how colleges can become green, simply through student movement and environmental issues as a first-thought.

Philly Water Case Study

April 26, 2011

The City of Philadelphia’s drinking water supply, servicing over 1.4 million people, comes exclusively from surface water sources.Philadelphia’s drinking water is drawn from two rivers, the Delaware and Schuylkill. The three modern water treatment plants — Baxter, Belmont and Queen Lane — have a combined, design-rated capacity to treat 540 million gallons of water per day. The city of Philadelphia passed a Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974 that was amended in 1996. The act does the following: directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue national Primary Drinking Water Regulations for all public water systems having at least 15 service connections or regularly serving at least 25 people. The Act sets standards aimed to control substances that can pose a threat to health when present in certain quantities in drinking water. However in a case study done in 2003 Philadelphia’s water showed high traces of lead in it especially in schools and homes of young kids. The lead derived from the corrosion of pipes or faucets. High traces of lead can cause serious health issues for children which is why it is an issue.Levels of chlorination by-products, specifically total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs),were as high as 80 percent of the new national standards and occasionally spiked above those standards. HAAs and TTHMs are by-products of chlorine disinfection and may cause cancer and,potentially, reproductive and other health problems. At levels measured in Philadelphia tap water, TTHMs
and HAAs came in well above health goals and are of potential health concern.The city’s water sources are threatened by contamination from treated and untreated sewage, industrial point sources, transportation accidents and spills,urban, suburban, and agricultural runoff, acid mine drainage, and drought. Philadelphia has put a major effort into assessing this pollution and is trying to encourage protection of its source water, but the city
does not control its watersheds, and the state does not adequately regulate pollution of these waters. Philadelphia could benefit from methods of storm water management greatly. Being that most of Philly’s water comes from groundwater and surface water stormwater management is critical and this can be seen through methods such as green roofs.

Safe Drinking Water Information System, U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency database, available online at:
report. last visited on 04/26/02.

Milcreek Farm

April 26, 2011

The kids outlines were made with recycled items

The incredibly green living roof.

Milcreek Farm was quite the experience. It’s a communtiy garden/farm out in West Philly that grows vegetables, houses bees and ultimately provides a good, organic environment in a concrete jungle. There were lots of interesting things at the farm like the living roof. The roof is what caught my attention the most, even though it is expensive I think it would be a smart choice as a roofing and the way it adheres to different weather conditions is great. We pulled weeds and clover out of the soil to make room for the planting of the collards. I expected the work to be hard but the lady made it look so easy. Once I attempted to do what she was doing it was so hard and so tiring and we had to be careful to leave as much soil in the ground as possible. It was also interesting to see how everything their foundation was made up of was recycled glass they found around the neighborhood, old bike pedals, old water hose handles. It was so creative and it looked as if the kids really enjoyed doing it from their forms on the wall. I really enjoyed this work day and it definitely made me more aware of my ecological footprint.

Case Study: Project Earth

April 26, 2011

One group for the IB Exhibition researched how plastic water bottles effect the pollution on earth. They discovered that the caps don’t recycle and cause huge environmental issues. Also, they discovered the massive floating island in the Pacific that is the size of Texas. They decided to try to ban water bottles at our school. They figured out by surveying the classes, that the students at our school would be willing to stop buying water bottles and would pay up to $6.00 for a reusable water bottle. Then the group researched eco-friendly bottles and ones that are the safest for kids to use. They found a stainless steel one that would laser our logo on it for $5.50. The company they would use makes 144 @ $5.50. If your organization could cover $500.00 of he production cost for the first batch of bottles, the rest of the production costs would be paid by our PTO (the kids had to submit a proposal to the board which agreed to fund the project, on the condition that we find a way to pay the first $500.00). The students could sell them to the kids for a very good price and then with the profits make more for the rest of the school. They surveyed the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classes and have enough customers for the first 144 bottles. It would be awesome if we could get our whole school off of plastic water bottles. Our current student population is 400 students from k-5th!