Category Archives: Environment

VISITING JAPANESE TREE PLANTING GROUP PLANTS FIVE CHERRY BLOSSOM TREES IN FAIRMOUNT PARK

Philadelphia, PA (April 19, 2019) — The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP) welcomed Gifu Sakura no Kai, a volunteer cherry blossom tree planting group from Japan, to Philadelphia on Friday, April 19. Gifu Sakura no Kai planted five blossoming cherry trees along Avenue of the Republic near a footpath that leads to Shofuso, the Japanese house and garden in West Fairmount Park.

Before beginning the tree planting, the group toured Shofuso, where executive director Kim Andrews shared the history of Philadelphia’s connections with Japan, which date back to the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. The tree planting, which took place nearby Philadelphia’s Memorial Hall, adds to Fairmount Park’s abundant cherry blossoms and acts as a bookend to the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, which ran from April 6-14, 2019.

Founded in Gifu, Japan in 2001, Sakura No Kai’s activities originates from the actions of Mr. Ryoji Sato (1929-1977), a conductor of Japan’s National Railways’ Nagare Express line. Mr. Sato planted cherry trees along the route, which connected Nagoya (which faces the Pacific Ocean) and Kanazawa (which faces the Sea of Japan) as a symbol of peace from shore to shore.

Inspired by Mr. Sato’s actions, Gifu Sakura no Kai have planted 6,634 trees across Japan and 6,511 trees in 41 cities across the world since 1993 as a way of promoting international cherry blossom culture, and have visited Adelaide, Australia, New Delhi, India, and Wahiawa, Hawaii.

The exchange of cherry trees between Japan and Philadelphia goes back to 1926, when the Japanese government gifted 1,600 flowering trees to the city of Philadelphia in honor of the 150th anniversary of American independence. From 1998 to 2007, JASGP planted over 1,000 trees around the city, embodying the goodwill between Japan and Philadelphia. Groves of cherry trees can be found at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, behind Memorial Hall, along Kelly Drive, and surrounding the Art Museum and Waterworks.

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The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia is a private nonprofit organization that has brought Philadelphia and Japan closer together for more than 25 years through art, business, and culture. JASGP operates Shofuso, produces the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, and presents the US-Japan Business and Public Policy Series, as well as other arts, business, culture, and educational programming for all ages. For more information, visit japanphilly.org.

Shofuso is a traditional Japanese house and garden located in West Fairmount Park. Shofuso is open for weekday admissions to the public from March 24 to October 31, Wednesdays through Fridays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Adult admission is $12; senior citizens, students with ID and children ages 5-17 admission is $8; ACCESS card holders’ admission is $2; and JASGP members, active duty military with ID and children under 5 are admitted free. Shofuso is located at Horticultural and Lansdowne Drs., Philadelphia, PA 19131. For more information, including special hours and admission, visit japanphilly.org.

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Centennial Parkside CDC Awarded $200,000 to Advance its Solar Energy Initiatives

Philadelphia, PA (December 18, 2018) –

Yesterday, Governor Tom Wolf announced the approval of tax credits to advance the Centennial Parkside CDC’s solar energy initiatives through the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP). This is part of nearly $18 million in tax credits to support 136
community revitalization projects across the commonwealth.
Spark Therapeutics, as the corporate sponsor and beneficiary of the tax credits, is contributing $200,000 toward the Centennial Parkside CDC. The funding will help deploy residential solar energy to low-income families and will lower their energy bills.

The solar initiative will be implemented in partnership with the Philadelphia Energy Authority and their Solarize Philly program. NAP encourages this type of private sector investment into mission-based non-profits to advance projects that will help improve
distressed communities.

“Fostering public-private collaboration and encouraging investment are some of the best ways we can revitalize low-income areas,” Governor Wolf said. “When we lift up our distressed communities, we lift up the entire commonwealth.”

“We thank Spark Therapeutics for their contribution to the CDC. We expect this form of solar energy deployment to become a model for partnerships between CDCs, the residents they serve, and local organizations to achieve meaningful investments in low-income neighborhoods,” said Chris Spahr, the Executive Director of the Centennial Parkside CDC.

About NAP
NAP provides tax credits to businesses that donate capital to support projects that address neighborhood and community problems – particularly in low-income areas that need it
most. This past 2017-18 fiscal year, the Department of Community and Economic Development received more than 190 applications, totaling over $32 million for NAP tax credits Out of that $32 million, DCED was able to award $18 million to those projects that best met the requirement guidelines laid out for NAP.

About Spark Therapeutics
A fully integrated, commercial company committed to discovering, developing and delivering gene therapies, Spark Therapeutics challenges the inevitability of genetic diseases, including blindness, hemophilia, lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Spark Therapeutics is a
diverse, experienced team united in its goal to break down barriers for people and families affected by genetic diseases.

About Centennial Parkside CDC
The Centennial Parkside CDC is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization located in the East Parkside neighborhood of West Philadelphia. Its mission is to preserve, promote and revitalize East Parkside through partnerships with businesses and institutions and programs that engage residents, increase opportunity, and grow a diverse, thriving
community.

Indego Bike Profile: Michael Burch

Meet Michael Burch, publisher of the Parkside Journal andlongtime employee of the Franklin Institute. For the last several issues the Parkside Journal has profiled an Indego Bike user. This month we profile Michael. Doing an Indego Bike profile on Mike is easy for he is a long time bike enthusiast and he often rides his bike to work in center city.

Mike has been riding his bike through his neighborhood of Parkside for many years. In talking to him I learned that he was very pleased to see the bike stations come into his neighborhood of Parkside.

Mike says ” In this area, I think bikes are the perfect way to get around.” He goes on, “if you notice the traffic patterns we have more and more traffic coming in and out the area, it’s really congested sometimes. During the summer months, it’s especially bad.

I asked Mike if he has his own bike, why do you use Indego? Michael replied “I don’t always use Indego, I still ride my bike a lot but Indego Bikes are sometimes just more convenient to use. The problem with using your own bike is once you reach your destination you have to find a safe and convenient place to lock your bike, with Indigo you do not have to worry about that.” I asked him what he thought of catching Septa, he replied: “Septa’s a great option, but you often have long waits, I’d rather ride a bike. The Indego bikes are well built and maintained and the bike stations are very convenient and easy to use. There’s a Bike station right next to my job.”

Centennial Parkside CDC Tree Tenders Plant 12 New Street Trees in East Parkside. by Chris Spahr, Exc. Director of the Centennial Parkside CDC

Photo provided by Tashia Rayon

The Centennial Parkside CDC Tree Tenders Program conducted in partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) planted 12 new street trees throughout East Parkside on November 17. Over the course of the past year, multiple East Parkside residents have been trained as Tree Tenders through PHS. This training involves learning about various types of trees, how to plant and care for trees, and how to bring trees to the neighborhood. Even though East Parkside sits directly adjacent to Fairmount Park, only 3% of homes have on-street tree coverage.

On-street trees lead to cooler sidewalks in summer, cleaner air, better water drainage during rainstorms, and cooler porches and front rooms due to tree canopies. Unlike trees planted decades ago that pose a risk for overhead wires, homes, and pipework, PHS trees are much shorter, skinnier, and are easier to care for. This was the second of the Centennial Parkside CDC Tree Tenders plantings bringing  the total number of new trees in the neighborhood to 23. If you are interested in becoming a Tree Tender or planting a tree in front of your home, contact the CDC at 267-225-8356 or info@centennialparkside.org.

THE GLOW: A Jack O’Lantern Experience Returns To Parkside

by Ed Miller

THE GLOW: A Jack O’Lantern Experience brighten ups West Fairmount Park again this October with another family-friendly, immersive Halloween stroll along a quarter-mile trail illuminated by more than 5,000 hand-carved Jack O’Lanterns. Presented by GLOW Holdings LLC and sponsored by the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, this Halloween happening will delight visitors as the intricately-carved pumpkins are transformed into beautiful landscapes, iconic figures and larger than life jack o’ lantern structures. Visitors will be wowed by perennial favorites like dinosaurs, a pirate ship and superheroes as well as famous Philadelphians past and present, iconic local landmarks, and a celebration of the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. THE GLOW master carvers will also demonstrate live pumpkin carving so visitors can learn how to create their own masterpieces.

Parkside residents are encouraged to apply for openings for event staff and pumpkin carvers needed for the event. “Fairmount Park Conservancy is delighted to support this fun, family event that will provide job opportunities for Parkside residents,” says Jamie Gauthier, Executive Director of the Conservancy. An ad with more information on how to apply for these positions is located on page 15. Deadline for applying is September 15th

Upon opening on October 4th, THE GLOW will run every Thursday-Sunday night through October. Times vary depending on the date. Tickets start at just $16.99 for kids, and are on sale now at http://www.theglowjackolantern.com/event-locations/.

Advanced tickets are required. For more information on dates and times, visit http://www.theglowjackolantern.com

THE GLOW: A Jack O’Lantern Experience

When: Thursday-Sunday, October 4th-28th

Where: West Fairmount Park, Near the Mann Music Center

Saving Our Park’s Forests: Restoration Project Underway!

by Jennifer Mahar

Editor’s note: If you have been anywhere near the Horticultural center in the past few weeks you must have noticed all the work going on in the park and the trees being cut down. The Casual Park goer probably pays little attention to the specific types of trees or other plant life found in Fairmount Park. Most of us simply see the ‘woods’ in the park they love and take for granted that they will always be there. However, that’s not guaranteed. Our Park lands take care and nurturing to preserve for future generations. The following article emphasizes why we must now take a more ‘hands on’ approach regarding plant life in our parks. It details what is being done to meet the critical challenge of ensuring the continued survival of a healthy, diverse forests in our city’s parks.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) and the Fairmount Park Conservancy selected the forests surrounding The Horticulture Center, one of the jewels of the Philadelphia park system, as the focal point for a major restoration effort. The Horticulture Center facility and grounds, which include an arboretum, are historic and provide the setting for horticultural excellence in our park system. The facility features a conference center, indoor gardens and greenhouses, and is a destination for ceremonies, including weddings, corporate events and holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, the native forests surrounding the site are being lost. The forest canopy is dominated by a large number of invasive tree species and portions of the canopy are over-run by invasive woody vines, which are tearing the forest apart. The understory is dominated by a limited number of non-native species of saplings and shrubs, and the native herbaceous layer (wildflowers, ferns and grasses) has disappeared. This forest is on a trajectory to become dominated by a limited number of invasive trees, shrubs, and vines, with little aesthetic appeal, diminished wildlife habitat and minimal diversity. Without intervention, the future forest will provide an unfortunate example of neglect and lost potential.

The Horticulture Center Forest Restoration and Protection project includes three distinct Project Areas, identified as Lansdowne Glen ( 12.8 acres); Montgomery Creek ( 10.7 acres) and Michaux Grove (5.9 acres), totaling approximately 29.4 acres in size. The project sites each abut the Horticulture Center and grounds. The current project will demonstrate to our many visitors that carefully planned restoration can transform a degraded forest into a diverse and functional ecosystem.

Urban forests are subject to a wide range of stressors that do not commonly afflict non-urban or “wildland” forests. The cumulative effect of these stresses is too slow to be observed, but over time, the impacts become obvious. The native trees and shrubs are replaced by non-natives, rampant woody vines tear off limbs and encroach into the canopy; regeneration (i.e. seedlings and saplings) disappear, diversity diminishes, and eventually the forest is lost.

One of the most significant stressors, surprisingly, is an over-population of white-tailed deer. Deer are a native animal; however, the abnormally high population that roams our park system takes a huge toll on the native forest. These herbivores selectively and continuously consume almost every native tree or shrub seedling growing within the forest floor. The “carrying capacity,” or ability of our native forest to provide sufficient food for the deer herd, has been overwhelmed. In addition, these same deer also prefer to consume the native plants rather than the non-native or invasive plant species, which have become increasingly common throughout Philadelphia’s forests. This is because that over the millennia, our native deer co-evolved with our native plants and as a result find the native plants far more palatable and nutritious than the non-natives. In addition to herbivory by deer, our forests have become overrun with non-native plants. The Philadelphia region has a high diversity and abundance of invasive plants due to our rich history of botanical introductions and horticultural plant promotion. These two factors – deer browse and invasive plants – will, over time, result in the replacement of our native forest with a degraded landscape dominated by a few species of non-native trees, shrubs and vines. Unlike most wildland forests, urban forests must be maintained and stewarded if they are to survive.

The goal of this forest restoration project is focused on the removal of nonnative species of plants (trees, shrubs and vines) using traditional forestry equipment in order to prepare the sites for planting and to promote the regeneration and establishment of native plants.

Following the removal of the undesirable vegetation, each of the sites will receive targeted herbicide treatment and then be protected with eight foot (8′) height deer exclusion fencing. Deer fencing is visually unobtrusive and the fence will include multiple pedestrian gates so as not to impede access by park users. A new walking trail for education and passive recreation will be constructed within the Lansdowne Glen project area. While performing clearing, the contractor will be “topping” a number of the undesirable trees that are being removed as part of this project. Standing dead trees are referred to as “snags,” which provide valuable wildlife nesting and feeding opportunities. The contractors will also leave large logs or “habitat logs” laying onsite. These provide habitat and help return nutrients back to the soil as they decay. In fall 2019, PPR and the Fairmount Park Conservancy will plant the site with thousands of native trees and shrubs. Some of these plants will be purchased from local native plant nurseries; however, many will be grown from locally-sourced seed at PPR’s Greenland Nursery (off of Ford Rd. near the Organic Recycling Center).

The project should result in the restoration to a regionally-native forest along with a significant increase in plant diversity. Plant diversity is closely correlated with wildlife diversity, so the project should provide improved nesting and breeding opportunities for resident and migratory wildlife. This effort will reset the trajectory of this urban forest and provide an example of ecological restoration that can be used to teach students and practitioners alike.