A sustainable First Friday at Lutheran Settlement House

Fishtown-based non­profit provides res­id­ents with loc­al re­fresh­ments and re­sources to pro­mote sus­tain­ab­il­ity ef­forts.

  • Making a splash: Members of the Building Hero Project construct towers of raindrops to celebrate renovations to the Lutheran Settlement House. CHRISTOPHER SEAMANS / STAR PHOTO

  • Residents check out the LSH Urban Farm, part of the organizations Hungry 2 Healthy Initiative. CHRISTOPHER SEAMANS / STAR PHOTO

Last Fri­day even­ing, June 3, the Luther­an Set­tle­ment House (LSH), 1430 Frank­ford Ave., opened its doors to loc­al res­id­ents for its First Fri­day Sus­tain­ab­il­ity Open House.  The event is part of an on­go­ing ef­fort to raise aware­ness about en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues, work with loc­al or­gan­iz­a­tions and get the com­munity in­volved in sus­tain­ab­il­ity ef­forts.

Rachel Wins­berg, de­vel­op­ment and ad­min­is­trat­ive as­sist­ant at LSH said, “As an or­gan­iz­a­tion, en­vir­on­ment­al sus­tain­ab­il­ity is im­port­ant to us and com­munity con­nec­tions are im­port­ant to us, so we wanted to bring people to­geth­er for First Fri­day to build those con­nec­tions.”

The event was held on  LSH’s re­cently in­stalled healthy liv­ing deck, with re­source tables set up by a num­ber of loc­al or­gan­iz­a­tions, in­clud­ing the Phil­adelphia Of­fice of Sus­tain­ab­il­ity, New Kens­ing­ton De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, the Clean Air Coun­cil and the Frank­lin In­sti­tute.  

Chili was provided by Kens­ing­ton Quar­ters, 1310 Frank­ford Ave., and fresh-made fruit drinks were provided by the teens in LSH’s own Food & Farm­ing after-school pro­gram.

Activ­it­ies in­cluded face paint­ing and tours of LSH’s urb­an farm.

LSH’s fo­cus on sus­tain­ab­il­ity may be sur­pris­ing to some, as the or­gan­iz­a­tion is per­haps bet­ter known in the area for its seni­or ser­vices, its work with the home­less and its adult edu­ca­tion pro­grams.  

However, en­vir­on­ment­al sus­tain­ab­il­ity has be­come an in­creas­ingly vis­ible part of LSH’s mis­sion.  As part of the re­cent renov­a­tions to its fa­cil­it­ies, the or­gan­iz­a­tion partnered with the Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment (PWD) to in­stall modi­fic­a­tions to soak up storm­wa­ter and re­duce harm­ful over­flow.

PWD Com­munity Plan­ner Mag­gie Dunn was on hand to cel­eb­rate those im­prove­ments.

Be­neath eye-catch­ing towers con­struc­ted of snap-to­geth­er rain­drops, she ex­plained the pro­ject’s im­port­ance.  

“When we get a lot of rain­fall,” she said, “we end up with a com­bin­a­tion of rain­wa­ter and sewage over­flow­ing dir­ectly in­to the Delaware River.  We have a ca­pa­city prob­lem.  Our pipes aren’t big enough to hold it all.  If we can soak up some of that wa­ter when it rains, it keeps it out of the sew­er sys­tem and we don’t have those over­flows in­to the river.”

In or­der to com­bat the prob­lem, PWD provided a $20,000 grant to LSH to in­stall such fea­tures as per­meable pavers that al­low wa­ter to drain through and a stone bed to hold the wa­ter in­stead of send­ing it in­to the sew­er sys­tem.  LSH also re­ceived sig­ni­fic­ant fund­ing from PTSSD for renov­a­tions.

“Every time it rains, it holds about 3,260 gal­lons,” she said, “and over the course of a year, that’s 133,000.”

That’s not all that LSH has been do­ing to sup­port en­vir­on­ment­al sus­tain­ab­il­ity.  

The or­gan­iz­a­tion also runs a small farm through its Hungry 2 Healthy Ini­ti­at­ive.  Ve­get­ables grown on the farm in­clude car­rots, turnips, radishes, bok choy, sweet pep­pers, egg­plant, cu­cum­bers and dif­fer­ent vari­et­ies of to­ma­toes.  

Al­though they won’t bear fruit for sev­er­al years, apple trees have re­cently been planted along the edge of the farm, and rasp­berry bushes will be ad­ded soon.

By al­loc­at­ing ad­di­tion­al land to the urb­an farm, the pro­gram has been able to ex­pand in the last year.  

“Last grow­ing sea­son, we grew 800 pounds of pro­duce and we gave that to our Seni­or Cen­ter mem­bers for free,” said Chloe War­nick, Hungry 2 Healthy pro­gram co­ordin­at­or.  “This sea­son, we hope to grow about 1,600 pounds of pro­duce.”

The ex­pan­ded har­vest means that LSH will be able to sell some of its pro­duce through its mo­bile farm stand.  

“That’s go­ing to be part of our teen in­tern­ship sum­mer pro­gram,” War­nick said.  “The main part of that in­tern­ship is that they’re go­ing to be do­ing garden­ing work with our Seni­or Cen­ter mem­bers, and they’re also go­ing to be do­ing edu­ca­tion­al ses­sions on garden­ing with our farm­er.”

Al­though the in­gredi­ents in the chili provided by res­taur­ant and butcher shop Kens­ing­ton Quar­ters wer­en’t grown by LSH, they didn’t travel far, either.  

“All of the meat from our butcher shop is com­ing from loc­al pas­tured an­im­als — small farms in Phil­adelphia,” Katie Ma­ley said.  “Our beef is com­ing from north­ern Vir­gin­ia, but that’s as far as we go.”

At the re­source tables, rep­res­ent­at­ives from dif­fer­ent or­gan­iz­a­tions were on hand to provide in­form­a­tion about what their or­gan­iz­a­tions are do­ing or what res­id­ents can do to sup­port en­vir­on­ment­al sus­tain­ab­il­ity.  

Bar­bara Jerome, mu­seum edu­cat­or for the Frank­lin In­sti­tute, offered a hands-on demon­stra­tion that showed how simple modi­fic­a­tions like rooftop gar­dens and rain bar­rels can help soak up wa­ter that might over­tax the city’s drain­age sys­tem.

Will Fraser, out­reach co­ordin­at­or for the Clean Air Coun­cil, talked about sus­tain­able trans­port­a­tion, spe­cific­ally sus­tain­able ways for res­id­ents to get to and from work: pub­lic trans­it, bik­ing, car­pool­ing and more.  

The goal, he ex­plained, was to get busi­nesses to of­fer in­cent­ives for em­ploy­ees to use these modes of trans­port­a­tion, in­clud­ing sti­pends to use pub­lic trans­it, showers for cyc­lists to use at work after sweaty com­mutes and in­door bike park­ing for em­ploy­ees.

“One of the things that we’re work­ing to­wards in Fishtown, Kens­ing­ton, and North­ern Liber­ties is in­creased bike park­ing,” Fraser said.  “We re­cently were fun­ded by Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict to be able to fab­ric­ate and cre­ate cus­tom made bike racks by a loc­al artist to in­stall at 25 busi­nesses in and around Fishtown and Kens­ing­ton.  Se­cure park­ing in front of busi­nesses en­cour­ages sus­tain­able com­mutes.  It also pro­motes cyc­lists to vis­it those busi­nesses, so there’s an eco­nom­ic com­pon­ent as well.”

The LSH open house was a First Fri­day event, but one will not be held every month.  

“We’re not go­ing to be do­ing them every single month, but we are go­ing to be do­ing them reg­u­larly and with dif­fer­ent themes,” Wins­berg said.  “The next one we’re go­ing to do at the end of the sum­mer is go­ing to be a ‘Back to School’ theme and we’re go­ing to fea­ture our adult edu­ca­tion pro­gram as well.”The next LSH Open House is sched­uled for the even­ing of Fri­day, Au­gust 5.  For more in­form­a­tion about the or­gan­iz­a­tion or its sus­tain­ab­il­ity ef­forts, vis­it luther­anset­tle­ment.org.

comments powered by Disqus