The PC Green

Penn Charter Environmental Sustainability Workshop

On a beautiful late-summer Saturday in September, a dedicated crew of Penn Charter community members came together for a full day of intense eco-brainstorming.  Penn Charter hosted the Penn Charter Environmental Sustainability Workshop, a gathering of diverse school community members brought together in the name of environmental sustainability. The group was challenged to brainstorm the sustainability-related goals outlined in the Strategic Vision, which calls for Penn Charter to “create an environmental plan that fosters a culture of environmental stewardship and develops systems and processes to ensure all decisions are evaluated in light of their environmental effect, with consideration of affordable and sustainable alternatives.”

Wynn Calder, a nationally recognized expert in Education for Sustainability within independent schools, facilitated the workshop. Wynn and I worked together to frame the workshop and its goals into a forum that balanced a desire for broad, creative brainstorming and practical, targeted planning. Think “double-rainbow guy” meets “Spock” and that’s the duality for which we strove. The list of participants was quite diverse - representatives from all three divisions, parents, students, administrators, board members, and local partners - and yet was small enough to allow for focused discussion. Almost every participant brought a unique combination of roles, experiences, and perspectives to the group. For example, one participant was an OPC, a PC Parent, an AT thru-hiker, and an environmental lawyer. Combining both small and large group discussions, we spent the day generating ideas and themes to answer the question: What should an environmentally sustainable Penn Charter look like in 5/10/50 years?

I’m happy to report that the event was a terrific success, measured not just in the quantity and quality of the ideas generated, but also in the connectivity of the attendees. United by common interests in environmental issues, education, and community-building, the workshop participants developed a common language that will be helpful as we move forward into the next steps. Those next steps involve finishing the workshop report, assembling appropriate meetings/committees, drafting a plan, and saving the earth. No biggie.
Posted by on Friday October 31, 2014 at 12:25PM
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Quaker Environmentalists Go to D.C. - FEEN 2014

Last week, I was delighted to attend the annual Friends Environmental Educators Network (FEEN) conference in D.C. with my colleagues Joel Eckel (2nd grade) and Steven Wade (LS Science). FEEN was the first peer network group established through the Friends Council on Education and has been meeting annually for over 15 years to discuss environmental stewardship and sustainability issues in Friends schools. This was my fourth year attending, so even beyond the inspirational and educational work we accomplished, it was just great to see old friends from Quaker schools!

     This year FEEN was focused on connecting grassroots efforts to global issues, and it was phenomenal. We began with a presentation/discussion with Dr. Terry Cooke - an expert in international foreign, economic, and environmental policy, Wilson Center Scholar, husband of Overseer Grace Cooke, and parent of Phil (OPC '11) and Todd (OPC '08). Click here for his fascinating bio on the Wilson Center (where Mr. Cooke is a current Fellow) website. Dr. Cooke's talk presented the challenges and opportunities in addressing domestic environmental policy/action in the context of a rapidly developing Chinese economy. Dr. Cooke drew on his vast understanding of history, economics, politics, and environmental issues to make the case that we must understand China's cultural, political, and economic perspectives if we are to make any real progress in global environmental challenges. 

     We also spent a morning at the Friends Council on National Legislation, a Quaker organization whose "policy positions and ... approach to lobbying are grounded in Quaker principles of simplicity, peace, integrity, compassion and equality." This is a truly amazing organization, and I encourage you to visit their site and learn more (click here)! We heard from teachers at Carolina Friends School and Friends School Haverford about bringing students to FCNL to train in effective lobbying techniques. The student groups (both MS and US) then applied their knowledge and skills by actively lobbying elected officials on issues of extreme importance to their communities. They presented an inspiring story, and I hope to find avenues to pursue such Quaker and civic practices at Penn Charter. After getting all riled up about environmental issues, the Pennsylvania teachers amongst us went to both Senator Casey's and Senator Toomey's offices to lobby against the XL Keystone Pipeline and for the bipartisan Sheehan-Portman Energy Efficiency bill. We were grateful for this wonderful opportunity and empowered by the direct engagement with democracy. I was so inspired, in fact, that I brought the lobbying spirit back to a group of PC seniors studying "fracking." Look for the imminent post about our efforts!

     Complicated issues demand committed communities, and the FEEN conference was affirming, connective, inspirational, and educational for the community of environmental educators present. I am already looking forward to next year's meeting! 

Posted by on Thursday May 8, 2014 at 12:17PM
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A Friends School for Girls and Boys, Pre-K to 12

3000 West School House Lane Philadelphia, PA 19144 215.844.3460
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