June 17 Climate Action Plan meeting slides and transcription now available

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Gadfly knows that some of you tried to participate in the webinar but ran into
technical problems, Now you can catch up!

BethlehemCAP.org

CAP 5

  • First Public Virtual Meeting: June 17, 2020 – Completed
  • The first public meeting on the CAP was held as a webinar at two separate times on June 17 to maximize accessibility. If you missed the sessions, please see the materials below:
  • During the meeting, consultants WSP and Nurture Nature Center reviewed the projected impacts of climate change on Bethlehem, introduced the climate action planning process, and provided information about actions the City has already taken to address climate change. Participants were then asked to share their thoughts on the goals and priorities they hope to see reflected in the plan.
  • Additional public meetings are planned for September and November. Details will be published here when these dates are announced.

It’s Friday, June 26, do you know where your Climate Action Plan is? Yep!

Impressive Climate Action Plan webinar

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Gadfly:

I attended the [Climate Action Plan] webinar yesterday [Wednesday] at noon and was very impressed with the thoroughness of the presentation (and the presenters).

The first portion clearly elucidated the factual evidence that the climate is warming at a rapid rate, that human activity is the primary cause, that we can document the changes that are already occurring, and that the future effects will be even more dramatic: no winter sports in PA (Bethlehem’s climate will be like that of Richmond, VA, today); more ticks and other disease-bearing pests; loss of some agricultural crops (like apples); more heavy rainstorms and thus flooding.

That the team is serious about creating an action plan to decrease the worst-case scenarios if we do nothing to minimize the negative effects of global warming that we are stuck with and to delineating means for us to adjust and be resilient to the effects we cannot minimize was very clear.

They are interested in including ALL aspects of the Bethlehem community (I guess except for those who deny the obvious science-based conclusions) in both creating the plan and carrying it out.

Is the process slow and somewhat cumbersome? Yes, it is, but it also seeks to emerge with the greatest chances of successful implementation because of the broad input.

I look forward to the next steps and applaud my community for taking such an important step!

J. D. Smullen

The first public meeting on the Climate Action Plan

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Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan
BethlehemCAP.org

CITY OF BETHLEHEM
STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT PLAN FOR CLIMATE ACTION PLAN DEVELOPMENT

Pandemic — George Floyd — Rayshard Brooks — Global Warming

So many crises buffeting us these days. Shell-shocking. Easy to lose sight of the two virtual public meetings hosted yesterday by Bethlehem-based engineering firm WSP and science-based community center Nurture Nature Center (NNC), located in Easton, who were selected as consultants to develop the Bethlehem Climate Action Plan. We expect that the slides from yesterday’s meetings and perhaps some audio/video will eventually be available on the Bethlehem CAP web site.

CAP 2

WSP will lead the CAP project and provide world-class subject-matter climate and engineering expertise. WSP is the subject-matter expert. WSP will work with NNC to advise the City on strategies related to communicating progress with the project process and gathering public input. NNC will develop engagement strategies. NNC looks like the communication expert. Public engagement seems to be a key element in the development of the CAP.

CAP 3

According to the tentative schedule (already modified) the final CAP is due during the first quarter of 2021. Looks like the first meeting of the working group (CAP WG) has already occurred. At least two more public meetings are planned.

CAP 4

As mentioned above, we hope that some audio/video from the public meetings will eventually be provided on the Bethlehem CAP web site. But, for now, your technologically challenged Gadfly can only provide this awful audio of the meeting hosts describing the “What is in a  Climate Action Plan?” slide above. You will need to vacuum out your ear wax, turn your speaker to 100%, and glue yourself to the speaker. The sound gets a little better after the first minute or two but not much. On the other hand, you might want to just skip the whole damn lousy audio. Sorry.

Gadfly would love to hear from people who are actively involved in the climate movement and, especially, who attended the virtual meeting. Those who attended the meeting might tell us what they contributed to the discussion section of the session.

He knows you’re out there!

Tip o’ the hat to Councilman Reynolds, the Environmental Advisory Council, Mayor Hatlo 2Donchez, Michael Alkhal, and, of course, many others on the City staff for getting us to this significant point.

Public needed at Climate Action Plan meeting Wednesday

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Bethlehem Climate Action Plan Public Virtual Meeting

Virtual Meeting Registration

CAP 1

————–

from Christina Tatu, “Bethlehem asks for public’s input on Climate Action Plan.” June 15, 2020.

Once known for Bethlehem Steel, with its towering blast furnaces that sent plumes of smoke into the sky and a coating of ore dust into surrounding neighborhoods, Bethlehem has done a lot to clean up its image.

Over the last 15 years, the city has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 40%, and by the end of the year officials are hoping to have a climate action plan to make Bethlehem even more environmentally friendly. There will be two forums Wednesday to gather public input for the plan, which was proposed by Councilman J. William Reynolds in 2017.

When finished, the plan will outline policies the city can support to reduce its carbon footprint, or the amount of greenhouse gasses it produces that cause climate change. The plan will also analyze hazards the city could face from climate change, such as increased temperatures and flooding, and it will outline measures local businesses and residents can take to reduce their environmental impact.

Wednesday’s forums will include information about what the city has done to reduce emissions and will ask residents what they see as the most important goals going forward, said Jeffrey Irvine, a project director with WSP.

A group of stakeholders has also been discussing what the goals should be, Reynolds said. The group of about 50 includes members of the public, representatives from Moravian College and Lehigh University, local business owners and environmental proponents.

Proposals include encouraging restaurants to limit foam and plastic packaging with takeout orders and using local ingredients, said Lynn Rothman, chairwoman of Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council, who is also a stakeholder.

The group also wants to see the city hire a sustainability officer to help implement any environmental policies that are developed.

The City reminds us of the June 17 Climate Action Plan forum

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Easy to forget about this with all the drama going on.
But this is historic! Don’t miss!

Press Release:

June 9, 2020 

City of Bethlehem to host first public forum on Climate Action Plan Online

Mayor Bob Donchez announced today that the City of Bethlehem will host an online forum on Wednesday, June 17, to inform the public of the development of the City’s Climate Action Plan. The Plan, which will be developed throughout 2020, will outline measures, policies, and strategies the City can support to reduce Bethlehem’s contribution to climate change and to adapt to the risks of a changing climate, such as extreme temperatures.

To maximize accessibility, the 90-minute virtual meeting will be held twice, at both 12:00pm and 5:30pm. Each session will cover the same content. Members of the public are encouraged to register for the session that is most convenient for them at the following web address: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/7859566807906925067

Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan will establish local priorities for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change while locally improving public health, protecting Bethlehem’s environment, and strengthening the city’s economy. The Plan will also include a climate hazard vulnerability assessment and outline measures, policies, and strategies the City, its businesses, and residents can take to reduce climate-related risks, such as increased flooding and extreme temperatures.

At the June 17 forum the City and consultants WSP and Nurture Nature Center will introduce the climate action planning process and provide information about actions the City has already taken to address climate change. Participants will then be asked to share their thoughts on the goals and priorities they hope to see reflected in the plan which will be released in early 2021.

The public can learn more about the planning process and provide additional input via a short online survey at the following web address: https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/Public-Works/Climate-Action-Plan

The City of Bethlehem has a long history of supporting climate action and leading by example. The Mayor and City Council have committed Bethlehem to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, the We Are Still In initiative, the Sierra Club’s Mayors For 100% Clean Energy, and the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda. The City government has also implemented numerous greenhouse gas reduction initiatives, ranging from energy efficiency to renewable energy purchasing, which have reduced the City’s contribution to climate change from municipal operations 37 percent from 2005 to 2017.

Bethlehem City Council unanimously passed a Resolution endorsing the creation of a Climate Action Plan. Mayor Donchez’s administration, through the Public Works department, issued a request for proposals for climate action plan preparation in June 2019. Bethlehem-based engineering firm WSP and science-based community center Nurture Nature Center, located in Easton, were selected as consultants to develop the Plan in 2020 with input from Bethlehem’s public, businesses and stakeholders.

Reminder! “What should Climate Action look like in Bethlehem?” Calendar alert! June 17

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BethlehemCAP.org

CAP 1

register:
https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/7859566807906925067

survey:
English: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScUs6b4mVs73mq4rKHLtnH7VTKyZzNXvRdt_T-ynnJKqjvvTA/viewform
Spanish: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScaBqqi6eanUm-rpzEoGSD_FbbMa4aAiBi0yxox4Hl0rAs2dQ/viewform

Community gardens need infrastructure from the City and a good manager

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Breena Holland is an Associate Professor at Lehigh University in the Department of Political Science and the Environmental Initiative. She is a past director of Lehigh University’s South Side Initiative.

ref: Mary Toulouse’s pitch for a planning process to develop community gardens.

Gadfly:

I have tried to keep various community gardens afloat on the south side for a number of years. Interest and use of the gardens waxes and wanes over time, but they often face basic infrastructural challenges that inhibit success.

For instance, many years ago when Alice Gast was president of Lehigh University, she built a community garden in the MLK Park on Carleton Ave. However, no one ever set up a water spigot for this garden, so we have had an ongoing challenge of sustaining water there.

A community garden should not be set up without a source of water. We put water totes in the garden, but then they must be filled by the city, which is difficult to coordinate. If a nearby home owner fills them, then their monthly bill for sewage treatment increases, because the provider thinks all that water going into the tote is going down the house’s drain.

Another problem is ongoing maintenance. The city has not  been willing to manage the weeds or otherwise take care of a community garden on public property, even when they will let people garden there–I’m sure you can imagine how large that task might become if gardeners started expecting city workers to take care of their garden beds.

Consequently, the gardens need people who are committed to not just growing their own food but taking care of the collective space. This has been a challenge at times. But I think a reliable source of water at a garden would draw more support from community members, so the development of infrastructure must go hand-in-hand with increasing expectations for gardeners to take care of their collective space.

When the Maze garden was destroyed, a group of students at Lehigh University were successful in working with Mayor Donchez to develop a section of the Greenway between Taylor and Webster streets, which the students used for gardening and cooking programing they organized for the kids in the Bethlehem Boys and Girls Club. They planted fruit trees and installed raised beds and used the garden until Boys and Girls Club was moved. At that point, the garden was too far away to use in the same way.

This section of the Greenway is now maintained by a group of volunteers at Lehigh University and also by a local group that takes care of the beautiful Native Plants Garden that is also on that section of the Greenway. Because of the centrality of the location and the public nature of it, we have never been able to make this a garden where community members can grow their own food. That probably would require fencing and an area that does not have so much traffic, so the Greenway is not the best location.

There are other areas for gardens. For some time there were beds up at Ullman Park, but this garden suffered from a lack of infrastructure and consequently a lack of commitment.

For this reason, as mentioned above, I have come to believe that creating the right infrastructure is the most important part of a garden’s success. There must be water, fencing, beds, and someone who can ensure certain tasks are handled, such as compost delivery, waste removal, path maintenance, weed control, etc.

It’s possible that a motivated community group can do these latter tasks on their own, if the water and fencing is there, but I don’t think it’s wise to expect this when gardeners have to lug their own water to their beds and fight off pests that eat their food.

Other crucial resources needed are tools and information and education. But it might make more sense for people to use these things to garden in their own backyards (if they have a backyard) rather than on city property, where the water remains a limiting factor.

In general, gardens are great if the city commits to providing some infrastructure and you have a tyrannical manager who also happens to be a good community leader, which is not easy to find.

CSAs (Community-supported Agriculture) may be a better way to feed people than gardens, but that’s another conversation.
Let’s keep this conversation going. I think that in certain places gardens can really thrive and become meaningful to the community.

Breena

Here we go! “What should Climate Action look like in Bethlehem?” Calendar alert! June 17

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BethlehemCAP.org

CAP 1

register:
https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/7859566807906925067

survey:
English: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScUs6b4mVs73mq4rKHLtnH7VTKyZzNXvRdt_T-ynnJKqjvvTA/viewform
Spanish: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScaBqqi6eanUm-rpzEoGSD_FbbMa4aAiBi0yxox4Hl0rAs2dQ/viewform

“The farmers are concerned about having enough affordable food for the community”

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Video: City Council meeting May 19
begin min. 28:50

Apropos of her discussion about providing healthy local food at the Rose Garden Farmers’ Market, at the end of her public comment presentation at City Council last Tuesday Mary Toulouse made a pitch for a planning process to develop community gardens:

  • Food pantries are looking for food.
  • Farmers are experiencing the destructive effects of climate change.
  • “The farmers are concerned about having enough affordable food for the community.”
  • Some council members spoke about having community gardens at the last meeting.
  • Community gardens in city parks can help with the food situation.
  • There’s a community park in Battery Park, New York City.
  • There’s a community park in the Paris Tuileries garden in front of the Louvre.
  • A successful community garden needs planning, long-term planning, the kind that might be done by an Action Group or the Environmental Advisory Council.
  • But short-term perhaps the City could designate some sites.

Gadfly knew it was a crazy idea, but he wished the community garden at 3rd and New before the Zest building had not only been allowed to remain but was enhanced. Think of the message — the different message — that a community garden at the gateway to the Southside would say about the values in our town.

Gadfly remembers sitting in on a Southside 2020 meeting last year at which the large number of small community gardens on the southside was discussed. Can anybody fill in information on this? Are residents already highly engaged in this kind of activity?

What do you think of community gardens in city parks?

A Special Earth Day Event at Lehigh U

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A Special Earth Day Event:

Please join us for Lehigh University’s Virtual Earth Day celebration. The keynote speaker for a special webinar will be Joseph Robertson, Global Strategy Director for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He will discuss “Integrative Geopolitics: Climate Resilience in a Post-COVID World.”

The webinar will be on Wednesday, April 22 at 4:30pm.

The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and people across the globe will be celebrating the day through the international theme of climate action. If you have any questions, please contact sustainability@lehigh.edu.

Join the virtual webinar here:

https://eventscalendar.lehigh.edu/event/earth_day_speaker_integrativegeopolitics_climate_resilience_in_a_post-covid_world#.Xp28RKtKit9

Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act resolution up for vote tomorrow

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Of interest at Tuesday’s Council meeting: resolution to be voted on.

Support Resolution –Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019
Councilman Reynolds

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT:

RESOLVED, that the City of Bethlehem, PA urges the United States Congress to enact without delay the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, FER, 763; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Bethlehem City Council expresses gratitude to our
Congressional Representative Susan Wild for having become a co-sponsor of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, HR763; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Bethlehem City Council urges other Pennsylvania
municipalities to similarly call on their federal Representatives to co-sponsor the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, HR 763, (other than those in Congressional Districts PAO3, PAO4, and PAO8 who are already co-sponsors) and encourage its passage by the US Congress.

Promoting sustainability!

A note from Peter Crownfield quietly referenced the publication of “Sustainable Lehigh Valley” (an annual publication that seems to go back at least as far as 2004) by Alliance for Sustainable Communities Lehigh Valley.

First time Gadfly was aware of this publication. Looks full of valuable information. Gadfly looks forward to perusal and thinks followers might as well.

Alliance

Download the 2020 “Sustainable Lehigh Valley” here.

Recent sustainability projects

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Gadfly:

Most readers probably are already aware, of course, that Bethlehem EAC’s ban [of single-use plastic bags] was banned by the state, part of the legislature’s ongoing practice of protecting business interests — no matter how much harm is done to people, wildlife, and the environment.

Those with an interest in such things might also want to take a look at these recent internship projects:

• Sustainability for Cafés and Restaurants [www.sustainlv.org/focus-on/sustainability-for-cafes-and-restaurants]
• Climate Action Planning for the Lehigh Valley [www.sustainlv.org/focus-on/climate-action-planning]

(More sustainability-related projects at: www.sustainlv.org/act-locally/internships-with-the-alliance/reports-posters-articles-by-interns)

Peter Crownfield

Moravian Academy’s Green Team on Limiting the Use of Plastic in Bethlehem

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This essay by Moravian Academy’s Green Team was generated as part of Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound’s Sustainability Forum and is part of an ongoing initiative to stir our community, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, to think creatively about how we can make our home, our community, a better place to live. It is a challenge we can only successfully accomplish together.

Bill George, Touchstone Theatre

Limiting the Use of Plastic in Bethlehem

One issue that is prevalent in our community is single-use plastic pollution and waste, especially surrounding grocery store policies relating to food preservation. Our perspective on the issue is that our community could do a better job of cutting down on plastic use. This would help the environment by limiting the exposure to pollution from the plastic itself and the chemicals used in or on plastic. Is it possible to completely stop using plastic? In today’s world, maybe not, but it is not only possible but plausible to limit the use of plastic and to use more ecologically friendly options whenever possible. Imagine walking into a grocery store and going to the produce section to get some fruit. When you get there, there is plastic everywhere. Plastic bags to hold the fruit, prepackaged vegetables wrapped in plastic, even bundles of bananas held together by and wrapped in plastic. Why is so much plastic packaging necessary in our grocery stores when nature has already provided a natural package? There are such excessive uses of plastic in our community as wrapping bananas together even though they already have peels, unpeeling an orange and packaging it in plastic, or giving out single-use plastic bags in which to carry produce. These can contribute significantly to plastic pollution that can severely harm our environment.

In order to cut down on our community’s plastic use, grocery stores could provide more environmentally friendly options. These options could include having giveaways of free reusable bags for store members, charging extra for using a plastic bag (something that is already done in some places in the U.S.), using paper bags at the checkout instead, having recycling centers in the store for used plastic bags, and giving customers who bring in their own bags or pre-approved containers a small discount from their purchase. U.S. Senator Tom Udall and U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal are both members of our government that have been pushing for legislation that addresses our country’s plastic pollution problems, specifically in relation to marine, waterway, and landscape pollution. Also, organizations like the Plastic Pollution Coalition seek to end plastic pollution through education of the public and encouragement of people to be more aware of their plastic consumer consumption as well as to encourage eateries worldwide to end their use of single-use plastics. The Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council also submitted a proposal to the City Council in February of 2019 asking the city of Bethlehem to place a ban on all single-use plastic bags and to enforce a ten-cent fee on paper bags.

One reason plastic pollution has become a big problem is because it poses a chemical danger to our environment. When plastic bags are left undisposed of in waterways like rivers, streams, or the ocean, they can leach toxic chemicals into the water and soil and damage surrounding plants and animals, affecting whole ecosystems and the water we drink. Additionally, in marine environments specifically, the plastic in our water can release odors that mimic those of some species’ food. This draws wildlife towards pollution and can cause entanglement and consumption, killing the animals. The microplastics consumed by organisms at the bottom of the food chain accumulate all the way to the top, resulting in our personal consumption of about 120-140 plastic particles a day.

A resolution to the plastic pollution problem requires action from all levels of our community from personal to corporate. We each must take personal responsibility for our contribution towards plastic use and consumption. By being increasingly aware of what we are purchasing and decreasing our use of single-use plastics by using reusable bags, jars, or containers, we can hope to reduce overall single-use plastic waste. We can also reduce our plastic use by buying from local and small business establishments to avoid large-scale plastic use from the shipping and packaging industries. Individuals can also use reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones.

On a business level, it is necessary to create anti-plastic policies to reinforce the benefits of sustainable action. In grocery stores, deterrents should be implemented against the use of plastic by utilizing a baseline monetary penalty for the use of plastic bags. To reduce plastic use, grocery stores can also invest in bulk food sections where the consumer can bring reusable containers or bags to get what they need. This method of purchase also decreases food waste since consumers only take what they need because the price would be based on weight and not what is cheaper, whether it be more than they need or not. Additionally, we believe that grocery stores should advertise and promote proper recycling and anti-food waste practices to the wider community. For example, stores should encourage the use of plastic bag recycling programs to which most people already have access by providing information about their locations, purposes, and benefits. At restaurants an effort should be made to not offer plastic straws or to, instead, offer a biodegradable or reusable option such as paper or metal straws. Restaurants can also replace styrofoam or plastic take-out containers with biodegradable containers.

Not only are personal responsibility and improved corporate policies necessary to reach a true solution but so is reaching out to our local legislatures and such government officials as Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, Jr., to implement laws to protect our environment, health, and natural resources. We must appeal to local governmental bodies like the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council to promote and to continue to protect the environment with legislation like their single plastic reducing ordinance created by the Waste Reduction Task Force. It all starts with voting for those who endorse environmental policies and limiting our plastic production or use.

Green Team
Moravian Academy
Advisor: Cole Wisdo

This essay is also posted on the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council Facebook page March 26.

Climate Action Plan: “This is a big deal”

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In a surprise addition to Monday’s City Council agenda — so surprising it occasioned a procedural question — City Council voted on and approved a contract with a firm to develop our Climate Action Plan.

An exuberant Councilman Reynolds, who — working with the Administration, the Environmental Advisory Council, and others — brought us to this moment, called the plan a “big deal.”

Which it certainly is!

Kudos all around.

Beautiful Reynolds’ words about the plan we love to hear:

  • City-wide energy reduction plan
  • Sustainability initiative
  • An Education piece
  • Connection to social justice
  • Discussion of pedestrian bridge
  • Discussion of Food Co-Op
  • Discussion of walkability

It’s Wednesday January 8, 2020. Do you know where your Climate Action Plan is?

Yes!

Activating activism at Festival UnBound’s Sustainability Forum

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“The whole UnBound festival was about the future of Bethlehem and how can
we envision what we want to see Bethlehem in the future,
and who more important than the young people to talk to about that.”

Paul Pierpoint, Sustainability Forum Organizer

video by Thomas Braun

You thought I was done with Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound, didn’t you?

Naaa, the Gadfly is going for a round 100 posts.

One Festival event that Gadfly didn’t get to was the Sustainability Forum (though Kathy Fox posted about it), and he is just now catching up on it.

And catching up big time — he is in the pleasurable process of reading 180 essays by high school students passionately concerned with the environment and the future of Bethlehem.

(English profs have a big appetite when students are serving up such deliciously thoughtful text.)

Students from Freedom, Liberty, Bethlehem Catholic, and Moravian Academy.

Writing about such pressing contemporary and local issues as climate change; access to safe, nutritious food; local air quality; stream and ground water quality; drinking water quality; health and fitness; alternative transportation; green space preservation; housing for a growing population; and preservation of pollinators.

Gadfly hopes he will be able to bring some moving examples of this activist writing to you in these pages.

For now enjoy the video sampler about Freedom’s participation in the project.

After writing their essays, many of the students participated in a Town Hall on Lehigh’s campus.

Here is a look at the ambitious full assignment set before these students by Touchstone through such home high school faculty as Freedom’s Donna Roman, John Wallaesa, and George Ziegler, and Liberty’s Lisa Draper and Anthony Markovich:

Town Hall Sustainability project — high school

When it looks to some of us of riper age as if the world surrounds us with seemingly insurmountable problems, it pays to look through the eyes of the young:

“If one person just stands up to make a change, others will too . . .
It only takes one person to make a drastic change.”

Staci Scheetz, Liberty High School

Keeping the heat on the plastic bag ban

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Followers know the sad news that the proposed ban of single-use plastic bags coming from our Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) under the leadership of Beth Behrend was hit with the pause button because of a one-year legislative moratorium at the state level in order to study the issue.

At the October 15 meeting, however, City Council passed a resolution from the Administration supporting passage of the ban:

Plastic Bags Support Resolution-1

But Behrend and the EAC are not the kind of people to rest on that laurel and to sit back and wait for the year to tick away.

Behrend spoke before Council December 3 to present 100 signatures from residents in support of “some kind of action” taken by the City to reduce plastic bags. In speaking at the October 15 meeting, for instance, Councilman Reynolds pointed out that the effort to reduce single-use plastic bags would take more than an ordinance and that there were things that could be done before the ban on banning expired. Behrend also requested Council to send a letter in support of another State bill regarding beverage containers.

Gadfly has come to learn that the EAC travels in packs for greater impact (2 other EAC members spoke preceding Behrend) and is far from innocent about political strategy.

To wit: enter Mary Jo Deseridino in Behrend’s wake to call for City Council to pass a single-use plastic bag ordinance now effective date in July 2020, that is, before the 2021 budget is passed and before the opportunity to extend the ban.

You gotta love these people!

Gadfly enjoys every opportunity to showcase such high quality community involvement of his fellow residents.

What they can do, we all can do.

Your non-tax dollars at work!

It’s Monday, December 16, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

Lehigh Valley is at a tipping point, says Future report

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The full version of FutureLV: The Regional Plan can be found at LVPC.org.

Gadfly suggests that we try to get our heads around these big ideas that are swirling all around us.

When a major report like this comes out, Gadfly wishes that there was some formal public response from our Administration and our planning people to acknowledge the report, to indicate their involvement in and/or awareness of the process that produced it, but especially what it means specifically for us.

Is a report like this shaping thinking and decisions at City Hall?

Some soundbites:

  • The Lehigh Valley is at a tipping point.
  • The central mission of FutureLV is striking a delicate balance between successful growth and necessary preservation.
  • At the heart of the plan is a “centers and corridors” concept that, essentially, recommends building up what’s already been developed.
  • It directs new development and redevelopment to 57 activity centers where people live, work, shop or play, and the corridors that connect them.
  • It will mean more mixed-use development.
  • The plan includes $2.5 billion in transportation funding for roads, bridges, trails and sidewalks. It’s simply not enough.
  • Ultimately, it means denser centers. Before anyone curses that D word, know that density is a good thing.
  • The thing people liked most about living in the region is its parks, trails and recreation areas, and the number two thing was its farmlands and natural resources. Those things have come to define our character and identity.
  • Our environment has become a key part of our identity.

Becky Bradley, “How to strike a balance between growth and preservation.” Morning Call, December 1, 2019.

The Lehigh Valley is such a successful region that 4,000 to 6,000 more people arrive every year to take advantage of its unique character, beautiful landscape and high quality of life. But how do we preserve all that good, while managing all that growth? Well, we’ve been working on that for close to three years. The result of that work — along with input and ideas from literally thousands of people from across Lehigh and Northampton counties — is FutureLV: The Regional Plan.

FutureLV is a blueprint designed to guide the region to 2045 and beyond. The fact is, the Lehigh Valley is at a tipping point. We’re not only growing fast in people, but we’re developing fast. The e-commerce boom has clearly overheated our warehousing market, but we’re also seeing growing development in almost every area, from commercial to residential to industrial. Even brick and mortar retail development continues, despite the ominous threat of online shopping and the associated “retail apocalypse,” written about by every major financial publication from The Wall Street Journal to Money magazine.

The central mission of FutureLV is striking a delicate balance between successful growth and necessary preservation.

At the heart of the plan is a “centers and corridors” concept that, essentially, recommends building up what’s already been developed. It means taking advantage of the sewer, water, road, gas, electric, technology and building infrastructure that’s already built. It directs new development and redevelopment to 57 activity centers where people live, work, shop or play, and the corridors that connect them. These range from downtown Allentown to Portland’s business district to Madison Farms in Bethlehem Township.

It will mean more mixed-use development where residential, commercial and retail can co-exist, more walkable neighborhoods where pedestrians, bicyclists and people with disabilities don’t feel unsafe crossing an intersection, more bike and bus lanes and a more connected transportation system.

The plan includes $2.5 billion in transportation funding for roads, bridges, trails and sidewalks. It’s simply not enough. We’ve already identified $4 billion in projects that need done, but aren’t funded. So, we’ll have to be creative and efficient in spending the money we have, while working hard to improve that funding picture.

Ultimately, it means denser centers. Before anyone curses that D word, know that density is a good thing. It puts activity and foot traffic where our neighborhoods and businesses need it most. It will also make our public transit network more efficient and, in the long run, might even be the ticket to light rail.

More importantly, it will save us from ourselves. It will keep us from building homes, big box stores and, yes, warehouses on farm fields or open space or along roads where they don’t make sense, economically or otherwise.

So why is saving the environment important to saving the Lehigh Valley? Two reasons out of a thousand: People told us it is, and it adds value to our economy and region as a whole.

In a survey taken by nearly 1,100 residents last year, the thing people liked most about living in the region is its parks, trails and recreation areas, and the number two thing was its farmlands and natural resources. Those things have come to define our character and identity and are why thousands of people every day drive long distances from jobs to get back here.

But more importantly, saving our environment and making the region more resilient makes sense, and dollars and cents. Our Return on Environment report in 2014 showed that our environment — trees, streams, open space and more — returned more than $1 billion a year in value in the form of reduced health care costs, cleaner air and water and in general a more livable environment. The point is, our environment has become a key part of our identity. Saving it is just as important as growing our economy, maintaining our roads and providing every Lehigh Valley resident with an opportunity for a good life.

It’s Wednesday, December 11, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

Rothman reports for the Environmental Advisory Council

logo The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate
Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council logo

Note well: City Council is taking applications to fill a vacant position on the EAC.

To apply, email a letter of interest along with a resume to Adam Waldron, Council President (awaldron@bethlehem-pa.gov).

At the end of the letter cc:  Members of Council.  When sending, copy the email to Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov enabling the City Clerk to distribute the application to Members of Council. Application may also be mailed to City Hall, 10 East Church Street, Bethlehem PA 18018.

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Bethlehem’s volunteer Environmental Advisory Council was well represented in presentations at City Council last night.

Here is chair Lynn Rothman presenting this very active committee’s annual report.

 

EAC 2019 Yr End Report

Your non-tax dollars valuably at work!

Gadfly strongly encourages his environmentally focused followers to attend the EAC meetings (7PM, first Thursday of the month, in the beautiful Illick’s Mill) and to apply for membership on the Council.

This group gets things done!

It’s Wednesday, December 4, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council News: funding for the Climate Action Plan and a position available

logo The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate
Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council logo

Lynn Rothman is an Environmental Scientist, having previously worked for the Environmental Protection Agency. She currently chairs the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council and serves on the board of the Sustainable Energy Fund, among other volunteer activities with non-profit organizations. 

November 21st Budget Meeting

At the November 21st budget meeting, it was announced that the City budgeted $80,000 for a consultant to complete a Climate Action Plan in 2020 (General Fund p. 166).   The EAC commends the City for moving ahead with this important initiative and its commitment to climate action.  We appreciate the time and effort spent by the Dept. of Public Works to bring us to this point in the process.  The EAC is proud of our City and will continue to assist in the climate action planning process in every way possible.

We also support Councilman Reynolds’ remarks during the budget meeting stating that the City could focus more on sustainability. He emphasized that this is especially important given the uncertainty of the recycling market and because the priority of actions to most effectively manage waste and protect the environment is to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. As Councilman Reynolds stated, “We talk about the idea of building a sustainable city, and we do not have a director of sustainability.”  He continued to say that while many departments are doing a fantastic job of individually contributing to this effort, as we move forward with the Climate Action Plan, there may be an opportunity to have a point person on sustainability, possibly as part of the Dept. of Recycling.

(For Councilman Reynolds’ comments, go to the City video of the November 21 budget meeting, min. 45:30.)

EAC Members

Bethlehem EAC member Kathy Fox has resigned from the council in order to devote more time to her new position as board member of the Bethlehem Food Co-Op. Kathy will be sorely missed on the EAC, where she has been a strong and vocal advocate for sustainability, green infrastructure, and climate action.  Kathy chairs our Solar Energy Committee, and we are fortunate that she will continue her connection with the EAC, albeit in a different capacity.

Residents of Bethlehem City who would like to apply for a position on the EAC may email a letter of interest, along with a resume to Adam Waldron, Council President, at awaldron@bethlehem-pa.gov.  Please copy “Members of City Council” on the letter of interest. When sending, copy the email to Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov , enabling the City Clerk to distribute your application to Members of Council. Alternatively, a hard copy may be mailed to 10 East Church Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018.

Lynn

It’s Saturday, November 23, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan re-budgeted

logo The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate
Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council logo

Before we get to the CAP, salute to climate action warrior and Gadfly follower Christine!

Martha Christine, “Let’s follow lead of young people on climate change.” Morning Call, November 7, 2019.

  • We have some amazing young people in the Lehigh Valley. Last week I joined more than two dozen informed and engaged Lehigh University students, along with a handful of community members, to comment on the Global Youth Climate Action Declaration.
  • The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763) is one solution gaining bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. It has 68 sponsors, including Congresswoman Susan Wild. It’s designed to cut carbon emissions by collecting a fee from fossil fuel companies and returning funds to households through monthly dividend checks. It’s good for people, good for the economy and good for the climate.

Gadfly followers have been wondering what happened to the plan to hire a consultant to write a local Climate Action Plan before the end of 2019.

Nicole Radzievich’s Morning Call story on the 2020 budget contains the following:

“The budget reflects the city’s strong financial position, and I’m excited that the administration has funded my request for the Climate Action Plan,” said Councilman J. William Reynolds, who attended the event.

The city had planned to hire a consultant to develop a blueprint for the city to reduce its carbon footprint, but the the $30,000 the city allocated for it fell about $50,000 short of what was needed.

The high price of consultancy. Now we know!

It’s Saturday, November 9, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

“The Pollinators” film

logoThe latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate
Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Councillogo

Re-posted from LVMM Friends Facebook page:

On Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 6:30, at the Promenade Theater in Center Valley , “The Pollinators “ will be shown, IF enough tickets are sold in advance. Buy tickets at On Demand Films, search film title and state. This is an informative and beautiful documentary, including the role of migratory beekeepers from our state. As the Beeman says, “Save the bees, pollination, food for us!”

Council passes the resolution recommending state action on the single-use plastic bag legislation

logoThe latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Councillogo

Followers know the sad news that our local Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) proposed ban of single-use plastic bags took a hit because of a one-year legislative moratorium in order to study the issue.

At Council Tuesday October 15, however, Council passed a resolution from the Administration supporting passage of the ban:

Plastic Bags Support Resolution-1

EAC member Elisabeth Cichonski spoke in favor of the resolution:

And the resolution passed, Councilman Reynolds speaking for it and, as he has done before, advocating additional measures to insure the good goals of the proposed legislation will be achieved.

Good work, all around!

It’s Thursday, October 17, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

The Festival’s amazing “Sustainability Forum” for high school students

logoThe latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Councillogo

Kathy Fox is a member of the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council, a co-chair of the Northampton County Council of Democratic Women’s Environmental Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Bethlehem Food Co-op.  Kathy involves herself in positive organizations and activities that foster community, environmental awareness, education, and good health. 

Gadfly:

There were so many wonderful experiences to be had during Festival UnBound. I wish I could have done them all. I wanted to highlight one event that was meaningful to me personally. Touchstone Theatre’s Festival Unbound was about having a conversation about where Bethlehem is going as a community from this time forward. The festival included a Sustainability Forum for high schools students. Students attending Freedom, Liberty, Bethlehem Catholic, Charter Arts, and Moravian Academy had an opportunity to tell the City their opinion on how to make Bethlehem a more sustainable community. 178 students submitted essays, which outlined their individual opinions on the most important way for Bethlehem to be more sustainable.

All of the essays were read by Paul Pierpoint, then the students were invited to attend the Saturday afternoon Sustainability Forum at Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University. Community leaders involved in sustainability and environmental projects were asked to help by facilitating small groups of students, where each student presented his or her idea to their group. Their ideas were summarized on a white board, and the students in each group voted on the one idea their group would present to everyone at the concluding session. The attending parents and interested citizens from Bethlehem were allowed to walk around and visit each group to hear the discussion.

[Here’s a short video of Paul Pierpoint commenting on the student essays at the panel discussion of “Prometheus / Redux.”]

It was an amazing experience for me to listen to the well thought-out, researched, and heartfelt opinions of these young people. Our future depends on us older citizens listening to them and using our decision-making abilities and positions of influence to make effective change to sustain our world for the future generations.

The 178 essays will be bound and given to Mayor Donchez and City Council for them to read, digest, and understand what our city’s youth feel will make our community a better, more sustainable place.

It was an honor to participate as a facilitator at the Forum along with notable and passionately involved members of our community. The other facilitators were Willie Reynolds (City Councilman), Steve Samuelson (PA State Representative), Darlene Heller  City Director of Planning), Don Miles (Sierra Club-Lehigh Valley Chapter and environmental attorney), Bruce Wilson (Lehigh Valley Green Builders), and Karen Beck Pooley (Board member of the Bethlehem Area School District). I was very happy to represent the Bethlehem Food Co-op and the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council.

Anne Hills and Reese, a young songwriter from Emmaus High School, started us out and ended our day with original music they composed and sang.

I apologize for not mentioning a couple of key people involved because I cannot remember everyone’s names.

I am grateful every day for the good in Bethlehem.

And thank you Touchstone Theatre for everything you do for the community.

Kathy

The Festival is over, but Gadfly will be posting for a while on the panels and other activities that were part of the Festival. Yes, thank you Touchstone Theatre for everything you do for the community.

Action on the single-use plastic bag ban

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council)

Followers know the sad news that our local Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) proposed ban of single-use plastic bags took a hit because of a one-year legislative moratorium in order to study the issue.

At Council tomorrow night Tuesday October 14, however, the City has proposed a resolution supporting passage of the ban:

Plastic Bags Support Resolution-1

Councilman Reynolds — ever aggressive on this issue — is urging the City to even think beyond a legislative ban to effective educational programs to help insure that the goals of a ban are accomplished:

Reynolds Memo Plastic Bag Support Resolution-

Two good ideas!

It’s Monday, October 14, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?