To help the Philadelphia Water Department meet their MS4 permit requirement, PEC provides public education and outreach to residents, businesses, and schools. Our boots-on-the-ground in this effort is Community Engagement Specialist Kadafi El-Kardah, who shared this account of his summer activities.
Summer may have ended, but this summer was definitely one to remember. By organizing cleanups, tabling at community events, and educating youth at summer camps, PEC engaged and educated nearly 600 Philadelphians this summer on the importance of protecting their watersheds. This outreach and education is made possible through our work with the Philadelphia Water Department.
Below you’ll find a recap and photos of our incredible summer:
Our first stop is the Friends of Wissahickon Super Mega Volunteer Service Day in Northwest Philadelphia. Although the June 1st event didn’t technically happen in the summer, this day of service set the tone for the rest of the season and speaks to our values as an organization: collaboration, education, and advocacy.
The Super Mega Volunteer Service Day was a celebration of the Friends of Wissahickon’s (FOW) 95th anniversary, and we were happy to serve as a partner. PEC and FOW cleaned up litter and removed knotweed in the vicinity of the Saylor’s Grove wetland in Northwest Philadelphia. Together, and with the help of volunteers, we filled 45 bags with knotweed and litter. We also set up an education table at the event; showcasing our work and connecting residents to environmental resources offered in the city.
In June, we also tabled at the East Falls Farmer’s Market. The Farmer’s Market meets every Saturday, May-November and mostly attracts residents from Northwest Philadelphia and those engaging in recreational activities on the nearby Schuylkill River Trail.
PEC is no stranger to the Market, as we have tabled there multiple times in the past. Through our presence at the market we have developed relationships with both residents and organizations in this area of the city.
On June 22nd, we partnered with East Falls Development Corporation and Yoga Brain, a local yoga studio, for a litter cleanup on the neighborhood’s commercial corridor. Together and with the help of several volunteers we filled up 10 bags with trash. We also marked storm drains with “Keep It Clean, Drains to Schuylkill River” decals, taking time to educate the volunteers about how they can organize storm drain marking events in their own neighborhoods.
PEC works in the classroom during the school year, but this year we extended our outreach to youth via summer camps. In the month of July, PEC worked with 5 groups of children from various summer camps in Northwest, Northeast, and Southwest Philadelphia.
We presented stormwater pollution awareness presentations that taught the children about stormwater runoff, nonpoint source pollution, and the importance of keeping storm drains clean.
To demonstrate the connection between our storm drains and rivers, we took the campers outside to clean up litter and mark storm drains in their watershed. Our storm drains lead to our sources of drinking water, the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, so the activity served as a reminder to never dump anything down the storm drain.
We had a great time marking storm drains at the summer camps, and from all the smiles and excitement of the young campers, they did too!
In early August, PEC tabled at the Fox Chase National Night Out, a celebration held annually in neighborhoods around the country to promote better relationships between police and local residents. We had two tables at the event; one representing our trails program and the other representing our watershed program. At the trails table, Nate Dorfman, PEC’s Trails Program Coordinator, surveyed residents about the amenities they would like to see on the Fox Chase Trail.
At the watershed table, we played a trivia game that educated residents about the techniques used to manage stormwater, the proper ways to recycle, and how to dispose of household hazardous waste. Our tables was quite popular and residents were rewarded prizes for their participation!
Not wanting to miss an opportunity to educate citizens about the importance of clean water and pollution prevention, we started this month off with a bang by tabling at the Philadelphia Honey Festival, the Delaware River Festival , and Greenfest — all in the first weekend of September!
The festivals attracted people of all ages from all over the Greater Philadelphia area. We played trivia games and assisted youth in designing buttons to express what a healthy watershed means to them. We had great conversations, provided resources to a lot of people, and best of all…we had FUN!