Sustainable Cherry Hill (SCH) is an all volunteer 501c3 non-profit community outreach and educational organization that fosters the global sustainability movement at a local level.Â Creating resources that facilitate this shift in lifestyle, while connecting people in the community for and around our mission, lays a foundation for making the necessary change to a sustainable way of life- one less geared to environmentally damaging and socially inequitable consumption patterns, and one that works in harmony with the planet, its resources and their limits.
“Bringing people together to build a sustainable South Jersey.”
SCH strives to continuously tap Cherry Hill and the surrounding region’s greatest resource- its people- in order to shift to a sustainable way of life. We do this through hosting educational events, networking opportunities, supporting community based task forces and acting as a general clearing house of information on sustainability news and events. We provide a structure for people at all levels to work together to pursue their passions and use their unique skills and networks in the service of a more sustainable community.
SCH is essentially a community group in that our approach to sustainability recognizes that everyone making small changes results in big differences collectively. As such, it is critical that we establish and nurture relationships with all area stakeholders, including government, schools, businesses, faith groups, other community groups and individuals from all over South Jersey. But grassroots cannot do it alone. Â Large scale change requires leadership by governments and corporations. Â An educated and empowered populace can put pressure on these entities from the ground up.
Finding Meaning and Hope from the Paris Climate TalksÂ
Thursday, March 10, 2016
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm (doors open at 6:45)
Cherry Hill Public Library
The United Nations Climate Conference (UNCC) was held in Paris, France from Nov. 30 â€“ Dec. 11, 2015. Â After two weeks of negotiations, world leaders from 195 countries adopted an historic international climate accord. The pact, hailed as â€śtransformative and momentousâ€ť, is the first-ever agreement that commits almost every country in the world to fight climate change. While this agreement is a big step in our attempts to curb climate change, there is much to be done to translate it into concrete action.Â Â
We know that climate change is a global challenge, but climate actionÂ can be local and even personal.Â
Join us as we explore this global challenge through the lens of local climate activists who will share their stories from Paris and how they are creating change back here at home. Weâ€™ll also have a special guest on hand to show how inner transformation can be a powerful way to change the world.
ProgramÂ Moderator: Lori Braunstein, Founder of Sustainable Cherry Hill
Register and details HERE
Sunday, February 28, 2016
2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Cherry Hill Public Library
1100 Kings Highway North, Cherry Hill
Welcome to the first Agent for Change feature of 2016. The purpose of this blog series is to bring a little inspiration into our lives. Each month we will feature an interview with everyday people creating big changes in their little corner of the world. The goal of these stories is to spark a passion, help you set a goal, or move past some frustration as you work to be anÂ Agent for ChangeÂ in your own system.
Lena Smith is the South Jersey Organizer with Food & Water Watch. Food & Water Watchâ€™s mission is to champion healthy food and clean water. To stand up to corporations that put profits over people, and advocate for a democracy that improves peopleâ€™s lives and protects our environment.
Lena: Everyday is different as an organizer. And by organizerÂ IÂ mean that I organize people not papers. The best way that I describe my job is that I help people access the resources that they need to have in order to take action on the issues they care about. Relationship building is the best tool I have in my tool belt to accomplish our goals. Whether its a relationship with a volunteer, a leader in an ally organization, a media contact, or a local politician I spend my days developing those relationships, understanding why people care about the issues they care about and finding ways that their work overlaps with mine. Â A â€śtypicalâ€ť day might include a one-on-one with a volunteer or a meeting with ally organizations. Making phone calls and writing emails. Or preparing materials that can be used to pressure decision makers â€“ press releases, flyers, petitions, etc.
SCH: How did you get involved with Food & Water Watch?
Lena: Iâ€™m first and foremost a social worker, andÂ I was trained in neighborhood organizing as a model to shift the balance of power with populations who are historically discriminated against. My transition to environmental and political organizing started when I served as an agriculture volunteer with the Peace Corps in Paraguay from 2010-2012. There was a peaceful coup that was the result of a land rights confrontation between peasant farmers and the police who were protecting the land for a large landholder. 11 peasant farmers were murdered and 7 police officers were killed. The land which the peasants claimed belonged to them, was being used for the production of monoculture soy products by a wealthy family. Paraguay has a history of unfair land distribution and wealthy families and foreign farmers are taking advantage of these policies to grab land. The president at the time had run on a campaign of land reform, but the ruling party who promoted neoliberal policies and big business interests removed the president through a political coup. After my service, during my Masters study, I focused on neighborhood organizing and sustainable community development with climate vulnerable populations. I spent a lot of time researching land use, common resource theories and practices and international trade policies. I was attracted to Food & Water Watch because of the work they do to stand up to corporations that put profits over people, the same corporations that are involved in the land, water, and fossil fuel grabs around the world, particularly in Latin America. Their approach to policy change â€“ grassroots organizing â€“ is an approach that brings real power shift and policy change. I wanted to be involved in something that not only improves peopleâ€™s lives but also gives them tools to become leaders in their own communities.
SCH: What are some of the biggest challenges or barriers that you’ve faced? How have you dealt with them?
Lena: One of the biggest challenges I face is motivating people who have lost faith in democracy and who feel powerless next to corporations. My solution is to set small winnable campaign goals and work towards those goals. People like to see that we can win and it motivates them to get involved.
SCH: Dream Big! If you had no constraints, what would you like to see happen in five years?
Lena: Iâ€™d like to see fracking banned nationwide. Iâ€™d like to see an end to water privatization. Iâ€™d like to see an increase in local family farms that can support themselves financially. Iâ€™d like to see the local climate and fracking movement become more diverse and intersectional. Building connections with Black Lives Matter activists, in the environmental justice communities, labor, indigenous communities, immigrants, low income communities, womenâ€™s movements, etc. Our addiction to fossil fuels impacts everyone of us in different ways. Bridging those gaps are necessary to not only building the anti-fracking and climate movement, but to also building a peopleâ€™s movement to stand up to corporations, fight racism and sexism, and rebuild a people’s democracy.
SCH: Itâ€™s important an Agent for Change stay inspired too. Tell us about an experience you’ve had recently that really energized or moved you.
Lena: I get inspired when front line communities stand up to corporations and defend their communities. When I see people become organizers themselves. The current campaign to stop the New Jersey Natural Gas pipeline and Transco Compressor station in areas of Burlington County has some really great leaders who have organized themselves and their community to try and stop the gas infrastructure. Iâ€™m inspired everyday by how far the communities have come since they first heard about these projects. And most recently seeing one of the top level activists be quoted in a Times of Trenton article with a quote that was on point about the hazard of these toxic infrastructure projects.
SCH: How have you connected with SCH in your Agent for Change role? What ideas do you have about how we might work together in the future?
Lena: Because part of my role is to educate people about the issues we work on I partner with Sustainable Cherry Hill on educational events. Earlier this year we partnered on a film screening of â€śTappedâ€ť, a film that highlights the business of bottled water and the corporate capture of our public water resources. Â I would like to continue to support and partner on educational events and I would like to see members of Sustainable Cherry Hill become more active in our campaigns to ban fracking and its related infrastructure and end water privatization. We are organizing a March for a Clean Energy Revolution at the Democratic National Convention in July and I would love to see a group of people organize themselves from Sustainable Cherry Hill to join us in marching to ban fracking and other unconventional extreme fossil fuel extraction methods, halt the expansion of dirty fossil fuel infrastructure across the country, and transition to a 100% renewable energy economy.
February 3, 2016
6pm â€“ 8pm
The Farm & Fisherman Tavern & Market
1422 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Folks from across the south jersey region areÂ invited to our monthly free networking social, (buy your own drink) enjoy delicious food, and
mingle with others committed to sustainability.
Residents from all over the tri-county area attended the Sustainable Cherry Hillâ€™s Garden Task Forceâ€™s recent eventâ€”â€śLocal Food for Thought 3â€ť at the Camden County Environmental Center. The popular free event, in its third year, provided residents with the opportunity to discuss CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) with the farmers who provide them to see which CSA might best fit their needs.
CSAs have risen in popularity with those who want a closer connection with the food they provide their families. The desire for local, organic and pesticide-free food has increased interest in the region. Seven farms representing four counties participated. Most provide pick-up locations at both their farms as well as local drop-off Â primarily to a farmersâ€™ market or restaurant for those who do not have the time or inclination to go to the actual farm to receive their share. Participants pay a fee upfront which provides the farmers with â€śstart-upâ€ť money for the upcoming season. In return, they receive a box of vegetables on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Costs vary per size of box/basket as well as frequency of pick-up. This year, four different CSAs participated in the event.Â Obviously, the CSAs hoped to sign up an interested resident but all of the farmers indicated that the most valuable reason for participating was to educate the public on the CSA concept.Â They also enjoyed the commeraderie of chatting with other farmers.Â Also participating was a local, organic farm stand and a food-buying club. The difference between a CSA and a food buying club is that with the club, the participant just orders Â and prepays for what they want at each pickup and can skip any weeks Â should they desire. The produce and other items generally comes from Lancaster County and is delivered to a home in Collingswood for pick-up.
Other tables of interest to those attending, were two provided by Master Gardeners of Camden County. Mark Wellner, known for his specialty of raised beds, showed residents how to construct them and answered questions about growing their own veggies. Joyce Albrecht provided information about community gardens for those who cannot garden at home due to space, location, etc. Of interest to young and old alike, Robert Bennett, a local beekeeper, had a demonstration hive to view and answered questions about beekeeping. Camden County Chickens brought a local hen, Ebony, and had information about the status of having a couple backyard hens for eggs, fertilizer for gardens and the killing of insects in the yard. Mark Thuer had an exhibit about vertical hydroponic gardening.Â Residents were encouraged to bring a healthy, non-perishable food for a local food pantry.
Positive response from attendees Â and vendors was immediate.Â Plans are already being discussed for â€śLocal Food for Thought 4â€ť next year. If you missed out on this yearâ€™s successful event, be sure to attend the next one. Even if you did attend, new vendors and exhibits are always being added.
Submitted by Gwenne Baile