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.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Croft Farm Barn,Â 100 Bortons Mill Rd,Â Cherry Hill, NJ
Join your friends and neighbors at our hands-on craft event as local crafters teach you how to make some great upcycled fall crafts, including:
T-shirt shopping bags
Spooky paper tree to decorate your home for Halloween
Getting harmful chemicals out of our bodies is a constant daily challenge. Itâs not as simple as weâd like, and itâs not as easy as weâd hope. But itâs too important to ignore.
Summer Book Club
July 16, 2015, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
31 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033
These days, we could all use a little inspiration. Welcome to the next in ourÂ SCH Agent for ChangeÂ series. Every 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.
This month we feature Kevin Frost, a drafting teacher at Cherry Hill High West. Kevin helped revive the school’s Environmental Club and attended The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education. He implements his knowledge and passion for sustainable living in and out of the classroom.
SCH: What is a typical day as an âAgent for Change” like for you?
Kevin: Most of my day is devoted to teaching. I try to work on sustainability things whenever I can and most Saturdayâs are devoted to projects my Environmental Club students and I are working on. For example, we recently created a wildflower meadow on our campus. Currently, we are planning a nature trail in the woods next to our campus.
SCH: How did you get involved with education for sustainability?
Kevin: I was born or became at an early age a proponent of animal rights. Itâs the lens through which I view environmental issues. In my mind, sustainability is about empathy. I also liked building things and went to architecture school where I encountered a few architectural studio teachers who were into the âgreen architectureâ thing. This really appealed to me. Once, I attended a lecture by Susan Maxman, an architect on the forefront of sustainable design. She just blew me away! I knew then, I wanted to become a âgreen architectâ. Â However, things change, often, unexpectedly. Soon after college, I fell into an opportunity to help high school kids compete for a competition sponsored by the West Jersey AIA (American Institute of Architects). I discovered I loved helping kids design things. Looking through the help wanted section of the paper one day about 15 years ago, I found that Cherry Hill Public Schools was looking for a drafting teacher. I decided to go for it. I guess they were pretty desperate to hire someone because I soon found myself in a classroom at High School West. Things continued to evolve as I revived Westâs Environmental Club.Â Sustainable Cherry Hill was formed and was the matchmaker between the school district and The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education. I was asked to receive CloudÂ Institute’s NJ Learns for a Sustainable Future training and opportunities kept cropping up.Â I went back to school to study Sustainable Design, was asked to co-teach a professional development course on education for sustainability with Gina Oh (a colleague at HS East) and Iâm currently developing a âreimaginedâ drafting course called Sustainable Design, which I will be teaching next school year.
SCH: What are some of the biggest challenges or barriers that you’ve faced? How have you dealt with them?
Kevin: The momentum of the status quo is considerable. This is especially true of an institution as large as public education and like an aircraft carrier, itâll take time and effort to change course.
Deciding what course education should take, and who decides, seems especially contentious now. In my mind, education is still figuring out how to transition between the mid-twentieth century industrial model of education to the model that will serve the post-industrial economic landscape. However, what isnât in question is that whatever form K-12 education takes, it should still serve and reflect the priorities of the nationâa nation more concerned with global economic competitiveness than sustainability and ecological integrity.
The sustainable educator Stephen Sterling observes that âmost education daily reinforces unsustainable values and practices in societyâ, and adds, âwe are educated by and large to âcompete and consumeâ rather than to âcare and conserveâ. So, broadly speaking, in my mind, the biggest challenge or barrier is our culture and collective human worldview that lacks an intrinsic appreciation and ethical consideration for the natural environment and non-human forms of life. For there to be a reversal in the degradation of the earthâs ecosystems as brought about through human activity, there needs to be a change in worldview. Education is of critical importance to the changing of worldview and behaviors that influence sustainable conduct as it affords the necessary reflective thought yielding greater consciousness and awareness through which people can make informed and ethical decisions.
Fortunately, Cherry Hill Public Schools is progressive in sustainability matters and education for sustainability. Several years ago, Lori Braunstein of Sustainable Cherry Hill became the major operator in engaging the school district in sustainability. She found a willing partner in our former Superintendent, Maureen Reusche. Dr. Reusche was very hands-on in the districtâs sustainability efforts. Through her leadership and the efforts of the students, staff, administrators, community members, and teachers serving on the Green Team, the districtâs sustainability plan was adopted by the school board last year. So weâre on our way. How have I dealt with barriers? Actually, I havenât encountered too many barriers aside from the âbig pictureâ collective worldview barrier. The people I serve under have been very supportive. When I do encounter a barrier, I try to take a Taoist approach and flow around it like water around a rock. I learned a while ago that good, well-reasoned arguments sometimes donât make any difference. Some people are like rocks. So, just go around them. Itâs encouraging to know that flowing water wears rocks into dust.
SCH: Dream Big! If you had no constraints, what would you like to see happen in five years?
Iâd like to see sustainability integrated into all curriculum. I donât think this is as difficult as it may seem as there are many ways to address sustainability. Itâs very diverse.
Iâd like to see schools transformed to reflect our new ethos. If we were to walk into a synagogue, mosque, or church, we would likely see that the design of these buildings reflect and inspire the values of each faith. Likewise, our school buildings and campuses should reflect our values of empathy, learning and education for sustainability. They should also inspire. Iâd like to see less mowed turf grass and more woods, wildflower meadows, and no-mow zones. Iâd like to see our âstorm water = waste waterâ stormwater management systems converted into rain gardens, bioretention facilities, and constructed wetlands. Iâd like to see our school landscapes become habits for wildlife and people, and exhibits for learning. Iâd like to see outdoor âclassroomsâ and amphitheaters. Iâd like to see vegetable gardens or even small âfarmsâ. Iâd like to see us generate our own power onsite.
Inside our buildings, Iâd like to see classrooms converted into learning studios that afford collaboration and project-based learning. Iâd like to see long corridors mitigated by roof monitors that emit natural light and fresh air, and broken up into learning spaces and galleries to display student work. Iâd like to see less separation between interior and exterior spaces. Iâd like to see our buildings look less institutional and more inspirational.
SCH: It’s important an Agent for Change stay inspired too. Tell us about an experience you’ve had recently that really energized or moved you.
The recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage inspires me. It is yet another indication of the increase of empathy in our society. Empathy, in my mind, is the most important element to creating a sustainable society because the earth is comprised of systems, which donât consider our species, or religious, ethnic, political, national, affiliations. The earth is shared by all. Whether you are a bug or Donald Trump, we all rely on these systems. For us to live sustainably, we must have empathy and compassion for allâpeople to bugs. Looking at world history, empathy is increasing. Slavery has been abolished in the west, women have the right to vote, and the advances made in civil rights, and LGBT rights all point to an increase in empathy. True, we have a way to go, but I believe we are moving forward. Locally, High School West has been designated by the Anti-Defamation League as a âNo Place for Hateâ school. West has also been designated as a âSchool of Characterâ by New Jersey Alliance for Social, Emotional and Character Development. Additionally, all district teachers have integrated anti-harassment, intimidation, and bullying lessons into their teaching. To me, sustainability and empathy for all beings will follow.
Also, I was recently energized by one of Westâs special education teachers, Bridget Garrity-Bantle. She approached me with the idea of creating a garden in one of our courtyards for the special education students. What a great opportunity to teach kids about life, growing things, and sustainably! I know thereâs scientific reasons about how seeds become plants, but its magic to me, and kids are also impressed by it. But wait, thereâs no source of water to water the garden. What about the downspout coming from the roof? A problem becomes an opportunity to create a rainwater harvesting system! We submitted a grant to fund the garden and rainwater harvesting system. Fingers crossed.
But mostly, Iâm inspired by the students, Environmental Club kids, and my West Green Team members. I feed off their energy. After all, Iâm really just a handyman with a passion and who likes to build stuff.
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?
Kevin: Lori Braunstein has been very important to my efforts. Her help has been invaluable and sheâs a hero to me. Recently, she has been instrumental in Westâs, the districtâs, and all 19 district schoolâs Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification submission. I look forward to working with SCH in the future. Especially since SCH has a very strong sustainable design contingent.
SCH: Thanks Kevin.Â We can’t wait to see what else evolves for you and the students at Cherry Hill West.Â Whatever it is, we know it will set an example the entire community!
Just as heavy winds and a thunderstorm descended on South Jersey June 23rd, the Burlington County LibraryÂ screening of the award winning documentary Tapped began. Â Twenty-six participants braved the storm to watch the movie and participate in a tapped versus water bottle taste test and lively follow-up discussion.Â At the Cherry Hill Public Library screening on June 30th, over sixty participants also enjoyed the Tapped program.
On June 10, 2015 at the NJ Sustainability Summit, Sustainable Jersey presented its 2015 Sustainable State of the State Report that includes goals, indicators and assessments for where New Jersey stands at present and in reaching sustainability goals in the future. Community leaders, residents, business people and academics from across the state discussed the report and provided input in how to move forward to achieve the stateâs goals.
Please join us in welcoming a new voice to the Sustainable Cherry Hill blog,Â The Armchair Environmentalist by Barbara Prince. BarbaraÂ is a passionate advocate for her community and the global environment. She is an observer and commentator on the human condition, as well as a dedicated public servant in her role as the Recycling and Clean Communities Coordinator for Haddon Township.
Microbeads: A Macro Problem
Whatâs in your wash? Did you know that you might be washing your face or brushing your teeth with plastic? Microbeads are currently all the rage in the personal care industry and can be found in cosmetics, toothpaste, and soap. Your average facial scrub can contain as many as 300,000 micro plastics. How micro are they? Most micro plastic are less than 1 millimeter wide and easily pass through our water treatment plants. As such, micro plastics are increasingly entering our waterways where they are being ingested by even the smallest of the worldâs sea creatures -even coral!