On Wednesday, November 15th more than 60 people gathered together to highlight community-based projects that mitigate or adapt to regional climate and weather impacts. The “Resilient Erie Stewardship Summit,” sponsored by the Community Resilience Action network of Erie (CRANE), and held at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie, PA, brought together local leaders, business owners, researchers, educators and other members of the Erie community.
Sister Pat Lupo, long-time environmental educate advocate and keynote speaker for the event, inspired audience members with recollections of the many initiatives she has led to connect youth with volunteer opportunities to benefit the environment and the community. Other resilient Erie projects included transforming vacant lots into urban agricultural opportunities, green buildings and energy efficiency, student led rain gardens, green parking lots and green infrastructure, and projects that address long term impacts to water quality the region.
An hour-long poster session also gave participants an opportunity to interact directly with researchers and projects leads to enhance understanding about the various initiatives happening in the region.
Oral and poster presentations were entered to win one of three mini-grant prizes: a poster prize of $100, a second place prize of $250, and a grand prize of $500 in project support.
The projects presented at the Summit will be compiled into an interactive story map, to visually represent the work happening in Erie, and to help focus the prioritization of future projects. The story map will be a work in process, being updated as new projects become available. Projects can be shared and added by posting on social media and using the hashtag #ResilientErie, or by contacting members of CRANE at email@example.com.
Congratulations to our mini-grant award winners!
Grand Prize Oral Presentation:
Ken Brundage and Steve Ropski, Gannon University
Project Title: Modernization of the Nash Library- Creating a Green Building
The Gannon Nash Library modernization will be completed in January of 2018. The cost of achieving LEED certification was not realistic based upon the budget, but attempts have been made all along the planning process to make this renovation as green as possible. This talk will describe those items with a particular emphasis on the new green roof. All of these items will reduce energy cost, provide cleaner air, and through signage become a potential teaching moment when students use the library. We also plan on conducting tours for local groups to show what can be done in a renovation.
Second Place Oral Presentation:
Carrie Sachse, French Street Farms
Project Title: French Street Farms: Bringing Commercial Urban Agriculture to Vacant City Land
2018 will be the inaugural growing season for French Street Farms, Erie’s premiere commercial urban agriculture enterprise. By putting previously vacant city land into productive use growing fresh food for the city and region, FSF will help alleviate food deserts and bring dynamic green space to a neighborhood struggling with disinvestment. By bolstering the region’s local food supply, FSF will increase Erie’s food security and offer area residents an alternative to produce which is often imported from thousands of miles away. There are countless examples of this type of intensive, small-space, organic food production being successful, including in climates much colder than our own. For these reasons and many more, French Street Farms will hopefully be the first of many urban agriculture projects in the city of Erie.
Stephanie Ciner, Erie School District (BELONG Sustainability Program)
Project Title: Preparing our Kids for the Future: Experiential Environmental Teaching and Learning at Erie’s Public Schools
Our project, BELONG, a plan carefully developed by Erie School District teachers, intends to prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences needed to address the challenges of our rapidly changing climate and world. BELONG prioritizes experiential and project-based learning and aims to instill a respect for life — individual, community, and environment — in each student. Our strategy is to implement “ladders of responsibility” at each grade level that connect to existing curriculum and STEM classes. Our most successful so far have been vegetable gardens at the third-grade level, water and watershed projects at the fourth-grade level, recycling and composting initiatives at the fifth-grade level, and energy use analysis at the sixth-grade level. Our program builds resiliency right here in Erie with our young residents by engaging them in topics that will be increasingly more volatile due to climate change. Our focus on core principles like food, water, waste, and energy give the students tools to create a more climate-ready school, neighborhood, city, nation, and world.