Fairmount Park Conservancy Hires New Director, Financial Officer

Jamie Gauthier was hired as executive director of Fairmount Park Conservancy on Sept. 13. Gauthier began working at the conservancy as senior director of public partnerships in January, and she has served as acting executive director since July, upon the departure of Rick Magder. 

Gauthier has a master’s degree in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania and has served as executive director of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. 

On Sept. 1, Gauthier hired the conservancy’s first chief financial officer, Cynthia E. Roberts, who previously worked as director of finance for the Children’s Literacy Initiative.

Organizers Host Statewide Actions Against Trump’s DACA Repeal

A statewide coalition of membership organizations called #paresist demonstrated at various cities in Pennsylvania to support the passage of a Clean Dream Act in response to the Trump administration’s rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—the immigration policy that had until recently enrolled almost
1 million “Dreamers.” 

Statewide participating organizations included Keystone Progress, Planned Parenthood, Women’s March PA, PA Voice, Lycoming County Progressives and Rise Up Doylestown.

Council Member Introduces Green-Roof Legislation, Joins Sierra Club to Push for Clean Energy

City Council Member Blondell Reynolds Brown, chair of the Council Committee on the Environment, introduced an ordinance on Sept. 28 that will make utilizing the current Green Roof Density Bonus more uniform across development types.

This amendment provides clarity to two concurrent bills introduced in spring 2017, and ensures that the “Commercial Mixed-Use” designation gets the same bonus as residential developments that incorporate approved green roofs into the building design. Under the code, if a green roof is to be installed and meets certain conditions, then the total number of allowable units in the development increases by 25 percent.

“This measure establishes uniformity across districts,” said Reynolds Brown. 

In addition, Reynolds Brown introduced a resolution urging President Trump to affirm the Clean Water Rule, a 2015 regulation that clarifies water resource management under a provision of the Clean Water Act.

Reynolds Brown also joined the Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania Chapter—along with clean air and clean energy advocates—to launch Ready for 100 Philadelphia, “a campaign to transition the city to 100 percent clean, renewable energy through equitable, community collaboration.”

So far, 45 U.S. cities have committed to the Sierra Club’s national campaign, including Phoenixville and West Chester in the Philly suburbs. 

The Sept. 28 campaign launch at the Philadelphia Ethical Society included representatives from the Mayor’s Office and the Office of Sustainability, as well as local leaders in sustainability.

Nonprofits and Businesses Team Up to Plant Near Parks, Schools

The Philadelphia Orchard Project and its partners planted trees and expanded community orchards Oct. 7 at Bartram’s Garden, Bartram High School and Tilden Middle School as a part of Boise Paper’s Project UP. The initiative was funded through sales of select office papers, and POP was joined by the Alliance for Community Trees (a program of the Arbor Day Foundation), employees from Office Depot and community volunteers.

“Community orchards are a powerful means to engage urban residents with spaces producing healthy food right in their own neighborhoods,” explained Phil Forsyth, executive director of the nonprofit POP. “We’re creating functioning ecologies that produce fruit and create opportunities for communities to reconnect with nature and the food system.”

Participants planted more than 50 fruit trees, 80 berry bushes and fruiting vines, and hundreds of perennial flowers and herbs. Philadelphia was the ninth planting sponsored by Project UP, which has helped to revitalize distressed parks and neighborhoods in Indianapolis, Baltimore, Miami, Toronto, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago and Cleveland.

Local Study Abroad Program Wins International Award

The GREEN Program, a Philly-based study abroad program, was among four organizations to share the #1 Education Abroad Provider award from the World Youth Student and Travel Confederation, held at the annual Global Youth Travel Awards on Sept. 28 in Montreal. 

The GREEN Program is in its seventh year and operating in multiple countries in three continents. Its educational trips take place during winter, spring and summer breaks and they last eight to
10 days.

Proposed King of Prussia Rail Seeks Support through alliance

The King of Prussia Rail Coalition—a group of business, civic and academic leaders—formed in October to support SEPTA’s proposed Norristown High Speed Line extension to King of Prussia, which would link the suburb to Philly. 

“When we look at King of Prussia and the wonders it provides in terms of economic growth… it becomes incredibly important to make sure we do not pass King of Prussia by, that King of Prussia becomes just as accessible as other parts of our region,” said Jerry Sweeney, president and chief executive of developer Brandywine Realty Trust. 

In October, Sweeney was named chairman of the King of Prussia Rail Coalition, which includes officials with the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the King of Prussia District business association, and officials with Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University, philly.com reported. The project anticipates completion in 2023 at a cost of $1.1 billion.

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