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Our columnist reflects on how the urban wilderness has changed and how he’s changed as well

Over the last decade I have searched abandoned riverfront properties for skinks and black rat snakes, spooking deer and watching warblers, as I climbed over riprap shorelines and picked my way across the rotting timbers of overgrown piers. A city in decay offers the naturalist unlimited opportunities, while a city on the rise takes them

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4 mins read
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Dear Lois, what does restoration mean to you?

Before restoring anything, it’s important to examine what can stay as-is and what needs to be repaired, replaced or given a good scrubbing. It’s also important to have a strong end-vision. It takes belief to bring something back to life. To build it up, to improve and strengthen it. If you can’t envision it, how

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5 mins read
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Green architectural firm adapts and evolves with each project

When Scott Kelly co-founded the Manayunk-based design firm, Re:Vision Architecture, twenty years ago, he was a pioneer in green building design. The world has changed since then. Previously Kelly felt he had to be “stealthy” about including sustainable elements in his architectural designs. These days he revels in the freedom to go deeper, exploring with

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6 mins read
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A cross-country road trip evolved into a lifestyle for this former sustainability professional

Before #vanlife became a hashtag, or “Nomadland” won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Kirsty Halliday faced niggling doubts about her path forward. Sitting in her windowless office at the (since shuttered) construction firm Greensaw Design & Build, she wondered, “What am I doing?” At night, in her LEED Platinum apartment in Fishtown, the Scottish

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5 mins read
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FarmerJawn is breaking new ground with dirt, grit and optimism

For Christa Barfield, the entrance into agriculture was prompted by her exit from another industry. Before the success of FarmerJawn—Barfield’s ambitious and sprawling enterprise that includes farming at the historic Elkins Estate, running a CSA, being part of a development project in East Kensington, opening a garden shop in Germantown, selling herbal-infused teas and providing

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24 mins read
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An advocacy group, citing economic and environmental reasons, pushes for investment in geothermal heating and cooling

It’s been just over six years since Bartram’s Garden made the switch to geothermal heating and cooling, using ground source heat pumps (or GSHP) to heat the public garden’s 18th century buildings. By drilling deep into the ground, geothermal systems tap into heat that is stored in the earth. It greatly reduces the need for

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18 mins read
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Editor’s Notes: Against The Grain

“Why should anyone consider farming as a livelihood these days?” Brennan Washington, the owner of Phoenix Gardens in Lawrenceville, Georgia, paused at the question, posed by Hannah Smith-Brubaker, the executive director of PASA, at the 2022 Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Lancaster in February. Then he laughed a little, and the audience, largely composed of farmers,

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4 mins read