PHOENIXVILLE AREA TRANSITION COMMUNITY
Sunday, January 13, 2019, 4:00-5:30 PM
Community Arts Phoenixville, 207 Bridge Street
Present: Bridget Anderson, Amy Atlee, Joel Bartlett, Adrian Bowden (co-facilitator), Mary Burkhart, Mark Connolly, Megan Connolly, Shanlee Fisher, Jean Flood, Chris Goulian (note-taker), Gwynne Hagee, Anita Juni, Peter Luborsky, Mary Marciano, Ana Negrón, Rodney Platt (co-facilitator), Jeanne Reese, Katie Tandon, Samir Tandon, Sherry Wildfeuer.
Welcome and Introductions
Rodney and Adrian opened the meeting by inviting attendees to briefly introduce themselves. First-time attendees Mary Burkhart and Mary Marciano explained what led them to attend this meeting of PATC. The contact/working group preference list was circulated. We could not find the new welcome statement online, but Adrian navigated through the website, highlighted the various working groups, and invited attendees to send in additional information that should be incorporated into the site. As new working groups come on line, they can be added to the site, along with the contact information of the leaders. Adrian previewed upcoming events on the PATC calendar. He invited attendees to send information about other events to Jane who will add them to the calendar. See www.pat.community/events. (Jane needs the email subject line to say “PATC Events” and the content of the email to be cut and pastable for the events calendar. Be sure to include group, date, time, and place.)
For those working groups interested in scheduling meetings here at Community Arts Phoenixville, Adrian invited group leaders to contact Kristen Pell. Monday and Tuesday evenings are typically available.
Working Groups – reports and updates
· Film series – Rodney hopes to make film opportunities open to the various working groups as a means for promoting each groups’ purpose and mission as well as connecting group members with each other and those in the wider community. His group is here for everyone to use for educational and inspirational purposes. He mentioned that Bullfrog Films is a particularly useful resource for finding films on environmental issues.
Rodney, Adrian, and Jane met with Ken Metzner, the new director of The Colonial Theatre; their goal is to to forge an ongoing relationship with The Colonial for screening movies for the good of the community. Ken wants PATC to be a part of the community bringing ideas to the theatre. Adrian mentioned that there’s now a board in The Colonial lobby called the Community Conversation Board. Inspired by Krista Tippett’s radio show On Being, the board is open to the public for posting ideas as to what the community should be talking about. Rodney suggested that PATC monitor that board. He announced that his working group will be screening a film this spring, one from among the choices nominated by the Community Agriculture working group, and organizing a forum on the topic. The Colonial has agreed to donate their space and is interested in helping us to present the movie at lower cost.
Gwen mentioned that Diversity In Action will be collaborating with The Colonial on a civil discussion initiative.
· Community Agriculture – Shanlee announced that her group’s first meeting will be this Friday, January 19, at 7 pm, here at Community Arts Phoenixville. Shanlee explained that with Ana Negrón, she leads the community garden project at Reservoir Park. They hope to have their next meeting on the third Friday of February at CAP if possible, Feb. 15.
· Walkability – Adrian explained that since the last PATC meeting, he and Jane attended the borough infrastructure committee meeting and pointed out some things that aren’t working related to street crossings and walk buttons at crossings; Adrian was invited to be on this committee. Phoenixville will develop a borough-wide pedestrian accessibility plan for encouraging greater pedestrian volume and non-vehicular travel. The initial meeting will be scheduled for some time in February. The borough is interested in receiving ideas about safety, transportation, etc. There is a plan to add some charging stations for electric vehicles. In response to a brief discussion about rerouting commercial traffic, Rodney suggested that tractor-trailer traffic could be diverted to Rte 23.
Adrian explained that repairing and maintaining sidewalks is another issue of concern. He explained that the Americans with Disability Act has led to many communities making sidewalk adaptations and repairs. Peter underscored the need for the borough to follow up with landlords and homeowners, who are responsible for maintaining their sidewalks. One possibility for helping storefront owners could be a fundraiser to help defray the cost of upkeep. Rodney suggested that landlords use the Time Bank to help pay for repairs. Sidewalks with flags of uneven heights can lead to tripping and injuries; for this reason, sidewalks made of bricks and pavers have been replaced by cement sidewalk in some places. Chris mentioned the model used in some communities is for the entire block of busy downtown streets to be considered a pedestrian crossing where pedestrians have the right of way.
· Clean Energy – Mark’s working group met in December. He reported that communities are in the process of drawing up energy use plans. Mark explained that as outlined in the municipal planning code, every community is permitted to have an environmental planning commission, or Environmental Advisory Council (EAC). Each community and township has their own EAC and agenda, the role of which is to advise the municipality on matters related typically to environmental issues and natural resources (sustainability is a bigger, broader matter). The EAC can recommend plans, programs, and solutions to the appropriate elected officials. The EAC can also serve to educate residents by providing useful information for helping the municipality to become a more sustainable community. Individuals who have ideas on the various facets of their community’s comprehensive plan can contribute them. If you’re interested in helping to form the EAC for Phoenixville, come to the meeting at Black Walnut winery, on Thursday, January 24, at 6:30.
Mark hopes to connect with a company that is seeking a contract with the borough regarding processing sludge at the sewage treatment plan. The company, working with Villanova University, is developing a process called hydrothermic carbonization to reduce sludge into fuel pellets that can be used to generate electricity. The process has yet to be used commercially by this company and would be very expensive.
Finally, the Green Team is promoting various green drink events in the area. The local group meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, at 7 pm, at the Sly Fox Brewery.
· Sustainable Schools – Lisa Longo emailed the following: “I was hoping to speak about the change in school start time being proposed and ask people to email the board members at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments. After looking at all the research and listening to discussion at the 3 public forums I developed a compromise proposal that is the only one to meet all the concerns and is within the recommendation by CDC, AMA and American Academy of Pediatrics. I am hoping the group will agree and show support by writing to board members and coming to the meeting on Thursday evening at 7pm and speaking before the vote. Attached is a document listing all the options. Please feel free to share.” (Note: the PASchool Board passed the proposal this past week! Thanks to all who wrote.)
Mark mentioned that Phoenixville is planning a new elementary school on Hares Hill Road between Ridge Road and Schuylkill Road. If you’re interested in being involved in the planning, please join in.
· New agenda item – Rodney explained that Philadelphia will kick off a campaign in June to ban single use plastics. The Sierra Club and other organizations will be involved, similar to the Ready for 100 campaign. In concert with the Chester County Environmental Alliance, Rodney’s idea is to have such a ban be the first foray into engaging the broader public on issues of climate change, as this campaign would address the changing of habits. He would like to create another working group to address this issue. Rodney mentioned that Ana Negron will be speaking on February 10 at the Wayne Central Baptist (Jane’s church) on this topic of plastic pollution (see announcements below).
· Complementary currency – Adrian explained that at least three currencies are now accepted on Bridge Street. Time Bank dollars; US$, and “sols.” The one at Sol Kitchen is online: exchange “sols” for food. He is looking for volunteers to join this working group, as he needs help with workload related to the currency itself and the projects related to them. At Sol Kitchen, people can volunteer, donate bowls and other materials, or donate goods in exchange for “sols.” Food is as much as possible organic or local or both. People can drop off donations at Camphill Soltane in Glenmoor. Adrian is negotiating with a prospective tenant to sublet Sol Kitchen so as to reduce the cost of rent and utilities. He added that the main purpose of Sol Kitchen is to generate the coming together of community. The process won’t be perfect, and interesting dilemmas will crop up, but that’s what community is for: working together to solve problems.
· Altair Ecovillage – Joel announced his work group’s meeting next Sunday, January 20, at 4 pm. Committed membership is up to 40% with $750,000 in funding. We are in the process of rewriting our bylaws; as a non-profit entity, we will be able to apply for grants that will lower the cost of living there, thus making possible increased economic diversity. Rewriting bylaws by consensus is a thorny process: we are working with an attorney to do this, and with the Time Bank. Joel invited all to attend Sunday’s meeting at his house at 2237 Kimberton Road if you want to be involved.
Time Bank will have a retreat next month to approve changes to their bylaws, on Feb 16. We are in the top ten time banks in the country. (News: the founder of TimeBanks USA, Edgar Cahn, will be there to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. )
· Rodney encouraged all to stay connected to the working groups. We need to schedule meetings for some groups and get them on the calendar. Mark suggested default scheduling (every Wednesday there’s a working group meeting, e.g.; they can be stacked). Working groups are preformed initiatives coming out of the PATC movement, trying to accomplish part of our mission. They should be kept separate from the work of non-profit organizations. Mark recommends that working group leaders adopt his template to write up a one-page summary of what they want to accomplish through the working groups and define their purpose. Using a common format will make for a more uniform, readable, effective website. These statements can have various links to more information. As Community Arts Phoenixville is available on Mondays and Tuesdays, let’s schedule working groups on those evenings.
· Mark also raised the question as to whether working groups were one and the same with various existing associated organizations, such as Altair, Green Team, Diversity in Action, etc. Samir shared how he envisions PATC as a network of affiliated organizations that inform and complement one another. Ideally, PATC should serve as a mechanism for connecting various associated organizations and facilitating their coordination and collaboration. Megan pointed out that the challenge is how to empower various individuals and groups and connect them without having them in conflict? Coordination ultimately becomes political. We are trying to “team” together; we need to effectively adjust, adapt, and pivot. (Transition US warns against using “coordination” as our role. Perhaps our role is more one of “supporting.” Jane’s comment)
· Possible new working groups: municipal kitchen composting, banning single use plastics.
· Working group leaders, please send reports to Jane or Adrian to upload onto website.
· Plastic Pollution series – Sundays 9:30-10:30 am through February 10 at Central Baptist Church in Wayne. Our own Ana Negron will speak on February 10.
· PATC Planning meeting – Sunday, January 27, 2:00-3:30 pm at Community Arts Phoenixville (4th Sunday rotation). All are welcome.
· Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture – The annual conference is scheduled for February 6-9. On Friday, February 8, Jane and Rodney will be attending. Mark has extra badges (through Pennsylvania Community Solar Coalition) if anyone is interested in attending the trade show. Follow this link for the schedule of events and speakers. (Contact Jane email@example.com if you’d like to carpool. We can register on site.)
· Next PATC Large group meeting – Sunday, February 10, from 4:00-5:30 pm at Community Arts Phoenixville (2nd Sunday rotation).
· Please send events to Jane to feature on website events calendar. Don’t forget to make the subject line “PATC Events” and the content of the email to be cut and pastable for the events calendar. Be sure to include group, date, time, and place.
· The meeting adjourned shortly after 530PM and socializing around the delicious potluck refreshments lasted until 630PM.