Final Project: By Victoria Holmes
For my final three projects, I decided to investigate three instances where people were helping the environment two of which were making money. For one, I visited the United By Blue cleanup on Tue, May 1, 5pm – 7pm, Bartram’s Garden, 54th St. and Lindbergh Blvd. For the other, I visited the Collegeville Farmer’s Market, Sat, May 5, 9am – 1pm, 460 East Main Street, Collegeville, PA. In the former case, the company was working on the environment and their business model in equal importance. The second was full of many people of different backgrounds, all of whom cared about the environment to some degree, but found its care incidental. For the third case, where there was little to no profit, I spoke with an artist and a gardener who were in charge of the outdoor art installation called Deep Roots, at Elkins Park Front Yard Farm, 7607 Spring Ave, Elkins Park, PA 19027, on May 5th 2012, who enjoy caring for the environment and working within it to create something beautiful. This semester-long project based around “making a difference in Philadelphia” is something I took very seriously, and then expanded it to not just Philadelphia, but also immediate areas around Philadelphia. This website is dedicated to my final three projects mentioned above.
The first of the three, the United by Blue cleanup at Bartram’s Garden was an incredible example of cooperation in a corporation, a community and students. Even people from other companies, such as Levi’s, partook in cleaning up the waterways. There were college-aged people, younger children, and just regular adults from the surrounding community who decided to join in, have some burgers and hot dogs, and find the strangest trash they could to win prizes. Tires, planks of wood, needles and boots were among the refuse found in the waterways, though in a way it was almost a celebration; not only was the trash out of the water, with people winning prizes for it, but for each pound of trash found, United by Blue sells a product, supporting their business model by supporting the environment to reduce impact, treating the environment and business as equals.
The Collegeville Farmer’s Market took a slightly different approach; the vendors there did indeed care about the environment, but cared more about their business. This is not to say that they were simply using the proclamation of “sustainability” and “natural products” as selling platforms, but they were, for the most part, incidental and out of convenience, rather than an active fight against overdrawing of resources. Paul Crognale, for example, grows his own vegetables without using harsh and damaging chemicals, which incidentally does not harm the earth, and is completely natural. He does this because it is his personal belief that using them is wrong, not because he is concerned with the world environment. Similarly, Kay Bryant makes clothing and jewelry out of recycled and repurposed materials because she does not see a point in constantly getting new materials, although she sometimes does. For the businesses interviewed, each interviewee took some measure to keep their environment healthy and in order, but it was mostly a secondary goal rather than a primary one.
Finally, Michaelann Velicky and Meei-Ling Ng proclaim the natural to be their passion, though both of them pursue it differently; Velicky is a permaculture educator, while Ng is both a farmer and an artist. Velicky realizes that humanity has a responsibility to slow the process of degradation, to preserve what little we have left, and to rebuild it from there, while Ng wants to reduce the impact of goods on the environment by repurposing products to create functional art, which does not just take up space. Ng wants it to reconnect and work in tandem with nature, while Velicky wants humanity to do the same. In their own ways, they are attempting to attain the same goal of reducing the damage done to the Earth, while making life beautiful and enjoyable.
Mike Cangi: 215-642-0693
Alli Blum: 215-642-0694
Alex & Sandy Frazier: 484-431-5587
Meei-Ling Ng: 215-606-8428
Michaelann Velicky: 610-506-6729