Active Philly: Multi-Sport Connects Fitness, Health, and Environment in our Urban Oasis

It’s that time of year again, when all hometown eyes are focused on the nation’s largest urban park system and the waterway that wends through the city: the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon takes place this weekend, so if you’re not racing, come out an watch.



This event has been called one of the nation’s best, and it’s near and dear to GreenTreks, not only because our Executive Director Barry Lewis has competed since the race’s inception, but because it highlights the key role a healthy environment plays in our lives.

Imagine if the Schuylkill River wasn’t surrounded by a system of parks to act as a buffer against runoff: there would be no way the swim-bike-run event could be held.*

*NOTE: In spite of the vast improvement in the Schuylkill’s water quality over the past decade, major storms flush significant amounts of pollutants and sediments into the river, so the swim portion is always dependent upon the weather in the days leading up to the race. For an up to date assessment of water quality, based on predictive models, check out phillyrivercast.org. At last check, at 11:30 am on Friday morning, the water quality was good and the water temperature was 79 degrees.

Imagine if we didn’t plan and care for greenspace by maintaining pathways through tree covered landscapes to provide shade and produce oxygen: how enjoyably could we ride and run amidst the paved in, built up city environment that heats like an oven at this time of year?

Imagine if we didn’t have a committed community of athletes, advocates, sponsors, city officials, and volunteers: the coordination, logistics, expense, and personnel requirements of hosting more than 4,00 athletes for a series of multi-sport events would never happen and could never result in such a rich experience for participants without every single person involved.

This year, we’re even more excited about the event, because race management is embarking upon a series of greening initiatives to reduce the event’s environmental footprint and give back to the community that makes the race possible. You can learn more about the initial phase of the race going green, which involves a partnership with Nathan Performance Gear and benefits the Fairmount Park Conservancy here >>

Actually, we’re over the moon about the 2011 race because Barry, who was selected as USA Triathlon’s 2010 Masters Duathlete of the Year, is once again competing as a member of Team PHLY–and they’re partnering with the Challenged Athletes Foundation to RACE FOR A REASON. If you think a triathlon is challenging, check out this video about CAF. Be prepared to be inspired.


Support CAF >>

Then get out and go after your dreams!

Biking: Good for you, good for the planet

In the U.S., it’s estimated that 40 percent of all urban trips are two miles or less. Unfortunately, 90 percent of those trips are usually by car, which adds up in fuel and carbon emissions. If you consider that each mile you travel by bike instead of car prevents one pound of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere, the benefits of bike riding becomes clear. Add the calorie burning, cardiovascular building, body slimming benefits, and one has to wonder: why doesn’t everyone bike?

image from The GOOD Guide to Biking for the Planet

As it turns out, here in Philadelphia, more of us are doing just that every year. According to a recent report from the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love boasts twice as many bike commuters per capita than any other big city in the U.S. and our ranks (yup, two out of three GreenTrekkers regularly bike to work) continue to rise. With new bike lanes planned and slow but steady progress in etiquette amongst and between cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians, Philly is poised to become what Mayor Nutter dreams of: one of the nation’s most bike friendly cities.

We’re well on our way, what with our many great bike shops, clubs that support the most low key recreational riders and hardest-core racers alike, and a super system of bike paths that wend through the city and beyond. Take to the saddle and become part of the bicycle revolution. Besides being good for you and good for the planet, it’s a whole lot of fun!

For the more ambitious amongst you, check out the resurgence of the cross country bike path movement, the U.S. Bicycle Route System, as discussed in this recent Blog post from GOOD >>

Check out the Bicycle Coalition and Download their report >>

Get The GOOD Guide to Biking for the Planet >>

Better still, Get out and Ride!


Carnival on the Parkway April 16 kicks off two week long Phila Science Festival: join us there!

If you don’t have a reservation for the sold out Melting Moments of Delight: The Science of Chocolate (Artisserie Chocolate Cafe on South 18th next Friday), not to worry: you’ve got dozens of alternatives for discovering how science intersects with our daily life over the next couple of weeks as the Philadelphia Science Festival gets underway. You can discuss Biomedical Ethics over beer,  uncover the science behind the iPod, hear how fuel cells can decrease our dependency on oil, and catch inventor Dean Kamen‘s views on innovation and the future. Events are happening all over the city, from the 15-28!

You can check out the complete schedule here >>

The Festival kicks off with a public outdoor carnival on Saturday, April 16th and we’ll be there in force. GreenTreks has teamed up with the School District of Philadelphia and our EcoExpress Community Partners to create a booth offering young and old the chance to discover their connection to the local environment–while also offering teachers resources they can take back to the classroom to engage their students in exciting new ways.

What: Science Carnival on the Ben Franklin Parkway

When: Saturday, April 16, 2011. 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Cost: FREE ALL DAY!

We’ll be there! Visit the School District of Philadelphia with EcoExpress and our Community Partners at Booth 74 around Logan Square on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, just west of Race Street, to participate in hands-on activities focused on Philadelphia’s watersheds. Learn about the quality of our waterways by exploring Delaware Valley Earth Force’s watershed map, viewing local water samples through microscopes with volunteers from the GlaxoSmithKline Science Ambassadors, and taking home native plant seeds that help protect your local water sources. EcoExpress will provide teachers with lesson plans aligned to Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Environment & Ecology and Science & Technology and the School District of Philadelphia’s Planning and Scheduling Timelines, so teachers can incorporate EcoExpress.org‘s ever-expanding library of videos and educational resources into their curriculum.

ECOEXPRESS is for everyone, so be sure to stop by BOOTH 74!

Science Carnival on the Parkway Details  >>

Science Carnival Map and Guide >>

Philadelphia Science Festival Details >>

Philadelphia Science Festival Schedule of Events >>



April 9th event: Arming you with Tools to become involved in your Community’s Future

Coming  on April 9th at Villanova University is the Environmental Advisory Council Network’s Annual Conference, which provides an excellent opportunity for anyone who’s looking to ramp up their knowledge of sustainability and how to work with their local government to protect open space, prevent flooding, take action on climate change, and a whole lot more.

We’re on the Agenda sharing video case studies of some of the fantastic runoff prevention efforts taking place around the region, and offering a sneak peek at our soon to be released Updated StormwaterPA Online Resource Center–but we’re only a small part of this valuable event. Check it out–and join in. You can still register!

14th Annual EAC Network Conference

April 9, 2011, Villanova University

7:30 am – 3:45 pm

Join EAC members from across the region to learn about how your community can better manage stormwater runoff, protect open space, develop trails, and promote green development.

Sponsored by PA DCNR, the William Penn Foundation

Download the Complete Agenda here >>

Register Here >>



Ask not what your community can do for you-ask what you can do for your community

We love sharing, borrowing, and/or paraphrasing quotable quotes, and there’s no better time than Earth Month to revisit the spirit of giving back that President Kennedy sought to instill during his historic inaugural address.

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you — ask what can you do for your country.

President John F. Kennedy, Jan 20, 1961.

President Obama’s United We Serve initiative picks up on the theme — and a couple of weeks ago, highlighted a great story on the intersection of service, learning, and preparing our youngsters for the demands of the 21st Century. Check it out here >>

Closer to home, there are literally hundreds of opportunities to answer the call in the coming weeks, from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s Great PA Cleanup events to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Plant One Million Trees initiative; from the Schuylkill Scrub watershed wide beautification efforts to a variety of events being hosted around the City of Philadelphia.

If running’s your thing (like ours), you can support the Clean Air Council’s work while hammering out a 5K on the Drives.

April 16: 30th Anniversary 5K for Clean Air >>

For change of scenery, venture out to the Cobbs Creek Parkway for the inaugural 5K hosted by the Darby-Cobbs Watershed Partnership.

April 23: Cobbs Creek 5K >>

Take the plunge and get Involved. Somehow, somewhere, you can start making a difference.

Do something TODAY.