Sporting Life: All Eyes on Philly, When it Rains it Pours!

As leader of a non-profit with a major focus on water resource protection, I’ve got to admit, we kind of like when it rains. Believe me, I don’t love the fact that runoff wreaks havoc with our waterways, streets, and basements, but downpours do draw attention to the problems we human-folk have brought upon ourselves by altering the landscape. Once upon a time, nature did a great job of balancing the water cycle, but as we chopped, paved, and built our way into a life of impervious-ness, we generated a ton of stormwater runoff — which causes flooding, erosion, and pollutes our rivers and streams.

So, what’s the connection to sport? Last weekend, one of the nation’s biggest Bike races came to Philadelphia, and luckily for riders and the partygoing fans, the rains had left by race day. This week, the U.S. Open has come to our suburbs; attendees from far and wide have been pummeled by storms. And next weekend, the TriRock Philadelphia Triathlon takes place. The latter event involves a swim in the Schuylkill River, a biking segment in Fairmount Park, and is capped with a run. If we get any major rains leading up to or on race day itself, chances are good that the swim will be canceled because of high water and potential contamination. Oh, the event will likely go on, but in a drastically different form. (I’ll be racing as usual, and since I’m a mediocre swimmer, I’d benefit if the swim gets canceled. But I’d also be disappointed because I signed up for the challenge of the three discipline event…)

The point is that storms bring runoff and runoff disrupts our lives in myriad ways. The learning moment is that WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. People all around us are trying to minimize the impacts by getting this stormwater under control. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the inspiring story of Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program. Learn more by visiting StormwaterPA. And then Get into the Act by planting a tree, building a rain garden, installing a rain barrel, and sharing what you’ve just learned.

Green City, Clean Waters Promo from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.

Get on Your Bike and Do Some Good!

GT Staffers Meghan and Anita on their bike commutes

We’ve made it through the sweltering heat of summer (finally!) and now we’ve hit beautiful, warm-but-perfectly-cooler weather. I know us staffers here at GreenTreks are certainly welcoming it. Bike-commuting is much more enjoyable when you don’t arrive as a puddle of sweat!

Schuylkill River Trail Bike TourComing up at the end of September, are a number of opportunities to enjoy a bicycle ride and do some good at the same time. First up on Saturday, September 22, 2012, is the Schuylkill River Trail Bike Tour: Rails and River Towns Ride. Bike along the Schuylkill River Trail, learn about the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad during a presentation by Bob Thomas, and, best of all, support the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. This is the first ride of this new bike tour series, and it sounds excellent for all levels of riders (choose from a 18-mile ride & walking tour, a 20-mile ride, or a 9-mile ride and guided tour).  Learn more about the bike tour and register here.

PASA's Bike Fresh Bike LocalThe next day, on Sunday, September 23, 2012, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is hosting Bike Fresh, Bike Local in Downingtown, PA. Proceeds from this ride benefit PASA’s work for sustainable, family farms in Eastern Pennsylvania. Whether you choose the 25-, 50-, or 75-mile ride, you’ll get to enjoy a lunch of local foods and enjoy a Victory Brewing Company craft beer. Plus, I’ll be volunteering at the break station for the 75-mile riders, so stop by and say hi! Learn more and register here.

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 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!

Season 8 of Philadelphia Stories starts airing in May

MIND-TV (formerly known as WYBE-TV 35) has just announced its selections for the 8th season of Philadelphia Stories, a series of “captivating stories which illuminate and celebrate the Greater Philadelphia region, as seen through the lenses of local filmmakers.” We’ve had programs selected before, but this year we’re more excited than ever: our 30 minute cut of Green City, Clean Waters is making its prime time debut on May 21!

We’ll remind you again, but mark your calendar now:

Green City, Clean Waters.


Saturday May 21, 8 PM.

If you haven’t seen the promo yet, check it out now. The show takes an inspiring look at the amazing things that are happening all around the city in the name of stormwater management–efforts which, as many of the program’s participants point out, do way more than manage runoff. They make Philly a more beautiful, healthier, more livable place.

Green City, Clean Waters Promo from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.

No question, we’re psyched to be selected as part of this year’s lineup–especially since  there looks to be an amazing crop of films coming out of our region. As MIND-TV says, “Philadelphia Stories is dedicated to the promotion of film and video programs by our region’s independent producers. Works range from social issue documentaries to thought-provoking short narratives, creative animation and experimental programs. Philadelphia Stories favors stories and ideas that reflect the diversity in interests found in our region, including those that reach across gender, class, age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and economic background.”

The series will air on Wednesday and Saturday nights at 8 pm, starting May 4. Check out the complete schedule >>