Mar. 16, 2016 9:19 am

This is what a ‘resident-driven’ sustainability initiative can look like

NKCDC's Sustainable 19125 & 19134 is largely steered by residents of the River Wards themselves.

A little neighborhood greening here, a little neighborhood greening there.

(Photo by Flickr user sustainable19125, used under a Creative Commons license)

When New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) launched Sustainable 19125 & 19134 seven years ago, it was one of the only programs in the area that was actively providing assistance to neighborhoods interested in greening activities, from planting trees to composting.

That’s far from true now.

Created by NKCDC as a community-based initiative to promote sustainability in the River Wards through the existing businesses, nonprofits and government programs interested in doing the work, Sustainable is now directed by a steering committee comprised of a number of residents across Fishtown, Kensington and Port Richmond.

“It is through this committee where the group decides what the need/interest of the community is at that moment and we formulate an event/workshop to address it,” wrote NKCDC’s Block Programs Coordinator John Tracy in an email.

Plus, there are a number of associated, independent offshoot initiatives launched by Sustainable’s volunteers, ranging from casual sustainability discussions at Sustainable Book Club meetups to waste prevention programs Philly Fixers Guild.

Besides sending their resident volunteers out door-to-door distributing information and goods like lightbulbs and seeds, Tracy said Sustainable has begun inviting eco-friendly, mission-driven companies like Philly Maid Green and PWD out to showcase their work at events.

As for tracking impact — that’s done by residents, too, through Sustainable’s Green Actions counter (though, as of now, the last entry was May 30, 2015). According to the platform, River Wards residents and organizations have saved approximately 16,125 gallons of water and 26,300 pounds of carbon to date.

But tracking impact isn’t the big idea, Tracy said.

“Our main goal is to make sure that everyone in 19125 and 19134 knows what is available to them and how they can make use of it,” he said.


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