1. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  2. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  3. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  4. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  5. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  6. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  7. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  8. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  9. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  10. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  11. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  12. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  13. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  14. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  15. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  16. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  17. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  18. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  19. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  20. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  21. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  22. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  23. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  24. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  25. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  26. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  27. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  28. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  29. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  30. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  31. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  32. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  33. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  34. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  35. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  36. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  37. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  38. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  39. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  40. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  41. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  42. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  43. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  44. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  45. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  46. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  47. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  48. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  49. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  50. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  51. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  52. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  53. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  54. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  55. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  56. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  57. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  58. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  59. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  60. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  61. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  62. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  63. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  64. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  65. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  66. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  67. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  68. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  69. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  70. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  71. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  72. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  73. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  74. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  75. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  76. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  77. Are You Going to Drink That?
  78. The Origins of ecoWURD
  79. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  80. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  81. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  82. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess
Thursday, August 13, 2020
  1. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  2. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  3. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  4. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  5. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  6. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  7. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  8. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  9. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  10. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  11. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  12. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  13. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  14. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  15. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  16. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  17. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  18. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  19. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  20. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  21. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  22. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  23. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  24. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  25. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  26. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  27. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  28. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  29. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  30. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  31. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  32. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  33. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  34. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  35. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  36. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  37. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  38. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  39. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  40. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  41. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  42. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  43. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  44. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  45. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  46. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  47. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  48. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  49. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  50. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  51. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  52. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  53. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  54. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  55. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  56. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  57. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  58. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  59. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  60. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  61. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  62. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  63. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  64. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  65. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  66. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  67. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  68. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  69. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  70. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  71. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  72. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  73. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  74. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  75. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  76. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  77. Are You Going to Drink That?
  78. The Origins of ecoWURD
  79. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  80. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  81. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  82. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess

Part I in a series that examines how the Philadelphia School District responds to heat waves, winters and other impacts from environmental change

It was just a few day into the school year and Philadelphia public school students were already receiving early dissmal.  

Not because of streets slick with black ice or because it was time for standardized testing. All because it was too hot.

In late August, Philadelphia schools were dismissed as the temperature both inside and outside rose to the 90s. The so-called “heat index” pushed it into triple digits. Students and staff found themselves in sweltering classrooms.

This came after the District, patting itself on the back, decided to start the school year earlier than usual in order to have more break-free school weeks. Yet, during the first week alone,there were three early dismissals, as well as cancelled after-school activities.

Chevonne Harris, 39, a constituent services representative for Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, wasn’t surprised.  “I predicted it because it was still summertime,” said Harris. “I know the decision was made to get ahead of the snow but they also have to consider that it can be unbearably hot.”

Harris has four children. Two of them go to charter schools and the other two go to AMY Northwest, a public school located in Roxborough.

At the charter schools, Mastery Gratz and Master Wister, Harris said each classroom had individual window units and was supplied with air conditioning.  The only hot areas were the hallways, lunchroom and gym.

But her kids who went to Northwest, complained of there being no air conditioning and her 14 year-old son had several nosebleeds.

“They have to take into consideration these classrooms are already overcrowded,” said Harris.

When early dismissal was announced, Harris said she was fortunate enough to have children who are old enough to look after themselves.

“Had my children not been old enough to watch themselves, I would have had to rely on my village or leave work early to pick them up,” she said. “Which would require me to use personal hours and that would have been a major inconvenience.”  

When ecoWURD reached out to the Philadelphia School District, officials responded with an email saying they’ve taken the following actions regarding schools and excessive heat, especially those without central air:

  • Delivered hundreds of bottles of water to schools
  • Principals have set up cooling stations in large areas of the buildings
  • At some schools lunch is being served in classrooms if the cafeteria is too hot
  • Hundreds of fans have been distributed to buildings
  • More fans are being ordered
  • School Building Engineers have been reporting to work as early as 4 a.m. to run the systems early and attempt to cool buildings

Is this enough, however?  Average monthly temperatures in Philadelphia have been rising noticeably since the 1980s and heat-related illnesses are increasing dramatically, according to recent research by Brown University Gregory Wellenius. But, is the Philadelphia School District itself aware of these trends? Do the measures it outlined above truly prepare Philadelphia’s public schools for climate change?

For now, officials suggest it’ll have to do.

Currently, only 27 percent of Philadelphia’s schools have central air conditioning. Most Philadelphia school buildings are older and, according to the school district, cost a lot more to update.

According to the District, there are about “33 school buildings and 551 classrooms that have the capacity to add more window units without requiring an electrical service upgrade.” The cost would total up to $1.3 million.

The cost to have air conditioning in all buildings: $144 million.

“I view that as money well spent it’s necessary, it’s necessary to be spent on these kids,” said Harris.

However, Philadelphia school officials will argue that the price tag of installing a/c in every school building is what’s holding them back from quickly getting it done. What’s interesting is that the estimated cost to put air conditioning in 300 Philadelphia schools buildings for over 200,000 students – $144 million – is much higher than the already approved cost of nearly $30 million (a fraction of the PSD estimate) by New York City to put an air conditioning unit in every classroom over the next five years.  The New York City public school system serves 1.1 million students in over 1,800 buildings – and 13 percent of those buildings were built at the dawn of the 20th century.  

Still, the District knows exactly what the gaps are and how much money they need. In fact, lawmakers created a reimbursement program specifically for school safety risks. The District has a total of $4.5 billion dollars worth of repairs. Senator Vincent Hughes (D-PA-7) brought the report to Harrisburg in an effort to receive assistance from the Commonwealth, but that’s all on on hold.

“That’s because of who controls Harrisburg,” Hughes explained during a broadcast of Reality Check on WURD. “And the people who control Harrisburg don’t like Philadelphia too much.”

Meanwhile, Donna Cooper, the executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, says the most important thing is to “make sure we don’t just react.” There are some important questions the District must ask.

“Do we start school early to increase learning time? And what is the opportunity we gain from that?” she said. “Then weigh that against the cost of addressing the obvious impact of global warming.”

Cooper explains, giving District officials the benefit of the doubt, that Philadelphia schools aren’t the first in the state to begin in August.

“There are lots of schools that start in August  across the state,” said Cooper. “They’ve seen the change in climate, but Philly never saw it before.”

Cooper said we now must ask how resilient are city public facilities and whether or not they can weather these climate changes. Moving forward she said change is essential, particularly as temperatures rise. And, for her, it isn’t buying and installing hundreds of  air conditioning units.

“[The District] needs to push down its energy consumption and find ways to keep students in a comfortable learning environment with the lowest energy cost,” Cooper explained.

Simply adding more air conditioning units that are then ramped up in the heat would not only have a negative impact on the environment but would divert money from the classroom. That means there would be budget cuts. Less books, less of the arts and less materials.

Though there are various options that offer clean energy like implementing solar panels or  solar water heating. Yet, these potential partnerships have not come to fruition.  

Interestingly enough, Solarize Philly – the city’s ambitious program to solar panel every home – pitched a plan in 2016 to do just that for every school. “PEA {the Philadelphia Energy Authority] believes that installing solar at-scale across Philadelphia public schools, would reduce costs, advance environmental education, and create local jobs,” wrote Solarize Philly manager Laura Riggell at the time. “Additionally, such an installation would contribute momentum to the School District’s GreenFutures sustainability goals, provide significant opportunities for Education for Sustainability, and catalyze future investments in clean energy and energy efficiency on other Philadelphia schools and in the city at large. PEA has issued this report in response to SDP’s request for more information about rooftop solar.”

Solar panel installations could help schools avoid the cost and hassle of completely retrofitting ancient school buildings with conventional electrical systems. In short: solar panels could be separate systems that extend lines separate from the old electrical lines. It may not be a permanent fix, but research shows that its a safe, cost-efficient and effective temporary fix that’s clean energy, as well. Despite the request for the proposal coming from the District, there’s no indication either Superintendent Hite or the school board at the time bothered to consider or implement it. And a source close to City Hall who won’t be identified by name continues telling WURD’s Reality Check that Hite has actually rejected a donation of solar panels to schools.  

Since the mid-2000s, there have been 14 other school districts throughout Pennsylvania that have successfully installed solar systems in their schools.

“A lot of what we heard [was] ‘the school district is difficult to work with’,” said Lee Huang, a school board member in a September “Reality Check” interview with WURD.

Huang and  fellow board member, Leticia Egea- Hinton stated that they’ve created a “community partnership committee” to help foster these relationships.

The purpose of the committees, Huang said, would be to see “ What partnerships and resources are out there? Where can we leverage them for the children? And what can we do at a board level to make sure the district is easy to work with when piloting new things?”

Whether its more funding,  more partnerships or more air conditioning units,  Philly schools are facing the realities of a warming planet. Climate change waits for no one – including the city of Philadelphia.