‘Tide Field’ and ‘River Rooms’ help us ‘read’ the Schuylkill River

June 29, 2018

Artist Stacy Levy hopes that while you’re sweating the lack of parking spots or that missed bus, you will sit for a beat to notice the massive natural force that’s as big as the moon, the sun and the sea, unfolding daily in your midst.

Her installations, “Tide Field” and “River Rooms,” aim to help Philadelphians to connect to the tides that push water up and down Schuylkill River every day.

You may have noticed the clusters of buoys near the boardwalk along the river, near the Art Museum or at Bartram’s Garden. Those are part of “Tide Field.” The basic idea is to show you the tide, that mostly invisible rise and fall of the river that brings the forces of the sun and moon on the ocean into the city every day. The Schuylkill’s tide changes up to six feet daily.  Continue Reading

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Nature Nights kick off Thursday at The Woodlands

June 19, 2018

Folks of all ages are invited to The Woodlands at 40th and Woodland to celebrate the official start of the summer. The annual Nature Nights series will kick off this Thursday (June 21) with a Firefly Night. The event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. and will include some educational and fun activities.

This is a chance to spend some after-dark time inside the gates learning more about this important urban ecosystem and the creatures who call it home. Tangle Movement Arts will return to the Woodlands with their firefly inspired aerial performance. Snacks will be served by local Lil Pop Shop.

The event is free and open to all, just bring your flashlights pack a picnic and  The performance by Tangle Movement Arts will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Stay tuned for information on more Nature Nights in July and August.

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Birding zine release party, urban wildlife walk this week at The Woodlands

May 21, 2018

If you dig birds, here’s some good news. Local birder Victoria Sindlinger and illustrator Jess Ruggierio have teamed up with The Woodlands to develop a guide to birds at the cemetery. And it’s a zine!

A release part for the Guide to Birding at The Woodlands is scheduled for Tuesday, May 22, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at The Woodlands (40th and Woodland). The zine will be available for sale at the event. Sindlinger will also be hosting bird walks at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

A few days later, on Saturday, May 26, The Woodlands is hosting an “Urban Wildlife Walk.” This includes birds, snakes, salamanders and other critters that call The Woodlands home. It gets underway at 7:30 a.m. rain or shine and is “pay what you wish.”

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Mussels in the Schuylkill? Local organizations to establish Aquatic Research and Restoration Center

April 11, 2018

Photo via

A species in decline, the once-abundant North American freshwater mussel is one of the bedrock animals of our local aquatic ecosystem. Last year, a combination art exhibit, educational facility and working mussel hatchery opened at the Fairmount Water Works. Building on the success of the hatchery, several prominent local organizations including the City of Philadelphia, Bartram’s Garden, The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Drexel University and the Independence Seaport Museum are joining forces to establish an Aquatic Research and Restoration Center (ARRC). 

The Center will be dedicated to the restoration of local aquatic ecosystems in general, and specifically the reintroduction of freshwater mussels and river shad (a kind of herring) to the Delaware Estuary, including our own Schuylkill River. Why shad? Mussels require shad and other host fish in order to breed. Though the shad don’t get anything out of it, we do: Mussels are filter-feeders, and a single mussel can filter waste out of enough drinking water for anywhere from a dozen to two dozen people a day. Considering that the source of Philadelphia’s drinking water is the Schuylkill, which is also where local sewage treatment plants dump their treated effluent, more mussels and therefore more filtration seems like a pretty good idea.

The ARRC program kicks off May 3rd at the Fairmount Water Works (640 Water Works Drive) when a memorandum for the development of the ARRC will be signed.

Mike VanHelder

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West Philly high school students invited to join Watershed Stewards PHL program this summer

March 9, 2018

Photo courtesy of Watershed Stewards PHL.

High school students in West Philly have a chance to participate in a great local educational and job training program and also earn some money this summer.

The Philadelphia Water Department and the LandHealth Institute are recruiting local students for the second year of their Watershed Stewards PHL program.

Here’s how the program works:

Beginning in late spring, 15 high school students age 15-18 from the West Philadelphia area will work alongside PWD, the LandHealth Institute and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) for 11 weeks. The training sessions will be held at the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center. Students will learn how to protect the Darby-Cobbs watershed, which flows through many West and Southwest Philadelphia neighborhoods. The program will cover such topics as ecology, watershed management and stormwater runoff. After the training sessions, students will spend the summer applying the new skills in their communities.  Continue Reading

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Celebrate Winter Solstice this Thursday at The Woodlands

December 20, 2017

Here’s a great way to celebrate the longest night of the year. The Woodlands (40th and Woodland) will be hosting a special Winter Solstice bird walk on Thursday, Dec. 21, from 4 – 6 p.m.:

“Celebrate the Winter Solstice by exploring The Woodlands with Toribird, our resident birding expert! Toribird will lead a candlelit bird walk from 4:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Then enjoy Center Circle after dark and create bird themed crafts by our firepits. Seasonal treats, music, and activities will take place until 6:00 p.m.”

Sounds like fun. More information can be found at

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