Essay / Academic Rant: Closing the Next Frontier: An Analysis of Offshore Oil and Wind Exploration Along the Atlantic Coast

The United States is moving to close the next great American energy frontier: the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). This move is part of an overall energy agenda to increase the United States’ energy independence through domestic energy. Since President Obama took office, the nation’s dependence on foreign oil has been at a 20-year low, and he has formed policies aiming to increase domestic energy production.[1]  In January 2015, President Obama proposed a plan for the Department of the Interior’s 5 Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program that has the potential to reopen the Atlantic coast for oil and gas drilling.[2] While this plan could stimulate domestic oil production and further the President’s energy independence political agenda, opening the Atlantic to drilling also has the potential to create serious negative externalities. Similarly, the Atlantic coast is a goldmine for offshore wind production with North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia holding 82 percent of the total Atlantic coast wind potential in the OCS.[3] Under the Obama Administration’s Smart from the Start initiative, Wind Energy Areas are being designated for development of offshore wind.[4]  The development of renewable domestic energy has the potential to reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels it also faces several technological and political barriers to implementation. Below, I will compare the policies and politics surrounding oil exploration and wind energy development in the Atlantic OCS, and determine which energy source can be considered a greater contributor to the United States’ goals of achieving energy independence. Continue reading


Academic Rant: Residential Segregation, Gentrification, and the Pursuit of Environmental Justice in the Nation’s “Most Sustainable Cities”

Sustainability and sustainable development are terms widely used and often misunderstood. Sustainable development is most commonly defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising those of future generations.[1] Many cities use sustainable development initiatives in response to climate change and diminishing resources. Leaders of these urban communities fight to negate the stigma of pollution associated with cities by incorporating open spaces, green jobs, and affordable, efficient housing into the urban space, as well as upgrading transportation infrastructure and waste management programs. Sustainable development places a focus on community-based decision-making, economic policies that account for both social and environmental externalities, the reduction of pollution and the general goal of creating clean and healthy communities. Continue reading

Inside Scoop: NRPA Innovation Lab

One of my favorite parts of my job with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation is the fact that I occasionally get to assist my bosses at their high-level meetings and events. A few weeks ago, on December 3rd-4th, I assisted my department as they hosted the National Recreation and Parks Association Innovation Lab. Philadelphia is a national leader in civic innovation, and the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) invited several Parks and Recreation departments from several cities including Baltimore, Atlanta, Miami, Pittsburgh, and Detroit to discuss opportunities and barriers to civic innovation, and to demonstrate examples using Philadelphia’s amenities as a living laboratory.

The two-day event featured collaborative workshops, panel discussions, and presentations that can be viewed online, here. My favorite parts of the Innovation Lab were the tours and site visits highlighting examples of Philadelphia’s cross agency partnerships. We visited several sites that I haven’t paid much attention to as a native Philadelphian, but the tours and discussions made me look at these staple places through a new lens. At each stop of our tour bus (I was so excited to get on a tour bus around Philly) we were met at the site by a staple figure who could speak to the partnerships involved and the details of the completed or ongoing project. The sites I’ve highlighted below include:

Viaduct Park

Race Street Pier

Schulkyll River Trail

Bartram’s Garden Continue reading

Urban Exploration Through the Abandoned Reading Viaduct

Several weeks ago I took my second trip to the abandoned Reading Viaduct. The Viaduct begins at Vine Street, between 11th and 12th, where it then moves north from Chinatown to Callowhill Street and then branches to the west and northeast. The Reading Viaduct was formerly used to carry trains into Center City for almost 100 years, and has since become a haven for urban explorers, graffiti artists, photographers, and the like.My first trip here was during the fall of last year for a night hike and the walls of neighboring buildings, steel structures and bridges were covered in graffiti. There were two swings fashioned out of discarded rubber and a tire swing hanging off of the bridges. SH and I climbed one of the bridges and had a fantastic view of the city skyline. When I returned, two of the swings were gone (the tire swing appeared to have been burned, probably for warmth during the colder months) and the graffiti was all new. In the summer daytime, the Viaduct looked brand new and even more beautiful. I’d recommend anyone interested in some light urban exploration to come visit the Viaduct and experience its rapid changes before its too late. Continue reading

Brain Obsession at the Franklin Institute

Did you know there was a brain exhibit at The Franklin Institute?! As many times as I’ve visited The Franklin Institute (it has to be close to 20 times) I’ve missed out on visiting its newest permanent exhibit on the human brain. The Franklin Institute is an awesome science museum that was founded in honor of Benjamin Franklin. The museum has a dozen permanent child-friendly exhibits, Live Science programs, visiting exhibits, an IMAX theater and a gorgeous planetarium. SH and I literally popped into the Franklin Institute at the last moment when I heard that admission to the museum was free yesterday! Target Community Nights (which is what we participated in) are from 5:00-8:00 pm, on the third Wednesday of the month. Check the museum out for free next month, or drop by for regular admission which is $20 for adults and $16 for children (you can also reduce the cost by becoming a member and visiting often!).

Anyway, check out some photos I took at the Brain exhibit before I started running around playing with the interactive exhibits with the kids. After the Franklin Institute, SH and I dropped by one of my favorite spots, he fountain at Logan Circle. I’ve missed this fountain so much! As a kid I used to splash in the water, picnic and have lunch in the grass and on the benches, and it’s so close to the Franklin Insitute, and some of my other favorite spots including the main branch of the Philadelphia Free Library, Moore College of Art and Design and the Academy of Natural Sciences. Continue reading

Beekeeping at Greensgrow Farms

This post is hella late, but here are some pictures of a visit I took to Greensgrow Farms a few weeks ago. My partner keeps bees and has been antsy for me to meet some of the bees he works with so I shadowed him as he went to check on the bees living at and pollinating the plants at Greensgrow Farms. If you haven’t heard of or yet visited Greensgrow Farms, I highly recommend checking it out. Greensgrow Farms is an awesome urban farm located at 2503 E. Firth Street with a great CSA (Community/City Supported Agriculture), a seasonal partnership where you can buy locally produced fruits, vegetables, and dairy or vegan protein options. Read more about Greensgrow Farms and their CSA here.

SH and I toured the farm for a bit at first and then headed over to the Living Roof, where the hives for the honeybees were located. I watched SH smoke the bees out a bit to calm them down before opening the hives–apparently the smoke mimics a forest fire, which alerts the bees to eat as much honey as possible in preparation for a long commute to another hive location. As a result, the bees’ bellies will be so full, they’ll have a harder time stinging. I watched him check several frames to see if the combs had larvae, if the Queen was intact and producing offspring, and how much honey were in the hives. While he was working, I quelled my fears and held some frames, and even got to taste some honey straight from the comb! It was delicious.  Continue reading

Essay/Academic Rant: The Market-Frankford Elevated Line

The Market-Frankford Elevated Line, also known as the El, the MFL, MFE, and the Blue Line, is one of Philadelphia’s oldest modes of public transportation.  The MFL is a high speed-rail spanning 13 miles running directly over city streets and underneath as a subway. It runs along Market St toward Northeast Philadelphia, which is the principal east-west axis and mass transit corridor in West Philadelphia (See Figure 1). The line is owned and operated by SEPTA—Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority.[1] The route spans three areas of Philadelphia: the Market St Elevated runs above Market St between 46th St. Station and 69th St Station in West Philadelphia. Upon reaching 46th St, the train runs underground Center City toward 2nd St. Finally, the train runs aboveground again toward Frankford Transportation Center in Northeast Philadelphia. The MFL is one of the most convenient and utilized forms of public transportation in Philadelphia with a long and complex history. Continue reading