Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Urban Greening Grant Proposal- Heat Energy via Septa

For our Green proposal we wanted to address the issue of an alternative energy. We wanted to take advantage of crowded train stations and use the excess body heat as an energy source. This energy is usually lost, but could potentially rescue the cost of heating buildings during winter, which is one of the most expensive utilities of a building. With less demand on using conventional heating system, we would reduce the carbon foot print benefiting the overall health of the environment. A busy train station is a constant source of energy, with thousands of people passing by each day. The flow of people is larger on weekdays, when the buildings need to be heated the most. This new system of energy conservation would benefit Philadelphia, as well as help Septa meet conservation goals of 2015

If you can not view the PDF version of the powerpoint below, please click HERE.


Stewardship Project Time Keeeping Chart

Hello readers, this is Xiao also known as Layla. As of Novemeber 19, 2011, the members of SonicRainBooom has finally compeleted the 10 hour volunteer work required for the stewardship project. It has been a blast and we learned so many new things and gain many new experiences throughout our project. The table below sums up the events we volunteered at as well as the amount of time we spent at each event. For a PDF version of this chart, please click here. If the link does not work, copy and paste on the address bar of your browser. Thank you!


Stewardship Project Timekeeping

Member Name  Event Title Date of Event Hours Completed For Each Event Total Hour Completed

Xiao Yang (Layla)

Tree Planting with UC Green Saturday, Oct 15, 2011 3


Parkview Riparian Buffer Planting Saturday, November 5, 2011 7

Shirley Choi 

Sonia Sanchez Garden


Saturday, Oct 1, 2011 2 10
Parkview Riparian Buffer Planting Saturday, November 5, 2011 7
Northeast Tree Tenders Al Furgan Mosque Saturday, November 19, 2011 1

Bianca M Cianfarini

Sonia Sanchez Garden


Saturday, Oct 1, 2011 2 10
Parkview Riparian Buffer Planting Saturday, November 5, 2011 7
Northeast Tree Tenders Al Furgan Mosque Saturday, November 19, 2011 1

Anna Lepaeva


Sonia Sanchez Garden


Saturday, Oct 1, 2011 2 10
Parkview Riparian Buffer Planting Saturday, November 5, 2011 7
Northeast Tree Tenders Al Furgan Mosque Saturday, November 19, 2011 1

Northeast Tree Tenders @ Al Furgan Mosque (Last Stewardship Project Event)

For this last blog post, it’s my turn – Bianca speaking (er, typing. I’m not saying anything right now actually.).

Layla had finished her hours on her own independent adventure, you can scroll down and see her blog below.

So Anna, Shirley and I went to the planting at the mosque on Cottman, where we enjoyed some light refreshments, signed up for groups, got some digging gloves (and free pins! woooo) and then trooped outside to see a demonstration. (And a hawk!)

Even though we planted trees before, these trees were…ah, quite a bit bigger. Thankfully we had Hassan to tell us how it’s done –

Step 1: Remove Grass.

And off we went to the site! Go group A!

Wait, you mean group A doesn’t actually exist and we had to join with another group instead?

Go group H!

Step 1: Remove grass

This site was at the free library next to Washington High School. See those trees there now? We planted…a few of them.

Shirley insisted on collecting all the worms we dug up.

Shirley's version of pokemon? Gotta catch em all

We put this powder stuff in the base of the trees, to help with water absorption for these new trees. And to better help these trees grow straight and stable, we added some support.Then we staked ’em! Like vampires!

If vampires were some sort of slow-growing sun-loving organism

Well, there were quite a few people there to help, we finished and went to part ways. Shirley went back with Hassan and the others to grab some pizza, while Anna and I walked back to our houses. (We all live in this area – my house was a twenty minute walk away. That and I had no bus fare.)

But so ends our hours requirement! Check that off the list, we’re done!

At bottom left: Go group A! I mean H!

Stressors of the Everglades (by Bianca)

Urban and Environmental Threats to the Everglades

Humans are viewed as an integral part of ecosystems rather than separate from them; there are no ecosystems left on the planet that are unaffected by human activities. It is useless and a waste of time to think that any part of the environment will remain unchanged by any of the 7 billion humans on earth. (Not even inhospitable areas like the
poles are exempt.)

In the Everglades and other coastal areas, some of the worst stressors are the destruction of wetlands, hydrologic and climatic changes, increase of contaminants, and introduction of invasive species.

Not pictured: invasive species. Look how pretty it is without those jerks.

The destruction of wetlands obviously poses a huge problem – remember when they tried to stopper up the wetlands in New Jersey in order to build upon it? The wetlands act as a drainage system to the rivers into the oceans – there was massive flooding everywhere, and filth backing up into proposed planning sites (at this time there were looser laws on environmental cleanup; there was lots of trash in that filth). Without such a drainage system, Florida stands in great risk of what happened in Jersey.

As for hydrologic and climactic changes, Florida’s Everglades may suffer from: lower groundwater, a lower flow rate, change in depths, a higher salinity rate, and a rise in sea levels.

Due to mostly runoff (in what is a essentially a giant filter to the ocean), there are certain contaminants present. Pesticides seem to be a big issue, among other chemicals, such as mercury.

Along with these chemical dangers come invasive species, like certain fish and even the cattail. (See Shirley’s blog for the ill effects of an invasive species).

As quoted from an essay,

“All five of the major ecological stressors acting on the ridge
and slough systems (reduced spatial extent, the introduction and spread of
degraded water, reduced water storage capacity, compartmentalization, and the
introduction and spread of exotic species) have had part or all of their origins
in water management practices. Major objectives of water management have
included water supply and flood control, which have been achieved by means of a
complex system of structural and operational modifications to the natural
system. These modifications have 1) contributed to the substantial reduction in
spatial extent, 2) provided a network of canals and levees that have
accelerated the spread of degraded water and exotic species, 3) greatly reduced
the water storage capacity within the remaining natural system, 4) created an
unnatural mosaic of impounded and overdrained marshes in the water conservation
areas, and 5) substantially disrupted natural patterns of sheet flow direction,
location and volume . “

That sums it up in a concise way; all those problems stem from poor water management. That one aspect causes a domino effect to the amount of potential devastation that may be irreparable, in an area of the world where very unique species live.

Hear that? Just manage ALL of this. No problem, right?

Everglades Research Initiative.” Environmental Sciences Program, Online Posting
to Florida Atlantic University. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.

Ogden, John C. United States. South Florida Water Management District. EVERGLADES
. 2003. Web.

Cane Toads and Their Ongoing Invasion of Australia (by Shirley)

The Cane Toad

The cane toad is an invasive species in Australia. They are characterized by its yellow-brown skin and bony ridges along its mouth/snout. They exude a toxic poison through their prominent glands.

Previous sucesses in South America, which showed that cane toads were effective against sugarcane-eating beetles, persuaded the Australians to acquire toads for their own sugarcane crops along the coast of Queensland.

Queensland, Australia

A total of 102 cane toads were introduced in 1935, from Hawaii to Queensland, Australia. This was a mistake- it turned out that the toads weren’t effective at all in eliminating the beetles! They ate everything else, and they could eat anything edible.

Even worse, cane toads could produce 30,000 tadpoles at a time. Even more worse, cane toads are an extreme r-species. The tadpoles can become adults by week four. (They have large sexual drives, which cause them to mate constantly. According to one person’s account, a male toad was still mating with a female even when she was clearly dead for quite some time.) This rapid growth became freakishly out of control; their population quickly spreaded west and south of the country.

Although the toads’ population were maintained in their native lands by predators, they have no natural predators in Australia. According to Dr. Bob Endean, Associate Professor of Zoology at Queensland University, the poison has compounds such as “steroids, which affect the heart muscle,” and “bufotoxin,” which is fatal. The poison glands are over the shoulders of the toad, and if pressed, the poison would shoot out. Due to this, cane toads are deadly to both animals and humans alike, and there were cases of deaths caused by its poison.

The toxins were also used for an illegal drug. The ease of simply stepping outside your house and finding a toad right there, was a major contributor in the drug’s production. Not only were the toads a danger to anyone dull enough to hold/touch one incorrectly, they also caused problems in law/society.

The cane toads are considored nusiances, but since they were everywhere, there are people who adore and considered them as a sort of ‘symbol’ of Australia. Many of these people take them in as pets. In one instance, a cane toad statue was erected in Queensland. One of Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding presents from Australia is a book with an emblem instpired by the cane toad.

Today in Queensland, they are as common as the grey squirrel in the U.S. (In some parts, they’re more than common- more like an infestation!) The problem is still as rampant as it was 20 years ago, with a family of cane toads in a backyard, toad mobs on roads, etc. Shooting toads for sport has become a morality vs. population management issue. The only actions Australians can take against the cane toads are to shoot them, or gather a lot of their eggs.


“Barry’s 2008 Australia Trip.” Barry’s Australia Trips and Other Pictures. Web. <;.

Cane Toads: An Unnatural History. Dir. Mark Lewis. Film Australia, 1988.

“Cane Toad.” Kimberly Frog Finder. Western Australian Museum. Web.

Cane Toads: The Conquest. Dir. Mark Lewis. Radio Pictures, 2010.

“The Feral Cane Toad (Bufo Marinus).” Australian Dept of SEWPaC. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2010.                    Web. <;.

Further Exploration

Cane Toads: The Conquest (2010, trailer)
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (1988)

Urban Tree Management Strategies: Ways to Keep Urban Trees Healthy

Xiao Yang

Professor Bess Wellborn Yates

Green Vs. Grey TR 12:30-1:50

Urban Investigations / Blog Post #2

Urban Tree Management Strategies: Ways to Keep Urban Trees Healthy

As we all may know by now, trees has the ability to help improve the environment. According to class discussion, trees can absorb carbon dioxide and give back oxygen, improving the air quality and reducing the pollution. Tress can also help improve water quality, help saves energy, and statistics even show that there is a lower rate of crime in the areas where there is tree. That is, trees actually reduce crime and increases public safety as well as building a community. Green spaces and forests in urban areas can contribute to building a livable community. Even having just a single tree in a household’s yard or along the street can beautify and add value to homes and communities. Unfortunately, due to urban stresses on trees, some trees do not survive very long. As a matter of fact, these mature trees that died cannot be replaced easily in today’s city conditions and even when replaced, the replaced trees do not reach the same statures as an existing mature tree (LandOwner Resource Centre). Thus, it is critical for us to take care of our existing mature trees. Through examination of various articles, books, videos, websites regarding urban tree management, it is clear that there are many things we can do to help out the trees in our community.

According to an article written by the LandOwner Resource center, trees in urban cities are compacted with poor soil, city trees, driveways, and underground utility services that may constrain their roots. In addition to that, there is a shortage of water, nutrients, there are shades from buildings and with pollution and road salt during the winter time, and trees can be killed easily. Other than the typical urban stress, there are also what Bonnie called a “normal” stress which are droughts, sun scald, bacteria, fungal diseases, invasive insects, and of course, the severe weather or climate.  In order to keep the urban tress stress-free, a good start would be finding the right location to plant the trees to begin with. A good location would be somewhere with good loosen soil and the right amount of sunlight. Afterwards, the trees should be taken care of with regular watering, fertilizing, and pruning.

Watering is a very important factor for maintaining the health of urban trees. In urban cities, drought is one of the greatest threats. If the city did not have rain for five or six days continually, the trees will suffer significantly. Although the damage is not visible at first, a dieback of branches may appear a year later. As a result, watering regularly in the times of drought can contribute tremendously to the tree’s growth.



A good time to fertilize the trees would be in the fall. Before fertilizing an arborist should be hired to examine the tees, test the soil and give advice on what type of fertilizer to apply. In addition, one should not fertilize a year after some serious damage caused by storm, ice or other natural disasters because trees can be stressed from absorbing the fertilizer.


Last but not least, pruning, one of the most significant elements in the tree management process. Pruning can maintain tree’s health by allowing the remaining branches of the tree to grow freely.

In Neil Letson’s article, “Public Attitudes Toward Urban Trees And Supporting Urban Tree Programs,” he and his colleagues analyze a survey response of “Alabama urban residents’ attitudes toward urban trees and the provision and maintenance of urban forest by federal, state, and local governments, as well as personal willingness to volunteer and donate money in support of urban tree programs and activities.” Their result shows that  people who most people younger than 56 are willing to contribute their time toward urban forestry programs and activities. This suggests that in order to keep the trees healthy in our city, words regarding the benefits of trees must be spread.


For more info visit:

The Tree Resource Guide:


Fairmount Park:



FAQ about Trees:

Work Cited

Bonnie L., and John G. Boulahanis. “Keeping Up The Urban Forest: Predictors Of Tree

Maintenance In Small Southern Towns In The United States.” Arboriculture & Urban

             Forestry 34.1 (2008): 41-46. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.

Neil Letson, et al. “Public Attitudes Toward Urban Trees And Supporting Urban Tree Programs.”

Environment & Behavior 39.6 (2007): 797-814. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Nov.


Zheng, B.. Assessing Urban Trees and Urban Forests Management.  Diss. Auburn

University, 2011. Dissertations & Theses: A&I, ProQuest. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.

Parkview Riparian Buffer Planting on Nov. 5th

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Parkview Riparian Buffer Planting

Please come and help plant a riparian buffer in Cheltenham Township! No experience is needed! We will teach you how to plant the trees and shrubs. All of the plants are “volunteer friendly” ‐‐ so young, old and anyone inbetween can plant. Bring: Gloves, shovel and a friend!
DATE: Saturday, November 5, 2011
TIME: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
PLACE: Meet at Parkview Park at the corner of Parkview Road and Front Street in Cheltenham

When we saw this flyer, we knew we must come!

Bianca: Resident gardening expert.

Anna: Camerawoman.

Shirley: Navigator.

Layla: Root loosening expert.

A little about our adventure this week will be written by me, Anna.


November 5th planting event started with a beautiful chilly autumn morning. Each of our group members Shirley, Layla, Bianca and I arrived separately to the designated area.   We found a large amount of potted trees and a forest of shovels under beautiful golden surroundings. Everything was ready and organized for the tree planting. Many holes where dug on the ground, where they would like us to plant the trees. I was very surprised to see this, and wondered when the organizers of the event had time to do this. It was a quite morning at first, but the volunteer’s voices, as how they gathered for the tree planting where filled with excitement and energy.

The tree planting started with a quick demonstration, and instructions of how to plant a tree. The instructor told us to make sure that the tree is sitting straight at a 90 degree angle despite the slope of the ground. She planted the tree with speed, despite, the hill at which the tree was being planted.

After that, we got to work! Shirley was very hyper, and her eyes where full of excitement while she ran back and forth and around the tree. Where did she get all of that energy?  It was good to be surrounded by such a positive atmosphere. We were told to divide into pairs. At first it was Shirley and I working together, but a minute later Layla and Bianca joined us shortly. We worked together at first to get the hand of this new skill. Then we divided into pairs, and once in a while switched our partners.  First we planted at the area which had a slant near the tree of the instructor. We worked down, and the area became a flat land where it was easier to work. We always worked near each other, and it was quite fun!

The only group member that planted trees this year was Layla. Bianca does a lot of planting in her own garden at home, so Shirley and I found ourselves asking for advice from the more experienced group members. Since the trees where pot grown, we had to make sure to loosen the roots before planting in order to prevent them gurgling later in their life. Layla was an expert at this, and showed us various techniques.  The first 8 trees seemed to be planted very quickly to my surprise.

There was a nice variety of trees which was available for planting. At some point we weren’t just planting trees, but playing guessing games as we approached the young potted trees .“I think this is a red bud” I told to Bianca, and Bianca smiled saying “No no, but good guess this is a Mulberry”.  The little shrub had no leaves, and the only way to tell was to look at its little trunk.  We planted the Willows near the small creek, and Bianca approved saying willows will be comfortable here near the water. I imagined the trees reaching maturity and how romantic this place could be. I couldn’t wait to come back and see these little shrubs to grow into magnificent trees!

We planted Eastern Redbud, Dogwood, Swamp White oak, Mulberry, Black Willow, Scarlet Oak, Persimmon, Yellow Birch, Ironwood, Pin Oak, and even Red maple!

We were so happy when we saw our favorite redbuds and dogwood. They always spruce up the landscape. The Red maple, a fast grower, the oaks would be slow growers, but are good trees for our region. The verity would look nice in spring and fall colors.

having fun while planting

We worked in several locations. We started on the corner and worked our way down to the creek, and then we crossed the road and planted a bunch of trees on the corner. After that we moved on along the road, where there was quite a lot of space. Later seeds where provided to plant wild grasses.  We had more trees then wholes, so we also experienced the pleasure of digging. The soil varied from location to location. The first place had a very soft soil, which had a nice mixture of clay and soil. The location along the road was very rocky, as if we are in the mountains! It was a bit frustrating to dig up many rocks after a while.

Another huge rock dug up

another huge rock dug up!( As you can see we got very frustrated )

This little friendly poison ivy waited for us near one of the pits

We were quite tired at the end, but our spirits were up. It felt really nice to be in fresh air, playing with dirt among gorgeous trees. I was so happy to learn this new skill. There is such a difference between knowing theoretically how to do something, and actually experiencing it. When you live in a city you can feel out of touch with nature, and even with your community. Planting at least one tree in your life is something I would recommend to anyone.

As I plant this tree,

I think how it will be.

How it will grow and change,

How different will I be?

As I touch it, will it still remember me?

Some of the trees planted