Naturalists raise, launch Monarch butterflies

Naturalists raise monarch butterflies
Naturalists at the Wissahickon Environmental Center Treehouse are raising and launching monarch butterflies. In the Andorra meadow a short distance above the Trreehouse, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation staffers Christina Moresi and Maris Harmon harvest milk weed leaves on which monarch butterflies have laid their small white eggs. They bring the leaves down to the Treehouse where the eggs hatch into caterpillars. They demand an abundant supply of milkweed leaves to munch on and grow. Moresi has filmed the whole metamorphosis. The grown caterpillars will climb to the top of a screen mesh and spin into milky green colored pupae. As the pupae mature, their casings become translucent and the butterflies' distinctive orange markings become visible. Finally the encapsulated butterflies emerge out of the bottom and pump blood to stretch out their new wings.
The naturalists place a small round tag on each newborn's wing and register it in an online database so if it is found in Mexico or en route, it can be identified. Moresi (right in photo) explains that the butterflies which lay their eggs in the Andorra are the fourth generation of butterflies migrating from hibernation in Mexico. Before they are released, the young monarchs are fed a rich diet of nectar and become flight worthy in a tall netted enclosure. The Center announces when they are about to release a group of monarchs. They are bound for Mexico, an extraordinary 2000 mile journey.
(Interviewer's Note: Conservationists have been actively engaged in combating a severe long term decline in the population of the monarch butterfly, a beautiful and important pollinator, that has been attributed to habitat loss from logging and pesticide use)

Watch monarchs metamorphosis and interview here 


Toss a Bean Bag for Racial Unity

Toss bean bag for racial harmony
Aron Goldschneider and his fine artist step-father designed a circular racial unity logo to counter the hateful and divisive rhetoric of the times. According to his website,  www.standforracialunity.com, racial harmony is a personal matter; he grew up on a block as a minority white kid and his wife is a Japanese national. Their daughter, Bronwyn (shown in lower photo panel above) and her friends Ameer Johnson and Claire Gunawan were out at the Mt Airy Village Fair on Sunday September 17 selling t-shirts and car magnets bearing the design. For a small donation fairgoers got 5 turns to toss a bean bag through the empty center of the logo mounted on a large board for the chance of winning a t-shirt or magnet. Proceeds benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center to support its legal fights for racial, economic and LGBTQ justice. The students have been successfully bringing their racial unity t-shirt campaign to their diverse Philadelphia high schools. Watch bean bag toss for racial harmony video and interview here


Iconic photos of Wissahickon in new exhibit

Wissahickon photos curator
​In celebration of its 50th anniversary the Chestnut Hill Conservancy ( formerly the Chestnut Hill Historical Society) has joined its longtime partner, the Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) to mount an exhibition of iconic historical photos of the Friends housed in the Conservancy archives. Co-curators Alex Bartlett and Giulia Morrone (shown above) were on hand at the opening of the exhibit on Wednesday September 13 and discussed how they whittled down their selection to the fourteen large reproductions that the FOW hallway exhibition space could accommodate. Among the noteworthy photographs are one of African-Americans fishing in the creek across from Wissahickon Hall, formerly an inn but more recently home to a police department district. The bicentennial photo of many revelers parading down Forbidden Drive on Wissahickon Day, some in a covered wagon, stands out because photos of one or two upscale riders were more common. A favorite is one of people skating on the frozen creek. These and the other photos reveal what Bartlett says are some of the hidden histories of the Wissahickon.

Vaudevillian Poet Preacher Karla Milugo entertains and explains

Multi-talented preaching vaudevillian Karla Milugo

​Performing and visual artist Karla Milugo from Brooklyn and beyond is taking an artist hiatus in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. In the month she is planning to spend here, Milugo is doing art and exploring the Philly environs. Your interviewer encountered her wearing a large, crafted camera apparatus at the Germantown Kitchen Garden urban farm oasis where a potluck picnic and concert was taking place. The camera is also a balloon pumping station and Milugo entertains kids by blowing up balloons and drawing their likeness on them. Milugo also spoke of her Preacher Faith Faucet  person and her book divination projects and  she indulged your interviewer by demonstrating her whistling prowess and singer creds. As the sun was setting the lively salsa band Combo Melaza rocked the crowd including Milugo who videoed while she salsa-ed.


Health care is outrageous

Health care is outrageous say AARP volunteers

​Shirley Washington, Florrie Flood and Jocelyn Powell, volunteers for AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, were outside Bredenbeck's Bakery and Ice Cream Parlor in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia to rally support against changes to Medicare. Backed by a large sign featuring the diverse faces of its constituency (50 plus demographic), one volunteer explained their presence as a way to acquaint the community with AARP while another spoke earnestly about how prescription drug costs, higher premiums and higher deductibles negatively affect Social Security pensioners. "Health care is just outrageous." They invited your correspondent inside to sign a petition to my Congressmen and enjoy a free ice cream cone! I obliged. Watch video interview here.


Bullied in school, took to martial arts

Bullied for disablity, took up martial arts ​

​Weighing in a hefty 12 pounds at birth Darren Fenice's right shoulder was damaged by forceps during delivery. Erb's palsy resulted from the injury that stunted his arm and significantly impairs his range of motion. In school, he lashed out at the kids who were tormenting him him and was once expelled. When he grew up he began to practice martial arts as a means of self-defense, focusing on American Kenpo. A back injury sustained in competition has now sidelined him. Based on his experience being picked on growing up, he remains a strong advocate against any form of bullying. He is currently pursuing a career in science education and he pursues another of his passions - cooking dishes from his Austro-Italian heritage. Watch video interview here.


Fiammetta got angry ​ 😠 at God

Fiammetta got angry ​ 😠 at God

​I happened to be home when Fiammetta Rubin stopped by the plant exchange we have outside our house to drop off a stick plant. She had labeled the plant with the caution that it is poisonous plant but can kill cancer. Easily engaged, she time traveled to when she was nine growing up in Italy on a farm, the villa of Pope Urban the 8th. She would wander about the rows of grapes and found pieces of frescoes and marble her German mother tantalizing explained were from the civilization of the Romans. And they made a fountain. Still innocent about war she imagined how if the approaching Allied forces' bombs rained down on her house, how much more interesting rubble there would be to dig through. At some point after being shuttled off to Rome in the middle of the night, she learned the truth about war and got angry at God. More you can learn in the autobiography she is writing. Watch video here.

​ 🐴 Colombian loved his 🐎 Paso Fino horse

​ 🐴 Colombian loved his 🐎 Paso Fino horse

​Driving down Henry Avenue from Norristown, Carlos from Colombia saw the horses of the Saul Agricultural School grouped together near the pasture fence. He stopped to admire them as had I. He also thought of inquiring if they might be available for rent. He showed me a photo and video of his Paso Fino, a breed of horse known for its natural lateral gait Sadly, the horse died two months ago at age 16. A longtime horse lover, he doesn't know why more people don't ride. Watch video here.

 

Honduran naturalist enthusiastic about nature center

Outdoor art, enthusiastic naturalist

​Admiring Leah Reynolds' painted fabric installation Scant Refuge at the Schuylkill Center, I crossed paths with Ed, a Center worker from Honduras. He was out with a companion and guide book identifying birds, he explained and then he enthusiastically launched into a promo for the natural lands there, the Schuylkill's programs and welcomed families to come partake and explore.