August 26, 2010

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Nature center needs new leadership

For as long as I have known the current leadership of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, they have been intent on chipping away at the nature center’s land. If it is not one project taking precious land from their wildlife, it is another, all in the name of “environmental education.”

Every year they are steadily converting more land to agriculture. Now they have applied for a zoning variance to add a commercial compost business, which will – if approved – take more habitat from the animals who live there. I have heard the center’s management say it wanted to build solar arrays, windmills, and a myriad of other demonstration projects because the land serves no purpose.

How sad that those who should be setting an example by protecting the land from all forms of encroachment (and caring for it properly) are instead the ones who are causing its destruction. That’s exactly what it is doing to the wildlife that lives there.

In the city there are countless areas for facilities like compost operations, solar arrays and urban farming to be placed where they won’t destroy existing wildlife habitat. Anyone who understands ecology understands the importance of keeping large parcels like the Schuylkill Center’s 325 acres intact. It is a miracle this wild place still exists in an urban environment.

To claim to be educators, and at the same time fragment their land and whittle away at its biodiversity in the name of environmental education, is shameful. They are not fit to be educators in my book. I’d say they need to go back to school.

My greatest hope is that there will be a major turnover in the misguided leadership of the Schuylkill nature center before its land and the life it supports disappear forever. I say put nature back into the nature center.

The Philadelphia zoning variance hearing date to support this commercial compost operation, which I understand is not an allowed use given the fact the nature center may profit from it, is Sept.15. I hope those who agree with me will oppose this action.

Christina Kobland
Lafayette Hill


CH Friends express thanks for article

Thank you for the article in last month’s Local about Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting’s plans to build a new meetinghouse on Mermaid Lane that will accommodate our growing spiritual community.

The new meetinghouse will offer a new home for worship and will enable us to expand our social outreach projects. The project will create an inviting, accessible landscape bordering the Cresheim woods of Fairmount Park, and the building will incorporate a Skyspace, donated by internationally renowned artist and Quaker James Turrell. Your article covered a July 8 gathering at which several speakers discussed the Turrell art work. 

A single article cannot, of course, address all the issues connected to a new building project, and we wanted to clarify for your readers the nature of Quaker worship. One of the topics that your article did not have time to address was the nature of Quaker worship. Quakers do not rely on a formal liturgy. Instead, they gather together to wait faithfully in silence and speak only when they feel that the Spirit is leading them to offer a message. This gathering, called “meeting for worship,” is at the heart of everything that happens at Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting.

There are many fine explorations of Friends’ approach to worship, and one of the best is George Gorman’s “The Amazing Fact of Quaker Worship.” Chestnut Hill Friends have struggled together with how to proceed on this project and be faithful to their testimonies of simplicity and stewardship.

As our plans to build a new meetinghouse unfold, we pledge to continue to be good neighbors – talking with those who live nearby, meeting with local groups and businesses, and listening to suggestions and concerns. We are committed to creating a place that facilitates Quaker faithfulness to the Spirit and beckons people of all faiths to gather for contemplation and reflection – a gift to Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Wyndmoor, and Germantown, as well as the City of Philadelphia and the region.

We welcome interest and inquiries.

Jean Warrington Clerk, Chestnut Hill
Friends Meeting


Flourtown feline rescuer an angel

Thank you for the story on “Flourtown hero” Brenda Malinics (Local, Aug. 19), who spends so much of her own time and money rescuing stray and abused cats and then trying to find them good homes. I must say the part about Diana, who had such a short and tragic life, broke my heart. How human beings can be so cruel and heartless to children and animals is completely beyond my understanding.

What a world we live in. Thank God we have angels among us like Brenda Malinics and the others like her who give us all hope that a better day is ahead. I hope everyone who read the story will support her efforts. If we are indifferent and ignore the horrors all around us, there will be no hope for the world.

Denise Brady

Loved review of ‘Inception’

I loved your review of the movie “Inception” (Local, Aug. 12). I laughed because so many times I’ve wanted to write a review because most critics are so lame. And like you, I’ve seen thousands of movies and been sometimes shocked that certain movies actually found the funds to get made.

I haven’t seen “Inception” but from what I’ve read, particularly in the New Yorker recently, I’ve been avoiding seeing it.

I thought it might be in the vein of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” which I sort of liked, but this movie seemed pretty chaotic from the sense I got. Anyway, I liked the adjectives and passion of your objections. I’ve used the exact same words often to describe movies that I thought were pretentious, irresponsible, ignorant, horribly written, badly acted and just plain unworthy.

So I think this happens in Hollywood when directors get too much money and too much pressure and lose sight of communicating human truth, get lost in the mechanics and special effects, and have nothing much to say.

Thanks for the entertaining and informative review. I’m sure the makers have all kinds of convoluted rationales for the meaning of the movie. But if it doesn’t entertain and/or inform or allow us to feel something beautiful, or deeply transformative, who cares; right?

Stephen Ladner
West Mt. Airy


‘Nuanced comments’ about acclaimed chef

I really appreciated the nuanced comments by Len Lear in his review of Adsum (Local, Aug. 19). He did mention that owner/chef Matt Levin got a “Four Bells: Excellent” review from Craig LaBan in the Inquirer, and Lear basically gave Adsum (Levin’s new restaurant) a good review, but he also pointed out that “portions are small, and prices are high.”

I think that reviewers like Craig LaBan, who have an unlimited expense account, forget that ordinary people cannot afford to spend hundreds of dollars on one dinner without batting an eyelash. They should be writing more for the average person who has to watch every dollar and make sure he gets his money’s worth.

After LaBan gave Levin “four bells” a few years ago at Lacroix, I took my wife there for her birthday. The food was very good, but the portions were so small, and the prices were through the roof. With tip, we spent $330, and believe me, we did not exactly stuff ourselves, and we had no leftovers. We stopped paying attention to that “four bell” stuff after that. Chefs like Levin may turn out fine food, but there is barely enough to feed a sparrow.

Kenneth Mitchell
Lafayette Hill



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