7900 High School Rd, Elkins Park, PA

Julie Slavet is Executive Director of the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, Inc.(TTF). They will be hosting an event with Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and other books on February 28th. I spoke with Julie about her work and about why Louv’s books appeal to her. I also learned what I can do right in my own yard to help nature!

Tell us about your upcoming event.

Nature Talks is the first in our new series of conversations about ways to connect people of all ages to the environment in front of their house or at the end of their block. Most of our work is at a very hands-on level, working with our neighbors to plant trees, install rain gardens, and mark storm drains. We also think and talk a lot about the importance of this work, how we can do it better, and how it can be part of enriching the lives of the people who live in our communities. This event is a tool for us to use both to promote our work and to expand this conversation beyond us and our partners.

What drew you to Richard Louv as a speaker for your event? What about his work compels you and do you feel is in keeping with the TTF mission?

We know that the message of Richard’s book, Last Child in the Woods, resonated with a lot of our partners, including parents, educators and planners, who see the divide between children and the outdoors. We know that most of our constituents don’t have access to vacation homes. The nature that is accessible to their everyday lives is right down the street.

Every day, we see how nature — even in an urban watershed park or creek — sparks a light in people of all ages and engages them to learn more about many topics, including our focus: clean water. We also see how people need to connect with nature to lead healthier lives, especially in our developed urban and suburban communities. We also love Richard’s new book, Vitamin N, because it includes many of the activities we use — and so much more!

And what draws you to your work? What do you find most fulfilling about what you do?

I grew up right near the Charles River in Boston, and we sang how we “loved that dirty water.” I am so proud of the generations of environmentalists who fought to clean up our historic waterways by getting legislation enacted like the Clean Water Act. That’s how the Charles River and Boston Harbor and the Delaware River have gotten cleaner and healthier! Every day, I am inspired and energized by my staff and our funders and partners to keep improving our little piece of the Delaware River Basin and making sure that the federal government keeps its commitment to clean water and healthy environment for our children and grandchildren.

Tell us about the mission of TTF.

Our mission is to improve the health and vitality of our creek and watershed, which includes neighborhoods in North, Northeast, and Northwest Philadelphia and Abington, Cheltenham, and Jenkintown in Montgomery County. We do this by collaborating with our municipalities and leading our communities in education, stewardship, restoration, and advocacy.

Simply said: we connect people to their creeks!

Tell us one or two simple things that someone can do, starting today, to help the environment.

Plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers in your backyard. These plants need less water, absorb rain better, and are habitat for our bugs and birds. We have lots of information on our website. You can also visit Primex Garden Center. Or order a book from Open Book Bookstore! Buy a rain barrel to hold rain back during a storm and use later to wash your car or water plants. If everyone had a rain barrel, we would hold back lots of rain from our stormwater system and reduce the amount of runoff that flows into our creeks with a lot of power every time it rains. This would help with streambank erosion. You can order a rain barrel from us this spring.

And come to Nature Talks! Your ticket supports our work and you can learn more about what you can do to help TTF.

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