“How many of you have already noticed the effects of climate change in your community?” A number of hands go up, each gesture matched with an expectant expression.
Alex Skula, the discussion leader from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, nods before fielding inquiries from more than twenty Philadelphia locals in the audience. This afternoon, questions range from identifying types of mold to differentiating what outdoor temperatures remain safe for pets.
Lutheran Congregational Services has been partnering with Philadelphia-based organizations, including the Clean Air Council, Drexel University, and the Energy Coordinating Agency to provide city residents information about preparing themselves and their homes for the effects of climate change.
The Climate and Urban Systems Partnerships Program, known as CUSP, serves hundreds of Philadelphia residents in this way. Today, the seminar is being held in the South Philadelphia Community Center and Public Library.
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Attendees remarked that the information presented was both valuable and practical—noting that simple steps like supporting urban gardens can reduce flooding and save money for the whole community.
These seminars play a vital role by providing education to those who otherwise would not be exposed to information regarding impending health risks. This same demographic often overlaps with those who experience the greatest effects of climate change by living in urban environments. For example, cities remain 5.4 degrees hotter on average than their rural counterparts, a disparity that will only be further exacerbated by our warming climate.
“Education helps us to protect our health and our homes,” says Ali Kenner of Drexel University during her seminar. “By making changes toward sustainability now, we will be better prepared against issues including heatwaves, flooding, and evolving health concerns,” says Ali Kenner of Drexel University.
Lutheran Congregational Services’ own Julia Menzo led a discussion on planning for natural disasters, which the audience took careful notes on.
The impact of disasters, especially to vulnerable populations, extends far beyond the timeline of media coverage. This is why it is so important to plan out stages of relief in advance.Julia Menzo, Director of Community Outreach for LCS, a service of Liberty Lutheran
Recently, the CUSP program was nominated for the Sustain Philadelphia Award in recognition of all the work the organization has done in helping Philadelphia residents work toward a sustainable future. It is thanks to the generosity of Liberty Lutheran’s family of donors that Julia and the Lutheran Congregational Team are able to serve others in this capacity.
“It is incredible to be recognized for the Sustain Philadelphia Award,” says Julia. “And it says so much about our community that through the support of our members we are able to expand to help people we otherwise would not be able to. This has been such a positive experience overall.”