Following Up: Chester County's Sustainability Summit

Posted October 11, 2023

Summit Lobby

Chester County held its first-ever Sustainability Summit on September 26 at Penn State Great Valley — welcoming more than 300 passionate individuals, including over 60 students, to hear about, learn, and discuss sustainability in Chester County. It was a jam-packed day full of enthusiasm, networking, and great conversation!

Chester County Planning Commission's Sustainability Director, Rachael Griffith, welcomed everyone to the Summit along with Penn State Great Valley's Chancellor, Dean, and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Colin J. Neill, and Chester County Commissioners, Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline.

Summit Lecture Hall

"We are thrilled to see the overwhelming interest in this event — reaching capacity and then some, which shows that the important and wide-ranging topic of sustainability truly matters to so many in our communities," said Commissioner Moskowitz. "When so many of us, representing so many geographical areas and sectors of the county, come together for a common purpose great things can, and will, happen."

After welcoming guests, the Commissioners shared a Proclamation in support of Energy Efficiency Day.

Ariella Maron, Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, delivered the Keynote address, which highlighted her own professional journey and its relationship with the global sustainability movement.

Next, seven local organizations presented quick and inspiring stories of their work in a Sustainability Speed Share presentation. Presentations included: West Chester University's Bicycle Lending Library; Trellis for Tomorrow; Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia; Climate Change and Veterinary Medicine at Penn Vet's New Bolton Center; Repair Café; The State of Recycling in Chester County; and Brandywine Conservancy's Climate Resiliency Program.

A short networking break followed, allowing attendees to talk with each other and 15 exhibitors, who ranged from environmental organizations to solar installers. Then attendees headed to breakout sessions to learn more about Sustainability Planning and Implementation; Planning for Fleet Decarbonization through Electric Vehicles; or Converting Lawns to Meadows. Each of the sessions was well attended, and those who participated were able to enjoy insightful conversations about the sustainable topics.

Once the sessions concluded, attendees enjoyed an assortment of lunch and desserts, as well as additional networking opportunities, including a 'career chat' where students could learn about different career paths in sustainability from several Summit attendees including an architect, an energy engineer, and a park ranger.

"Thank you to the Chester County Planning Commission — and in particular Rachael Griffith, the county's Sustainability Director — for the tremendous efforts to plan today's Sustainability Summit and for serving as the county point-person regarding environmental initiatives and questions" said Commissioner Maxwell.

Summit New Bolton

"As county government we can bring together stakeholders and interested parties to focus on topics that are important to our community — providing opportunities for sharing knowledge, resources, and experience, and collaborating to produce an outcome that's greater than any one organization could achieve on its own," added Commissioner Kichline. "That is the spirit of today's event."

In addition to the summit, the county hosted a suite of events showcasing sustainability in action. These included behind-the-scenes tours of Longwood Gardens and the Lanchester Landfill, as well as tours of Penn Vet's new Center for Stewardship Agriculture and Food Security, Camphill Kimberton Hills, and Lundale Farm.

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