Founding Member Spotlight
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Sunflower Philly is a community-based, nonprofit organization focused on providing access to art, music & sustainable resources through a curated series of events and programs in North Philadelphia. On Saturday, March 26th, this season’s opening event will be their 3rd Annual Who Run It!? Women’s Art Showcase presented by TAMEARTZ. For all upcoming events or to make a donation visit https://sunflowerphilly.org
Why did you become a founding member?
Our executive director, Melvin Powell, first met [Circular Philadelphia’s Director of Policy and Engagement] Nic Esposito back in 2016 when he became the chairman of Mayor Kenney’s new Zero Waste & Litter Cabinet. Over the years they developed a working relationship discussing hyper-local strategies to address waste collection, litter, short-term dumping, vacant land, blighting and more. At Sunflower Philly we had success hosting bi-weekly volunteer clean-up in the summer of 2020 but knew we were not addressing the core issues. When Asher and I [Melvin] co-founded Trash Club, we knew the true goal was to address consumer behavior but didn’t know how to get people to buy-in. Over time we learned the volunteer clean-ups are just one piece of a larger commitment citizens need to make to truly address massive challenges such as climate change. Circular PHL presents the opportunity for all of us to reimagine how our city consumes and produces waste.
What does a circular economy mean to your organization?
When creating Sunflower Philly we took a very DIY approach to building relationships with the businesses and neighbors. This allowed us to build relationships and empower them to feel a sense of ownership over the space. The network within our community on 5th Street and Olde Kensington began to grow and people began to embrace the space in a very unique way. I believe a circular economy embraces that spirit in that as individuals and businesses we have to consciously choose to look for ways to embrace the neighbors in our direct environment.
It’s been great to connect with sustainable brands in Philadelphia. Huge shoutouts to Circle Compost, The Rounds, Grant BLVD and more. We’re excited to find new ways to showcase Circular PHL members and bring new people on.
How is your organization practicing circularity?
We are embracing circularity by actively looking at how we can continue to reduce our waste in the space. As an outdoor venue we produce a lot of waste at our events and we do our best to sort waste from recycling. Composting has been another area we looked at and even recently discussed trying to find a solution for dog waste. It takes time to get to “zero waste”, “carbon neutral” or any sustainable metric you shoot for. I mentioned those relationships, we do our best to work with our partners to source products that are from the neighborhood or the Greater Philadelphia area. In an ideal world, I’d love to launch a program to subsidize the cost for businesses to switch to locally sourced material, food options, reusable container methods and deposit return schemes.
How can others advance the circular economy?
Support local businesses that are embracing circular activity and get more involved in your community. I believe the circular economy has to be built from the ground up and supporting each other. It might be more expensive or take more effort but people have to consciously choose to embrace circular activity which is not nearly as convenient as using Amazon or Target.