Manayunk celebrates green living along Main Street

The thrilling roar of a chainsaw echoed throughout Main Street this weekend as it sliced through a block of ice to create the “Frozen Tree,” an exhibit intended to raise awareness about the disappearance of trees throughout the world. In another section of the street, upbeat music played from a stereo powered by men on stationary bicycles. 

It was a green celebration of sorts for Manayunk’s second annual Eco-Arts Festival. The event aimed to not only to showcase the sustainable efforts of local businesses, but to also influence change from a grassroots level.

The kick-off event was held at the former Propper Bros. site on Friday night and featured a ‘throwdown’ competition by local and area chefs.  

The festivities were a pleasant surprise for many along Main Street.

“I didn’t know this event was here today,” said attendee Michael Genkin, “I came to Manayunk for brunch and saw this. It’s great day for it.”

Guests were invited to view works in progress throughout Main Street, including street art created by an artist known as Roadsworth. 

Roadsworth, the nom de plume of Canadian artist Peter Gibson, worked passionately to complete a series of murals. The murals double as crosswalks at various intersections on Main Street. Gibson and his team painted turtles using a variety of stencils.

“I wanted to draw peoples’ attention to the canal,” said Gibson. “To the life forms in the canal but also to help slow down traffic; draw drivers’ attention to slow-moving pedestrians. And make walking fun. People seem to be enjoying it.”

Gibson and his team were encouraged by attendees walking by but they were racing against the clock to complete their work. They were delayed by the rainy weather on Saturday and were on Main Street until around midnight on Saturday, preparing for Sunday.

“We’re definitely under the gun,” said Gibson.

The Spiral Bookcase shared a tent this year with a jewelry maker, a friend of the owner’s whose wares they also sell in their bookshop.

“The jewelry has been doing very well,” said Ann Tetreault, co-owner of The Spiral Bookcase. “And we got several new customers as well which is good.”

Jewelry sparkled among the artisan items from table runners to rustic hand-made wooden bowls. Some jewelry incorporated pieces of real fruit while others pieces were made from beer bottles.

The Earth Glass Project is an off-shoot of ‘Let’s Get Lit Candles’ and features some creative recycling efforts. Like a butcher uses all cuts of meat, Earth Glass uses all parts of the bottle from the ring of the top for hoop earrings to the bottom of the bottle for belt buckles.

“These companies spent money on graphics and they all have nice labels,” said Kyle Branderhorst of The Earth Glass Project.

Items were made from diverse beer companies and even liquors. One set of earrings was the icy blue of a Bombay Sapphire bottle. A popular hit at beer festivals, Earth Glass has slowly gained momentum with breweries.

“We’ve partnered with Magic Hat in Vermont. They are the first mid-sized company to sell our wares on their web site,” said Branderhorst.

Throughout the weekend, short lectures and discussion series were offered on how to make green lifestyle changes. There were activities for children such as Historic Germantown’s “Make Your Own Bookmark” craft which comprised of smashing flower petals onto a strip of paper. For the bigger child in all of us, there was the Eco Car Show featuring the Chevrolet Volt.

On Saturday, documentarian Josh Fox and Philadelphia Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson were honored with Eco Champion awards for their efforts. Also unveiled were “Litter Free Zone” signs that will be placed in the city reminding people to stop littering. Manayunk will be the first to receive these signs.

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