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Do Something: Step Inside the Ecodome

The Philadelphia Flower Show returns with a spotlight on Holland's innovations in green technology. Plus, meet Philly's District Attorney candidates, support stray cats and more ways to fertilize your citizenship this week

Every Monday we round up a handful of fun ways to get involved throughout the week to make your city better. Have ideas for upcoming events? Email tips here. And find more evergreen ways to get engaged—from helping local schools and fighting homelessness to greening up your neighborhood—in our Do Something guides.

Stop and Smell the Sustainability

Photo: Rob Cardillo

The Philadelphia Flower Show is in full swing (bloom?) now through March 19. The theme for this year’s show is “Holland: Flowering the World,” which, besides all the gorgeous, Dutch-themed floral presentations, offers a look at a country that’s been creating green technologies way before being green was cool. Windmill displays throughout the Exhibition Hall recall some of the Netherlands’ earliest attempts at harvesting wind energy, but for a more futuristic approach, step inside the massive Ecodome at the center of all the displays. The 70-by-30-foot sphere was actually built in Holland and shipped to Philadelphia just for the Flower Show. It showcases some of the Netherlands’ newest approaches to sustainability, like pavement that absorbs carbon dioxide, a nifty rainwater collection system and moss-laden vertical walls that generate solar energy. Perhaps it’ll give you some ideas about how to work some green technology into your own garden. On top of that, an itinerary of presentations and workshops cater to the eco-loving crowd, like a seminar on March 16 led by Bartlett Tree Experts and Pennsylvania Horticultural Society that offers tips on planting and preserving trees. It could be particularly useful if TreePhilly has planted some new trees on your block recently. It’s our job to make sure those babies thrive. The Flower Show runs through March 19 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. 

Meet Your District Attorney Candidates

Thursday morning, candidates vying to replace Seth Williams as the next Philadelphia District Attorney meet for a candidate forum at the Business and Technology Center in West Philadelphia. This marks the first time these eight candidates have gathered together at an official forum, put together by the Business Association of West Parkside. Craig Ey, editor-in-chief of the Philadelphia Business Journal moderates the evening, which allows each candidate to share their platform before engaging in a question-and-answer session with the audience. These are the DA hopefuls scheduled to be there: Teresa Carr Deni, Tariq El-Shabazz, Beth Grossman, Joe Khan, Lawrence Krasner, Rich NegrinMichael Untermeyer and Jack O’Neill. Study up and bring some good questions. Thursday, March 16, 9-10:30 a.m., free, Philadelphia Business and Technology Center, 5070 Parkside Avenue. 

Drink Beer for Homeless Kitties

Last August we took you inside Le Cat Cafe, the charming little coffee shop in Brewerytown that’s working to reduce Philly’s 178,000-strong stray cat population. The cafe, a project by Green Street Animal Rescue founder Kathy Jordan, shelters up to a dozen cats who need a home. Customers of the shop can stop by, have some coffee and get to know these whiskered ones in the hopes that they’ll adopt them and provide them a forever home. In 2016, Jordan says she was able to save 411 cats, and this year’s looking to fare even better. So far, 2017 has seen 80 cats adopted through her programs. To keep that number on the rise, Saint Benjamin Brewing Company is hosting a happy hour fundraiser this week that will donate $1 to Le Cat Cafe for every beer ordered. Jordan says that, besides taking care of general business expenses, the money will be used for vet services and meds, and foster care supplies like food and litter. Order up! Get nice and drunk for these cats. Thursday, March 16, 5-8 p.m., pay as you go, Saint Benjamin Brewing Company, 1710 N. Fifth Street. 

Get a Head Start on the 2017 Primary Election

Have you heard of Civics on Tap? It’s an informed group of everyday civilians who take it upon themselves to host monthly gatherings that provide “hands-on lessons in participatory democracy—with beer.” In February, they took on one of our favorite topics: getting rid of gerrymandering. This month, they’re looking ahead at the 2017 Primary Elections, hoping to inform voters and make sure they get to their polls. Join them on Thursday night along with guest speakers from the Committee of Seventy, who will provide a snappy roundup of who’s running and what offices they’re running for. You’ll also hear anecdotes about the horrors of what could happen if you don’t get out to vote on May 16, because, as organizers point out, “skipping a primary election is considered especially heinous.” We wholeheartedly agree. If you can’t make the event, there are still ways to get informed. Start with this nifty election guide from the Committee of Seventy. Thursday, March 16, 6:30-8 p.m., pay as you go, National Mechanics, 22 S. Third Street. 

Photograph Your City

Heads up, budding photographers: The Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) and global policy research center Perry World House are teaming up on a social-media-fueled photography contest that tasks shutterbugs with capturing images that examine the relationship between urbanization, migration, and marginalization. Think of it as a unique way to use your voice and your art to make a statement about the issues affecting low-income areas, overlooked populations and other problems affecting our great but imperfect city. To enter is easy: Just tweet your photo to @PennIUR with a short description that includes the hashtag #IURPhotoComp. Non-tweeters can email their submissions to penniur@pobox.upenn.edu. Winners will be announced on April 21 at Penn IUR’s “Global Shifts: Urbanization, Migration and Demography” conference. The first place photo will score $200, while a handful of runners up receive $50 each. For more information on criteria, file specs and other useful tidbits go here. Happy snapping! Now through April 5, free, all over the city. 

Header photo by Rob Cardillo

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