Pete Whittall is a cultural historian and resident of Wyndmoor, a tree-lined neighborhood next to the capital.
Some people are happy to wave us off when we drive through Wyndmoor. You might read about the horrors of the JFK assassination a hundred times. You might hear about how Wyndmoor was a garbage dump, or the old cobwebby residence on street two. It’s these images and ideas that surround you as you drive in, a testament to the fact that this was a dump and no one really cared about the environment. The changing structures and appearances of the neighborhood tells an even bigger story: People care about the environment.
You have to drive past Richard Williams’ photography exhibition display to get to The Adams Hanger, a eco-retreat that runs a fledgling gas station and food co-op (archery lessons for ladies only). Many residents were saddened by this, because Pete Whittall knew about it and raised money and helped with the opening. From a financial point of view, this space could not be more aligned with the values of a guy named Peter Whittall. However, Pete is not exactly along for the ride.
The Adams Hanger co-op has benefited from Whittall’s promotion (specifically the fact that Whittall’s son lives here), and it has become a popular destination for people interested in sustainability. It’s opening my mind to the idea that there are other people out there doing interesting things.
I usually feel as if I’m in a bubble where folks care about the environment and social justice. So when I walk through Wyndmoor I look for contrasts. I try to choose my words carefully, since people have a right to walk down to the Ashbury Pool and relax in peace. Every now and then you get into an argument with someone over whether you’re guilty or not about environmental activism. But Wyndmoor has managed to bring these ideas to life.