In June I produced another monthly PCI newsletter that received good open and click rates. I presented potential fall service project options I had researched to HECC, who identified they would like to pursue working with Nine Mile Run Watershed Association on a fall volunteer event based around tree planting, seed collecting, and rain garden installations. I have since followed up and met with them about this opportunity and we identified dates and general locations. I produced a HECC inventory aggregation spreadsheet that schools can use to input inventory information on a yearly basis and will help track emissions reductions as a group. I have continued to work with Allegheny County on extending PCI's influence by designing a survey for municipalities to inform a regional carbon event, and by meeting with the Southwest PA Commission on their potential role in this area. Lastly, I organized and facilitated monthly PCI Partners meeting where we welcomed the new City sustainability coordinator, discussed a partnership with Bike PGH for 350.org's Moving Planet Day, and attempted to finalize details for a future PCI project proposal.
In June 2011, my time as an SCA Sustainability Fellow with the Allegheny County Sustainability Program has been good. My role in a wide variety of tasks that support the sustainability manager’s efforts to make Allegheny County a cleaner, more cost-efficient organization continue to be grow and be more diverse. In addition to the usual daily administrative tasks, I have been engaged in pursuing a federal grant opportunity and in devising new and innovative ways to reach County staff.
I continue to be heavily engaged in writing and crafting the Allegheny Green newsletter. In the month of June I have conducted interviews with County personnel and performed research to support upcoming articles.
I have also continued the work with the County’s internal “Departmental Green Team” and its various sub-committees to identify and support energy efficiency measures that are happening within each respective County department. A number of specialized committees (training, communications, etc.) have been organized and will be meeting throughout the next couple of months to discuss the various roles and how these committees can assist the sustainability manager.
Also, I have continued to assist the Coordinated Weatherization Campaign by working with project partners to write and edit a "white paper" report on the annual progress of the campaign.
This was a great month with both of my placements. The month culminated with an awesome ACTION-Housing, Inc. Green Team field trip that I organized. We stopped at all sorts of places in Pittsburgh relating to residential sustainability, including our NEWLY ACQUIRED (that’s right, it’s finally ours!) Pittsburgh Green House (PGH). I started the month out by attending a Pennsylvania Resource Council vermicomposting class where I learned all about the benefits of those slimy, squirmy, slithering creatures. I now have hundreds of worms composing for me in my kitchen, and a lot of good information I’ll be able to share with people at the PGH. I engaged with at least 25 recent high school graduates and current college students about the Pittsburgh Green House while tabling at the Heinz Environmental Open House. I wrote the feature article for the ACTION-Housing Go Green July newsletter about sustainable transportation. You can read that here – it’s really awesome: http://www.actionhousinggreen.org/home_community.php. We increased our newsletter distribution from June to July by 22 people, which is a smaller increase than we’ve experienced in past months, but it’s still a welcomed positive number. I was also able to work with Paul Schifino, a local graphic designer, and the rest of the PGH team on a logo for the PGH. We’re still weighing a few options and having some back-and-forth with Mr. Schifino, but things are looking good and we’ll have a logo soon. I also organized a field trip for the entire Green Team. We went to the GreenStar Recycling plant on Neville Island, which sorts recycling for the Pittsburgh Metropolitan area, a house on the North Side that has bees, chickens, a large garden, and has won awards for renovating with reused materials, West Penn Energy Solutions’ Zero Energy House in East Liberty, the future site of the PGH, Construction Junction, and Peebles Square in Wilkinsburg. This fun, informative day was a great bonding experience for the Green Team and I look forward to organizing another field trip this fall.
My month with the Urban Forester was equally productive and fun. I was able meet with Dr. Holguin from UPMC and Kevin Perkey from 3 Rivers Connect, and attend events like Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Health Care Summit, the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Community Information System (PNCIS) Users’ Conference, and PNCIS training, which have helped me acquire more information about mappable health data. This health data will be layered onto our Tree Canopy Assessment which will be complete later this summer. I presented my tree list (trees that are best at mitigating air pollution for our potential planting along the East Busway in Homewood) to people from the URA, the Port Authority, Operation Better Block, and the City. Everyone was on board with planting trees more for practical as opposed to aesthetic purposes. We even received support from the Port Authority, which was the biggest hurdle in this process. I then went out and collected soil samples of the slope along the busway where the trees will be planted, and mailed them to the Penn State Agriculture Extension for testing. I also spent a day monitoring air quality along the busway with equipment loaned to me by the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP). The data is in, and although it wouldn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny because of the one-day sample, there is an obvious correlation between spikes in air pollutants and buses passing by the monitor. It will be interesting to monitor this data again in a more precise way both before and after trees are planted.
Pittsburgh Food Policy Council - All of the hard work to get ready for the PFPC new invitee meeting finally paid off the day-of. We had solid attendance and, for those who were there, the ideas, collaboration, and narrowing of goals was a great success. Looking forward, we are planning on expanding the steering committee with more diverse members and we are trying to determine if we can move the Symposium from the proposal to the planning stage.
Pittsburgh Garden Experiment- Jeff and I, after having the PGE meetup/blog site be riddled with events at the end of May that will last us through mid-July, decided to concentrate on our hands-on work. This started with combing the thrift stores all over town for blank t-shirts on which to print. Then we went to town with screen printing one weekend at the Braddock library and we have already sold a couple of shirts with the hopes of selling them all. Our storage/office space is coming along. We procured white boards and the permaculture clients are keeping Jeff and I busy. Even more exciting is that the Children’s Museum, who had us water two gardens with compost tea, is looking to start composting for the whole museum through ComposTable.
Penn State Ag Extension - The venue search for next year’s Local Foods Showcase is already underway and I briefed the support staff with the requirements so we can start narrowing down. With full permission from Heather to “go for it” in regards to blogs I posted two in-depth blogs (Arsenal Cheese and the National Value Added Conference [NVAC] tour) with pictures and have ideas for more to come. The NVAC was a fun volunteer event for me and I made some great networking connections.
SCA- SCA trainings were focused on entrepreneurship, especially related to sustainable agriculture and were presented by Heather from Penn State and Jeff from PGE/Steel City Soils. It was great fun to volunteer at the Garfield farm and I hope to return!
Other- Additionally, I attended the PNCIS conference at Pitt, and Urban Ecology Collaborative meeting (that I hope to keep attending), and a Basic Grant Writing workshop through the Foundation Center. Now I just need to find time to write a grant or two!
In June, I made significant progress on preparations for the Green Workplace Challenge. I collected feedback on the competition manual from the Green Workplace Challenge oversight committee and used the feedback to modify the manual. I also set a short-term time line with specific dates and goals for the upcoming months, and continued to work on messaging and recruitment strategies for the competition. Lastly, I made a number of updates to the Green Workplace Challenge website to reflect the changes that have been made in the competition manual, and started a "pilot competition" to test both the website's capabilities and the clarity of the manual.
Taiji Nelson is a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where he received his degree in Environmental Studies. In his work, he seeks to act as an intermediary between the scientific community and the general public, balancing the scientific and social aspects of environmentalism and sustainability. Taiji’s prior work experience has predominantly involved working with youth in educational and environmental service settings. Through his fellowship with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Taiji hopes to gain experience implementing environmental education and youth engagement in activism. He is passionate about volunteer work, social and environmental justice, travel and dance parties.
Megan has a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia and BA in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Agriculture from Warren Wilson College. While in Athens, she served as the Charrette Coordinator for the Center for Community Design and Preservation which enabled her to work on a variety of design issues ranging from stormwater management, brownfield redevelopment, downtown revitalization as well as wayfinding and branding throughout Georgia. Prior to graduate school, she worked in Santa Fe, NM as a sustainable landscape designer for five years implementing Permaculture based designs. She brings passion for steel towns, community-led design and local food to the Green Cities Corp. After her fellowship with the SCA, she hopes to become a permanent Pittsburgh resident and continue in revitalizing this incredible, history rich city.
Christov comes to the Green Cities team after graduating from Colgate University in 2010 with a philosophy major and economics minor. He continues to work part time at Whole Foods – his original Pittsburgh employer – and would love for you to come enjoy some of the delicious offerings he’s kindly set out for you at the salad bar. At Colgate, Christov focused his extracurricular energies on the school’s composting club, the administrative sustainability council, intramural sports – including a back-to-back-to-back championship dodge ball team, LINK staff, and living. He loves laughing, milk shakes, Minneapolis (his hometown), dancing, the Boundary Waters (especially Clearwater Lake), sledding, summer days with lots of sun, lawn chairs, a grill and pink shorts, tennis (well actually almost all sports), clean water, home brewing beer, mountains, Chuck Close, and so many other things you can’t even stand it! He’s especially excited to be working with the City’s Urban Forester and ACTION-Housing, Inc.’s Green Team as a member of this year’s outstanding Green Cities crew. He also hopes to meet you one day as you now know some stuff about him but he knows nothing about you!
Born and raised along the banks of the Tennessee River in Alabama, David Chunn spent his formative years skipping stones and learning the hard way how to swim. His passion and devotion to clean water and to preserving beautiful places blossomed as an undergrad while at Auburn University, where he studied history and political science and worked for a nonprofit monitoring the health of Alabama’s many lakes and rivers. Later on as a graduate student in city planning at the University of Memphis, he developed a strong appreciation for sustainable neighborhood development and for the city’s legendary BBQ.
In 2011, David moved to Pittsburgh and traded cornbread and drought-filled summers for pierogies and winter snow storms and never looked back. As a Green Cities Fellow, he is infatuated with Pittsburgh to an unhealthy degree and its active sustainability movement and plans to stay in the city permanently. And all though he no longer skips stones quite as much as he used to, he does still enjoy beautiful places and the occasional piece of cornbread.
Lauryn is a native of the Steel City, but only fully started to appreciate its greatness after transferring to Pitt midway through college. Her formal educational was in Environmental Studies and Asian Studies, with an extracurricular love and interest in the arts, people, and environment of Pittsburgh. She began as an intern working on the Black and Gold City Goes Green campaign with PennFuture after graduation and took the opportunity to become a fellow with the campaign through the SCA. When not researching and advocating for energy-efficient light bulbs and climate change mitigation, she’s discovering and listening to music, doing some kind of art project, being active outside, or trying to find cheap ways to explore the city and travel to faraway lands.
In May 2011, my time as an SCA Sustainability Fellow with the Allegheny County Sustainability Program has been great. Thanks to Sustainability Manager Jeaneen Zappa, I have been involved in a wide variety of roles that support the sustainability manager’s efforts to make Allegheny County a cleaner, more cost-efficient organization. In addition to the usual daily administrative tasks of scheduling meetings and delivering documents to County partners, I have continued to be engaged in numerous projects with a wide variety of organizational partners.
I also have been heavily engaged in writing and crafting the Allegheny Green newsletter, which is a task that I particularly enjoy as it lets me break free of the bureaucratic chores and be creative. The latest newsletter for the month of June is being edited and I’m looking forward to getting started on stories for the next edition.
I have continued the work with the County’s internal “Departmental Green Team” and its various sub-committees to identify and support energy efficiency measures that are happening within each respective County department. A number of specialized committees (training, communications, etc.) have been organized and will be meeting throughout the next couple of months to discuss the various roles and how these committees can assist the sustainability manager.
The drafted “intranet” resource page, designed to assist and inform County employees on what can be recycled and where it can be recycled, is nearing the review and editing stage and we hope to have that up and running soon.
Also, I have been assisting the Coordinated Weatherization Campaign by working with project partners to write and edit a "white paper" report on the annual progress of the campaign.
In the month of May I attended several meetings with partners to gather data and to brainstorm how best to present this data to the public and to foundation funders.
Loralyn was born and raised in the northwestern region of Pennsylvania. Because of her many years in this location, she has always been very familiar with, and intrigued by, this green (yet rustbelt) city of Pittsburgh. When she was young, she began developing a deep passion for the environment through her rural PA exposure to many parks, trails, streams, and woods in her own neighborhood. She also gained these interests through many camping, hiking, and biking trips with her family and friends. Loralyn grew up with a great love for art as well, and with that, she decided to attend the Pennsylvania State University, main campus, in Landscape Architecture, to combine these two passions, the environment and the arts, into a career. In college, she took a great liking to her design studios that incorporated ecological restoration and conservation work. She was more interested in a native planting plan or management strategy that had an environmental benefit, verses an ornamental, aesthetics-only residential design. Her ultimate career goal was, and still is, to continue work that balances the built environment with the natural environment. In other words, it balances humans with nature.
For many years in school, Loralyn believed that she would continue to focus solely on ecological restoration work after graduation since this seemed to be the only design work that satisfied her career goals. For three summers during college, she had ecological internships in the field that complimented her restoration focus. The first was with ClearWater Conservancy, restoring riparian buffers, the second was with Penn State Cooperative Wetlands Center, surveying wetland mitigations, and the last was for Penn State’s School of Forestry, where she assessed the affects of climate change on forest ecology. But it wasn’t until later in Loralyn’s college career that she started to discover her new niche: Urban revitalization.
In 2008, Loralyn took an Urban Ecology design studio, focused on the Hill District in Pittsburgh, PA. In the same way that she loved restoring and bringing back natural lands through ecological restoration, she also enjoyed applying these similar principles of restoration to urban communities through design. She knows that it’s a slow process to restore a forest, and she also believes that it’s a slow process to revitalize an urban community. She has faith that both can eventually grow back if given the proper chance to heal from the past; and both scenarios need green to flourish once again.
From northwestern PA, to the center of the state, and now to the southwest region, Loralyn is currently the Green Cities Corps’ Sustainability Community Fellow, where she is placed with both East Liberty Development, Inc. three days a week and the Student Conservation Association twice a week. She now has the opportunity to be involved in urban revitalization work in the real world, such as with her current residential rain garden design and street tree work, that will eventually make it off the paper and into the ground! She wouldn’t want to start her career anywhere else; she finds the possibilities for an environmental designer to be plentiful here, and she believes that the close-knit community between environmental organizations, agencies, and firms in this city is very impressive.
If she isn’t geeking over green infrastructure or environmental design, then you can find Loralyn where the live music is playing within PGH, or wherever the vintage goodies are being sold. Over coffee, you will often find Loralyn raving about efficient modes of public transportation, how great it is when stores are in walking distance from her affordable Victorian apartment, and she will always be sharing her own philosophical concepts about life with you. Loralyn is well traveled throughout Europe, and that travel bug continues to grow. She is planning a trip to Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, for the end of September 2010 to check out the area’s progressive green infrastructure practices, hike in the Cascades, see the Pacific for the first time, and immerse herself in the northwest’s hip and healthy lifestyle.
The highlights of the month for my Penn State work was getting to interview Jonathan at Arsenal Cheese at his home in Lawrenceville and tabling at the Queen of the Sun (a fascinating documentary on the precarious state of bees) film screening. I also posted several blogs on yumpittsburgh and for the long term, I wrote descriptions for the tour stops during the Value Added Conference at the end of June and I began a work order/ requirement list for venues for the 2012 Local Foods Showcase.
The Pittsburgh Garden Experiment (PGE) held a very successful Container Gardening event at the McKeesport Library and Jeff and I really ramped up our planning efforts for the rest of the year. We also got our share of work beyond event planning by shoveling mulch, building a storage shed, and buying about 75 t-shirts in preparation for screen-printing PGE shirts.
My work was dominated by work for the Food Policy Council (FPC). I sent out a proposal to the national FPC listserv for a FPC Symposium in the fall that the PFPC is planning to host and the responses were fast and plentiful. I spent much of my time this month responding to these emails and creating a spreadsheet to keep track of all of the responses while trying to form an outline as to how the symposium planning should progress. It’s been quite challenging but I have made lots of connections with interested FPCs and individuals and I am excited for what’s to come.
We had three trainings for SCA this month: Leave No Trace, Mediation and Conflict Resolution, and Sustainability Assessments. They were all very different but I found elements of each that I was able to take away and apply in either my work or personal life.
My service activities outside of work were the Hard-to-Recycle event, the Global Links volunteer day with the other Fellows, handing out water at the Pittsburgh marathon, and volunteering at the Co-op. It was great to mix it up in regards to service activities and I hope to continue to find varied opportunities.
May 2011 my focus was on setting sorting goals for the summer, supervising volunteer groups, and collecting home medical equipment at community recycling events. My goal for the summer is to eliminate our backlog of 155 pallets of donated medical supplies to zero by the end of the summer. With the help of Global Links’ wonderful work-study Medical Supply Assistant, I feel that eradicating the backlog is a lofty, yet attainable goal. I also attended three hard to recycle events this month where I collected truckloads of home medical equipment such as crutches, walkers, wheelchairs and canes from the community. The most rewarding aspect of the month was the SCA Green Cities volunteer day that I coordinated and working with my continually expanding volunteer groups.
The Wood Smoke education grant that we received from the Department of Environmental Protection, set to terminate in June, includes a clause that requires educational outreach to municipal leaders and enforcement officers in six counties in the SW PA region. An effective outreach tool we used this month was a woodsmoke educational webinar, with over 50 registrants and an hour long session, plus questions, that discussed wood smoke and human health, and the new state outdoor wood-fire boiler (OWB) regulations. We'll host the same webinar again in June, and have surveyed participants about their understanding of the issue. We also conducted a mass-mailing of packets with informational and publicity materials about the wood smoke issue to boroughs and townships in the 6-county area. Wood smoke creates a variety of pollutants that cause or exacerbate cancer, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and allergies. The new OWB regulations stipulate types of boilers that can be installed, distance requirements from neighboring properties, stack heights, types of wood to burn, etc.
In May, our programming began shifting. Several of the high school Urban Eco Steward Programs have come to an end, including the twice-weekly Lighthouse HUES program, as well as the Ellis and SciTech schools. We are now evaluating the programs and planning for expansion to two potential new schools next year. The Park Conservancy's volunteer season is also slowing down due to the summer heat and seasonality of tasks. There is one remaining public volunteer day in Frick Park, all others will be private events organized upon request. My focus in the coming months will be on improving and tracking the Urban EcoSteward Program, organizing weekly "Walks in the Woods" programming, leading tours for the "Summer Dreamers" program, representing PPC at tabling events, evaluating and planning programming for next year and assisting in the Panther Hollow Watershed Restoration Project and the design on the new Environmental Center at Frick Park. (and kicking butt with the SCA Sneaky Snakes PSL volleyball team!)
One of the newest members to Green Cities, Matthew Henderson has moved right ahead in working with Sustainable Pittsburgh, initiating a Sustainable Business Designation Certification program. His first line of work was researching national certification programs that guided him into developing educational material for future business owners. These brochures, newsletters, and flyers will be handed to each business owner in providing a source of education principles and empowerment tools to owners. In addition to using his design skill, he has also had opportunities to participate in community outreach programs by attending town meetings with council member discussions for strategies and approaches in moving the certification program forward. Matthew’s enthusiasm has been widely accepted and appreciated in all 19 boroughs of Allegheny and Beaver county and will continued to be encouraged through the year.
May is planting season here at GTECH which lends itself to long hours and lots of volunteer days every weekend. This month I participated in projects in Wilkinsburg, Homewood, East Liberty, Larimer and Garfield.
SPARC: This required finalizing plant lists, coordinating contractors and material deliveries. We had over 50 volunteers for a combination work day with the Larimer community garden and planted 125 perennials, grasses and shrubs.
Three main projects that Loralyn worked on in the month of May include the Borland Sustainable Garden design project, the Sara Heinz Youth Philanthropy Program rain gardens, and her SCA Fellow service design project. Loralyn worked alongside Pashek Associates, a local landscape architecture firm, to help facilitate a second Borland Sustainable Garden community charrette, conduct a second charrette in the office, create the final design and supporting visuals. Pashek and Loralyn presented the final design to the Borland Sustainable Garden committee and the group was very pleased with the results. In June, Loralyn will continue to work with the firm to put together a final report of the project, so that the Borland Sustainable Garden committee will have a comprehensive project to show to potential funders, additional community members, etc. Loralyn also coordinated on many initial logistical steps with the urban residential rain garden projects. She worked alongside ECOseeds, a non-profit that offers ecological engineering consultation, to conduct site assessments at the future rain garden locations. And the third major project for the month of May was her SCA Fellow service project, where Loralyn and a few of her Fellow colleagues are working together to create a volunteer service event along Penn Ave. The Fellows are working with Green + Screen, a collaborative of landscape architects, architects, and other designers who work to reconnect the streetscape corridor through art and landscaping in vacant lot properties. The SCA team, including Loralyn, designed a hardscape and softscape seating area with artful storm water mitigation to be implemented in front of an existing Green + Screen art sculpture. The Team will work on their planting palate and other logistics in June to plan for the first phase of implementation: Planting day.
The first week of May started the month off at a fast pace with our Mount Washington Neighborhood Blitz. Other events around the city and a rainy morning tied up some of our volunteers, but those that came to the event were superheroes: we blitzed over 100 houses and gave out 408 light bulbs, cancelled junk mail, and talked to residents about recycling their second fridges and properly taking part in curbside recycling. The event reduced annual greenhouse gas pollution by 50,000 pounds.
The Black and Gold City Goes Green campaign also took part in National Bike to Work Day, bringing about fifteen people together for a bikepool with Bike Pittsburgh. Our group rode from Friendship to Downtown, some of us with flipcams strapped to our helmets, handlebars, and backpacks, taking footage for next month’s video on bike commuting.
The campaign concluded this semester’s Youth Community Partner program with a Youth Summit, where each group of students presented their finished service projects.
This month we were also fortunate enough to be awarded part of the Lawrenceville Community Microgrant, which will allow us to hold a Green Business Blitz this fall.
Outside of the campaign, I started to become more involved with new groups and organizations. I attended Tree Pittsburgh’s Tree Tender course, volunteered at Global Links, and helped out at Free Ride. I intend to find more opportunities with each of these groups throughout the year and look for ways to work with them through the Black and Gold City Goes Green campaign.
|City of Pittsburgh, Urban Forester (Partner)|
|ACTION-Housing, Inc. (Partner)|
|Map of Green Cities 2011 Partners|
|Group Against Smog & Pollution (Partner)|
|Urban Redevelopment Authority (Partner)|
|Global Links (Partner)|
|Sustainable Pittsburgh (Partner)|
|East Liberty Development Inc. (Partner)|
|Penn State Cooperative Extension (Partner)|
|Pittsburgh Garden Experiment (Partner)|
|Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy|
|Allegheny County Office of Sustainability (Partner)|
|Green Building Alliance (Partner)|
|Taiji Nelson's Bio|
|Megan Zeigler's Bio|
|Christov Churchward's Bio|
|David Chunn's Bio|
|Lauryn Stalter's Bio|
|Loralyn Fabian's Bio|
|Megan Morrissey's Bio|
|Miriam Parson's Bio|
|Lara Nagle's Bio|
|John Jameson's Bio|
|Matthew Henderson's Bio|
|Kyle Kline's Bio|
|Ann DeSanctis' Bio|
|Amanda Virbitsky's Bio|
|Matthew Henderson's October Update|
|John Jameson's October Update|
|Ann DeSanctis' October Update|
|David Chunn's October Update|
|Taiji Nelson's October Update|
|Amanda Virbitsky's October Update|
|Lara Nagle's October Update|
|Megan Zeigler's October Update|
|Megan Morrissey's October Update|
|Lauryn Stalter's October Update|
|Kyle Kline's October Update|
|Christov Churchward's October Update|
|Amanda Virbitsky's September Update|
|Ann DeSanctis' September Update|
|Taiji Nelson's Sept Update|
|Megan Zeigler's September Update|
|Matthew Henderson's September Update|
|Lauryn Stalter's September Update|
|John Jameson's September Update|
|Christov Churchward's September Update|