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.