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.