Friday, December 10, 2010

Coffee for a Change and Cedars Coffee House

Join the Gateway Interact Club for their annual Coffee For a Change Event. This event creates awareness about fairly traded, shade grown and organic coffee and other fair trade products. Building New Hope's coffee will be sold in addition to coffee from Equal Exchange and there will be lots of great musical entertainment by the students. The event is at North American Martyrs On Saturday evening, December 11, 2010, starting at 7:00 PM.

Also on December 11, 2010, is a tea and coffee house at the Cedars Hospice in Monroeville. Details can be found on the Cedars website.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Idea Charette

Join us on December 8, 2010, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. We'll be hosting an Open House. at 1317 East Carson Street, the home of Schwartz Market. This will also be an idea charette. What is a charette anyway? In this case, a gathering of people interested in creating the new vision for a space in Pittsburgh's Historic South Side. We are forming a food cooperative in the building and also creating accessibility to the second and third floors and the roof to hatch green non-profits and businesses. We'll give tours of the historic warehouse to those that are interested. We will ask for your name and contact information and how you'd like to be involved in the project.

Building New Hope, a Pittsburgh based nonprofit organization, will be offering samples of their organically certified (OCIA), shade grown coffee from El Porvenir, a worker owned farming cooperative in Nicaragua. Artemis Environmental will display products. Architectural drawings for proposed development as a Living Building will be displayed.

The event is free and open to the public. We are engaging the South Side community and beyond in the development process. Integrative systems thinking is our future!
Special thanks to Artemis Environmental, Building New Hope, Councilman Bruce Kraus who will be making an appearance, and the South Side Local Development Company.

Please contact if you would like to exhibit at this event.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Green Healthy Schools Conference on November 4, 2010

The Green Healthy Schools Conference will be at Phipps Conservatory on Thursday, November 4, 2010 all day.

Go to the web site of the Green Building Alliance for details.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Natural Step Presentation Postponed!

Regina Hauser, the Executive Director of The Natural Step Network in the United States will be presenting a two day seminar/ workshop sometime in November or December. Please go to for details and updates.

Professor Ingraffea's thoughts on Marcellus Shale

Prof. Ingraffea’s 9-Point Letter to the Marcellus Shale Industry

If the Marcellus gas industry did everything it should to make sure natural gas development is "done right," that still would not be good enough for Cornell Professor Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, Director, Cornell Fracture Group. This was presented by Dr. Ingraffea at the Marcellus Shale Conference on September 24, 2010.

The Letter I Wish Had Been Written
July 1, 2007

To: The Citizens of States Over the MarcellusFrom: The Natural Gas Industry
We are writing to ask your permission to develop shale gas in your states using high-volume, slickwater, hydraulic fracturing from long horizontal well legs (HVSHF).
Although you have allowed us to produce oil and gas from thousands of wells over many years, we recognize that we are now asking you to allow us to do much more intense development than ever before, using a technology never before used in your area. We acknowledge our development plan for your states might eventually involve over 400,000 Marcellus wells alone, with thousands more in other shales, and be valued in the trillions of dollars, over decades to come.
We have seen how such intense development with this technology has caused problems where we are using it already in gas shales. We have listened closely to your concerns about these problems, and others on the horizon, so we are writing you now to make a compact with you. We understand that you are granting us a privilege, that, collectively, all of you have to give us the right to develop your gas, because, quite honestly, our plans will significantly affect all of you, not just landowners with whom we might have a business relationship.

Therefore, if you give us the permission we seek, here are our promises to you:

1. Since we will not be developing in your area for another 2-3 years, we have time to help you prepare for our arrival:
We will immediately fund appropriate training programs in your community colleges to produce homegrown workers for our industry. We will subsidize tuition for the students who commit to work in our industry. Those workers will get right-of-first-refusal on our job openings.
We will immediately fund appropriate training programs for your emergency response teams--fire, police, medical, and spill hazards--and we will equip them at our expense.
We recognize that our heavy equipment will damage many of your roads and bridges. We will start now to pay to upgrade these so that they all remain usable not just by our equipment, but by you, too, throughout the development process. This will be a "stimulus" to help your unemployment situation now. When development is complete in an area, we will pay for final repairs necessary to leave all impacted roads and bridges in state-of-the-art condition. This will be a legacy gift to you from our industry.
We will fund the construction or upgrading of regional industrial waste treatment and disposal facilities with adequate capacity to process safely all of the solid and liquid wastes we produce. We will not truck your wastes to other states.

2. We will be transparent about our entire plan for development:
We will tell you as soon as practicable, but no later than 1 year before start of activity, where and when we will drill, and what pipelines and compressor stations will be needed where and by when.
We will publish gas and waste production figures from every well, accurately, and on-time.
We will tell you where your gas is going to market. We will not sell your gas to a foreign market.
We will disclose, completely, all chemicals and other substances we use.

3. We will accept, without debate, all new regulations that might be proposed by your regulatory agencies: your existing regulations are inadequate to cover the new technologies and cumulative impact of HVSHF. We will offer your agencies suggestions for continuous evolution of the regulations as a result of lessons we are learning.

4. With respect to your natural environment legacy:
For every tree we uproot, we will plant at least 1 replacement. We will reforest all access roads as quickly as we can, and minimize the width of all forest cuts.
We will pay a fair price for the water we extract from your lakes and rivers, which will average several million gallons per gas well.
Whatever we break, despoil, or pollute, we will repair, replace, or remediate, at our expense.

5. We will safely dispose of all liquid and solid wastes from our development:
We will never store any flowback fluids or produced water in open pits. All such fluids will be recycled to the highest extent possible by existing technologies, regardless of increase in cost to us.
All liquid and solid wastes remaining from recycling will be treated at the above-mentioned industrial waste treatment plants. We will provide radiation monitoring equipment on every well pad: any materials, including drill cuttings, leaving a well pad that trigger an alarm will be sent to a licensed radioactive waste disposal facility.

6. We will not cause an increase in any tax levy on your citizens.
We will agree to a substantial increase in permit fees to reflect the expected 4-fold increase in person-time we expect you to spend on review of permits for HVSHF.
We will agree to a state severance tax, the level of which will be floating, according to an accurate accounting of all costs to the state and municipalities.

7. We will practice what we preach about clean fuels and emissions:
Every truck, every generator, every pump, every compressor will run on natural gas--no diesel, no gasoline engines.
We will not allow uncaptured gaseous emissions from any of our processes: no evaporation from open pits, no pressure releases from compressor stations or condensate tanks.

8. We will be sensitive to noise and light pollution, even if a community does not have zoning restrictions in place to regulate such:
All of our pads and compressor stations will have sound/light suppression measures in place before startup.
Site drill pads, compressor stations, and pipelines in collaboration with the community.

9. We will not unduly stress any of your communities:
We will never experiment with drilling many wells in a small area over a brief period of time.
We will abide by all area and time restrictions on permitting.
We will never contest loss of well water use by any citizen. If a well is lost, we will replace it with whatever type of supply is requested by its owner at our expense.
We will never require a citizen harmed by our development to promise silence in return for remediation.

Finally, and humbly, we note that even our best plans and efforts will come up short, sometime, someplace, somehow. Therefore, in addition to all the contributions noted above, we also pledge to establish an escrow account which will receive 1% of the value of all gas produced from shale gas wells using HVSHF each year. This account will be administered by an independent 3rd party, advised by an independent panel you select, and will be used as an emergency fund to compensate those financially or physically harmed by our development in your state.
Thank you for your attention to our request.

The Letter I Hope Will Be Written
July 1, 2011
To: The Natural Gas IndustryFrom: The Citizens of States Over the Marcellus
We have observed, calculated, thought, done the science, and we have concluded that even “doing it right” is wrong.
No thanks.

Presented at the 2010 Rachel Carson Legacy Conference in Pittsburgh, PA on September 24, 2010
DOWNLOAD PDF version of the letter.
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

October, 2010 Meetings

Join us on October 26, 2010 at 7:00 PM in collaboration with the Monroeville Public Library for Gasland, the documentary, followed by discussion. You might find the following map interesting:

The meetings on October 4 with Therese of Building New Hope and October 5 with Matt Mehalik of Carnegie Mellon on the Sustainability Needs Assessment for Monroeville were excellent. Thanks so much to both Matt and Therese for their time and expertise. We plan to post the assessment when possible.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Home Grown Sustainability, From Pittsburgh to D.C.

My fellow classmates are part of University College at American University, which is a living and learning community. We all take the Environmental Science class, Sustainable Earth, and live in the same dorm with each other as roommates. We have the class 2 times a week with an additional lab once a week and a D.C. lab led by our leader an additional day per a week as well. It's really neat to be able to call Washington D.C. our "lab!" So far, we have participated in Freshmen Service Experience which was three days out of a week long welcome week. There were many different groups that American University, Earth Day Network, Green went to many different sites as volunteers. We went to Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, MD. As volunteers at this recently certified organic farm, we contributed to the volunteer work force that runs Clagett, harvesting squash, potatoes (digging them out of the ground, very tedious laborious work), and cucumbers and weeding a strawberry field.

While there are some paid workers who serve as the base for the farm, many of the workers are either working for CSA shares or as pure volunteers. In addition, we have gone to The Earth Day Network in Dupont Circle Washington D.C. and learned about their yearlong effort to educate and make changes to society. With lobbyists in Congress and people working with schools and local businesses, they gave us many opportunities to apply for internships and eventual full time jobs, opening our eyes to the importance and relevance of green jobs overall.

In addition to our D.C. labs, our actual class lab has included testing the water quality of the Potomac river in canoes and off a pier, and using those results to find the overall water quality which is not stellar but is better than it has been in the recent past. The Sustainable Earth lecture portion of the class is taught by Dr. Kiho Kim, a researcher of coral reefs. He leads the class discussion with engaging PowerPoints and goofy anecdotes of his experience in Costa Rica and other tropical sites.

Being able to live and have class with students who care about the planet and are mindful of their actions not only gives us all a greater hope for humanity, but helps us produce greater ideas for change and also study for tests. With many more D.C. field trips in the near future and many more problems to solve, the future of Sustainable Earth is exciting. American University has a major focus on sustainability including greening many roofs (which a few of us helped with, hauling rocks and soil) and focusing on locally grown food. If American University is any indicator of the future, the future looks bright. Laura Beck

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rachel Carson Legacy Conference

The conference opens with views of a sustainable future, and a message from Senator Casey urging support for his legislation rescinding the Marcellus Shale exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act.This Conference examines the health, environmental and community effects we will experience from Marcellus Shale drilling and offers solutions from other places.

We urge precautions be taken to protect our air, water and fertile land from the effects of development. We focus on building the infrastructure and the economic and social structure to move to a renewable and sustainable energy base soon.. Dr. Karl-Henrik Robert of Sweden, founder of The Natural Step framework and principles will give the keynote address, followed by Mayor Ken Melamed of Whistler British Columbia whose community has implemented a sustainable policy. We have several presenters discussing energy systems based on wind, solar, anaerobic digestion of municipal sewage or dairy manure to produce methane in a sustainable way while solving other water and land use issues. This is a provocative discussion with an eye toward moving forward now to a sustainable future.

Register at

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Field Trip to Westmoreland Conservation District September 22, 2010

Join Us! Visit the Westmoreland Conservation District and learn about green rooftops, permeable pavement, solar and more. Formal tour with Kathy Hamilton, landscape architect, and Sustainable Monroeville 2:00-4:00 PM September 22, 2010; Informal self-guided tour of grounds 5:00-7:00 PM with Jesse John Salensky.

In collaboration with the Turtle Creek Watershed Association and the Monroeville Public Library.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Upcoming Events, August, 2010

Here are three upcoming events you might be interested in:

1) This coming Friday evening, August 27 at the Blue Slide Park in Squirrel Hill, there will be a showing of the movie Gasland followed by a discussion with Josh Fox, the creator of the documentary. Live music at 8:00, outdoor movie screening at 8:30. Rain Date, August 28.

2) Sunday, August 29, the Rachel Carson Homestead Sustainable Feast on the Ninth Street, now Rachel Carson Bridge. Cost is $10.00. Noon to five PM.

3) Tuesday evening, August 31 at 7:00 PM at the Coliseum 7310 Frankstown Avenue, a joint meeting of Transition and groups forming around the Marcellus Shale issue. Come Learn!

Elisa Beck

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

September, 2010 Meetings of Sustainable Monroeville

Join us on Wednesday, September 1 from 7:00-8:30 PM at the MPL for our regular September meeting. No official speaker, so come prepared with long introductions and brainstorm and plan future sustainable projects in our town! We will re-schedule Mark Dixon of YERT at a future date!

See prior post for another exciting meeting on September 15!

Elisa Beck

Sustainable Monroeville

In Danger of Falling Food: Free documentary screening and discussion

In Danger of Falling Food: A Community Discussion
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Monroeville Public Library Gallery Space

Cosponsored by Sustainable Monroeville

Please join us as we view and discuss In Danger of Falling Food, an hour-long documentary about the permaculture concept featuring Australian ecologist Bill Mollison. Mollison was born in 1928 and has been called the father of permaculture, an integrated system of design encompassing not only agriculture, horticulture, architecture and ecology but also money management, land access strategies and legal systems for businesses and communities. The aim is to create systems that provide for their own needs, do not pollute and are sustainable. Mollison received the 1981 Right Livelihood Award for for developing and promoting the theory and practice of permaculture. The discussion will focus on permaculture strategies in Monroeville and will be facilitated by Kate O'Brien, Jeff Newman and Elisa Beck of Sustainable Monroeville.

Mark Hudson
Head of Adult Services
Monroeville Public Library
4000 Gateway Campus Blvd.
Monroeville, PA 15146

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rachel Carson Legacy Conference: September 24, 2010

If you pick two conferences to attend this year in Pittsburgh, make this one of them!

Challenging Marcellus Shale:
Consequences and Alternatives
Keynote Speaker: Karl-Henrik Robèrt, Ph.D., MD - one of Sweden’s foremost cancer scientists and the founder of The Natural Step.
Register Here
September 24, 2010Pittsburgh, PA

The 2010 Rachel Carson Legacy Conference : Challenging Marcellus Shale - Consequences and Alternatives will address the health, environmental and community effects Pennsylvania will face with the development of the Marcellus Shale natural gas fields.
We have gathered people from New York, Colorado and Pennsylvania with experience and expertise in evaluating hte results of the deep shale fracking industry. The Alternatives approach will be highlighted by keynote speaker Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt of Sweden founder of The Natural Step process for reaching a sustainable economy. He will be followed by Ken Melamed, Mayor of Whistler, B.C., who will describe the Whistler 2020 plan as implemented based on Dr. Robert's approach and a panel of renewable and sustainable energy businesses illustrating current economically viable applications of renewable energy systems. Learn more and register

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gasland - Free Film

Join us for a free community screening of GASLAND, an eye-opening film about the controversial form of gas drilling called "fracking."

Time: 6pm
Date: August 5th
Location: 518 Foreland Street, Pittsburgh, PA

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is a process to extract oil and natural gas deep within the earth. Drillers blast water, sand and chemicals 8,000 feet into the ground. The natural gas industry says fracking will create jobs and provide cheap energy for decades. But the truth is that fracking poses a serious threat to clean air and water, biodiversity, and the health of our communities. Companies are now drilling, or seeking to drill, all throughout the Marcellus Shale: a region in the Appalachian Basin that includes large chunks of Pennsylvania which contain largely untapped natural gas reserves. And Halliburton – yes, Halliburton – is building a huge outpost in Williamsport, PA to service decades of drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

The PA Department of Environmental Protection has granted five permits for fracking sites in Allegheny County. They list two of those sites as "active."

About GASLAND - When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown."

Gasland website -

Marcellus Shale Info -

Monday, August 2, 2010

EcoLakewood and Sustainable Monroeville

Join us tomorrow evening, Monday, August 2, 2010 at 6:00 PM for a pot luck dinner and to hear Jen Goetchius speak at 7:00 in the program room of the Monroeville Public Library. Pot Luck: Bring a dish with at least one locally sourced ingredient if you can. Remember to bring a plate, cup, and utensils!

Jen Goetchius of Sustainable Monroeville was the creator of our Sustainble Monroeville website/ blogspot and facebook page and continues to post on these sites along with me. She also founded EcoLakewood outside of Cleveland and will be working with us to take Sustainable Monroeville to the next level! Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow evening.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Marcellus Shale

Fracking is an activity that occurs in many parts of the country. While this gas extraction occurs within the state of PA and promotes the intention of "energy independence" the resources and most profits obtained from this gas drilling will not remain in the state; or possibly not even within the United States. See here for an overview.

While often coined to be "clean energy," fracking and gas drilling is NOT a clean energy process. The process actually creates imminent health issues, air pollution and both water quality and quantity issue. Within this New York Times link is a document whereby Weston Wilson, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employee and whistle blower, reveals EPA's potential failure to protect America's groundwater. His belief is that EPA's conclusion (i.e that the fracking process posses no threat to drinking water) is based on unsound science and appears to be improper under the The Safe Drinking Water Act. (SDWA).

The SDWA was amended in 2005. These amendments are currently known as the The "Halliburton loophole". The Amendments actually stripped the EPA of its authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. It is an amazing article and well worth reading.While the gas drilling companies maintain that the fracking process is not a new process, and point to the fact that this has been going on for decades; the reality is that there have been many changes to this process that need to be scrutinized. The fracking fluid also contains many cancer causing chemicals including benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde.The fracking process also contributes to an increase of green house gasses in the atmosphere. Methane is a Green House Gas 22-25 times stronger than CO2. The Fracking process emits Methane contributing climate change.

New cameras are now being used to show the quantity of these vapors not visible with the naked eye. In addition, this link documents the problems associated with water quality and quantity issues, for example, naturally occurring radioactive materials that are leached in the process are brought to the surface. Water quantity withdrawals are a problem; a gas well can require up to 8,000,000 gallons of water per frack and a well can be fracked up to 18 times.

How many wells are currently permitted in PA? Both NYC and Pittsburgh City council have acknowledged the problems are real and have enacted temporary moratoriums until further threats can be assessed. The EPA is taking public comment about the scope of a new proposed study on fracking and is soliciting public comment before pressing forward with enacting any final regulations related to the the fracking process Please make your voice heard by attending the public meeting tomorrow or by contacting your congressmen or state representatives.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Power of 32: July 27, 2010 6:30-9:00 PM in Monroeville Council Chamber

Power of 32 is the biggest regional planning project ever undertaken in the United States, involving 32 counties in four states, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland. The idea behind this undertaking is that to compete in a global economy takes the strength and cooperation of a whole region, and that to make this an attractive and vibrant and healthy place to live also takes the whole region working together. This organization recently learned about Sustainable Monroeville at the Monroeville Library, and would be so pleased if some of our members could join the Power of 32 community conversation which will take place at the Monroeville Council Chambers on July 27 at 6:30 P.M. Your passion is obviously critical to enhancing quality of life in the next 25 years, and your voices should be heard! These conversations are the first step in a three phase process to develop a citizen-driven agenda for action. The Library has fact sheets, and flyers about the July 27 meeting.

If you have questions, please contact:
Sue McLaughlin, Outreach Coordinator
Power of 32

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tomer Nature Reserve in Murrysville, PA

Pia, of the Friends of Murrysville Parks, led a wonderful walk through the seventeen - acre Tomer Nature Reserve of the Westmoreland Conservancy this fine Saturday morning. Pia is a naturalist and has been facilitating an appreciation of all plants that are native to Western PA and the removal of exotic invasive species at Duff Park in Murrysville for ten years. Pia pointed out many beautiful plants that we want to keep in our wooded and prairie areas of our landscapes including Joe Pye Weed and Milkweed for butterflies and bees, Mayapple, Native Dogwood, Oak saplings, Blackberries and many more species.
Pia also pointed out and pulled out many exotic invasive plants. According to the colorful flyer Pia handed me following the hike, titled, "Help Murry the Squirrel Stomp Out Invasive Plants in Murrysville Parks," these invasives include Garlic Mustard, Bush Honeysuckle, Japanese and Giant Knotweed, Japenese Stilt Grass, Burning Bush, Barberry, Japanese Honeysuckle Vine, Multiflora Rose, and Tree of Heaven. We learned to identify almost all of these species and learned even in a nature reserve it is fine to remove these species from the reserve because they do not belong there.
Exotic invasive species choke out the native species by competing with them for basic soil nutrients, sunlight and water. Pia described how Japanese Stilt Grass uses a huge amount of water and grows so dense that native saplings are unable to germinate.
I enjoyed this hike with several others who reside in and around Murrysville and look forward to Pia's visit to Monroeville to educate us too! Thanks so much Pia, Buck the trailblazer, and the others too... Elisa Beck

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 19, 2010 Sustainable Monroeville Meeting -- Alternative Design Review

An Alternative Design Overview will be presented by Jeff Yeager of Octopus Organics and Jeff Newman of Steel City Soils, the Pittsburgh Garden Experiment, and Transition Pittsburgh. Meeting Date is Monday evening, July 19, 2010, at 7:00 PM at the Monroeville Public Library.

The 1-hour talk, will have 2 parts: evaluation techniques and permaculture principles for sub-urban applications. Learn about forest gardens, micro-climates, native-species, water and soil management. Both Jeffs will introduce ideas to hone your observation skills, add efficiency, and increase the production and health of your suburban homestead.

Feel free to bring along a locally sourced food snack to share. Questions?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reducing Pain Through Food Choices

Can the food you choose play a role in chronic pain and symptom management?

Join integrative physician, James N. Dillard, MD, DC, Lac., formally and uniquely trained in three health professions—acupuncture, chiropractic and conventional medicine—for a day of learning, discovery and innovative hands-on cooking in a supportive environment. Dr. Dillard will discuss evidence-based causes of chronic pain, explore pro-inflammatory dietary habits and explain how he helps patients navigate from illness to wellness with conventional and unconventional modalities.

Turn Dillard’s therapeutic approaches into a reality you can taste through creative hands-on cooking and food learning experiences lead by Amanda Archibald, RD and Culinary Nutritionist, Stefanie Bryn Sacks, MS. For lunchtime enjoy the fruits of your culinary endeavors. The day will close with a panel discussion of medical, nutrition and culinary experts.

Early Registration : $60 (by July 16th )Registration : $80 per ticket
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
9AM – 2:30PM
Urban Zen Center at the Stephan Weiss Studio
711 Greenwich Street at Charles Street
New York, NY 10014

For more information, please email or call 1.212.414.8520.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Has anybody heard of the musician Dana Lyons ( from Bellingham, Washington? One of my favorite CD's is the one he did with Jane Goodall called Circle The World. Here's part of a recent e-mail I received from him about his alter ego, Mr. Green:

Howdy Friends and Family,

Sun Comes Out (temporarily) in Bellingham The sun has finally come out in Bellingham and the entire town is filled with smiles and overjoyous vitamin D-deficient people, myself included. Suntan lotion sales are up. Prozac down.

Dana’s New YouTube Career and Alter Ego:
Greenwashing Super Hero Mr. Green
I really had a great time filming Greenwashing Super Hero “Mr. Green” in the parking lot of the Oakland airport. After many years of singing for small environmental and social justice groups, I’ve recently become aware (thank you, US Supreme Court & the Tea Party) of the abuse that some large corporations have suffered at the hands of bullying citizens. Corporations are people too. And they have feelings, just like the rest of us. Thanks to Forest Ethics for creating this little video so that Mr. Green can help ‘share the joy’ of the greenwashing efforts of some large timber companies.

I've posted the video on my new YouTube channel: DanaLyonsTV.
"Stay green!" - Mr. Green

Gas Lease Meeting June 28, 2010 Peters Township

Peters Township Municipal Building
610 E. McMurray Road
McMurray, PA 15317
Meeting, Monday night, June 28th, 2010
Please attend this meeting to discuss the Gas Lease Bid and ultimate DRILLING on Peters Township Public Land!
Jet Miskis

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Neighbors Lawn Weed Control: What to do?

Our next door neighbors just had their lawn sprayed. How do I know? Our windows were open. I heard it, saw it, felt it and smelled it. It smelled more than I have yet experienced from next door in my years living here in Monroeville, that is since 1993. I wondered why they went from the granular stuff, even though the contents are similar, to the spray...The applicator man was on a segway-like machine riding around and spraying the lawn. I went next door to ask what he was spraying. I told him it smelled more than I had ever smelled from this type of application. "Fertilizer and weed control, that's all." "And what is in the weed control, I asked?" I do not have to tell you because you are not on the government list." This applicator man went on to say, "I know where you're coming from, I'm not even wearing any kind of protection." I mentioned he ought to and he said his employer does not give him any protection and he was just doing his job.

Many years ago these same neighbors asked me to donate to the American Cancer Society. Do they see any connection between lawn chemicals and cancer, so many years later? When I see my neighbors tomorrow, I plan to suggest they start using an organic lawn care service.... I will not ask them to consider moving towards a permaculture landscape, just to use an organic lawn care service. Do my neighbors understand that even though these chemicals are legal in this country that some of these chemicals are the reason their landscape is sterile, without earthworms and life under their monoculture green grass lawn? Do my neighbors ever think about what their landscape company is doing with their grass? Do any of us realize that humans are part of the ecosystem and that what we do to our grass winds up in all of us, circulating through our blood?

Our neighbors on the other side of our home had their lawn sprayed by accident about three weeks ago. A lawn care company made a mistake and sprayed their lawn even though they were supposed to be spraying a lawn a block away with a similar address. This neighber was upset and came over and told me so. She did not know what to do. She and her family are cool. She got an in-home and outdoor composter from her family for Mother's Day this year. She told me our family has influenced her to make changes. They do not put any granular or liquid weed control on their lawn anymore. That made me feel really good. Positive change takes time and can be painful, but it is possible and after awhile it makes you feel good and understand yourself and others more deeply. Sensibilities change over time if we take the time to educate one another and teach by example.

And the BP workers at all levels are doing their job to provide our American population with cheap oil and the Marcellus Shale folks are doing their job to provide cheap gas. And what is our job to facilitate the health and healing of ourselves and our planet? How must we proceed?
I believe in the precautionary principle. Check out for details on the precautionary principle. Let's figure out how to power down together in Transition! Google Rob Hopkins and In Transition, the movie, to learn more about permaculture and moving from peak oil to resilience.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gasland Documentary

On HBO, Monday, June 21st, GASLAND will be premiering on HBO. A powerful expose on the hydraulic fracturing process and the devastation it brings to communities; very relevant in light of the “fracking” permits issued in Lawrenceville and Lincoln Place. If you have HBO, please consider hosting a viewing of this documentary for your friends and family – make sure to have lots of ice cream, kittens and/or puppies to combat the very heavy, deep and real messages of this documentary. There is currently a “listening project” being planned for Lincoln Place – to gather information and build awareness of fracking in the community. If you would like to get involved, or are just interested in what this entails, contact Jim Bailey of the Lincoln Place Action Group at or 412-708-1430

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Greening of Pittsburgh

We are excited to use these occasional updates to share news about the innovative initiatives we are working on, as well as to update you on existing “green” projects in the City of Pittsburgh.

In October 2008, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl hired the City’s first-ever Sustainability Coordinator and created the Office of Sustainability and Energy Efficiency to provide guidance on greening the City’s operations and facilities. The Sustainability Coordinator is tasked with implementing the municipal recommendations of the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan, adopted in August 2008, as well as collaborating with individuals from all departments to strengthen existing environmental initiatives and ensure that sustainability is integrated into all City operations.

Staffed by the Sustainability Coordinator and Energy and Utilities Manager, the Office of Sustainability and Energy Efficiency also serves as a work and learning space for students and young adults who work with the City through class projects, independent studies, internships and fellowships.

Did you know that the City of Pittsburgh…

Recently created a Green Guide to aid citizens in “going green” in Pittsburgh?

Gave away 2,000 tree seedlings to residents in April 2010?

Was recently recognized with ‘Bicycle Friendly’ status by the League of American Bicyclists?

Replaced all of its traffic signals with energy efficient LED models in 2008, saving nearly $20,000 per month?

Purchases 15% of its electricity from renewable wind sources?

Is one of only 25 U.S. cities to be awarded a Solar America Cities grant through the Department of Energy?

Has transformed over 120 vacant lots around the city into common green spaces through the Green Up program?

Uses a B20 biodiesel blend in all of its diesel equipment?

Collected over 13,200 tons of recyclables curbside in 2009, which is a 19.5% Increase from 2008?

To learn more about these projects, click on City of Pittsburgh

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Why Food Matters

It is remarkable how much progress the sustainable food movement has made in the last 18 months. Only a few years ago, in 2006, Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma was published, highlighting 40 years of a movement and building off the wisdom of J.I. Rodale, Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson and countless other visionaries who believed that growing food in ways that improved human health, the environment, soil and communities was the best approach to an agriculture that could renew the American spirit rather than degrade it.

After years of wandering in the wilderness, the sustainable food movement has gone mainstream. Just last month Time magazine celebrated four sustainable food thinkers and doers among The 2010 Time 100 List. For those who still haven’t seen a copy of the magazine, joining Michael Pollan in the 2010 Time 100 List are Will Allen, Milwaukee urban farmer and MacArthur Genius award winner, Temple Grandin, the renowned animal scientist and Kathleen Merrigan, current Deputy Secretary at the U.S Department of Agriculture. Together, we continue to make history, proving that a united community can make positive change.

Source: Food Democracy Now and Babble Photo

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Turtle Creek Greenway Project

There is a scheduled Public Educational Workshop for the Turtle Creek Greenway Project on Thursday, June 17. It will begin at 5:30pm in B-Y Park with a cookout, followed by a 2.3 mile walk through the Greenway (Saunders Station Road to B-Y Park), with educational stations along the way on a variety of topics. More specifically, The Turtle Creek Greenway is recognized as a local treasure of remarkable natural beauty and ecological value that offers educational and recreational opportunities. The Greenway is part of a larger regional continuum of greenways and also serves as a resource to protect the Turtle Creek communities from flood damage. These communities have united to share in the responsibilities to remediate, protect, and preserve the Greenway for future generations. For immediate questions contact Amy Wiles,

Transition Pittsburgh Local Economy Discussion

Please join us for open, public class with the team from Transition Pittsburgh at 2pm on Sunday June 6th. We will form discussion groups based on real, practical, Pittsburgh-specific solutions. The focus will be on local economy including a hand-full of local speakers. This session will last from 2-5pm and culminate in a potluck dinner to celebrate our growing community in the Burgh. Please bring a dish and your own dinnerware.

Local Economy Discussion and Potluck Dinner

June 6, 2pm-5pm

Kingsley Association

6435 Frankstown Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206-4055

Transition PGH is one of four (as of 21 May 2010) official transition initiatives in Pennsylvania, as listed on the Transition United States website. So, what does it mean for Transition PGH to be an a formal transition initiative? In the context of the transition related movie screenings and trainings starting back in March (see the meetup group), four Pittsburghers, Elisa Beck, Greg Boulos, Mark Dixon, and Jeff Newman successfully went through the the application process described in the transition primer, to become a "Transition Hub" for Pittsburgh. Basically, the point of a hub is to facilitate the formation of local (neighborhood or borough) transition initiatives, such as the recently formed Sustainable Monroeville

[May 2010: Just to be clear, Sustainable Monroeville is not yet an official transition initiative, but it is headed somewhat in that direction. Also, as is likely to be the case with groups which are not Transition Hubs, Transition Monroeville isn't strictly about transition stuff -- it's about Monroeville.]

Friday, June 4, 2010

Art and the Environment and More

The Three Rivers Arts Festival begins, June 4, 2010. Check out the EcoArcade by the Pennsylvania Resources Council, the solar powered windmills and so much more over the next few weeks.

Be sure to check out how the waste is being collected at the festival. Do you sort your waste? If so, how much of it do you recycle, re-use or compost? I spent an hour watching the waste sorting going on at the main trash area by the food stands several years ago. It is fascinating to think about the total process from where seeds come from, food production to where our waste food goes. And watching folks discard their food at the festival, with all those bins is especially fun, at least from my perspective!!!

Moni Wesner on Mushrooms

Join Sustainable Monroeville on Monday evening, June 7 at 7:00 PM at the Monroeville Public Library in the downstairs program room to hear Moni Wesner on Mushrooms.

Are you a mycophile? I remember going with our family on a mushroom walk years ago and being very late for the hike. We tried to rush as we were concerned with not being able to catch up with the group. The fungus watchers we were catching up with had so much to look at and talk about that they had barely walked at all. My point is, there's lots of fungus among us to talk about!

Turtle Creek Greenway Educational Walk

June 17 at 5:30 PM Public Educational Workshop at B-Y Park, Pavilion * 3, PA 130, 7th Street in Trafford, PA. Join the Turtle Creek Greenways Plan Group for this 2.3 mile hike. Wear Boots or sneakers!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

First Inspired Composting Program in PA school district

In the Winter of 2009, members of the Composting Team at the Citizens Climate Corps (CCC) approached Quaker Valley School District about the possibility of starting a composting program in the school district.

Composting Fact
: Every ton of food waste diverted from the landfill saves 6 tons of carbon dioxide (equivalent) emissions, mostly through the avoidance of methane formation.

The US sent 25 million tons of food waste to landfills in 2005. Composting this mass would be the equivalent of removing 7.8 million passenger cars from the road.

The Composting Team is one of the action teams formed by the CCC. New action teams will be forming in the near future. If you would like to join one, please send an email to
The Citizens Climate Corps - a new volunteer-led, grassroots organization in Western Pennsylvania - is sponsoring a seminar to empower citizens to approach their school districts to start food waste composting. We helped the first school district in the state get started. We can help you make a difference at your local school, too. Hope you can join us or help us spread the word!

Why Water Matters

Western Pennsylvanians enjoy their rivers, streams and lakes, but do we take our water for granted? Many parts of the world are plagued with polluted water, or have limited access to any water at all. That may sound like someone else's problem, but people in the Pittsburgh region are taking innovative steps to prevent future water problems and to correct existing ones.

To coincide with World Environment Day events and the Water Matters! Global Water Conference, WQED Multimedia's OnQ program is proud to present a four-day televised (and internet accessible) series. From local water challenges to successes, from water innovators to watchdogs, the entire OnQ staff worked to bring viewers in-depth reports and interviews that remind everyone why "Water Matters" in Pittsburgh.

Monday, May 31, 2010 at 7:30pm:

Why Water Matters - OnQ begins the What's In The Water? series with an overview on the importance of preserving our region's waterways. Michael Bartley hosts a discussion forum with topics that include water sustainability, water solutions, accountability when it comes to keeping our water clean, and the economic impact on communities with or without good water systems.

Court Gould, Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh
John Stanik, Chairman, President & CEO of Calgon Carbon
Jeanne VanBriesen, Professor at Carnegie Mellon University
Jerry Paytas, Director of Research for GSP Consulting's Economic Architecture practice.

Additional programming is scheduled at 7:30 pm on the following dates:

Tuesday, June 1:
“Water Run-off: Solving the Problems”, “The Fish Study”,“Three Rivers Waterkeeper”
Wednesday, June 2:
“Marcellus Shale Drilling“, “Marcellus Shale Drilling Discussion”
Thursday, June 3
: “Wingfield Pines”, “Nine Mile Run Rain Gardens”

Content will be available for on-demand viewing after it is televised. For a complete program listing and descriptions, visit WQED’s “What’s in the Water” web page.

Fracking for Natural Gas

Here is the link to Mayor Calvin Tillman's presentation from Dish, Texas who spoke at Duquesne University about the realities of Marcellus-Barnett shale drilling. The event, which is sponsored by Duquesne University’s Center for Environmental Research and Education, covered a range of topics, from the economic impact of gas drilling in DISH to demands on infrastructure, such as roads, and water supplies, and noise issues.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why the Environment Matters to the Economy

The Bottom Line: Why the Environment Matters to the Economy and What Judaism Has To Say About It

Professor Mitch Small, one of the nation's most respected environmental experts, will describe research on the economic benefits of natural assets such as clean air, clean water, erosion control, and flood protection. He'll spell out the consequences of damaging or destroying ecosystems.

Elements of Jewish teaching will be applied to issues such as coral reef protection, mountaintop mining, riverfront open space and energy conservation.

Also featuring Rick Wice, M.S. Geology, on the future of Brownfield Development and Nick Shorr, Ph.D., Agricultural Anthropology, on the frontiers of regional composting.

May 30, 2010 at 7:00 PM at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.

RSVP to Liz Roberts at or 412-992-5214

Bioblitz in McKeesrocks, PA on May 30 at 10:00 AM

Join us in the Rocks this coming Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 10:00 AM to learn about and participate in creating a Permaculture landscape in McKeesrocks, PA. Bring a shovel if you can, and be ready to dig and plant. RSVP to 412-778-0140.

Transition Pittsburgh TED talk Screening-May 28 at 7:30 PM

Come hear Rob Hopkins talk about Transition in his TED talk at a screening at Kiva Han in Oakland, PA, at 7:30 PM on Friday, May 28, 2010. The TED talk screening will be followed by open discussion on Environment, Economy, Social Justice and more.

Celebration of Biodiversity with E.O. Wilson

May 27, 2010 at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Visioning a New American Dream from 1:00-4:30. E.O. Wilson Public Lecture and Presentation of the Rachel Carson Legacy Award 5:00-6:15 PM; Rachel Carson Legacy Award Reception from 6:30-8:00 PM For more information go to or

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bee Curious or Bee Happy?

Burgh Bees will be hosting the first Open Apiary of the season at the NEW 1st of its kind, Homewood Community Apiary, this Saturday, May 22 from 1pm until 3pm. Protective head equipment will be provided. Please wear or bring long sleeve shirts and long pants. Please, no open toed shoes! A $10 suggested donation to Burgh Bees is appreciated. The apiary is located on Susquehanna St off of N. Dallas ave in the Homewood section of the city of Pittsburgh. It is across from the East End Brewery. Please RSVP by May 21 to Steve Repasky.

Additionally, the Beekeeper Meetups are lively and fun! Whether you are a new beek, a seasoned beak or just bee curious, stop in say hello and become involved! meet us this Tuesday, May 25 at 700pm at the Carson City Saloon, located at corner of 14th and Carson in the Southside part of Pittsburgh! Look for us upstairs in the mezzanine! No RSVP required!

Source: Burgh Bees is an all-volunteer organization that supports beekeeping in Pittsburgh.

Rachel Carson Homestead

I attended a tour of the Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale PA today. The Rachel Carson Homestead is the birthplace and childhood home of Rachel Carson, one of the founders of the modern environmental movement. The tour, led by the Executive Director of the Homestead, Patricia DeMarco, included four young adults and an interpreter from Argentina. They are visiting Rotarians and are being hosted this week in the Eastern suburbs. What an inspirational tour of the RCHA and an inspirational group of young adults. See below how you can take action against pesticides. I hope we have inspired these young Argentinians to be environmentally proactive in their country!

By: Elisa Beck, Sustainable Monroeville Member

Friday, May 21, 2010

Are you a MYCPHILE or a MYCOPHORE? June 7, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Are you a MYCPHILE or a MYCOPHOBE? What comes to mind when you hear the word FUNGUS or MUSHROOM?

Moni Wesner will present an introduction into the fascinating plant kingdom of fungi.
Fungi are masters in SUSTAINING the health of forest, field and gardens. Quite a few are good to eat, and have tremendous medicinal and nutritional values for us.

Join Sustainable Monroeville on Monday evening, June 7, 2010, at 7:00 PM for brief introductions, a brief business meeting and Moni Wesner on Mushrooms!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mosside Middle School, Monroeville, PA

Judy Bailey of the NAACP and Sustainable Monroeville, and Elisa Beck of Sustainable Monroeville partnered to do a presentation for students in six sixth grade classrooms at Mosside Middle School (MMS) today. We talked about the meaning of Sustainabilty as encompassing the triad including economy, social justice and environmentalism. We asked these young adults if they had ever heard of either organization, and how many of them had vegetable gardens. We encouraged them to come to our meetings with their parents, grandparents, and guardians, and get involved in community projects. We also challenged them to talk to us through facebook if they are allowed to do so, and by e-mailing to

Let the conversation and action begin! Thanks Pam Barroso a parent at MMS and a Sustainable Monroeville member for skillfully organizing this event. We are on the road to Monroeville becoming a proud Transition Community!

Please join us at the next meeting of Sustainable Monroeville on Monday evening, June 7 at 7:00 PM at the Monroeville Public Library to meet some of your neighbors and hear Moni Wesner speak on Mushrooms. Sustainable Monroeville meets once a month at the Monroeville Public Library. The meeting schedule is listed at Join us on facebook!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Transition South Side - Wednesday May 12 at 1:00 pm

Transition is about powering down, yet regaining energy on so many levels. Energy conservation, developing community, social equity and economic stability are all part of the mix.
See a community in action and learn how you can get involved in transitioning your community to be part of the web of life, yet independent too! Meet with us on Wednesday, May 12, 2010, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm at Conservation Consultants (CCI), 64 South 14th Street in the South Side of Pittsburgh. We will be discussing the transition of a food market as the anchor for community change. Bring your ideas and join us!

Bioblitz Today, May 8, Join Us!

What is a bioblitz anyway? Imagine gardening and learning with friends and making new friends while creating a permaculture landscape. Then imagine those friends coming to your home or apartment complex to help you do the same thing~Join us today between 8:00 AM and 1:00 PM in McKeesrocks for the first bioblitz. Shovels and gloves a welcome addition! To RSVP call 412-778-0140.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Toxic Spew

The horrific news about the BP offshore platform explosion is raising our awareness about drilling, oil dependency and corporate profits. With events unfolding, many point to simple pure negligence resulting in a bleeding oil gusher.

This event prompts us to connect more closely with the concern in the what underlies our community connection in the Marcellus Shale. To focus more clearly, hot off the press from Newsweek is insight into "fracking" oil and gas. How do you think this story unfolds for Western PA?

Image Source: Newsweek 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Public Transportation and Community

Yesterday I, Elisa Beck, went to PennFuture's Conference on Creating a Climate for Justice. I knew there was a lot going on in Pittsburgh yesterday, the Pittsburgh Marathon, a Penguin's game, the University of Pittsburgh's graduation and of course the conference I attended at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. I decided to take public transporation for part of the journey. I don't remember the last time I rode on a bus. I was motivated to take public transportation to go to this conference on climate change and social justice. After all, I wouldn't have to bother with my car, traffic and parking. And of course, I would be lowering my carbon footprint.

My husband was traveling from Monroeville into the city and dropped me off at the corner of Murray and Forbes so I could catch the 61 A,B, or C bus into town. I was running very early, so I waited in line with my umbrella in front of Pamela's. I met two very nice people while standing in line. This couple and I had a wonderful conversation over the course of the next hour, as I accepted their invitation to sit with them for brunch. They each ordered the breakfast special, so I did too. I realized it was like two meals for me, but ordered it anyway. Once I had finished eating the eggs and home fries, I needed a rest. I was determined not to leave a plate full of banana walnut hotcakes to go to waste. After all, Pamela's does not yet compost as far as I know, and I did not want to have to ask for, and use, a wasteful container to take the food with me and carry it on the bus. I realized with each moment how using public transportation can help to streamline one's existence.

Terri Taylor filmed the PennFuture Conference and it will be posted to this site just as soon as PennFuture makes it available. How interesting my traveling experience was yesterday!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Your Garden Soil: An Underground City

Join us on Monday evening, May 3, 2010, at the Monroeville Public Library from 7:00-8:30 PM at our regular May meeting. Jeff Newman of Steel City Soil will be our featured speaker. He'll be talking about and showing us some soil. Where does soil come from anyway? Why care about soil quality?

Harvey, one of the participants in the recent organic gardening workshop, was amazed that the rich black compost he saw in the wheelbarrow was made from the leftover vegetable clippings and leftover fruit scraps from the household waste stream. Do you compost your food scraps yet?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You Are What You Eat

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) always recommend eating more fruits and veggies and buying them organic if you can, but we know that sometimes they're too expensive or flat-out unavailable. That's why they have created the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides (download here). You’ll be able to know which fruits and vegetables have the lowest pesticide residues and which you should try to always buy organic. This guide was created in partnership with renowned medical expert on natural health and wellness, Dr. Andrew Weil. He shares below in his video that making healthy food choices is simple and leads to money saved and improved quality of life.