Thursday, February 25, 2010

Van Jones Bringin' the Spirit

Van Jones is America's champion for green jobs. A former White House employee that embodies the spirit of the NAACP Image Awards - an entrepreneurial spirit that comes with a sense of social responsibility. His plan to retool the American economy by creating millions of new "green collar" jobs is groundbreaking, not only because it opens up a new sector of American industry, but also because it does so in a way that creates jobs and protects the environment.

Since 1970, the NAACP Image Awards have celebrated the best in African American Arts and Culture. It is an awards ceremony that honors the aspirations and dreams of all Americans, told from an African American perspective. The President's Award has traditionally honored those whose achievements in public life have been game changing. Recent honorees have included Muhammad Ali, Ruby Dee and President Bill Clinton.

Please be sure to tune in to the live broadcast this Friday, February 26, on FOX at 8:00pm EST. You will also get a chance to see Tyler Perry, Mo'Nique, Morgan Freeman, Mariah Carey, Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Taraji P. Henson and other leaders of the entertainment world walk the red carpet. And do not miss out on exclusive mobile updates here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Farm to Table: Eat Local Food

Come and find out where you can buy local milk, cheese, grains, produce, meats and more. There will be a Farm to Table event on Friday and Saturday, March 26 & 27 from 10am to 5pm, at the David Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. Tickets are required to enter and include food tasting, giveaways, cooking demonstrations and speaker series by doctors and healthcare experts.

To learn more about the event, click here.

For the Friday night food tasting info, click here.

March Meeting

Our next public meeting is scheduled for March 1st, Monday, at 7pm at the Monroeville Public Library. Our guest speaker will be Stephanie Simmons, chair of the Water committee for Sierra Club-Alleghany County. Please join us as we discuss open issues about improving water quality and sharing best practices.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Save Turtle Creek

Ever heard of Turtle Creek Stream Valley? Well, it needs your help and passion to save a unique stretch of 6 miles in the valley.

The Turtle Creek Greenway Plan Study Committee wants to hear your ideas about conservation, recreation and restoration potential for about 6 miles of the Turtle Creek Stream Valley. It is recognized as a local treasure of remarkable natural beauty and ecological value that offers educational and recreational opportunities. The Greenway encompasses the gorge and 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.

Fast forward to 2010 and a DCNR grant in their pocket, the team is working in close cooperation with the Regional Trail Corporation, four municipalities, both counties, and assorted other stakeholders to evaluate the feasibility of such a project. Some of the land under consideration is already public, but much is private. Diane Selvaggio, executive director of the Turtle Creek Watershed Association, said little money is available from the state or foundations to buy land, but a study of what do with the area could help obtain funding. "It's really quite a jewel in a fairly urban suburban setting," Selvaggio said. "Many of those involved in this project feel one of the best ways to preserve a natural area is to put a trail through it so the community realizes it is a community asset."

The working group is now prepared to update the general public on the progress and to collect more information that will help us make smarter decisions as we proceed. The first public meeting introducing the Turtle Creek Greenway project concept to the community will be held this Wednesday, the 24th, at the Murrysville Senior Center (3091 Carson Avenue) starting at 7:00 p.m. Join us!

Turtle Creek Greenway Project

To learn more, come to the public meeting of the Turtle Creek Greenway Plan on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 from 7:00-9:00 PM at the Murrysville Community Building at 3091 Carson Street in Murrysville, PA. Provide input on opportunities related to recreation and conservation. The project involves 6 miles along Turtle Creek an d involves Trafford Borough, Penn Township, Monroeville and Murrysville.

The goals of the project are to preserve the integrity of natural, recreational, and cultural resources; manage adverse impacts to the Greenway and its ecosystem from stormwater damage; raise public awareness (yes, so come to this meeting!) and encourage stewardship of natural resources; encourage the Greenway as a destination and encourage ecotourism, and much more. For questions, contact Amy Wiles of Mackin Engineering at 412-788-0472, or Malcolm Sias of Westmoreland county Parks and Recreation at 724-830-3968.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Transition Pittsburgh Event

Join the up Meetup site of Transition Pittsburgh to sign up to attend the first public meeting of Transition Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is now officially a transition initiative town, number 58 to be exact! All of Allegheny County is included, so of course Monroeville is part of it too! To learn more about what Transition is, check out the book called The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins, copyright 2008.

Even if you don't sign up to come to the meeting, attend the event on Tuesday, March 9, 2010 anyway! The event will take place at the First United Methodist Church at 5401 Center Avenue at Aiken Avenue in Shadyside. There will be a free movie screening and small group discussion including brainstorming, networking, and open space forums on the topics of food, energy, waste, transport, economy, art, heart, creative land use, or host your own! Bring along a friend or two. For more information contact

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Protect the Alfalfa

I, Elisa Beck, worked for the United States Department of Agriculture when I was an undergraduate at the University of Maryland studying Biology with an emphasis in Ecology back in the early 1980's. We isolated the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) from the environment and worked with it in our laboratory. Bt was used as a biological insecticide at that time. Its commercial name was Dipel. My understanding at that time was that it was an excellent alternative to chemical insecticides as it will biodegrade, or disappear from the environment within a short time period. I believe it was Monsanto that then incorporated Bt into the genetic code of corn and created Bt corn.

I remember panicking and calling the scientists I worked with at the time, Phyllis Martin and Russell Travers, both Ph.D.'s and employees of the USDA. I knew the physiology of how Bt worked. It disrupted the gut of lepidptera larvae (moths and butterflies) and basically blew the animal larvae to pieces.

What would happen to our butterfly and moth populations, I wondered? And how would it affect the human population and all other living species in between?

Phyllis Martin reassured me not to worry, that baby food would always be protected. She did mention that there would certainly be unintended consequences. These unintended consequences are happening in our world every moment now. Whenever the pollen from Bt corn is ingested by a butterfly or moth it not only kills that individual insect, but prevents that insect from pollinating other flowers.

The huge experiment that is being conducted by Monsanto (most recently they want to start a new experiment with Alfalfa) is unacceptable. Once the population at large begins to grasp the enormous complexity of what is going on and how this company called Monsanto is experimenting with the genetic structure of humanity, I am certain any human being that can will express a resounding "NO" to Monsanto's plan. I urge you to go this link and work to to reject Monsanto's application to market GMO alfalfa.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Coal Free Future Project

Get off the couch, and join us for an evening with award winning journalist Jeff Biggers, filmaker Ben Evans and actress Stephanie Pistello as they share, "Coal Free Future Project." This film will plug you into the movement to stop mountain top removal of coal and create a road map for a coal free future. This evening event will also include a short reading from Bigger's new memoir, "Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal." And we can't forget YERT (Your Environmental Road Trip). The hilarious, eye-opening eco-comedy for all.

WHEN: Thursday, February 11th, 8pm
WHERE: The Union Project, 801 N. Negley Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Get Tickets: