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?