Tuesday, November 22, 2011

PolarTrec at Sustainable Monroeville in collaboration with the Monroeville Public Library

PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating) is a program in which K-12 teachers spend several weeks participating in hands-on field research experiences in the polar regions. In May 2011, Gateway High School teacher Jim Pottinger went on expedition to Greenland to join a team studying solar radiation on the Greenland ice sheet. The team traversed the ice sheet several times and then lived and worked at Summit Station, located at the peak of the Greenland ice cap atop 3,200 meters of ice. The goal of the project was to gain a better understanding of the Earth's heat balance -- the solar radiation reflected back into space and absorbed by our planet. Join us at Monroeville Public Library on Monday, December 12, 7:00-8:30 p.m. as Jim shares stories and photos from the expedition.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vandana Shiva in Pitttsburgh. Pure Joy and Inspiration!

Last night, I went to Point Park University to hear Vandana Shiva, "world- renowned environmental leader and thinker...She is the founder of Navdanya ("nine seeds"), a movement promoting diversity and use of native seeds. ..(she) set up the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology in her mother's cowshed in 1997. (Her organization)..has done studies that have validated the ecological value of traditional farming and have been instrumental in fighting destructive development projects in India." She also written many wonderful books including Soil, Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis, 2008, Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development, 2010, Earth Democracy, Justice, Sustainability and Peace, 2005, Water Wars: Pollution, Profits and Privatization, 2001, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge, 1997, (all South End Press) Monocultures of the Mind (Zed, 1993) and The Violence of the Green Revolution (Zed, 1992)

A few of my friends, Steffi S. Eric V. a student from Point Park University, Vandana Shiva and me!

The talk was one of the most upbeat and inspiring talks I have ever heard. Shiva is grass roots and talked about the improtance of doing anything, any small thing, to work towards the world we want to see. She explained how turning land and soil to the organic way by enriching the soil, the earth will heal itself in a very short time, in two years.

After the talk, there was time for Q& A. I told Dr. Shiva that I usually ask questions. Following her talk though, I expressed my admiration that she spoke so well and summarized the healing plan for all of us people, plants, and all organisms through re-establishing the biodiverse earth, that I did not have any questions. Instead I told her what we are doing in our community of Monroeville to work with these issues. I told her about how we are linking the Food Not Lawns campaign with the urban core through the Schwartz Market project on Pittsburgh's Historic South Side.

So the newly established garden behind the Monroeville Public Library in cooperation with the library and the municipality is the first huge step in an outstanding direction. This winter, I will be thinking about, planning,  and designing a food garden for our front lawn, out here in this suburb called Monroeville. Our January meeting will be dedicated to the idea of Food Not Lawns. Join Us!

So what does this have to do with the urban core? Well, the urban folks do not have much space to grow food. Let's provide our suburban food for sale in the city and help the city folks establish their own rooftop gardens and urban farms....We are working step by step by step to establish a vibrant Schwartz Market on the South Side on Historic East Carson Street, main street USA! See http://1317eastcarson.blogspot.com. for more on this urban project. The market is available for vendors to sell food and some art, or have their goods sold. Please contact me if you are interested in being involved on any level out here in the suburbs or in the South Side.

I can be reached by e-mail at elisabeck@aol.com which I check almost daily, or sustainablemonroeville@gmail.com which I check infrequently!

So why am I so excited? Because when a person like Vandana Shiva says, oh, yes, that she did not talk about that last night, but that connecting the rural farmers with the urban core is so important and telling me that what we are doing is exactly what needs to happen, I get even more inspired! Perhaps she'll mention some of our after talking in her talk today at Carnegie Mellon University between 12:30 and 1:30 or tonight when she receives the Thomas Merton Award at the Sheraton in Station Squrare.

Join Us in this magnificent journey of vibrant life!  Elisa Beck :)

Elisa Beck

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Pittsburgh Public Market at Sustainable Monroeville

On Monday, November 14, 2011, at 7:00 PM, Rachel Kudrick of the Pittsburgh Public Market will be our speaker. Rachel will be talking about some of their specific plans for how to help communities become healthier, more sustainable, greener and friendlier, including future planning for educational classes, demos and partnerships.
She'll be bringing some maps of the Strip and a few other give-aways. Rachel, center, came to our meeting in September, 2011, and is pictured below with the two speakers from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Food Security Partnership:

Pittsburgh Public Market is a year-round public market hall located in the heart of the Strip District, Pittsburgh’s historic market district. The market offers a variety of locally grown and produced goods to support local business, industry and agriculture.

They are a non-profit entity under the auspices of Neighbors in the Strip and provide a place for local small businesses to open, learn, grow and thrive without the high cost of overhead that a traditional storefront would entail.

Their mission is to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood, provide healthy food and nutrition education to the neighborhood and surrounding region, provide jobs for low-income individuals with an emphasis on women and minorities, and create a public space that celebrates Pittsburgh’s diverse ethnic and food traditions.

Prior to the meeting NOTE CHANGE! At Monroeville # 4 Firehall, 4370 Northern Pike, in Monroeville, PA, on Monday evening, November 14, 2011, at 5:30 PM there will be a public meeting sponsored by Alcosan to update the community on fulfilling the consent decree to fix the sewage system in Allegheny County.  Sustainable Monroeville will not have a pot luck dinner that evening so we can attend this meeting and then follow it with our meeting at 7:00 PM at the Monroeville Public Library.

Background: Alcosan is planning to spend billions of dollars to expand their facilities and put in a new system to handle stormwater.

Another meeting will take place on Wednesday evening, November 9 from 5:30 to 7:30at the IBEW at 5 Hot Metal Street on the South Side. Alcosan has scheduled other meetings too. Go to their website for details.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank's, Kerri LaCharite and James Harrell, Jr., speak!

Hunger and food access affects one in every seven people in the United States, a total of 14.5% of households.  Fresh produce is often the hardest item for families to obtain and purchase.  At the same time 12% of produce goes unharvested due to the cost of labor, market price of produce and other factors.  Kerri LaCharite, Produce Specialist at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank will speak about local and urban agriculture initiatives and volunteer opportunities in South Western Pennsylvania and James Harrell, Jr., Regional Coordinator of the SW PA Food Security Partnership, will speak about the Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership at the October 3, 2011 meeting of Sustainable Monroeville between 7:00 and 8:30 PM in the downstairs program room of the Monroeville Public Library. Free and open to the public. Join Us!

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership was formed with the understanding that a unified approach is the way to make substantial progress toward eradicating hunger in our region.  Strengthening communications, sharing resources, identifying gaps and forging new collaborations throughout the Partnership’s network is their methodology.  It is an approach one set of authors recently described as a “collective impact” rather than an “isolated impact” strategy.

 Below is a more detailed link to the Pittsburgh food bank website which shows the types of work that the Partners have been doing in Allegheny County as well as the entire region.

Melons surrounded by Marigolds to stave off extraneous large critters in the Monroeville USDA People's Garden, September, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stormwater Management and a USDA People's Garden!

At the first meeting of Sustainable Monroeville in February of 2009, we worked to start two committees, one to begin a rain barrel revolution in Monroeville, and the other to learn how to design and implement 10' x 10' biointensive gardens in our suburban yards. Those specific projects have not happened yet, but we did spark a permaculture-style vegetable garden project at the Monroeville Public Library that is planting the seeds for helping us understand how bioswales are important in stormwater management and much more. The garden is now a People's Garden. The People's Garden is an initiative of the United States Department of Agriculture "that encourages government and other organizations to create gardens to benefit the community." (People's Garden takes root beside library, Pittsburgh Post Gazette 9-15-11, EZ-2 byAnne Tubbs,)  The Crossraods Food Pantry and the Pitcairn Food Pantry are receiving the bounty of the Monroeville People's Garden. Here's today's article in its entirety by Annie Tubbs of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

Between the library and the senior citizens center in Monroeville lies a two-row garden of flowers, vegetables and herbs.
It's the brainchild of Monroeville Councilwoman Lois Drumheller, who wanted to establish a People's Garden -- a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative that encourages government and other organizations to create gardens to benefit the community.
She'd hoped to secure thousands of dollars in grants, but when it became clear that wasn't going to happen, she started planning the garden with just $450 in donations.
"This is the first year, and it's all experimental and done on a shoestring budget," she said. The garden is the only USDA-certified People's Garden in Allegheny County.
So far, the 240-square-foot garden has produced about 250 pounds of vegetables, fruits and herbs for two local food pantries -- the Cross Roads Presbyterian Church and the Pitcairn Food Bank.
Early in the year, Sustainable Monroeville, a group that promotes sustainable gardening, helped design a "permaculture" garden -- the plants have a symbiotic relationship to help each other grow.
Then, Ms. Drumheller had the soil tested in March by scientists at the Penn State Cooperative Extension. The test results weren't promising.
"We didn't have very nutritious soil," she said.
So she spent $225 of her budget on a "soil amendment" done by Steel City Soil. After public works employees dug two rows for the garden with a depression in the middle for a bioswale to catch water runoff, topsoil donated and delivered by a local landscaping company was laid down, followed by a nutritious compost mixture from Steel City Soil. On May 31, seeds and seedlings were planted, all of which were either donated or sold at a deep discount by two local garden centers -- June Rose Garden Center in Plum and Mosside Greenhouse in Wall.
Amid the zucchini, tomatoes and cantaloupe, the garden is dotted with marigolds and Irish Spring bar soap because a public works employee told Ms. Drumheller that the smells are offensive to deer.
"Municipal employees are an encyclopedia of knowledge," Ms. Drumheller said.
She also put fences around the tomatoes to further deter four-legged thieves.
She has seen rabbits, deer, turkeys and groundhogs nearby, but they're not really bothering the garden. Only one plant has been gnawed on -- a Jerusalem artichoke
"I don't really see a lot of animals getting into this," she said.
The staff at Monroeville Public Library helps Ms. Drumheller harvest produce from the garden during work breaks.
"It's been exciting to watch it grow and harvest the fruits of Lois' labor," said Christy Fusco, library director.
The small bioswale in the garden catches water on the sloping hill toward the library, preventing some of it from getting into the building.
Ms. Fusco said she hopes to include more environmentally friendly permaculture landscaping on the library grounds to mitigate flooding.
"We're just keeping our eyes open and sort of including that in our plans ... as we address facility issues," she said.
Ms. Drumheller hopes that sustainable gardens expand across the library grounds and onto the nearby Gateway School District campus. School board members took a tour of the garden last week.
Ms. Fusco said the garden is a great start, and she also hopes to "take those ideas and apply them to the whole campus."

Annie Tubbs: atubbs@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1613.

First published on September 15, 2011 at 12:00 am

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11258/1174606-56-0.stm?cmpid=localstate.xml#ixzz1Y1yVwl88

Check out the link to a wonderful editorial about stormwater management by Brenda Smith, Executive Director of the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, and one of 15 women being honored for making the region more green by the Boys and Girls Club on November 19, 2011, at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in downtown Pittsburgh: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11243/1170941-110.stm

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Exploring the Ingredients for Transition with Rob Hopkins

Check out the MP3 link of Rob Hopkins of "Exploring the Ingredients For Transition." Go to www.transitionus.org to find the link.

Need some inspiration? Anyone interested in starting a Transition group, let me know, and i will mentor. Contact me through the Sustainable Monroeville facebook page or by commenting on this blog entry. I was one of the founders of the Transition Pittsburgh group and will be excited to see more Transition groups pop up in this region and everywhere! Elisa Beck

Credit: Maria Vons-Gupta

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Join our Gift Circle!

For our meeting on Monday evening, September 12, 2011 we will have a pot luck dinner starting at 6:00 PM and Gift Circle beginning at 7:00 PM! Consider bringing some locally harvested and/or produced fare for everyone to share! Also your plate, cup and utensils. This will be a zero waste event and you can be sure we'll compost any food we do not eat! We'll be sure to peak at the garden too!

Chad Mosseso, the facilitator says: "Come join us build friendships, community resilience, and economic self-sufficiency at the Gift Circle. As we share our needs and gifts with each other we are able to discover and utilize untapped resources within our community, effectively turning one person's unused asset into another person's treasure.  This creates more abundance for everyone in the community to enjoy while also cutting waste and unnecessary consumption."

See you at the Monroeville Public Library in the downstairs program room at 6:00 PM on Monday evening, September 12, 2011! Elisa Beck

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Your Environmental Road Trip Premier in Pittsburgh, PA September 20, 2011

Join this amazing adventure that starts and ends in the 'burgh! This will be an excellent event and I hope to see you there! Sustainable Monroeville is one of the sponsors so come on out and show your support. Elisa Beck

50 States. 1 Year. Zero Garbage? Called to action by a planet in peril, three friends hit the road - traveling America with hope, humor…and all of their garbage - to explore the good, the bad, and the weird across every state in search of the extraordinary innovators and courageous citizens who are tackling humanity's greatest environmental crises. As the YERT team layers outlandish eco-challenges onto their year-long quest, an unexpected turn of events throws the project for a loop in this award-winning docu-comedy. Featuring Bill McKibben, Wes Jackson, Will Allen, Janine Benyus, Joel Salatin, David Orr, and music by Ben Sollee, Daniel Martin Moore, Mark Geary and more.

Please join us for the Pittsburgh Premiere of the feature documentary "YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip" on Sept. 20th. Doors open and light refreshments begin at 6:30pm, with screening at 7pm at Chatham University's Eddy Theater, hosted by the Rachel Carson Institute in the School of Sustainability and the Environment at Chatham University. The screening will be followed by Q&A with filmmakers Ben Evans and Mark Dixon. This event is generously hosted by the Rachel Carson Institute in the School of Sustainability and the Environment at Chatham University. This event is sponsored in part by Parkhurst Dining and also by Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) and their Black and Gold City Goes GreenThree Rivers Solar Source, andBreathe Easy, Stay Healthy campaigns. Additional sponsors include the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club, Tree Pittsburgh, the Green Building Alliance, Venture Outdoors, Grow Pittsburgh, 3RiversBioneers, Transition Pittsburgh, Sust-Enable, Pittsburgh Student Environmental Coalition (PSEC), Peaceful Gathering of Hands (P.G.H.), Sustainable Monroeville, 1317 East Carson/Schwartz Market, and Evolver Pittsburgh. Ticket reservations are essential-- get yours at http://yertreservation.questionpro.com. Learn more at YERT.com.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Visualizing Biodiversity in the Suburbs

I've been thinking about the potential. The potential of all of the lawn care companies that work on my block transforming the block into 25 homes of front yard food gardens. Imagine that! Imagine the companies that spray noxious and now some eco-friendly lawn and home chemicals morphing into creating and spraying compost teas to enrich the soils, planting fruit and nut trees and perennial food crops like asparagus and herbs, and re-creating biodiversity from the now mostly sprayed monoculture green grass lawns.
What am I also sensing? That our block can transform the western medicalized culture through our example of shifting our lawns to supplying food to our communities and ourselves. After all, there are a lot of medical professionals that reside here. Consistent with our legal drug based culture are the folks on my block that hire companies to spray their lawns. It is a certain aesthetic. The French court aesthetic carried over from the European settler days. Perhaps our permaculture landscape reflects my peasant utilitarian background...
Chemically treated lawn next to Permaculture landscape

The noxious chemicals that maintain the golf course monoculture look wipe out the biodiversity of soil systems. And why does that matter? It matters for the same reason that overuse of antibiotics is wiping out the ecosystem in our guts. And without the ingestion of probiotics and cultured vegetables to re-establish the bacterial flora in our internal ecosystems, we become ill. Digestion in our stomachs and intestines and the proper functioning of our immune systems and the immune systems of our soils are analagous. Let's take steps to heal ourselves, our internal and external ecosystems. Join us at our Sustainable Monroeville meetings and learn how!

Troy educating the Permaculture Design Class in his yard at the backyard pond, part of the home Permaculture landscape. Check out Pittsburgh Permaculture, Octopus Organics and Steel City Soils!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Peaceful Gathering of Hands in Pittsburgh, PA

The 2nd Peaceful Gathering of Hands - Global Peace DayAugust 14, 2011 from 2pm - 7pm
Schenley Oval Meadow, next to the Skating Rink
1 Overlook Drive (best to approach from Blvd of the Allies, exit beside Schenley Swimming Pool)
  • The Peaceful Gathering of Hands is a free and collaborative event to unite diverse groups and individuals who are working for a peaceful and healthy Pittsburgh and Planet.
  • A giant circle of holding hands every-hour-on-the-hour
  • Bring instruments, outdoor games, food to share, items to share, a blanket or tent, eating implements, plus your talents and your visions for Peace (open mic!)
  • Groups encouraged to bring their information for networking
  • At least 500+ at the last event. Come join us!
  • Pictured below is a partial green roof in Pittburgh's South Side

Sustainable Monroeville will have a tent along with many other individuals and groups. Three Rivers Permaculture will have an interesting composting demonstration. Come learn about the Integrative Design Process through the Schwartz Market project. See http://1317eastcarson.blogspot.com Join Us!

Invite friends to the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/event.php?eid=141362629280192

Feel free to post the Youtube movie trailer on Facebook: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsDBby2QOFI

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Summer Garden

Our meeting on July 11 was a blast! We spent the first part of the meeting getting a grand tour of the garden, figuring out which veggies were which, weeding and wondering what would be ready for picking next. The bounty is already going to Crossroads Food Pantry in Monroeville. A few of the children that attended the meeting and a few of the adults enjoyed picking some enormous zucchini. The cabbage and peppers are looking mighty delicious. Kudos to Lois Drumheller and Bern Erb for measuring and collaborating to make this wonderful food garden a reality for the Municipality of Monroeville.

Join us on Monday evening, August 1, 2011 at 7:00 PM in the downstairs program room of the Monroeville Public Library to be part of seeing and experiencing the garden and learning about beekeeping from a Murrysville beekeeper. The meetings are free and open to the public. Invite a neighbor and a friend or two from Monroeville or any neighborhood in or out of the city!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Seeds for a food forest in Monroeville, PA: July 11, 2011, 7 PM

Photo above shows a bioswale for water collection next to a row of young vegetables.

Photo shows young cabbage plant with straw mulch.

For our next meeting on July 11, 2011 at 7:00 PM, Michelle Johnson of Spectrum Charter School and Coordinator of Sustainable Monroeville's Recycling Committee will give an update. Lois Drumheller, third ward councilwoman, will take us on an outdoor tour of the new permaculture influenced garden in the back of the library, and there will be a guest speaking on an interesting non-profit that does work with recycling outside the continental U.S.

See you July 11 at 7:00 PM at the Monroeville Public Library Program Room. Bring friends along too!

Happy summer solstice!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Moni Wesner on Eating Your Lawn. Lois Drumheller on new Food Garden in Monroeville!

Join us on Monday evening, June 6, 2011, at 7:00 PM to hear Moni Wesner talk about Eating Your Lawn. Moni plans to bring along edible plants from her yard for us to sample. Everyone will go home with a plant!

Lois Drumheller, Third Ward councilwoman will give us an update of the newly prepared garden on municipal property outside of the Monroeville Public Library.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Green Environments and Human Health

Asparagus are sprouting on my lawn! Tonight I'll sautee them with some dandelion greens and sea salt for our family. Mmmmm! The apple trees on our front lawn are showing their lime green leaves. We're getting ready to plant a few pear trees on the side of our house. Wouldn't it be neat if all of our suburban lawns were transformed into food production? 
Come learn about permaculture principles this coming Monday evening, May 2, 2011, at the Sustainable Monroeville meeting in the downstairs program room of the Monroeville Public Library at 7:00 PM. Our family has had a permaculture designed yard for over 15 years. I just completed my Permaculture Design Certificate and am ready to share what I know! Join Sustainable Monroeville on Facebook and check out http://1317eastcarson.blogspot.com to follow an urban permaculture project in action! Elisa Beck

Green Environments Essential for Human Health, Research Shows

Research confirms that the impacts of parks and green environments on human health extend beyond social and psychological health outcomes to include physical health outcomes. (Credit: University of Illinois)
ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2011) — Research shows that a walk in the park is more than just a nice way to spend an afternoon. It's an essential component for good health, according to University of Illinois environment and behavior researcher Frances "Ming" Kuo.
"Through the decades, parks advocates, landscape architects, and popular writers have consistently claimed that nature had healing powers," Kuo said. "But until recently, their claims haven't undergone rigorous scientific assessment."
Kuo is also the director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the U of I and has studied the effect of green space on humans in a number of settings in order to prove or disprove the folklore notions.
"Researchers have studied the effects of nature in many different populations, using many forms of nature," Kuo said. "They've looked at Chicago public housing residents living in high-rises with a tree or two and some grass outside their apartment buildings; college students exposed to slide shows of natural scenes while sitting in a classroom; children with attention deficit disorder playing in a wide range of settings; senior citizens in Tokyo with varying degrees of access to green walkable streets; and middle-class volunteers spending their Saturdays restoring prairie ecosystems, just to name a few."
Kuo says that although the diversity of the research on this subject is impressive and important, even more important is the rigor with which the work was conducted.
"In any field with enthusiasts, you will find a plethora of well-meaning but flimsy studies purporting to 'prove' the benefits of X," Kuo said. "But in the last decade or so, rigorous work on this question has become more of a rule than an exception. The studies aren't simply relying on what research participants report to be the benefits of nature. The benefits have been measured objectively using data such as police crime reports, blood pressure, performance on standardized neurocognitive tests, and physiological measures of immune system functioning."
Kuo said that rather than relying on small, self-selected samples of nature lovers such as park-goers, scientists are increasingly relying on study populations that have no particular relationship to nature. One study examined children who were receiving care from a clinic network targeting low-income populations. Another looked at all United Kingdom residents younger than retirement age listed in national mortality records for the years 2001-2005.
"Scientists are routinely taking into account income and other differences in their studies. So the question is no longer, do people living in greener neighborhoods have better health outcomes? (They do.) Rather, the question has become, do people living in greener neighborhoods have better health outcomes when we take income and other advantages associated with greener neighborhoods into account?" That answer is also, yes, according to Kuo.
After undergoing rigorous scientific scrutiny, Kuo says the benefits of nature still stand.
"We still find these benefits when they are measured objectively, when non-nature lovers are included in our studies, when income and other factors that could explain a nature-health link are taken into account. And the strength, consistency and convergence of the findings are remarkable," she said.
Kuo drew an analogy to animals. "Just as rats and other laboratory animals housed in unfit environments undergo systematic breakdowns in healthy, positive patterns of social functioning, so do people," she said.
"In greener settings, we find that people are more generous and more sociable. We find stronger neighborhood social ties and greater sense of community, more mutual trust and willingness to help others.
"In less green environments, we find higher rates of aggression, violence, violent crime, and property crime -- even after controlling for income and other differences," she said. "We also find more evidence of loneliness and more individuals reporting inadequate social support."
The equation seems too simple to be true.
  • Access to nature and green environments yields better cognitive functioning, more self-discipline and impulse control, and greater mental health overall.
  • Less access to nature is linked to exacerbated attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, higher rates of anxiety disorders, and higher rates of clinical depression.
If that isn't convincing enough, Kuo says the impacts of parks and green environments on human health extend beyond social and psychological health outcomes to include physical health outcomes.
  • Greener environments enhance recovery from surgery, enable and support higher levels of physical activity, improve immune system functioning, help diabetics achieve healthier blood glucose levels, and improve functional health status and independent living skills among older adults.
  • By contrast, environments with less green space are associated with greater rates of childhood obesity; higher rates of 15 out of 24 categories of physician-diagnosed diseases, including cardiovascular diseases; and higher rates of mortality in younger and older adults.
"While it is true that richer people tend to have both greater access to nature and better physical health outcomes, the comparisons here show that even among people of the same socioeconomic status, those who have greater access to nature, have better physical health outcomes. Rarely do the scientific findings on any question align so clearly."
Because of this strong correlation between nature and health, Kuo encourages city planners to design communities with more public green spaces in mind, not as mere amenities to beautify a neighborhood, but as a vital component that will promote healthier, kinder, smarter, more effective, more resilient people.
Parks and Other Green Environments: Essential Components of a Healthy Human was published in a research series for the National Recreation and Park Association.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

South Side Forum

On Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 5:30 PM at 2005 Sarah Street, the Brasher Building, there will be an update on the plans for the upcoming projects for 1317 East Carson Street and Schwartz Market.

 Part of the update will include mention of when Richard Piacentini, Executive Director of Phipps Conservatory spoke with some of us in March, 2011 about the trials, tribulations, and joys of working on the Living Building Challenge at their facility.

Tony Albrecht and Carrie DiFiore, Architects, displayed their early design models for 1317 East Carson Street on March 2, too.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Permaculture in our town, Darrell Frey, and April 29, 30 and May 1, 2011

Permaculture in our town. What town am I referring to? Well, first and foremost the town I live in called Monroeville, PA. What other towns am I referring to? Any community urban, suburban, and even rural, for that matter. Who am I referring to? Well, that would be you I'm referring to if you are reading this.  Stay tuned for a call for volunteers as we plan and implement our first official permaculture designed garden in a public space out here in Pittsburgh's suburb, Monroeville, PA. When you'd like your very own yard or your apartment designed inside and out with permaculture principles, you'll have many in this region to call upon to help you with designing and implementing your vision.

I, along with 20 others, have just completed the first Permaculture Design Certificate course offered by Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA.  Three of the attendees were Phipps employees and two of the three teachers were directly employed by or contract with Phipps to do work. The crowning jewel last day of this amazing course was a visit yesterday to Three Sisters Farm in Sandy Lake, PA. It is about an hour and a half drive north of Pittsburgh. Carpooling recommended!

Darrell Frey, author of the newly released Bioshelter Market Garden, c 2011 by New Society Publishers is the genius behind this farm along with Linda Susan Strawbridge Frey, and many, many others Darrell credits in his book. Permaculture is all about community, redefining the way we live in these times. In the book's introduction, Darrell defines bioshelter as a "greenhouse operated as an ecosystem. " Lucky I just defined that too because my computer underlined it as if it is not a word. This is all about learning new vocabulary, and defining new ways to do things, and to be, in this culture of ours. Redefining culture as we go. Darrell defines market garden as "a commercial scale farm that supplies fresh produce to a regional market." HIs farm is a permaculture farm complete with chickens for eggs, and goats to eat the weeds. The newest amazing design in the works is to make the farm handicapped accessible.

Go to this link to register for an amazing weekend workshop with David Jacke, an amazing and original permaculturist. David will be accompanied by Liz Lynch, Juliette Jones and other permaculturists. Darrell Frey will be introducing David Jacke at an evening event the night before the weekend workshop.


See you soon! Elisa Beck  www.sustainablemonroeville.com

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Earth Hour and Permaculture

To make a statement about climate change, Saturday evening, March 26, 2011, from 8:30 to 9:30 PM, is Earth Hour. In Pittsburgh, PA, the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, Hamerschlag Hall at Carnegie Mellon University and other "iconic" structures in Pittsburgh will be dark for that hour. Thanks Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh City Council! Let's all turn out our lights from 8:30 to 9:30 tonight and see what it is like to be with some more natural light rhythms.

As part of the Permaculture Design Course sponsored by Phipps Conservatory, I spent the afternoon walking around a house in the Point Breeze area whose owners have done everything possible to save energy and be as mindful as possible in their lives. They've installed an amazing wood burning stove, energy efficient windows, some that absorb heat and some that repel heat depending upon the orientation, that's north, south, east or west, and lots and lots of extra insulation to seal up all holes and cracks. They even have, and use two home made composting toilets. Of course a Permaculture landscape, complete with a pond with goldfish swimming around, and what I'll call their two year old urban food forest are simply amazing. We are all on this path together!

Happy Spring and have fun with Earth Hour!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Economics of Happiness trailer (high resolution)

Training for Transition T4T in Monroeville!

Mark your calendar for April 9 and April 10, 2011 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM each day for Training for Transition. The training, sponsored by Transition Pittsburgh, will take place at the Cedars in Monroeville and is co-sponsored by Sustainable Monroeville and the Cedars. Carpools will be set up from the city. This course is packed with imaginative and inspiring ways to catalyze, support and engag­e your community Training4Transition delves into both the theory and practice of Transition that has worked so well in hundreds of communities in the U.K. and around the world.

• Explore ways of increasing community resilience
• Learn to describe the challenges of Peak Oil, climate change, and economic instability in ways that bring people together and inspire action
• Receive tools for community outreach, education and creating shared vision
• Learn ways to work with obstacles that have prevented our communities from responding to the challenges
• Learn how to facilitate community collaboration -- supporting existing activities and expanding the number and diversity of people involved
• Meet others in your region who share your concerns and want to transition to greater stability and security
• Become a part of a rapidly growing positive, inspirational, global movement!

Who should attend: People interested in learning ways to transition their community, people already creating a Transition Initiative, and communities wishing to become an internationally-recognized Transition Initiative.

Instructors: Tina Clarke, certified Transition Trainer will be making her forth trip to Pittsburgh! She will be joined by Fred Brown, of the Kingsley Association in Pittsburgh and certified TransitionUS trainer.

Cost: $160. Refreshments and study materials included. All food is Potluck! (Lodging not included.) If you can donate extra money for scholarships, your generosity will help those with low incomes to attend! A small amount of work-trade spots and scholarships are available.

Registration: Send an Email with your info (name, neighborhood, affiliations) to Jeff Newman: jnewman11@gmail.com or call 814-449-3552. There is more information at our website - http://transitionpgh.org/events/training-4-transition-2-days

TransitionPgh Meetup site - http://www.meetup.com/transitionpgh/events/16850577/
 Feel free to share this with anyone that might be interested!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One Woman Farm

Margaret Schlass of One Woman Farm will be speaking this coming Friday, March 11, 2011, at the Cedars in Monroeville. Go to the Cedars website for details. This is in conjunction with the Cedars coffee and tea house.

Friday, March 4, 2011

David Jacke in Pittsburgh! Food Forest Heaven!

Schwartz Market on Pittsburgh's Historic South Side is closing for the time being and planning for a new era in food systems and health and healing in America is beginning! Go to http://1317eastcarson.blogspot.com/ for some insights.

Join David Jacke at Chatham University and at the Phipps Garden Center the last weekend in March and through April 1. Details follow.
We will all learn together how to develop our own food forests, produce our own food on our own property and in our own neighborhoods. Clean water, pure air, real food and healthy bodies will move us into our healthy future!
Food, not lawns, is the next phase for Monroeville! Learn with us!

Healthy Land, Healthy Water, Healthy Community: Regenerating Pittsburgh from the Ground Up
Friday Lecture and Weekend Workshop by Permaculture Expert Dave Jacke
Okay, I changed my light bulbs to CFLs, I recycle and compost. What else can I do?! If you are looking for ways to delve deeper into lasting sustainable solutions, then this inspiring evening lecture and weekend workshop is just what you need to discover practical ways to create a healthy and vibrant life—and to regenerate the city in the process!  Liz

Friday evening, April 29, 7-9PM, Eddy Theatre, Chatham University, Pittsburgh
Regenerating Communities, Ecosystems, and Landscapes with Permaculture
During the Friday evening lecture, explore the forest gardening vision with Dave Jacke, author of Edible Forest Gardens, as he presents “Regenerating Communities, Ecosystems, and Landscapes with Permaculture.” Learn how to create high-yielding, low-maintenance backyards with lush ripe fruit and perennial edibles, and see ample examples of existing edible Edens. Discover how this systems design model can be used for backyard growing as well as community empowerment to create an abundant future right here, right now. This event takes place on Friday April 29, 2011, from 7-9pm, at Chatham University’s Eddy Theatre.

§       Suggested donation: $10.  No one turned away for lack of funds.  All are welcome.

Saturday & Sunday, April 30 & May 1, 9AM-4PM 1059 Shady Ave, Phipps Garden Center
Regenerating Pittsburgh from the Ground Up
Join Dave Jacke and regional permaculture teachers for a two-day workshop, April 30th and May 1st, at Phipps Garden Center on Shady Avenue. Gain a fresh perspective on functional relationships in plant and human communities. Experience permaculture principles and learn how to replicate the way nature works to provide us with everything we need – food, energy, shelter, medicine, biodiversity, beauty, health, enjoyment - with minimal work in the long run. Engage with other Pittsburghers in real solutions to our region’s most pressing environmental challenges.

§       Sliding scale fee for the weekend workshop is $150- $200.  Discounts for groups of 5 or more, pay only $125 per person. Scholarships available, please ask.
§       Pre-registration required, please visit PittsburghPermaculture.org or call Juliette at 412-780-5833. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kevin May LIVE! "The Two Trees"

The next meeting of Sustainable Monroeville will feature Kevin May, Philosophical, Cultural Recyclist and Transitioner speaking about life and good living. Join us on Monday evening, March 7, 2011, from 7:00 to 8:30 PM at the Monroeville Public Library. We'll also do an update on our work including recycling and Permaculture Design and implementation of a vegetable garden this spring.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Annual Pot Luck Dinner

Join us on Monday evening, February 7, 2011 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM for our second annual pot luck dinner in the downstairs program room of the Monroeville Public Library. Please bring along a dish that has one locally sourced ingredient or a raw food dish.

Last year we asked folks to bring along a dish with one locally sourced ingredient and it got us thinking! One member of the group brought ham from Isaly's, another a potato dish from the prepared foods section of Whole Foods that had locally sourced potatoes. Be creative! This will be a zero waste event so bring your plate, silverware and cup too!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Food and Social Change

Anna Lappe will speak at Chatham University on Food Activism and social change on Wednesday evening, January 26, 2011, at 5:00 PM. Book signing follows. Admission is free. For more information call 412-365-2473 or email ajulier@chatham.edu. Directions and parking information are located here.

Her lecture, “Firing-Up Food Activism, Cooling-Down the Planet,” promises to be an inspiring talk about sustaining communities and encouraging innovative and democratic solutions to hunger, inequality, and environmental degradation. Ms. LappĂ©’s journey through the global food system shows us where the problems reside and what people across the globe are doing in everyday actions to challenge and change our world. Her most recent books include “Diet for a Hot Planet” and “Hope’s Edge.”Go to Chatham University website for details.

Join us at the next meeting of Sustainable Monroeville on Monday evening, January 7, 2011 in the program room of the Monroeville Public Library at 6:30 PM for a pot luck dinner. Bring along a dish that has one locally sourced ingredient, or a non-meat raw foods dish. Also bring a place setting so this can be a zero waste event. We will compost our food waste!
This will be our second annual pot luck dinner. We all needed to think long and hard about the local ingredient challenge in February. Here we go again! See you soon. :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Living Building Renovation

Check out this video by Kevin May of the Cultural Recyclists and learn something about a fascinating project in Pittsburgh's historic South Side. What can we learn from this work out here in the Pittsburgh suburbs?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Alternative Electricity Suppliers

Join us on Monday evening, January 3, 2011, for our first meeting of the New Year! We will be planning speakers and happenings for this calendar year and hearing Joni James talk about an opportunity to fundraise for our organization.

Bring along your electric bill if you are ready to have your energy supplied by 20% wind energy or 100% wind energy.