UU Barn Blog

Air pollution – Easy/Med – Help Improve our Air: Bad Air Day Actions to Consider

Green Living Ideas for:   Bad Air Days 1

What It Takes:  Easy/Med – Learn what you can do and make adjustments

 1) Sign up for the local air quality forecast. If it is poor, consider minimizing your impact.

Go to AirNow  scroll to the bottom to have the air quality forecast emailed daily to your inbox.

2) On Days when High Ozone Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

  • Choose a cleaner commute – share a ride to work or use public transportation.
  • Combine errands and reduce trips. Walk to errands when possible.
  • Avoid excessive idling of your automobile; park instead of idling in the drive-thru.
  • Refuel your car in the evening when its cooler.
  • Conserve electricity and set air conditioners no lower than 78 degrees.
  • Defer lawn and gardening chores that use gasoline-powered equipment, or wait until evening.

 3) On Days when High Particle Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

  • Reduce the number of trips you take in your car.
  • Reduce or eliminate fireplace and wood stove use.
  • Avoid burning leaves, trash, and other materials.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.

 4) Take steps to minimize your exposure to air pollution and protect your health.

 The following summarizes actions to take when pollutants (O-Ozone, P-Particles, C-Carbon Monoxide and S – Sulfur) rise to unhealthy levels and above according to the Air Quality Index (AQI).

 Sensitive Groups. Sensitive groups of people vary based on the pollutant as shown below.  As AQI values rise, members of sensitive groups are more likely to experience health effects and those effects are more likely to be severe.

  • Ozone:People with lung disease such as asthma, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors are considered sensitive and therefore at greater risk.
  • Particle pollution:People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children are considered sensitive and therefore at greater risk.
  • Carbon monoxide: People with heart disease, like angina, are at greater risk.
  • Sulfur dioxide: People with asthma, heart or lung disease and children are at greater risk

Green  Good (0 – 50)            

Little or no health risk. Enjoy outdoor activities

Yellow  Moderate (51 – 100)             

A very small number of people may experience moderate symptoms.

  • O, P – Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.
  • C, S – None

 Orange  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (101 – 150)

Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects, but the general public is unlikely to be affected.

Sensitive Groups:

  • O, P, C – reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion
  • C – avoid sources of CO, such as heavy traffic
  • S – People with asthma should consider reducing exertion outdoors

Red  Unhealthy (151 – 200)

Everyone may begin to experience health effects when AQI values are between 151 and 200. Members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.

Sensitive Groups:

  • O, P – avoid prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion
  • C – reduce moderate exertion;
  • C – avoid sources of CO, such as heavy traffic
  • S – reduce exertion outdoors

Everyone else:

  • O, P – should limit/reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion

 Purple  Very Unhealthy  (201 – 300)

Everyone may experience more serious health effects. A HEALTH ALERT is triggered.

Sensitive Groups:  STAY INSIDE

  • O, P – avoid all outdoor exertion
  • C – avoid outside exertion;
  • C – avoid sources of CO, such as heavy traffic
  • S – avoid exertion outdoors

Everyone else:

  • O – limit all outdoor exertion.
  • P – avoid prolonged or heavy outside exertion
  • S – reduce exertion outdoors

What You Get: Information to help improve our air quality and your health

World Benefit: Cleaner air and better health.

References: 1) Information summarized from presentation by Matt Mehalik during the April 30th Earth day service

2) https://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqi_brochure.index ; https://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=pubs.aqiguideozone

Share Your Idea: Have a green living idea that works for you? Please forward to conniemhester@yahoo.com for inclusion in an upcoming newsletter and on the Green Sanctuary webpage.

Be Straw Free – Easy – Stop Using Disposable Straws

Green Living Idea to:   Be Straw Free – Join Milo Cress’ movement 

What It Takes:  Easy – Habit Change

Milo Cress, who was 9 when he started this project in February 2011, is the primary spokesperson (and primary Instigator, his mother likes to say) of the Be Straw Free project. Over 500 million straws are handed out each day with beverages in the US. That is enough to fill over 127 school busses per day or 46,400 per year. 1

1) Ask for your beverage without a straw when eating out or on the go.  

 2) If you like straws, buy a reusable one. Take it along to the restaurants with your own reusable container for leftovers.

3) Invite restaurants to ask before giving out straws with every drink. Most people are happy to drink straight from a glass. Restaurants are more likely to change procedure, if they are asked by customers. Thank those restaurants that already ask. Milo’s how to ask

What You Get: Reduces waste. Reduces cost, if you use regularly at home.

World Benefit: Reduces greenhouse gas from production and transportation of straws. Reduces landfill usage.  

References: 1) http://ecocycle.org/bestrawfree#action


Share Your Idea: Have a green living idea that works for you? Please forward to conniemhester@yahoo.com for inclusion in an upcoming newsletter.

President’s Report – June 2017

Baumwell’s that ends well-

As outgoing Board President, this part of the President’s Report will be my last column. Most of what I wanted to say about the year in review is written in the President’s Report of the Annual Report. The message that I want to leave you with here is my deep appreciation of and thanks for all the talent, hard work, and dedication of the members and staff of UUCNH. The strength and health of this congregation combined with our shared vision has made this past year like a pleasant stroll together with 200 or so of my closest friends. It has been my pleasure and honor to serve as your President and I leave committed to remaining engaged and certain of the strong leadership to follow.

                ~ Ivan Baumwell


Robyn’s Ramblings-

As incoming Board President, I look forward to what the next year will bring. We are a community in transition in many ways. This year we will implement our new governance change, and this will bring challenges to how we view our roles and how we share authority and delegate work. What new policies will we implement? What new roles will we each take on? How will the work we do change? We will also endeavor to find a settled Director of Lifespan Faith Development (DLFD). What will our Religious Education plan look like? What can we do better/different? Finally, we will begin a new year with a new minister.  What will our new ministry look like? What will Sundays look like? What will we see when our new minister shows us our own reflection in the mirror and asks us to really look?

The truth is, through all this transition, I am positive that, one thing will continue:  we will continue to be a community. All the aspects that make us a beloved community will remain. We will continue to love each other. We will continue our love for our church. We will continue to work for each other. We will continue to work for justice in the world. We will continue to challenge each other. We will continue to show deep gratitude for each other. We will continue to deepen our connections. We will continue to work toward growth. We will continue to be the community that so many of us have come to need and nurture. No matter how many ways we change, we will do it as a community, and

I look forward to seeing what our beloved community will look like at this time next year.

Robyn Travers
President, UUCNH Board of Trustees

Reduce Paper- EASY – Lay the free end OVER the toilet paper roll

Green Living Idea to:   Reduce Toilet Paper Usage

 It Takes:  Easy – Habit Change

When you load the toilet paper roll make the free end lay over the roll, not under. Assuming your toilet paper roll is below eye level, the tear point is visible from the top resulting in a more accurate tear. The roll is less likely to unroll more than desired.1 A study done in the late 1980s/early 1990s showed that changing the orientation of the roll to over from under reduced the amount of toilet paper ordered by our park system by 1/3rd.
What You Get: Uses less toilet paper and saves money
World Benefit: Reduces greenhouse gas emissions from production of the paper and reduces waste.  
Share Your Idea: Have a green living idea that works for you? Please forward to conniemhester@yahoo.com for inclusion in an upcoming newsletter.

Air Pollution – Easy/Med – Help Improve The Air You Breathe

Green Living Idea

UUA Green Sanctuary    Small changes made by many people make big changes for our world. Be part of it!

 Green Living Ideas for:   Improving the air you breathe 1

What It Takes:  Easy/Med – Time to learn, use and share your knowledge

1) Know the truth and combat air quality misinformation when you hear it.

  • Truth: Since the Clean Air Act passed in 1970 it has saved $22 trillion and paid for itself 30 times over. It saved 13 million lost work days in 2010 and is projected to prevent 220,000 premature deaths in 2020.
  • Myth: “Our air is good; it is so much better than when I grew up here years ago.” Everyone agrees it is better. But, our air remains a significant challenge. We are still 1 of 13 areas nationwide that don’t meet Clean Air Act standards. The Pittsburgh, New Castle, Weirton area has the 8th worst air in the US. Two weeks ago we got an F across board from the American Lung Association, Sulphur dioxide, particulates, and ozone. 2   We are in the 12th Two out of 3 days we did not get a “good” air rating. Even New York City is in 40th percentile. 3
  • Truth: Allegheny County is the 21st worst county out of 3200 nationwide in terms of cancer risk due to air pollution.
  • Myth: “Our air pollution blows in from the states to our west. We can’t do anything about that.”

Allegheny is the third worst county nationwide in terms of cancer risk due to point source pollution (creating the pollution right here).  It is not just from the Mon Valley, either. Ten of the 14 regional monitors had readings in the worst 25%. It is all over the area.

  • Truth: Improving our air quality can be a source of inspiration, innovation and jobs.

 2) Sign up for the local air quality forecast. If it is poor, consider minimizing your impact.

Go to AirNow  scroll to the bottom to have the air quality forecast emailed daily to your inbox. If poor,

  • Skip mowing the lawn
  • Drive less – car pool, take public transportation, combine trips
  • Avoid open burning

3) If you smell something, say something! Get the Smell Pittsburgh app to report smells in your location. The app sends the information to CMU, allows you to see other bad air reports coming in that day, and sends it to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD). ACHD is then required to respond to investigate the reports.  4 Download the app: Google Play, iPhone

4) Learn about air pollution at your house and in the area. The Breathe Project is working to promote clean air and inspire healthy communities across southwestern Pennsylvania. Visit   http://breatheproject.org/ . Check out the breathe meter, Pittsburgh breathe cams and the pollution map – type in your address to find your color.

5) Consider monitoring and/or just taking steps to improve your indoor air quality.  Even if the breathe project pollution map says the air outside your house is poor, it doesn’t have to be inside where you spend most of your time. Also, if your outside air is good, the inside may not be. Click for steps you can take. https://www.specksensor.com/learn/air-quality

6) Take action. The Clean Air Act and other EPA progress is under attack both nationally and locally.  The American Lung Association asks us to urge EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to fully fund, implement and enforce the Clean Air Act for all pollutants—including those that drive climate change and make it harder to achieve healthy air for all.  Click Save the Clean Air Act. In addition, send the same message to President Trump and your congressional representatives.

What You Get: Information to help improve our air quality and your health

World Benefit: Cleaner air and better health.

References: 1) Information summarized from presentation by Matt Mehalik during the April 30th Earth day service

2) http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/

3) http://breatheproject.org/learn/breathe-meter/

4) Smell PGH Press Release

President’s Report – May 2017


It was sad news when Scott informed us of his leaving UUCNH. We wish him and his family the best as he furthers his career and professional development in the different environment provided in Bend, Oregon. I think most of will agree that Scott’s ministry was outstanding for our congregation in many ways. Week after week for six years he inspired us individually and as a congregation to better live out our UU principals.

From the vantage of long-term membership, I and our other long-term members can reassure you that our congregation has never been stronger or healthier. We have weathered ministerial change several times as our church has evolved and many times from a much weaker position. With the help of Scott’s leadership, we are poised for more growth and more prominence as a UU, liberal religious voice in our region.

On April 23rd, a Special Congregational Meeting was held to allow the congregation to decide how to fill the pulpit until we hire a new Settled Minister.  On the recommendations of Scott, the Board, and the UUA Handbook on Transitional Ministry, the congregation voted to hire an Interim Minister for a two-year interlude before calling a Settled Minister. Of course, the announcement of Scott’s relocation and its consequences were not the only newsworthy items this past month.

Stewardship, led by Lou Bartolomucci, announced the results of this year’s canvass. It was arguably the most successful annual pledge drive in our church’s history. We certainly set a record for the most money pledged. Also, I don’t know that we have ever come so close in pledges to what was asked for in the budget. All of this means not only the ability to keep the lights on and to pay our staff, health insurance included, but also the ability to fund our dreams. It reflects the health and strength of our church and the commitment and optimism of our members and friends.

Now more than ever, it is important for us to remain engaged and to continue the generous donations of our time, effort, talent, and financial support to UUCNH. I feel that the best way we can honor Scott and all he has done for us is to not drop the ball and lose the momentum we have in becoming a stronger, more caring, more connected, and more just religious community. The better we live up to Scott’s legacy, the more success we will have in attracting a qualified Interim Minister and ultimately another outstanding Settled Minister who will lead us in the next chapter of our evolution. This is my beloved community, our beloved community, and I look forward to staying engaged, as I hope you do too, as we move ahead.

Ivan Baumwell—President, UUCNH Board of Trustees

President’s Report – April 2017


Spring has sprung and the weather is happily reflecting the season. It’s the source of a sense of renewal and inspiration for a continued feeling of energy.  Attendance on Sundays continues to be strong as well as what I perceive is a sense of purpose. No doubt the political climate has contributed significantly to this.

Personally, I myself feel a sense of optimism about the state of our church and our denomination. I was recently vacationing in California and took the opportunity to attend a Sunday service at the local UU church, the UU Church of the Desert. It was inspiring to see the consistency of our UU liberal religious spirit play out at a church on the other side of the country.

At home, the many and varied social justice projects being engaged in by our Systemic Change team, the vibrancy of our Sunday services, and the work being done by the Governance Task Force to help us evolve towards a more efficient organizational structure all reinforce in me a sense that ours is a strong, engaged and resilient congregation. As we move forward through the Spring I look forward with anticipation to see where this energy takes us. Even as we head towards the Annual Congregational Meeting (to be held Sunday, May 21 at noon) and beyond that into the summer, I feel like the momentum we are experiencing will remain unbroken. Each of us individually and all of us collectively will play a part in making that our reality. I can’t help but think that this will lead to our continued growth in numbers, engagement, and connection with each other.  May it be so.

IIvan Baumwell,

President– UUCNH Board of Trustees

UUCNH Committee of the Month – Sunday Services Team

In the early days of UUCNH, we didn’t have a minister, so all of the Sunday services were lay-led and we didn’t meet during the summer. It worked pretty well. Still, we felt that, if we were to become a vibrant focus for liberal religion in the community, we needed to grow past that stage. So we did, and it has worked.

Our ministers have led us to become that vibrant church we dreamed of. But ministers need out-of- the-pulpit time to rejuvenate and do their other church business, and we do have a history of lay-leadership that can support that need. The Sunday Services Team (SST) is the group that does this. In “official-ese” the SST “is charged with providing high-quality, dynamic Sunday services for UUCNH, in concert with the Minister” and “planning and coordinating all Sunday services that are not led by the Minister.”

“Support” is the key word.  While we (the SST) have a lot of autonomy, Scott is the boss.  He usually lets us roll on, but if he needs to have the last word, he does.  By contract and design, the minister is out of the pulpit once every month and for several weeks during the summer.  We keep a file of available UU speakers, brainstorm among ourselves, and listen to congregational ideas to find subjects and speakers for those Sundays. For each of those days, one of us serves as a coordinator to help design a service that has a coherent, relevant message and that uses at least one “service element” that speaks to every individual. For example, some in the congregation need a time to meditate, some need music, and some need to see the children’s involvement. We try to include those, and more, to be sure each service speaks to everyone.

Besides issues of content and presentation, a lot of seemingly distinct issues can affect the services. Parking, seating, sound system quality, visual theme, music, lay leadership, and accessibility are a few of them. We are to be responsible for, or more commonly, to share responsibility for taking care of such issues. For the most part, other committees handle them quite well and we stay out of the way, but occasionally the buck stops here.

And after Sunday is done, we go over each service to discuss what worked well and what didn’t. We always try to improve. That’s something you can help us with, too.  We look forward to hearing from you. You’ll find a “Service Topics Suggestion Box” in Friendship Hall. We’ll be there, too, if you’d like to talk.

Sunday Services Team (Kathi Finch, James Clark, Mary Doubleday, Cris Graham, Julie Kant, Alex Landefeld, Randy Minnich)

Recycle EASY/MED Help minimize climate change, contamination of soil and water, and landfill usage

 Green Living Idea  

UUA Green Sanctuary    Small changes made by many people make big changes for our world. Be part of it!

Green Living Ideas for:   Recycling

What It Takes:  Easy/Med – Time and effort to buy recyclable items and recycle them

1) Buy items that contain recycled content and/or can be recycled after use.

2) Learn and follow the requirements of trash and recycling in your township, borough, etc. Unfortunately every municipality is different. To help make this easier, we will be adding links to the requirements for many townships to the UUCNH Website Green Sanctuary page.

3) Properly recycle Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). When possible buy less toxic products that do not require special handling. Check here  to see if your township picks up HHW.  If not, look for special collection events.

 4) Properly recycle electronic products. Electronic products are made from valuable resources which require energy to mine and manufacture. Recycling them conserves resources, avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials. Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year. Recycling one million cell phones recovers 35,000 lbs. of copper, 772 lbs. of silver, 75 lbs. of gold and 33 lbs. of palladium.2 Check here to see if your township picks up electronics.  If not, look for special collection events.

5) Collection Events

Allegheny County “household chemicals” details here . NOTE ** All events 9am to 1pm

  • May 6 (North Park Pool parking lot, Allegheny County)
  • May 20 (Concurrent Technologies Corporation ETF Facility, Johnstown, Cambria County)
  • July 22 (Wild Things Park, Washington County)
  • August 19 (Boyce Park, Allegheny County)
  • September 16 (South Park, Allegheny County)
  • October 14 (Bradys Run Park, Beaver County)

Allegheny County “hard to recycle – e waste” details here . NOTE ** All events 9am to 1pm

  • Saturday, May 13th Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills
  • Saturday, June 24th Quaker Valley High School
  • Saturday, July 29th La Roche College
  • Saturday, August 12th Century III Mall
  • Saturday, October 7th Settlers Cabin Park

Find Butler County collection details here

Saturday May 6, 20, Jun. 3, 24, July 15, Aug. 19, Sept. 16, Oct. 14, 28, Nov. 18, Dec. 16

129 Ash Stop Road, Evans City, PA 16033 by appointment 

What You Get: A cleaner environment to live in 

World Benefit: Reduced landfill usage. Less contamination of soil and water. Less consumption of raw materials. Less greenhouse gas emissions. And, it creates recycling jobs 1

References: 1) https://www.epa.gov/recycle/recycling-basics

                           2) https://www.epa.gov/recycle/electronics-donation-and-recycling


Most Empowering Ideas so far: Eating and Consuming – Not just for the rich anymore

Small changes made by many people make big changes for our world. Be part of it!
We are just starting to explore ideas for green living and learn about the tradeoffs between competing ideas. It is clear that green living isn’t the same for any two people because everyone’s circumstances and priorities are different.
The weekly green living idea hopefully increases your knowledge and presents some alternatives. It is then up to you to make the choices that are best for your vision of green living, doing your best, in your circumstances and in your time.
Most Empowering Ideas so far: Eating and Consuming – Not just for the rich anymore
Get many of those cancer causing, endocrine disrupting chemicals out of your body, off your skin and out of your home. This knowledge empowers everyone even those on a very tight budget. It helps close the environmental gap between rich and poor (environmental justice). Maybe one of the best donations we could make to NHCO in the future, might be education on how to spend less while eating and consuming healthier.
Due to my circumstances, as a lymphoma survivor (blood cancer strongly linked to chemicals, particularly pesticides), chemical avoidance and removal from our environment is near and dear to my heart.  Your priorities are surely different. Send what is near and dear to your heart to conniemhester@yahoo.com  or share in the comments.