Green Living in Pittsburgh. One of the principles of our faith is the notion of the interconnected web of life. AT UUCNH we are heavily involved in service to the community. As we look toward 2022 and the work that we are doing for our Green Sanctuary certification, here are some of the organizations in the community that can provide you with support.
Green Living Pittsburgh – PennEnvironment Center
In keeping with our policy of highlighting groups that support the environment, it seemed important this week to write about PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center (www.pennvneironmentcenter.org), a group with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (our local one is on Murray Avenue). The group’s website contains a detailed discussion on the following topics and more: the health problems of toxic mercury, limits on carbon pollution, and problems with water pollution in the state. A report dated just a week ago speaks of the benefits of switching school buses over to electric power; the research team reports that this one change could keep 5.3 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year of our air; only 0.2 percent of transit buses in the country are all-electric. Communities can realize huge savings in gas costs by switching as well, allowing them more revenue for other important projects. A section called “Repower Pennsylvania” features detailed reports on clean energy sources such as wind power.
A current “Featured Project” focuses on the very timely topic of fracking in the state, supported by details: Fracking “is booming in Pennsylvania,” with nearly 8,000 active wells; fracking companies are regularly cited for violations but are either not fined or fined minimal amounts. Check out the research on this important topic, and look for the group’s petition to legislators.
Green Living Pittsburgh: Tree Pittsburgh
Tree Pittsburgh is a non-profit group working to restore lost “urban forest” by planting and caring for trees and taking on advocacy projects on behalf of the health of the trees in the area. Central to their work, as explained on their website, is the goal of inspiring people to “maintain, plant, and protect trees.” Since their founding in 2006, they have planted an estimated 50,000 trees in Allegheny County.
We need to spread the word about the group’s latest report. Matt Erb, their director of urban forestry, points out that, according to data gathered by laser and air imagery, the county lost 11,044 acres of tree canopy between 2010 and 2015 (the ‘canopy’ includes leaves, branches, trunk, all visible tree parts above ground). That’s nearly equal to the whole area dedicated to the county park system. It would take at least 100 years to grow enough new trees to replace that much-lost canopy.
Tree Pittsburgh offers educational courses, as well as many volunteer opportunities; through them, you can plan a mulching party, join a neighborhood tree-planting effort, or engage in other events. This seems like a great way to help the local environment while getting some healthy outdoor time! Check them out at www.treepittsburgh.com, and see details of this report on WESA’s website,
Green Living: Western PA Conservancy
Believe it or not, a Google search for “Pennsylvania Environmental Groups” yields about a hundred titles. About a third are located in Western PA or have chapters or offices in the western part of the state. It’s worth checking some of these out since they cover interesting news and events, as well as suggestions for ways to get involved. The first name on the list is the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Several recent projects are featured. The Conservancy recently transferred 105 acres of land to be added to the Laurel Ridge State Park (the Conservancy is also the source of the original land dedicated to form the state park). In December, the Conservancy worked on an ongoing transfer of 13 acres of cave property in Huntington County, to protect habitat for endangered bat species. An ongoing call currently on the website invites volunteer stewards for a range of community gardens. A regular newsletter is available. This is only one of the dozens of groups you might want to explore.
Green Living: Community Resources
Our area includes several local groups that support environmental goals. An umbrella organization for the North Hills is the North Hills Environmental Council, NAEC. Founded in 1969, this group has published studies of local watersheds, put out a Newsletter, engaged in ecological restoration projects, education and advocacy. Those who aren’t familiar with the NAEC might want to check out their seedling sale, at https://naecwpa.org. They offer a selection of trees, shrubs and plants at affordable prices; and of course, this is just the right time of year to shop for new plants.
Other groups are beginning to spring up in individual communities. In 2018 McCandless established an Environmental Advisory Committee that holds open meetings and promotes healthy environmental policies. Other resources seem to be largely in private hands so far.
Hampton Township is home to two environmental consulting firms; Cranberry Township has four. Victoria Environmental Services in Ross Township specializes in the valuable work of asbestos testing and removal. But it would be wonderful to encourage other communities to follow the example of McCandless and set up non-profit groups and committees within local governments to promote environmentally sound projects and policies.
Consider calling your own township or borough center to ask about whether your area has an environmental committee, and to find out what resources are available that might promote sound environmental policies.
Looking for a supportive community to join?
UUCNH, located in the North Hills of Pittsburgh and now serving the world through the Internet is a great place to find support and the friendship of other like-minded individuals and families. Why not use the form below to get more information about our church community?