Monday, December 13, 2010

Community Gathering Thanks!

Thanks to Mark Dixon, Tara Alexander and Brian, the filmakers that are telling the story of this Transition initiative. Thanks Greg Boulos for being there as a trained Transitioner who has sparked this South Side Transition. The next T4T, Training for Transition, will be in early February. Go to or the Transition facebook page for details.

Thank you Leandro and Sebastian and Margaret for your artwork and introducing the energy of art into the studio space upstairs. Thank you Shari, and everyone who danced, for moving dance to the space that evening. Thank you Matt for serving Building New Hope's delicious fairly traded shade grown, organic coffee and displaying marmoleum and a host of other wonderful sustainably oriented building materials from Lawrenceville's Artemis Envrionmental. Thanks Janice Donatelli of Artemis for supplying the materials. Thanks you Theodora Shipper for selling your special natural sauce and thank you David Erzen of Erzen Associaties for displaying your green peroxide based cleaning supplies.

Thank you Marty, Brian and Audrey Dorfner for serving your delicious smoked sausage samples and thanks to Rick and Donna Stanton and all of the Schwartz Market employees for doing their work for so many years. We are all working together to facilitate a smooth transition to the future. The current owners of the business are planning to retire and are asking for $75,000 for their business or for anyone interested to make them an offer. In the meantime, we are morphing the space to continue to carry the items the market has carried for many years, but also carry more local items from local producers. If you'd like to rent shelf space in the market area, let us know immediately!

Thank you the 75 plus folks that came out on a cold evening on December 8, 2010, to gather around to see the architectural plans by Tony Albrecht and Carrie DiFiore. And thanks for imagining with us. And thanks for getting to know each other. The next step is to gather our energy and funding together. A handful of us will be meeting with the Heinz Endowment Environment officer this week and also with the current owners of the Schwartz business to work through this next step, the funding piece of the puzzle.

We are putting together two 7 person boards. One board will meet to plan the overall vision and implement this vision. The other group of seven will be a steering committee to work more specifically on the co-op vision and implementation. If you are interested in being in one of these two groups, please let us know. The committment will be for two hours once a week, for the next year. We are working to raise funds to hire Lisa Stolarski to implement the co-op plan and also raise funds for renovation of the existing historic structure as a living building as was talked about in a prior post.

Thank you to Megan Dietz, Jennifer, in the purple house, Melanie E. of Gypsy Cafe, Pat of 17th Street Cafe, Sweetwater Cooking, Plamen, Brad Hochberg, the UGGC, Bruce Construction, ERnie Sota, Eric Fisher, Gerry Morasco, Stan Pittman of the Sarah Heinz House, Chad and Joel of Allegheny Green Roofs, Three Rivers Bioneers, Seedspeak, TransitionPghers, Aaron Fraser, PA Resources Council, Conservation Consultants and Ann Gerace, Yvonne Phillips, Kate O'Brien, the EEFC, Mark, Bruce Kraus, SSLDC, PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and everone who I did not mention individually for all you have done so far. The adventure is just beginning!

Contact with your intentions as we move forward. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What is a Living Building?

My understanding of a living building is one that produces energy instead of using energy. It's a pretty wild idea, but one that Phipps Conservatory is working towards here in Pittsburgh. Phipps's new administrative and educational building that is just about under construction is planning to meet the "Living Building Challenge."

We are working with the South Side residents, South Side community and other local communities, architects, engineers, non-profits, students of all ages, council folks, and others to craft a design for a living building renovation of the existing historic structure at 1317 East Carson Street. At the upcoming event on December 8, 2010, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM at 1317 East Carson, you'll meeet a lot of the folks that have been helping to plan this building and community transition. We'll be seeing some architects' plans for an urban farm on the rooftop and an art display created by artists of all ages: DOORS.

We're basing our project on the ideas in the book The Town That Food Saved by Ben Hewitt and The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building: Redefining the Practice of Sustainability by 7group and Bill Reed.

Join us for food, frolic, fun, and come generate the continuing plans with us. We need your help to manifest these dreams! Invite your friends and neighbors too. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Idea Charette and Open House


It is so interesting to be writing about 1317 East Carson Street. The building has been in my husband's family since the 1970's. His grandfather, Morris Schwartz, established Schwartz Market in the late 1920's in what is now the Beneficial Building in Pittsburgh's Historic South Side. In 1938 the business moved to its present location at 1317 East Carson Street. Mr. Joe Liotta has been painting the signs on the front window of the building since 1938. Now that is history! Mr. Liotta started as a stock boy with the market, became a Manager of one of the stores and then after his retirement, continued painting signs which he does to this day!

Our family sold the business to two couples, Donna and Rick Stanton, and Audrey and Marty Dorfner in 1986. These two couples have been running the Schwartz Market business since then. They are planning to retire form the business very soon, and are in the process of selling the business. In the meantime, as the building owners, we are working to improve the building in a way that engages the community and creates a fantastic green space for the next seven generations.

Join us on December 8, 2010, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. We'll be hosting an Open House. at 1317 East Carson Street, the home of Schwartz Market. This will also be an idea charette. What is a charette anyway? In this case, a gathering of people interested in creating the new vision for a space in Pittsburgh's Historic South Side.

We are forming a food cooperative in the building and also creating accessibility to the second and third floors and the roof to hatch green non-profits and businesses. We'll give tours of the historic warehouse to those that are interested. We will ask for your name and contact information and how you'd like to be involved in the project.

Building New Hope, a Pittsburgh based nonprofit organization, will be offering samples of their organically certified (OCIA), shade grown coffee from El Porvenir, a worker owned farming cooperative in Nicaragua. Artemis Environmental will display products. Architectural drawings for proposed development as a Living Building will be displayed.

The event is free and open to the public. We are engaging the South Side community and beyond in the development process. Integrative systems thinking is our future!

Special thanks to Artemis Environmental, Building New Hope, Councilman Bruce Kraus who will be making an appearance, and the South Side Local Development Company.

Please contact if you would like to exhibit at this event. We are looking for local people who make and use local products to support our local economy. It is free to exhibit, but you'll have to bring your own table and supplies.