Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy 2012! Thanks for the signs Joe! Seventy four years and counting!

The clean up is under way at 1317 East Carson Street. The frontage on E. Carson Street is undergoing a transformation and plans include re-opening the food business in the spring. There will be many booths for rent. Rental details will be available soon. Stay tuned ! Here's to a Happy, Healthy and Fun 2012!

Joe Liotta has been painting the signs for the windows of Schwartz Market since 1938!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alcosan's Regional Wet Weather Plan Town Hall in South Side and the Implementation of Green Infrastructure

Last night's meeting sponsored by the Allegheny County Sewer Authority, Alcosan, at the IBEW Hall was interesting and informative. Why be informed about the 2 billion dollar plus plans being formulated now by Alcosan to deal with the consent decree that must be met by our region?  Well, we as taxpayers will be paying for it, we as a species can be part of the solution, and well, it is interesting to me to understand how our project at 1317 East Carson relates to it all. We are in the process of getting bids for the short term plan. That involves putting in an American with Disabilities (ADA) bathroom. As we have been thinking about bathrooms, we've also been pondering the idea of composting toilets in the future as part of what we are striving towards as individual commercial building owners and as citizens of the earth. Here's a few references to learn more about the topic: The Humanure Handbook by Joe Jenkins and Anna Edey's Solviva, perhaps the woman who inspired Joe? Let's educate ourselves about what the full range of what green infrasturcture can mean.

Upcoming meetings to learn more about Alcosan's plan being formulated are 11/14/11 10:00 to Noon at the Undercliff Fire Hall on 700 Mount Royal Road in Pittsburgh, PA 15223, 11/14/11 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at Gateway Hall, Monroeville Fire Dept. # 4, 4370 Northern Pike, Monroeville, PA 15146 and the final public meeting will be an all day event on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at the Senator John Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. This final region wide meeting will be all day, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Below is an excellent piece from the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago. This is an wonderful beginning. There are examples of many of these types of green infrastructure efforts around the Pittsburgh region. The full reference is listed at the bottom of this page. Elisa Beck

What is Green Infrastructure?

Green infrastructure is the interconnected network of open spaces and natural areas, such as greenways, wetlands, parks, forest preserves and native plant vegetation, that naturally manages stormwater, reduces flooding risk and improves water quality. Green infrastructure usually costs less to install and maintain when compared to traditional forms of infrastructure. Green infrastructure projects also foster community cohesiveness by engaging all residents in the planning, planting and maintenance of the sites.


  • Rain gardens recharge groundwater sources, meaning that fewer pipes need to be installed to move water around the region.
  • They help protect communities from flooding and drainage overflow and provide valuable wildlife habitat.
  • Additional benefit: costs less to maintain than traditional forms of landscaping.
A rain garden is a man-made depression in the ground that is used as a landscape tool to improve water quality and reduce flooding. The rain garden forms a “bioretention area” by collecting water runoff and storing it, permitting it be filtered and slowly absorbed by the soil.

Wetlands Restoration

  • In addition to capturing and slowing water and improving water quality, wetlands provide valuable wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities (hunting, fishing, bird watching).
Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season.


  • Tree windbreaks reduce residential heating and cooling costs by 10-50 percent.
  • Trees reduce air pollution and there is increasing evidence that they play a role in reducing crime.
  • Unlike sewers and built infrastructure, trees appreciate in value and require less maintenance as they age.

Green Roofs

  • Depending on rain intensity and greenroof soil depths, runoff can be absorbed between 15 to 90 percent, thereby considerably reducing runoff and potential pollutants from traditional impervious roofing surfaces.
  • Overall building energy costs can be reduced due to the greenroofs’ natural thermal insulation properties— structures are cooler in summer and warmer in winter.


Swales typically have several advantages over conventional storm water management practice, such as storm sewer systems, including:
  • the reduction of peak flows;
  • the removal of pollutants,
  • the promotion of runoff infiltration, and
  • lower capital costs.

Porous Pavement

  • reduces impervious areas,
  • recharges groundwater,
  • improves water quality, and
  • eliminates the need for detention basins.

Native Landscaping

  • Native landscaping attracts a variety of birds, butterflies and other animals, supporting biodiversity.
  • Once established, native plants do not need fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides or watering, thus benefiting the environment and reducing maintenance costs.


  • Streambanks along trails & greenways provide more surface area for natural absorption to lessen necessary sewer capacity.
  • Trees slow down and clean water before it enters a stream or sewer.
  • Additional benefits: increased tourism and opportunities for physical activity; increased property values.
Greenways are privately or publicly owned corridors of open space which often follow natural land or water features and which are primarily managed to protect and enhance natural resources.

Featured Publications

Read our Green Solutions Manual

Water: From Trouble to Treasure(2.1mb, .PDF) 01/16/07

Related News

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October 12th, 2011 Chicago Mayor Proposes Increase in Water Rates to Fund Infrastructure Improvements

CNT welcomes Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s move to modernize Chicago’s water infrastructure through increased, and arguably fairer, rate prices. The decision will reduce the amount of water lost through leaks in crumbling pipes, and improve the system’s ability to deal with…

September 27th, 2011 Wangari Maathai Memory Lives on at Al Raby School in Chicago

We at CNT are saddened to learn of the passing of 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement. Wangari Maathai Memory Lives on at Al Raby School in Chicago. CNT was honored to have Ms. Maathai join us at the dedication of one of our first green infrastructure projects, located at the Al Raby School for Community and Environment and named in her honor.

CNT Update Mailing List:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Re-Activating Schwartz Market

Poster from Sustainable Pittsburgh

Copy and paste this link and read the article inside the front page of today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette! When folks ask what we are planning for the market over the next months, it's the article to refer to! We are actively soliciting vendors for our space in Schwartz Market. Interested in incubating your sustainable/regenerative food business with real goods? Do you have an existing small food business that you'd like to expand? Contact Debbie Maier Jacknin at 412.427.5500 or

Friday, October 28, 2011

Window Dressing with Art at Schwartz Market!

Check out our windows at 1317 East Carson Street this weekend and see What's New! Artist Cindy Snodgrass is in the process of installing several beautiful puppet-like beings created in collaboration with other artists and adults and children!  Have a great weekend! Please contact me if you or someone you know is interested in selling their foods or goods at the market. We are renovating, are looking for folks to rent booth space, and plan to re- open in early 2012! Thanks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Deconstruction at 1317 East Carson Street

Where are we in this project at 1317 East Carson Street the home of Schwartz Market, and What's Next? What are all of our roles in this transition to our new culture, our new, and possibly different way of being?

What is Deconstruction? I learned the word a few Sundays ago when visiting the site of Transformazium in North Braddock, PA. Demolition, "Demo" for short, is the term used in the construction industry and really any industry that works with changing a building from its existing form to something other.

Demolition in an old building often involves removing existing fixtures and walls, down to the studs at times, disposing of the materials in a dumpster headed to a landfill, and then installing new things in the place of what was removed.

Deconstruction, or "Unbuilding", or "Green Deconstruction" is a new way of thinking about this process, at least for me and for those taking the Transformazium tour a few Sundays ago. That tour really got me thinking.  I thank Pam Barroso, a fellow Sustainable Monroevillian for letting me know about the event, which was in collabortion with a current art exhibit the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University.

Four women that live and work in Braddock formed Transormazium. The project is focusing on Deconstruction of a formerly condemned church that they bought in their neighborhood. Their original intention was to put in a community/ commerical kitchen and more. As they started to look at the church and the lot across the street from bottom to top, and inside out and deeply consider what they were doing, they wound up spending a lot of time on the process of undoing the existing structure of the building. As they slowly considered every piece of everything they were dealing with, they realized they were engaging with community in a special way. a real way. An every day way. They often find themselves explaining what they are doing because they are doing it slowly and mindfully. They are thinking about what they are doing and considering the idea of Cradle To Cradle.

So back to E. Carson Street, and where are we in what we are doing? We are in the process of implementing a short term plan so our family can retain ownership of the building. We need to make sure the building is occupied by paying tenants in short order. We are looking for tenants to rent booths similar to what the Pittsburgh Public Market in Pittsburgh's Strip district has done. Please contact us by replying to this blog or e-mailing if you are interested in occupying the space. Implementing the short term plan, we intend to open the market space by March 1, 2011. How does that fit into the long term vision that you've read glimpses of earlier in this blog site? As we work towards the Living Building Challnge, we will meet LEED EB and LEED EBOM, I think it's called. The OM stands for Operations and Management... Yesterday we moved aside some ceiling tiles and peeked behind them to see some beautiful tin ceiling tiles, with lots of lead paint flaking off of them. We are getting bids to remove and remediate asbestos floor tiles and lead paint throughout the building. With each step we are considering the ideas of deconstruction rather than demolition. We are paying attention to our health, the health of those that will be doing the work, and the health of those that will be occupying the building in the future.

Deconstruction, the word itself is so much softer and less harsh. We need to be differently as we move through this process.

Brad Hochberg of Energreen revealing what is above that drop ceiling. Thanks Brad!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

From the top of 1317 East Carson Street, visualizing one green rooftop at a time!

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank's, Kerri LaCharite and James Harrell, Jr., will be speaking at 7:00 PM, October 3, 2011 in the downstairs program room of the Monroeville Public Library. Come join us to see the new USDA People's Garden and to learn about volunteer opportunities, food security and more.  Let's start the conversation about Food, Not Lawns! So, as the urbanites grow more food on their rooftops, and the suburbanites grow more and more food on their lots, we'll be making it available at 1317 East Carson Street/ Schwartz Market. Linking suburban food production to the urban core!  See you there!

Perhaps the Beehive and City Theatre will grow food on their rooftops too? How about a beehive or two or three on top of the Beehive? Collaboration and cooperation is what it's all about!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Renovation of 1317 East Carson Street

What's going on at 1317 East Carson Street? We are in the planning process to update the building and are working towards creative occupancy by the end of this 2011 calendar year. We're having a party on January 1, 2012 to celebrate our Transition Town project!

Unity Through Creativity's Door Project image of Tree Woman with Dove, Owl and Butterfly, and Architects Tony Albrecht and Carrie DiFiore's depiction of rooftop garden potential at 1317 East Carson 

If you know anybody that reads through this blog from the first entry who wants to occupy the building with their creative spirit, wants to be part of the buzz, and whose vision is parallel to ours, have them contact us! We are working slowly and methodically. We have a short term and long term goals. Our architectural feasibility study is in hand, and a site plan is being formed as I type this update. Inquiries? Feel free to contact me, at

Our freight elevator passed the five year inspection to allow 5,000 pounds. Here's the view from the top!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Great Lakes Urban Exchange

Go to this link to learn about this fabulous conference happening in the 'burgh Thursday, September 15 through Saturday, September 17, 2011.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gift Circles

What is a gift circle? Join us for a gift circle to find out! Go to for details. You might be asking yourself, why would I carpool out to the suburbs from my walkable South Side community to learn about and participate in a gift circle? Well, we are working to reconnect ourselves to our communities, urban and suburban, and cross pollinate ideas and innovations from the suburbs of our town and the city. Tonight you can meet city and suburban folks who have initiated a permaculture design influenced food garden outside of the Monroeville Public Library. Come absorb design ideas and reflect a nice gift back to your community...

(photo via George Eastman House Collection)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Your Environmental Road Trip (YERT) Premiere in Pittsburgh, PA at Chatham's Eddy Theatre 9/20/11



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 Learn more at


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Global Peace Day: August 14, 2011 in Pittsburgh, PA and beyond

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. The project at 1317 East Carson Street and the Schwartz Market project will be there along with Sustainable Monroeville and many other individuals and groups. Join Us!

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)
  • 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!!/event.php?eid=141362629280192

Link to the Youtube movie trailer on Facebook:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Schwartz Market is open!

A letter to Tom Smith, South Pittsburgh Reporter, and the South Side Community:
Mr. Smith, As you know through the ads we've been placing, Schwartz Market was open for the last two Saturdays in April and is open every Saturday in May, 2011, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM while we  plan  the renovation of the building as a living building renovation of an existing historic structure (we are registered with the International Living Buidling Institute,, and plan for the future occupancy of the entire building with sustainable healthy businesses. We presented to the South Side Forum about our plans at the April, 2011 meeting and were well received.
There have been some interesting occurances around the project at 1317 East Carson Street recently.
1)  The loading dock signs on Bingham Street between the back entrance and our parking lot were removed without our knowledge and we want them back. We were not made aware of this beforehand. I immediately left a message for Bruce Kraus's office to ask about this, but have not yet heard back from them.
 On another topic Mr. Kraus's office did contact me recently to ask if we would be interested in pursuing Right By Nature to re-locate at 1317 East Carson Street and we said we are absolutely interested in pursuing this.
2) A neighbor who lives in the flats told me yesterday she received a campaign flyer in the mail from Jeff Koch who is running for Bruce Kraus's seat in Pittsburgh council. It included a photo of Schwartz Market and the Market House, both with CLOSED signs and with the verbage : "Bruce Kraus thinks you don't pay enough taxes."
For the record, Bruce Kraus has been supportive of the Schwartz Market project we are pursuing and the 1317 East Carson Street renovation project as a whole. Mr. Kraus appeared and spoke at our eighth event on December 8, 2010 attended by 80 people, mostly South Siders, on the development of the market and the whole property. The market is open! I am writing to clarify the record.  The business was sold by the Schwartz family in 1986 to two families, the Stantons and the Dorfners. They cleared out their equipment and turned the business back to us on March 5, 2011. The business Schwartz Market is open, but in a different way than people are used to. We are working towards developing the building in a way that the collective businesses will eventually be community run. We're offering independent business owners, those that would like to hatch green businesses, and artists tremendous opportunity for collaboration and engagement in this process of Transition. Note this is a capital "T" intentionally)(See for details)
I know that what we are doing is out of the ordinary, very grass roots, and not familiar to most of the population. It is organic and changes often. We are keeping plans totally open to the many local organizations in the South Side and to the local government. Does the community truly want to continue to see the wholesome development of a true community market and commercial/community kitchen? How are they willing to help this process? In our humble way, this is what the development of this type of project looks like. It is careful and slow. Slow development. For some, it will take courage to walk through the doors in this transitional time when it seems like not much is going on . Please understand that there is a lot going on. You will start to understand when you take time to come in and talk with us. Everyone is welcome !
These Saturday openings have been totally fascinating, and I highly recommend stopping by one Saturday if you are able. Each week there is a new surprise! The Saturday before last, Joe Liotta, the man who has been painting the signs since 1938, and continues to paint the signs for us, came by totally unannounced, and told stories about the history of the Schwartz Markets over all of the years he worked there, first as a stock boy and up through the ranks to manager.
We now have two photographers, and one sculptor that uses completely recycled materials, displaying their work in the space. We're also selling food items that are either locally sourced, organic, and/ or healing foods. Peace Garden will be donating all of the fresh vegetables they produce on the South Side this summer to the market to go towards the overall project at 1317 East Carson Street. We educate every person that walks through the door on some level about something to do with our food system. We have been working with multiple non-profits on many levels, and several filmakers to document this process.
Please go to, the Schwartz Market facebook page, and  for updates and to learn how to get involved in this amazing process!
It is apparent to me that Mr. Koch is not aware of any of this activity that has been going on at 1317 East Carson Street for the past two years.
With Great Intentions,
Elisa Beck
Schwartz Market
Join Schwartz Market and TransitionPgh on facebook!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Eric and Kate 
17th Street Cafe Salad Dressing

Love Street Living Foods Chocolate Sauce.. Mmmm!

Thanks to everyone who helped out so much for our opening of Schwartz Market on Saturday, April 23, 2011.  Thank you Russell, my brother. for helping with doors.  Thanks Tara for planning efforts. Thanks Brad Hochberg, David Erzen, SJ and Anthony for their efforts with clean up. Thanks Josh Zorich, Sarah Joe and Anthony for being there. Thanks Anthony for hanging the Peace Garden poster in the front window to help educate folks about permaculture in our urban neighborhoods and for displaying your photographs. Thanks Cornelius; Nathan of Clarion River Organics, Red Dog Kombucha, Building New Hope, Matt, Kate, 17th Street Cafe, and so many others for supporting this effort with your heart and soul.

Petar, Josh and SJ

We will be open this coming Saturday, April 30, 2011 again from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM selling Building New Hope Coffee, locally made kombucha, Love Street Living Foods Chocolate spreads from Equador and Indonesia, 17th Street Cafe Salad Dressing and some other surprises. We'll present a 20 minute power point update of the project at 10:30 AM. Enter the market on E. Carson Street. Feel free to park in the lot behind the building on Bingham and walk around the block to the front entrance.

Thanks also to the mini- climate bicyclists who took the time to stop by, shop, and learn about how this project we're working on at 1317 East Carson Street has three parts: 1) the building renovation as a Living Building, zero net energy and zero net water in the early planning phase, 2) keeping the Schwartz Market business open and viable as we plan, and 3) planning what will be happening in the entire building as we complete the renovation.

What are you pointing to?  What's Next?

After touring CCI and Schwartz Market: Bicyclists launching onto Bingham Street!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Real Food and Pittsburgh mini- Climate Ride

Join us at Schwartz Market on Saturday, April 23, 2011 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. The store will be open during these hours as we explore options for the future of the market space and the entire building. The market will be selling items from a few local farmers. Local brown eggs, chocolate sauce from Love Street Living Foods, fair trade shade grown organic coffee from Building New Hope (BNH), and salad dressing from the local South Side 17th Street Cafe. This short and humble time frame will give us some time to visit with one another and talk about implementation of ideas that have been generated over the past two years. Join us to learn and explore as we move forward.

So it has occured to me, what is real food anyway? Is it o.k. to eat foods that are not locally produced and grown? What makes food healthy? How important is the composition of the soil that we grow our food in? How crucial is pure water for us to drink and feed our plants, and how important is pure air?

 Is it fine to eat bananas in Pittsburgh? Why would someone even have that question? Is it feasible to grow oranges in Pittsburgh? How much citrus is good for a human body to consume? What is the value of fermented foods for our bodies and our selves? My dad has got the answer. He says everything in moderation!

Between 1:30 and 2:00 PM the PGH mini- climate ride will be passing through the market and for a building tour on their ride that begins and ends in the South Side. Celebrate World Environment Day with us!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Regenerating Community

Research, education, healing arts, community development, and the development of a sense of place along with regenerative design is our goal for 1317 East Carson Street and the community at large.

On Tuesday, April 12, 2011, at 5:30 PM we will present an overview of the upcoming plans for 1317 East Carson Street and Schwartz Market. The South Side Forum is a meeting that is held monthly at the Brashear Association building at 2005 Sarah Street. This community meeting is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Living Building Renovation of an Existing Historic Structure

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes, CSL, net zero energy building and net zero water landscape at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA, has been a true inspiration for our town. This building and its landscape are in the process of being built right here in da 'Burgh. Richard Piacentini, the Executive Director at Phipps has been leading the way for many years now. He and his staff and the group he gathered to form this project is truly amazing. We are blessed that he is part of our town. The Integrative Design with Bill Reed and the 7 Group formed part of the core of the process.

At 1317 East Carson Street we aim towards a similar goal to what is being accomplished at Phipps, with the addition of a Center for Health and Healing from the Heart. Our renovation will be of an existing historic structure and will be a prototype for future developers of these kinds of properties.

See our recent video, produced by Kevin May of the Cultural Recyclists:

We look forward to working with all of you! With great intentions, Elisa Beck

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cooperative Formation, Field Trip and Business Planning

Happy New Year! May this year bring us peace, serenity, joy, and lots of healthy and healing food, water and air.

Join us on Wednesday, January 5, 2011, from 2:00 to 3:00 PM, at the East End Food Co-op to learn from Lisa Stolarski about the formation of food cooperatives.

Join us on Thursday, January 6, 2011, at Sunnybridge Natural Foods at 11:00 AM for a tour with the owner to learn about the natural foods for-profit world. If interested in carpooling, let us know.

On Thursday evening, Janaury 6, 2011, we will be writing up business plans as we move our project forward. We'll have templates and assignments for you, if you are interested in writing a piece of the plans. The time and location of this meeting are to be determined.