Saturday, August 25, 2012

Energy supply options at 1317 East Carson Street and Amazing Journey

Exploring energy options with Steve of Zero Fossil in the Schwartz Market parking lot off of Bingham Street in Pittsburgh's Historic South Side. Pictured in this photo from left to right are Brad Hochberg of Energreen, Tony Albrecht, Sustainable Architect, Steve Kovacik of Zero Fossil, and Stan Beck, my husband and Grandson of Morris and Helen Schwartz.

I asked Steve of Zero Fossil the other day where their solar panels come from, where they are made, and what they are made of. He told me the panels are made in New Stanton, PA, of Polycrystalline with PPG glass, Alcoa Aluminum and that they are not only 100% American made, but also made in Pennsylvania. So awesomely impressive Zero Fossil! Kudos to you! As we are going for the Living Building Challenge with our project planning and implementation at 1317 East Carson Street, we are working towards figuring out how to meet that challenge and y'all fit into our framework and the framework of the Living Building Challenge, from what I can tell! See for details about the Living Building Challenge.

We are working slowly, mindfully, and methodically through the planning steps for the project. The first part, the renovation of the front 4800 square feet of the building will be complete soon. We need to put finishing touches on the original wood floor, the tin ceilings that were uncovered from below the drop acoustical tile ceilings, the new electrical/wiring work, and the renovation of the bathrooms. The kitchen renovation will be next! The electrician is waiting in the wings to see what choices we make regarding the lighting. His group, Harris Electric, has put in much of the brand new, to code, AC wiring. And now we/I am learning about the difference between AC and DC wiring, and that we may well be using some DC to power some of the fixtures or is it changing some of the AC fixtures to DC. If anyone asks, perhaps I'll blog more on that topic someday!

This blog entry continues with some of my history, some of the back story that led up to this moment in time for this project. As time goes on, each of those on our team, and members from the community and beyond, will reflect on what caught their attention about this project and why they were interested in engaging in the process. The process, we often reflect, is what it's all about.

Amazing journey today. Here's another piece of background leading up to this project at 1317 East Carson. Our daughter, Laura, and I, Elisa Beck, went to the Chatham University Campus in Pittsburgh, PA, to look around. Laura will be taking some classes there this Fall semester, and she wanted to see the campus.

So we took the grand tour. And what a tour it was. In addition to Laura learning about ongoing opportunities and activities on campus, meeting a few people, familiarizing herself with the grounds, buying her books, and figuring out where her classes would be held, I took a journey down memory lane. And I realized that the next journey is just beginning. Buddha Beginner's Mind Big Time!

Along the tour route, I ‘ran into’ Mary Whitney, Mary Kostolos, and David Hazzenzahl. I served on the Board of Directors of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association with both Mary’s in the late 1990’s, early 2000’s. Mary Whitney is now the Chatham's Sustainability Coordinator and Mary Kostolos is a Professor Emeritus in the Biology Department. Mary Whitney informed me that she is writing her Ph.D. dissertation on the Transition Town movement. She’d like to talk to me about it. I suppose I am a good person to talk to about Transition. After all, this project at 1317 East Carson Street is a Transition Town project. How so, you might ask?

The Transition Town ( and Movement is based in Permaculture and works with the concept of moving from Peak Oil to Resilience. And Transition Town work has to do with synchronicity and authenticity and organization and ease and dis-ease and health and healing and vision and engineering and architecture and Permaculture and creativity and community and people’s sensibilities and social and environmental justice and equality and evolving into and BEING and DOING and PLANNING all at the same time in this next era we are cusping into. All rolled into one! Mark Dixon of Your Environmental Road Trip ,, Greg Boulos of Blackberry Meadows Farm and Jeff Newman of the Pittsburgh Garden Experiment along with me, Elisa Beck of Schwartz Living Market, Friend us on Facebook!, and the 1317 East Carson Street project, and founder of Sustainable Monroeville, the four of us folks with Jeff Newman in the lead, brought the Transition Town Movement to Pittsburgh a few years back. Between the four of us, we've planned and attended many, many marvelous Transition Trainings in the Pittsburgh region. Fred Brown, the Associate Director for Program Development and Malik Bankston, the Executive Director of the Kingsley Association in Larimer have taken a leading role in developing a really 'green' community in Larimer and are one of the sites in the city of Pittsburgh where the Transition Town Trainings have been offered. The Cedars in Monroeville, and the Carnegie Mellon Campus, the Shadow Lounge and other locations have been some of the other sites where the Trainings 4 Transition have occured. 

This project at 1317 serves as the overlap, the integration, and the prototypical integrator piece. At 1317 East Carson we, as part of the hub for Transition in the Pittsburgh region, are carving out the opportunity to educate the folk on Main Street USA, even in the middle of Partyville, USA, all about PERMACULTURE! Yipee!

Overlap, integration, of what? The doing and the being. The being and the doing. The inner and outer ecosystems. The Biological model, the Sustainable Regenerative and Living Building models, and the Health/ Preventative Living Foods with Enzymes model. The Sense of Place. Love and Authenticity. Permaculture. All of it. Together. All wrapped up into one.

I met David Hazzenzahl. at a welcome party at Bernie Goldstein’s home last year, was it? I showed up early and greeted David in the elevator. I remember him asking me what I was doing there. He was mighty nervous that day. After all, he was entering a new space in his life at that time. Today, David proudly reported to me that the first fourteen Master’s students in Sustainability are starting into the program this Fall. Go Chatham! The Master’s in Food Studies Program is in full swing at this point. The first graduates have arrived into the world with their degrees. Congratulations to all of them. How awesome!

 The only other person I know at Chatham is Patty DeMarco, Ph.D. Educated as a chemist and having a distinguished career, Patty is the former Executive Director of the Rachel Carson Homestead and now the Director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University. May all of these wonderful folks continue to thrive and may Chatham University be one of the many local schools representing their amazing programs on the Historic Main Street South Side project we are creating!

Vendor opportunities are available for regional Non- Profits at Schwartz Living Market located at 1317 East Carson Street in Pittsburgh, PA. The twenty vendor booths will be occupied by food, arts and Non-Profit vendors. The Non-Profit booths are being offered at no charge on Saturdays for the first year of operation. If you are part of a Non Profit that would like to represent itself between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM for one or two Saturdays during our first year of operation, let us know, and we will put you on the calendar. We expect to open our doors soon, starting on Saturdays only and then expanding to six or seven days a week! If you are a healthful food vendor or arts vendor let us know if you are interested in a three or six month lease. For inquiries, contact Pam Barroso at Mailing address is Schwartz Living Market, P.O.Box 81081, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

We are working to create space for all of us creative souls to express our genius, unencumbered! Bravo!

 Elisa Beck :)
1317 East Carson Street in Pittsburgh's Historic South Side, Schwartz Living Market, An Urban Oasis for Healthful Living~ Linking the Urban and Suburban Food Not Lawns Movement with the Urban Core through the Schwartz Living Market project as the foundation

Steve demonstrating a solar battery and some green and red LED lights with Stan watching.

Frank putting finishing touches on the tin ceiling

Installed globe fixture and the newly painted panopticon in the construction zone