Inevitable Compost

Some things are meant to be, whether we like it or not.  To me, composting is inevitable if you really enjoy gardening. I live with my mother in Chester Springs, PA and I have as much gardening  freedom as one can have in a new townhouse development where landscaping is restricted by an association.  Continue reading

Gardening on a Dime and Avoiding Waste

I recently ran low on supplies for this year’s gardening and money is tight this week, so I decided to improvise with some of my seed starting.  For those of you who are also gardening on a budget or just don’t like to waste materials that are still usable, here’s a technique I put together for using would-be trash for seed starting.  All you need is some used tea lights, an empty rotisserie chicken container, sewing pins, and some coconut coir pellets (about $3 at Loews, the only ingredient I purchased specifically for this project). Continue reading

Topography & the T

Midday, random Thursday: I got on the T at Gateway station, just off of Stanwix street Downtown. I sat and started reading my library book club’s, book of the month, “Between The World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’ve had to read it in small doses because the things he writes about tend to hit me pretty deep. He makes me think about my body and the ways I and others with brown skin move through this world, through this city, and its many unique neighborhoods. The ways I’m perceived, or not thought of at all. And all I must overcome before I even open my mouth.

I stopped reading long enough to notice a black man wearing sunglasses wheeling his mountain bike onto the train at the Wood St. Station. He wore blue jeans with an interesting limegreen embroidery pattern decorating the hem of the pants. More flashy than the clothing I see on many brothas in Pittsburgh. I couldn’t help but notice that the shades were kept on his face, despite the fact that we were in an underground station.

I went back to reading my book until we got to the 1st street station. It’s the first station that runs above ground as you’re heading out of downtown. Diagonal streaks of water started to form along the train windows indicating that it was windy and raining heavily. It was a classic Pittsburgh summer shower. Torrents of water came down as we rode from 1st Street, across the river to the Station Square T station. The sky and the river looked like one gray-blurry mass as we crossed.

It was raining even more heavily on the south side of the river. Water gushed from downspouts.

The man with the bike said aloud “Man, as soon as you cross a river the weather changes!”

Still wearing his sunglasses, he held up a sheathed umbrella and said to me, “I’m gonna have to bike with this open.”

“Just wait and see, the weather will probably be totally clear on the other side of the mountain.” I said, gesturing to the tunnel that connects the south side and downtown to the hilltop neighborhoods at South Hills Junction and beyond.

Sure enough, the sun was beginning to shine as we emerged from the tunnel. The ground was wet, it had clearly rained here too. But the droplets were fading. As the man wheeled his bike off the train, he stopped by my window, smiled and gestured to the clouds. I couldn’t make out what he said then because the train was pulling away. But as I got off at my stop and walked up the block to my house I started to feel for him on his bike. The drenching rain had been replaced by a searing hot sun, and as my mom used to say “air you could cut through with a knife.” Which means more rain is to come, and more unpredictable spots of precipitation divided by the mountains or the rivers.

It’s like Mother Nature sees Pittsburgh’s socially, economically, racially, and topographically divided neighborhoods, then contributes to the insularity with welcoming or foreboding weather.

But I’m in it, not of it. Right? Like the man on the mountain bike, all geared up with his sunglasses and his umbrella, I’m moving through the neighborhoods and the terrain, ready for whatever. Right?

The Essential Premier

twitterThe new show I’m working on is called Essential Pittsburgh. It’s a locally produced program from 90.5 WESA, dedicated to the exploration of issues impacting Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.  It premiers February 10th and will air each Friday at noon for the next 3 weeks. Then on Monday the 27th, Essential Pittsburgh will be a daily program.

For those outside the Pittsburgh listening area, you should be able to stream the broadcast live at 12pm eastern time.

The first show is about Marcellus Shale; an exploration of the benefits and concerns for the people of Pennsylvania and the environment, along with a discussion that opens questions from our listeners via the phone, Facebook and Twitter.

I’m very excited and of course a bit nervous. I hope you can tune in. If not, the episode should be up on the website soon after. Enjoy the show!

Pittsburgh: A New Home A New Career–Grow Where U R Transplanted

This blog started with posts that focused on my gardening hobby and somehow transitioned into my passion for public radio and sustainability. Now after weeks without posting, I have good news along with a sweet little story that combines my love of flowers and public radio.

I left the Philadelphia area a month and a half ago and moved to Pittsburgh with the thought that I needed to build a career in a city. And I decided Pittsburgh was the place because I not only know Pittsburgh better than I know Philly, but I also really love the people. One of my friends from Pitt often refers to Pittsburgh as “a big hug.” And despite the frigid temperatures this week, that’s exactly what I feel like I’ve gotten in the last few days.  Continue reading

Stargazers Vineyard and Winery: Our Environment Episode 4

Find out more about the Vineyard and the history behind the name Stargazers

Southeastern Pennsylvania is home to a number of picturesque wineries, and Stargazers in Coatesville can be counted among them. But the vineyard and winery also stands out for the unique environmental example made by its owners.

Stargazers’ owners and operators, John and Alice Weygant, use energy-efficient methods to make their wine. And those sustainable methods carry over to their home with solar panels, cisterns that recycle rainwater, and highly efficient building design. In this episode of Our Environment, I left the studios of 1370am Pottstown and spent time with the Weygants in their winery and in their home, finding out how sustainable living can be easy, economical, and even profitable.

To find out more about where Stargazers’ surplus solar energy goes and how you can take advantage of clean electricity, visit

Visit Stargazers on Facebook

It’s Not Mean To Be Green! Our Environment Episode 3

There are so many “green” buzzwords out there that most people use without thinking twice. The word “green” is a perfect example. But how easy is it to explain environmental terms like “green” and “recycle” to young kids? Local author and poet, Jamie Kleman, took on that task with her book, It’s Not Mean To Be Green. And she later wrote the lyrics for a musical based on her book. I talked to Jamie Kleman about her book and the musical at WPAZ ‘s studio in Pottstown, PA. Listen to the interview along with music from the original cast recording of It’s Not Mean To Be Green. To find out more about how to organize a production of It’s Not Mean To Be Green or for information about upcoming events related to the show and Jamie Kleman, visit The Bigger Boat Foundation.

Our Environment Episode 2 Mosaic Community Land Trust part 2

Listen here to part 2 of my interview with Katy Jackson of the Mosaic Community Land Trust. Mosaic’s approach to community revitalization starts with promoting responsible homeownership and pride in the Pottstown community. In this second half Mrs. Jackson told me about the development of Pottstown’s first community garden.

Our Environment is a weekly program on WPAZ radio, playing at 12:30pm every Friday.

For pictures of Mosaic’s work, take a look at their video on YouTube.

Our Environment Episode 2 part1: Mosaic Community Land Trust

This episode of Our Environment features Katy Jackson. A founding member of the Mosaic Community Land Trust in Pottstown. A Community Land Trust is a model for promoting affordable homeownership, stabilizing blighted neighborhoods and improving local economies. Mrs. Jackson sat down with me at WPAZ to talk about how Mosaic aims to use this model to improve Pottstown. Listen here to the first part of our interview and take a listen to part 2 to find out what Mosaic is up to now.