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Wordless Wednesday

25 Jun

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Service For The Soul

10 Apr

Each year, April brings quite a few things back into my life.  Things like rain and the promise of green things to follow, fresh air, BASEBALL, racing season, and tons of other stuff mostly having to do with being outside.  I prefer the transitional seasons, but spring is the most inspirational because the world is starting to wake up.  Things are starting to peek out of the soil.  Green leaves and small buds are starting to appear on bushes and trees.  The sun remembers that it can provide heat and not just light.  To me, April is like taking a big deep breath of fresh air for the first time in months.

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As I stared at my calender the other day, I realized that there is one thing significantly lacking from my life:  service.  I’ve volunteered for as long as I can remember: candy striping in high school and even more in college, where I was involved in about a dozen organizations.  It was an easy way to find spiritual and emotional gratification, probably because it was so accessible.  On a college campus, organizations basically recruit free labor every day so I rarely had to look far for a great cause.  Since graduating from school, my priorities have shifted.  Now, much of my expended energy is self-serving.  All day is focused on myself, my home, my relationship, my business, me, me, me.

Yesterday, I registered to volunteer with REI in South Side for Earth Day and that got me thinking all the other non-profits in the ‘burgh.  After a few clicks, I was able to sign up for a few other service days with different organizations.  I’m excited to network and meet some eco- and community-minded people while making my city a better place AND I’m excited to report back to you guys!

If you are planning ahead for some family-friendly Earth Day celebrations in Pittsburgh, I highly recommend checking out:

Earth Day 2014 w/ Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy & Frick Environmental Center

Wild Earth Day @ Pgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium


How do you celebrate Earth Day?

If you’d like me to promote your Earth Day activity, just shoot me a comment!

Currie Tech E-Bike Event

7 Apr

I am neither involved with nor attending this event, but I did received some info about it and it looks cool.

If you’re over by Bridgeville or into biking, this might be something to put on the calender:

Electric-Bike-Demo-Event-Flyer

Worse case scenario:  you crash said $2,000 test bike and have to eat your feelings with some delicious food truck tacos!

Happy trails, y’all. 🙂

Weekend Recap

10 Mar

2.0 mile run: Steel Valley Heritage Trail

Let me start at the beginning.

HighLevel

I live in the Steel Valley area of Pittsburgh, named so because it used to be home to one of Andrew Carnegie’s great steel plants called Homestead Works. In fact, a few miles down the river in Braddock, one of Pittsburgh’s only running steel mills is located.  Below, you can see it in the background of this urban farm.

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The mill in Homestead closed in the 1980s, which sent this community straight down the tubes. People couldn’t find work and the local population fell into poverty or moved away. Sometimes, when I’m walking, I think I can catch a glimpse of what it may have looked like when my grandparents were children, or even before.

History

In the 2000s, though, a development company purchased up the brownfield site and turned it into an expansive shopping center called The Waterfront, now home to stores, restaurants, (unfortunately) parking lots.  This was a jolt of energy that my community needed, but we are still waiting for it to trickle into the old neighborhoods.  Change is happening, but more slowly than the rapid development near those old smokestacks.

One thing that Pittsburgh is great at? Honoring our history. Every where you look there are pieces of things that aren’t there anymore.

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Our region is proud and our roots run deep. I love that about us. It makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger, without even trying. It makes me feel like I’m part of this great story which is still unfolding. Everywhere I look, there are lessons which teach me how we got to where we are.  We are a city of bridges.  Bridges connecting communities, people, families, and also connecting us to our history.

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Those lessons are the ones that teach us how to get to where to want to be. When you live in a place where history is still very much a part of the present, you take the reminders for granted. You get so used to seeing all of these amazing landmarks and you forget to ask why they are even there. Not me. I’m a history nerd, and I take every opportunity to find out why and when and how things became and are. There isn’t a neighborhood in Pittsburgh that I’ve visited and not had this experience, but I still feel special living in such a historically relevant neighborhood.

If you’ve ever been to The Waterfront, you’ve seen the smoke stacks from the old steel plant. They are our community’s main landmark, preserved forever as a testament to the people who built this neighborhood. If you look hard enough, you can see lots of other historical landmarks which have been preserved. Most notably, the Carrie Furnaces and the Pump House of the old Homestead Works, the place where workers on strike defeated an attack by Pinkertons in what we now call the Battle of Homestead.

Luckily for me, there is a trail that runs parallel to the beautiful Monongahela River called the Steel Valley Trail.  Its well maintained, never crowded, and runs close enough to parking lots that I don’t feel paranoid of being in the movie Taken3.

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It’s actually part of the greater trail system called the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Maryland.

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Once a connector is completed, the trail will allow Pittsburghers to travel 344.5 glorious vehicle-free miles – all the way to Washington D.C. For now, I think I will just stick to the few miles nearest my house. 🙂

Reclamation

12 May

After not living in our home for one year and having tenants during that time, we lost our backyard.

We looked out the back window and it just wasn’t there anymore.  The brick patio was gone and so was the sidewalk.

Everything completely swallowed up by weeds and grass that had grown higher than my knees.

But the other day, we started the long process of reclaiming it.

We even have 1 horseshoe pit back!

Once we weed-whack the rest of the weeds on the patio, our furniture will get moved back to its rightful place!

I fenced off my little 3x3x3 composting site because the dogs have been chowing down on all my rotting veggies:

And my herbs have found a place in the sun where they seem happy.  Well, two of the five original herb plants are happy:

I just recently used a bit of my flat leaf parsley and I hope it is able to fight its way back to life.  The chives have succumbed.  The basil never had a chance.  Obviously I need to find something that requires mint and cilantro or transplant these beasts to their own containers.

Its going to be a long process before we can enjoy what little back yard we even have, but it is a great start. 🙂

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