Over 200 Pittsburghers gathered at Phipps Conservatory Sunday March 29th to discuss the future of climate change action in the region.The group Citizens for Pennsylvania Future (Penn Future) organized the event – bringing together activists, government workers and scientists together – to talk about recent major developments in energy and the environment.
Pennsylvania’s a coal state – responsible for 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – but now the state’s on the precipice of a new era for energy use and production. After decades of talking about climate change and the need for dramatic action, 2009 looks to be a watershed year.
Suddenly there’s lots of money for solar & wind energy production and for improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and infrastructure. But the big question remains: will people change their lifestyles in response?
Joey Hays is an artist, an environmentalist, and an expert on all things bathroom. For his show this month at Carnegie Mellon, he’s building a massive compost toilet in the university art gallery. It’s his masters thesis project – tying together Pittsburgh’s massive sewage problem, artistic design, innovations in sustainability, and bathroom humor. Joey talks about the idea for his Gardez-Leau, the research he’s done on toilets, bathroom and sewage, and what he expects the gallery-goers will do.
Bob Bingham teaches art at CMU, and his classes of students work on environmentally-minded projects – including a Green Roof atop the university’s Hamerschlag Hall. Bob’s also worked on the city’s Nine Mile Run Project, in which a slag heap on the outskirts of Pittsburgh was transformed into a residential community, with sustainable living principles at its core. Today he talks about building green roofs, dealing with rejection of his proposals, and starting conversations about new ways of life.
We go to Chameleon Hair Extensions in Smithfield Market to hear from shop owner Shauna Mullan all about hair. She’s been dong hair extensions and weaves since she was a young teenager and business has blossomed for her in the past decade, as more women in Belfast want hair extensions and many have bad experiences with home jobs or inexperienced stylists, resulting in bald spots, lumpy hair, matted clumps and other disasters.
Shauna discusses how she got into the hair extension business, where the hair comes from, what the concerns and preferences of the customers are, and why hair is so important.
Michael Mahadeo has lived in Northern Ireland since the mid 1980s, when he moved here from British Guyana. He speaks about growing up in Guyana during its decolonization, and about the most notorious part of the country’s recent history — the Jonestown massacre, in which hundreds of American citizens killed themselves on a compound in rural Guyana. Michael also discusses being an ethnic minority in Northern Ireland, adjusting to the Troubles, and whether it’s ever possible to become a local here.