Tips for smart seed shopping

Though spring seems ages away, certainly some of us are thinking ahead about spring planting for summer bounty. These tips from Phipps might be useful!

Go here for the full Phipps story (paraphrased below)…

With another great year of gardening about to begin,  Phipps wants to remind their fellow green thumbs that by purchasing seeds that are organic and non-GMO, you will support purveyors whose products and practices have a more positive impact on human and environmental health. When searching for seeds, a great place to start is the Council for Responsible Genetics’ Safe Seed Resource List, a directory that includes local, national and international GMO-free vendors.

For more information, they asked Phipps Display Horticulturist Mike Bechtel, who maintains the Rooftop Edible Garden, to share his insight on how to search through seed catalogs: “I start by looking at every vegetable in the catalog, then making a list of everything I want to try growing. The list starts off long until I assess how much space I actually have, and then I start paring down to the essentials. I grow all organic vegetables, and searching for certified organic seed is sometimes difficult when you want something specific. Two of my favorite seed purveyors are Seed Savers Exchange and Heirloom Seeds which is in West Finley, Pa. Many seed companies indicate which seeds have been produced organically.”

Other seed companies recommended by Phipps staff include John Scheepers, High Mowing Seeds, Fedco, andThe Natural Gardening Company. If your goal is to avoid seeds directly linked to conglomerate seed companies, check out the Safe Seed Pledge, a voluntary pledge companies can take to commit to selling non-GMO seeds.

On Sat., Feb. 27, Phipps and Grow Pittsburgh will host their Fourth Annual Seed and Plant Swap at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland. This free, open-to-the-public event will include opportunities to obtain open-pollinated, non-GMO, non-hybrid seeds; a hands-on activity for children; a seed starting workshop; and more. Follow the link below for details, and have a happy gardening season!

Free “hands-on” CPR course

Pittsburgh EMS in conjunction with UPMC, is beginning a city-wide Citizen CPR training program in 2016. Residents and community leaders, like the members of the Polish Hill Association, who reside in Police Zone 2 are the first to learn this life-saving technique.

Called Bystander CPR or “hands only” CPR, it allows time for anyone to initiate resuscitation protocols and improve the ultimate outcomes of patients suffering from medical emergencies, specifically cardiac arrest. The goal in 2016 is to train at least 2,500 Pittsburgh residents in this and the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) protocols.

free 30 minute non-certificate course will be hosted by the Zone 2 Public Safety Council  at its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, January 28beginning at 6:00 p.m at the Bedford Hope Center, 2305 Bedford Ave.

For more information, contact Liz Style: elizabeth.style@pitsburghpa.gov or 412- 255-8977 .

 

Liz Style, Coordinator: SaferTogether, collaborative strategies for community safety

City of Pittsburgh, Department of Public Safety

City County Building
414 Grant Street, Suite 400
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

412-432-8505 cell

412-255-8977 office

Public Safety Announcement – from Zone 2

At January’s community meeting, several residents raised concerns about public safety incidents in the neighborhood. Commander Kudrav and Lieutenant Vinansky from Zone 2 attended the meeting and were able to address a number of issues.  We thank the Commander for following up with the statement below:

Dear Polish Hill Residents,
On Sunday, Dec. 3, 2016 around 5 p.m., Zone 2 officers responded to a
call on Harmar Street for a domestic disturbance incident.  The
responding officer’s preliminary investigation brought forth an
indication that the suspect may return to the location later in the
day.  The officers appropriately prepared to apprehend the suspect.
When more officers are available for a higher risk task, we take
advantage of the opportunity with the goal to ensure the stability and
safety of the community and officers. I offer the following
information as a reference to provide context to why so many officers
responded and the importance of officer safety practices in any law
enforcement profession:

The FBI reports 96 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty
in the United States in 2014. 51 of those officers were outright
killed by suspects the officers encountered just doing their everyday
job.

Now on the other hand, each officer is held to a high standard of
professionalism in all of their actions and performance. It is
important that I am informed of poor interactions our officers have
with any community members. As an organization, we are learning that our community members can be equally effected by the processes of law enforcement in their neighborhoods as the end results. I am looking into concerns that were shared with me in this regard. I will inform your group leaders of my findings as appropriate.

Additionally, I alerted all shift supervisors of the armed robbery
reported by a group member. Zone 2 shift supervisors will assign
targeted patrols to Polish Hill. This was a serious crime of violence
that was not fully communicated to Zone 2 for a timely response. For
this I apologize. I notified Zone 2 plainclothes detectives of the
reported armed robbery and one of our detectives is working the case.
He has tried several times to get in contact with the victim. The
detective has also responded to the location to gather more evidence.

Looking toward the future, I will inquire as to what instruction is
available for community groups to better understanding what happens
when someone calls 9-1-1. Also, I am inquiring about the possibility
of community personal safety training.

Anna Kudrav, Commander
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Zone 2 Station
2000 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
412-255-2827
anna.kudrav@pittsburghpa.gov
FBINA #255

Light Up Night, Monday at 6:30pm

This Monday, Nov. 30 at 6:30pm, join friends and neighbors for Polish Hill’s Light Up Night at the monument at the corner of Brereton and Dobson.

Father Joe from the neighborhood’s own Immaculate Heart of Mary Church will bless the tree. And we’ll be joined by a guitar player for some carol singing. Light refreshments will also be provided.

Thanks (in alphabetical order) to Terry Doloughty, Janice Heagy, Deb Jozwiak, Mark Knobil, Myrna Newman, and Brian Seklecki for their help in organizing everything.

PHCA Office OPEN on Fridays 12:30-4:30pm

Dear Neighbors,

While the PHCA is in transition, please be assured that we are continuing to advocate for all Polish Hill residents.  For instance, several board members have volunteered their time in order to keep the office open on Fridays from 12:30-4:30PM.  They are available to answer any questions or discuss issues.  You can also meet with a constituent services staff member from State Representative Ravenstahl’s office during that time.

We thank you for your patience as the board of directors works towards finding funding for a staff presence in the office. In the meantime, please know that we are actively continuing efforts to keep communicating with and advocating for our residents. More information is available at our next community meeting at the West Penn Rec Center on Tuesday, Oct 6th at 6:30 pm.

If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please email phca@phcapgh.org, or leave a voicemail for us at 412-681-1950.

The board realizes that some type of staff presence is a crucial part of what the PHCA offers to the neighborhood, and we are exploring ways to achieve staffing in the office.  Rest assured that programs that have already been developed (Pivotal Streets, Green and Open Space Improvements, etc.) will continue to happen thanks to the efforts of the PHCA board and residents like you. Thank you for your understanding and participation during this time. We look forward to hearing from you, and being able to continue to work with you—our neighbors.

Regards,
PHCA Board of Directors

Special announcement: Funding cuts bring changes as the PHCA office closes

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To our residents, members, and stakeholders,

In anticipation of a loss of federal funding that will reduce our total budget by approximately one-third, it has been determined that the Polish Hill Civic Association (PHCA) organization will no longer be able to sustain its sole full-time staff position.  As a result, the PHCA office will close its doors as of August 15.

Beginning September 2015, the Polish Hill Civic Association is no longer eligible to receive Advisory Commission on Community-Based Organizations (ACCBO) funding.  To be Community-Development eligible (CD eligible), at least 51% of residents must be low income, as reported in the Winter-Spring 2015 issue of our newsletter and at some of our community meetings.

In September 2014, the PHCA was notified that the Department of Housing and Urban Development is now using the data set from the American Community Survey to determine CD eligibility.  This survey, which gathered data from a select group of Polish Hill residents, indicated that 41.73% of residents are now low income.

Losing our CD eligibility will mean an elimination of all ACCBO funding and more difficulty securing Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).  This will result in a reduction of what the PHCA receives in government grants by at least $30,000, but more likely around $40,000 — more than 30% of our total funding.  The majority of those dollars cover the PHCA’s operating expenses, including staff salary, some consultant and accounting fees, utilities, office supplies and more.  Given the financial reality, the PHCA board determined that we could no longer sustain a full-time community-oriented staff position.  This also means that we will need to reduce or eliminate the services that the staff person provided, such as the quarterly newsletter, website and blog, outreach and assistance to residents, community events, professional consultation about development in the neighborhood, and much more.

What’s next?
The board realizes that some type of staff presence is a crucial part of what the PHCA offers to the neighborhood, and we are exploring ways to achieve some part-time staffing.  The most likely way to do this would be by partnering with other community-based organizations near us.  The board is exploring several opportunities to partner with other groups to create a shared staff position that would be focused on fundraising and grant writing.

Fundraising Ahead, We Need Your Help
In September 2014, after being informed that a substantial amount of our federal funding would end in August 2015, the board realized that the most urgent task for the organization in 2015 would be to create a transition plan and to seek alternate sources of funding.  After determining the organization’s greatest needs and the neighborhood’s highest priorities, the discussion of how to do raise the dollars to fund those needs and priorities began in earnest at the July 15 board meeting.

At that meeting, the PHCA board began developing a plan to reach out to friends, residents, and stakeholders of the neighborhood who care about the community health of Polish Hill.
We ask everyone to pitch in whatever support they can to enable the PHCA to remain active in improving the lives of all the neighborhood’s residents.  Please contact our office at 412.681.1950, or email phca@phcapgh.org.

Please keep an eye out for several initiatives that will be coming out of the Fundraising Committee in the weeks ahead, which will likely include crowd funding, individual contacts, matching donations, and many other strategies.  We would love to have your help in meeting our fundraising goal.  Please let us know if you are able to help us on our path forward, or if you have any questions.

John Rhoades
President, Board of Directors
Polish Hill Civic Association

The PHCA office:  a neighborhood presence for 46 years

The Polish Hill Civic Association has been a presence since the organization was established in September 1969.   Initially the office was in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.  Shortly afterwards, through the assistance of Rev. John Jendzura of IHM, the organization was able to acquire the building at 3060 Brereton Street.

In the following decades, the organization managed to keep its office open, usually just for a day or two a week with a volunteer staff.  In the 1980s, federal funding was secured to pay a part-time staff person.  Aside from a brief period in the early 2000s, the organization kept moving forward with a combination of part-time staff and volunteers until 2009, when office hours expanded to five or six days a week and fulltime staffing.

Polish Hill residents can be very proud that this tiny community group, operating on little or no money, was able to keep an office open for almost fifty years.  A debt of gratitude is owed to all the people over the years, who fought to keep the organization alive and growing.  Thanks to all of them, Polish Hill is the growing and thriving community that it is today.

A Personal Note from the Board
Leslie Clague has been a quintessential part of the Polish Hill Civic Association since 2008.  Working first as a volunteer and then hired as office staff, she has served as the editor, writer, photographer and archivist of the Polish Hill Voice, shaping the voice of the organization in a huge way.  She coordinated the Polish Hill Arts Festival for eight years, raising funds for the event and coordinating dozens of performers, vendors, city offices and volunteers to deliver the community a remarkable experience unlike any other in the city. 
 
She helped organize community meetings, provided office services and assistance to neighborhood residents, managed building facility issues, and so much more.  She has served as the consistent face of the organization, being the trusted bridge between the “old-timers” and the “new folks.”   In other words, she has served as an indispensable part of the organization and the PHCA and the neighborhood will struggle to find a way forward without her. 

Tuesday September 1, 6:30 p.m.     Community Meeting
At this meeting, find out about the future of the PHCA and what’s being done to move the organization forward. Meeting will be held on the lower level of the West Penn Recreation Center, 450 30th Street.  All are welcome.

PennDOT update: Southbound Bloomfield Bridge will close on Wednesday July 29

OTMA

 

OTMA traffic advisory

 

On Wednesday July 29, a new portion of the PennDOT Bigelow Boulevard roadwork will begin, which will entail new lane closures and detours.  Here is the informational Traffic Advisory from Oakland Transit Management Association, which is the public contact for the project.

PennDOT District 11 is announcing the southbound Bloomfield Bridge in the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, will close to traffic beginning Wednesday, July 29, weather permitting.

Beginning at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, a 23 consecutive day, around-the-clock closure of southbound Bloomfield Bridge will occur.  The bridge will be closed to southbound traffic at Liberty Avenue.  Traffic will be detoured.

Posted Detour:
From the northern end of the bridge, take Liberty Avenue east
Turn right onto Baum Boulevard
Turn right onto North Craig Street
North Craig Street becomes Bigelow Boulevard
Follow Bigelow Boulevard back to the Bloomfield Bridge
End detour

Motorists are advised to use caution, slow down and expect changing traffic patterns.  Work zone safety is everyone’s responsibility.

To help keep motorists informed as work on the Route 380 project continues, remember to sign-up to receive eAlerts for the latest news and project updates OR visit the project information website at bigelow-baumblvd.otmapgh.org.

Polish Hill Arts Fest photos — part 2

So much happened at the festival – here’s the second installment of photos!

The musicians of Timbeleza brought a big blast of energy with their Brazilian samba drumming,

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And then the dancers showed up,

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This young festival-goer was completely entranced by the samba ladies

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and this little girl got to help Timbeleza play,

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Pandemic Pete was on hand all day to do sound and keep the music going between sets,

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Laura Zurowski’s dream-themed Sleepwatch project offered a quiet place for visitors to sit and contemplate

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Nicole Bloch of Erra Creations,

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Mathew Tembo and the Afro Routes band brought the sounds of Zambia,

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These two gentlemen were enjoying the music and demanded to have their photo taken,

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The May Day Marching Band got going just as the rain came,

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… and kept the energy going through a short storm, as people danced in the street,

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… until the storm ended, and the music kept going,

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Then PARTY! came on, and brought some 80s rock-n-roll energy,

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Which got the kids dancing,

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Until it was time to stop, and call it a day.

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Thanks to all the performers, vendors, organizations, and volunteers.  And thanks to everyone who came out to help make this a great day!

(All photos by Leslie Clague)

Polish Hill Arts Festival photos — part 1

There were a lot of great photos from this very hot, fun, and exhausting day, so this is the first of two installments.

Here’s Elias Khouri and his dad Najeeb.  Elias just turned 14 and has been playing guitar for a year and a half.  This was his first public performance, and he’s pretty amazing.

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This is Karen Lillis, writer and organizer of Small Press Pittsburgh,

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Jeffrey Krusl, with Jude Vachon, saying hello,

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Florence Smith, of Djoi Designs, with her wonderful jewelry and accessories,

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Aubrey and Kazzy had terrariums, among other things,

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Joe Holtz, who has been at the festival every year since it began,

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Garick Tai-Lee and Charlie Alessi with their ceramics, here with a visit from a mobile art project,

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Jabari Mason (and the gorgeous Mrs. Mason) has also come back every year,

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The Mobile Sculpture Workshop came back with their welding setup and art-in-progress,

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Volunteers from Assemble, with art activities,

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Elizabeth Monian of Land Art Generator Initiative,

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Little House Big Art,

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Carnegie Library, who have also joined us every year,

IMG_0373The Hills and the Rivers — such a great band,

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There were lots of kids, and ices, of course,

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And we’ll be back soon with the rest of the photos!

(All photos by Leslie Clague)

Polish Hill Arts Fest: art activities and demonstrations

We’ve got some great organizations and individuals bringing free art activities, demonstrations, and projects to the festival!

The Mobile Sculpture Workshop, a pilot program of the Industrial Arts Co-op, will begin building their second major sculpture at the festival. The sculpture will be designed by eight local area youth, and its on-going construction will be displayed at various events over the summer.

mobile sculpture studio

The Mobile Sculpture Workshop was created by the Industrial Arts Co-op as a summer workshop aimed at demonstrating the techniques of safe and proper welding and metal fabrication to Pittsburgh-area youth grades 9-12. Eight sculpture apprentices have been chosen, along with three alternates, to help construct a large-scale sculpture for public display and installation in the Hazelwood area. You can learn more about the Mobile Sculpture Workshop by visiting their website and following their Facebook page.

Little House, Big Art

LHBA

 

Little House, Big Art is a unique art and craft studio on the Northside where kids, adults and everyone in between can come in and make stuff in guided projects or in an open studio. The activities they are bringing to the festival include some paintables (canvas panels, wooden picture frames, and wooden snakes) and stuff for plastic and wood beading.

Carnegie Library

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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will lead a Gardening Gloves activity at the event and provide materials from its Music, Film and Audio Collection for check out with your library card.

45 Days of Sleepwatch

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45 Days of Sleepwatch
In March of 2015, Laura Zurowski found a series of 45 poems posted to Craigslist Missed Connections. Titled “Sleepwatch,” each poem explores the common symbols and themes that infuse our dreams. In this interactive project, visitors can read the original Sleepwatch poems, learn about the meanings of various dream elements, and create and share their own piece of writing or artwork in response.

Assemble

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Assemble, a community space for arts and technology in Garfield, will bring an interactive kids crafting activity and information about its free and low-cost STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) youth programs.   This is their third year at the festival.  We haven’t heard what they’ll be doing this year, but it’s sure to be fun!  (Photo from 2013 Polish Hill Arts Festival)

Land Art Generator Initiative

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Land Art Generator Initiative will provide drop-in workshop activities that invite people of all ages to think about renewable energy and sustainable cities through the lens of art. Visitors will learn about the LAGI 2016 STEAM Prize and how to participate.

At the LAGI table will be images of large-scale public artwork proposals from past LAGI design competitions. Also on hand will be innovative renewable energy technologies (third-generation thin films and organic photovoltaics, etc.) that kids can play with and learn about. A station will be set up that will take kids through the design process and give them the tools they need to draw their ideas of an artwork for the city that can provide clean electricity. STEAM Prize flyers will be free to take away, providing all the information that kids and parents will need to be a part of it (opens on August 15).

LAGI Books and field guides will allow kids to look up more information about technologies and see additional examples of artwork proposals. Art+Energy Flash Cards will be available for kids to use and to take away.

Visitors will also get a sneak peek at the WindNest public artwork with desktop motel and prototype.