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some inspiration from my friends back home.

12 Oct

Ok don’t get me wrong, I’m super stoked to be in Brazil. But I’m missing out on some seriously amazing activism back home. First, the Occupy Wall Street protests in NY and tons of other cities? Thank goodness the left is showing signs of life. I was getting pretty depressed that the Tea Party was able to rally so much energy and passion while we were seemingly doing nothing. I would love to hear your opinions on it as I’ve basically only heard I have seen on Facebook, the Daily Show, and this editorial from the NY Times (both worth watching/reading).

But next came one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever heard from some of my best friends in Pittsburgh, Eva, Seth, Nikki, and the rest of Free the Planet. I’ll let Eva tell it from her blog post that appeared on,, and good ole’ (and has since racked up over 250 “likes” on Facebook). I’m so proud and WISH I could have been there.

This past Friday, the only thing I was worried about was coming up with a good presentation for the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Conference. While relaxing on my porch after a strenuous week of midterms, our student government president happened to walk by and inform us that the White House had just contacted her about President Obama coming to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. We had been planning to confront the Organizing for America office the following Friday to tell Obama to stop the pipeline, but if Obama was in town, we had to send the message to him directly. I, however, had a midterm during the exact hour that Obama would be coming and resolved to recruit a few friends to greet him.

On Sunday at the AASHE conference, we grabbed Bill McKibben right before his speech and let him know we planned to greet Obama on Tuesday. At the end of his speech to a national conference of hundreds of climate leaders, he said the best thing they could do was attend the rally to meet Obama with a strong message to say NO to the Keystone XL pipeline at 11AM, Tuesday at 313 Oakland Ave. My heart skipped a beat- Bill McKibben, one of my idols, had just announced my house address to a national conference. What’s more- he then told us to stand up so everybody knew who to find. I hesitantly stood up with two of my friends, Nikki Luke and Seth Bush, who looked around nervously.

What happened after was chaos. Within five minutes we were interviewed by the City Paper, the Tribune Review, and asked by dozens more what our plans were. The problem was—we didn’t have a plan. And I had a midterm when Obama was coming. Here’s the thing: if Bill McKibben calls you out at a national conference to organize a rally, you are going to organize a rally, whether you have a midterm or not.

…read more


we heart RIVKA.

11 Aug

Can super awesomeness and future fame be absorbed via cohabitation? I hope so because my housemates are totally amazing and on the brink of fame. They’re known on the blogosphere as RIVKA but in real life they’re Reggie and Becky (get it? Rivka is the hebrew version of Rebecca). They make chill/trance/dance/wonderland music that transports you to another world. They’ve gained a lot of popularity through blogs and word of mouth… someone even made this music video for their song “Kid Animal” without even telling them!

On Tuesday they’re releasing a new single through a label. We got a sneak peek of it last night and I think you’ll really like it! Stay tuned via Facebook and dowload their album on Bandcamp (only $3).


PS It’s my 101st post! Yay!

we heart urban foraging.

24 Apr

These are some green onions I picked on the side of the Cathedral of Learning walking home from the library. In case you aren’t familiar with Pittsburgh, the Cathedral is the center of Pitt’s very urban campus. Just goes to show that you can find wild food even in the unlikeliest of places.

we heart dan savage.

31 Mar

Tonight Dan Savage, one of my all-time heroes came to talk at Pitt. He’s best known for his “advice column,” for redefining “santorum” and now for launching the It Gets Better Project in response to the spate of teen homosexual suicides last fall. As I expected, Dan was both poignant and hilarious. And he certainly didn’t have to work for comedy material tonight. Next door to the room he was speaking in, a fraternity was auctioning off frat boys… I think you can imagine the sort of jokes that ensued.

After his talk, I asked him why he thinks the Christian right has chosen homosexuality as their “thing” to attack. His answer, which I loved, was that homosexuality is something that these people can condemn without sacrificing anything themselves. These are people who may be divorced, using birth control, or are unfaithful to their spouses. But by pointing the finger at GLBTQ people they can scramble up to moral high ground without any sacrifices. Wow, that whole “lack of personal sacrifice” idea is something that pops up a lot in the environmental movement too.

Below is the first It Gets Better video made by Dan and his HC-BA (pronounced “hic-bay”, husband-in-Canada-boyfriend-in-America). There is another that Dan recommended as one of his favorite videos of the project that gives a fresh perspective on the issue. There are thousands of other videos, by President Obama, Tim Gunn, and the team from Pixar (I really like this one).


17 Nov

I know I just posted, but shit in Pittsburgh just got real folks. Two weeks after our rally against the natural gas industry, a ban on fracking in Pittsburgh has been passed. I just posted the following in the Pittsburgh Student Environmental Coalition’s blog:

You read about fracking. You saw Gasland. You educated yourself. You talked to your neighbors. You told everyone you know. You attended the rally. And now you have something to show for your hard work.

Today the Pittsburgh city council unanimously adopted a first-in-the-nation ordinance banning corporations from conducting natural gas drilling in the city of Pittsburgh.

Councilman Shields, who introduced the ordinance, told the press, “With this vote we are asserting the right of the city to make critical decisions to protect our health, safety, and welfare. We are not a colony of the state and will not sit quietly by as our city gets drilled. We encourage communities across the region to take this step and join with us to elevate the rights of communities and people over corporations.”

A spokesperson from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, the organization that drafted the ordinance, said, “Communities are coming to recognize that our state laws and government are not in place to protect their interests, but rather the interests of private corporations. Some will say that the municipality doesn’t have the authority to ban this noxious practice associated with gas drilling. The only way that’s true is if the state has the authority to strip the residents of their rights, and it doesn’t.

Does this mean the fight is over? Not nearly. Will this decision be challenged in court? Most certainly. Is this decision a victory in the fight to protect our basic human rights? Yes.

Read the full press release from the CELF here and the Post-Gazette article here (there are a ton more articles popping up everywhere).

thank you pittsburgh!

4 Nov

I posted this on the PSEC blog yesterday. Still feeling good about it, so I thought I’d share. Since the rally, PSEC has been featured in articles in the Pitt News (front page) and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, not to mention the article we were in (with a quote by me!) on the front page of the Pitt News on Monday. Exciting!

Thanks to you the rally was a HUGE success. An incredibly passionate and diverse group came out today, young and old, urban and rural, coming from states as far as California and as close as Ohio. We all came together to protect our constitutional right to clean air, pure water, and a healthy environment and to protest the exploitation of our environment and ourselves by the gas companies.

If you weren’t able to make it today then stay tuned because this is only the beginning. There is much work still to be done and yesterday’s election certainly didn’t make things easier, but this an issue that affects everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, income, or political affiliation and we at PSEC strongly believe that it’s an issue worth fighting for. In the words of Margaret Meade, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

View the rest of our pics at PSEC’s Picasa page!

i miss wyoming.

25 Oct

Info for Pitt students: Yellowstone Field Study

we heart Phipps Conservatory.

20 Oct

Visited Phipps Conservatory last weekend. Its one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh and luckily we get free admission! This season their theme is gargoyles. I thought this one looked a little like my dog Wishbone when she’s getting her neck scratched.

They also had these awesome sculptures of dragons made from fallen sticks and branches from the winter storm last year.

And of course, lots of bee-yoo-tiful flowers.

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we HATE fracking.

18 Oct

Another heartbreaking story of fracking, this one hits especially close to home for me. Paradise farms, a local supplier of fresh goat cheese found at Farmers in the Firehouse and Right By Nature in the Strip District, at the East End Food Co-Op, and currently in my refrigerator, is being threatened by natural gas drilling on their property.

Farmer Stephen Cleghorn submitted his story to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette which was published last week in the opinion section. He writes, “Five years ago we had a dream that we could take these 50 acres and make them our small gift to our neighbors and our world by producing healthy organic vegetables and fresh goat milk products.” Unfortunately, a neighbor who bought their mineral rights 15 years ago has sold the lease to a gas drilling company threatening the health of Paradise Farm’s goats and, we presume, their organic certification.

The only silver lining we can find in this is that if Paradise Farms suffers documentable economic impact, such as the loss of their farm’s organic status, they may be able to sue, although the farm certainly doesn’t have the budget to compete in court with the gas companies.

The health of the farm's goats, like this unbelievably cute little baby, is now in jeopardy.

If this story makes you angry visit and for more info on fracking and if you are in the Pittsburgh area, PLEASE come out to the rally on November 3rd.

Fracking makes me truly frightened for the future of Pennsylvania and our country. In PA, the government is literally controlled by the oil companies and this trend of corporate control of the government is only increasing. The only way we can make things right is to all work together, not just in PA but in your state as well. Do it for yourself, do it for your kids, do it for the baby goat above.

we heart fall colors.

18 Oct

Leaf Art

Went walking today in Schenley Park. Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, we made this leaf art out of fallen leaves. It was super fun and calming.

Afterwards I checked out Goldsworthy’s stuff and it’s seriously amazing. He works with more than leaves, but all his materials are found objects. Check out his official site here and more pics of his work here.

"Rowan Leaves & Hole"