90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh

Essential Pittsburgh airs weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. and is repeated at 8 p.m.
  • Hosted by Paul Guggenheimer

Essential Pittsburgh is a locally produced program from 90.5 WESA featuring community leaders and newsmakers in the arts, sciences, technology, business, healthcare, government and education.

  • Call (412) 246-2002 from noon to 1 p.m. weekdays to participate in the discussion.  
  • Tweet your question to @esspgh
  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
  • What stories are we missing? Send your thoughts to esspgh@wesa.fm 
AP Images

 

State legislators are expected to miss today's budget deadline ahead of the new fiscal year, which begins tomorrow. House Majority Leader Dave Reed weighs in on what's stalling negotiations and what he expects for the future.  The U.S. Women's  World Cup team heads to the semi-finals, including a Pittsburgh-area player. We'll examine soccer's growing fan base in Pittsburgh. 

Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Governor Tom Wolf / flickr

The deadline for the Pennsylvania state budget is fast approaching. Governor Wolf’s administration is assuring tax payers and state workers failure to meet the deadline will not affect them. Will the governor and state lawmakers be able to agree on a budget on time? State Senator Jay Costa provides his insight on the future of budget discussions. 

Costa believes some of his colleagues are responsible for the delay:

"I am anticipating a late budget and it is largely because the party on the other side has refused to allow the governor to dissipate and to respect and honor the concessions that he's made in this process. They've been significant and they've moved the ball forward but unfortunately you've got some leaders who are simply hell bent on trying to force the governor to veto his budget." - State Senator Jay Costa

Also in the program, Promised Beginnings is an offshoot of Safer Tougher Pittsburgh, aiming to educate parents of young children on public safety.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Pennsylvania has been recognizing same-sex marriages for a little over a year. With the recent decision from the Supreme Court on the nationwide legality of gay marriage, we’ll address how their ruling could affect the nation with Pitt Law Professor Anthony Infanti.

Infanti touches on the impact of public opinion and how far we as a society have come:

"If you think about what would be a, quote on quote, strict interpretation of the constitution some people would say well go back 200 years ago and see what they would have said, the answer would have been very different than the answer we got today. … It does evolve overtime and clearly the court at some level takes into account where the country is at and where the country is willing to go." -Anthony Infanti 

Also, Pittsburgh Business Times reporter Kris Mamula discusses the upholding of a key provision of the Affordable Care Act by the Supreme Court, and we take a look at increased popularity of craft beers in Pittsburgh with food columnist Hal B. Klein and author Mark Brewer.

Essential Pittsburgh: The Act of Forgiveness After Violent Crime

Jun 25, 2015
Elvert Barnes / flickr

In the wake of last week’s tragic shootings at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, many were stunned by the grace shown by the victims to forgive the perpetrator of the crime. Why is forgiveness, from those devastated by a heinous crime necessary and how does one begin to forgive? We’ll pose those questions to Director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project Fred Luskin.

Luskin elaborates on how crucial it is to forgive in today's world:

"The reason forgiveness is so essential is if you don't deal with it on a personal level, then you're burdened by it for too long. If you don't forgive you stay too long in the suffering. That's why it's so tricky...forgiveness is the exit door." - Fred Luskin

Also in the program, local artist Alexi Morrissey takes the "kid on a milk carton" campaign of the 1980's idea to commemorate the lives lost during the Slave Trade and Kilolo Luckett pays tribute to Naomi Sims, fashion's first black supermodel and Pittsburgh native.

William / flickr

Nation contributor and fellow at the Nation Institute Dani McClain recently penned a piece in response to Dylan Roof's attack on church-goers in South Carolina, claiming that Roof exploited "a survival tactic as old as the black American experience: a refusal to let one’s heart harden or one’s joy fade in the face of the irrational, deadly actions that white supremacy can generate."  

McClain draws attention to the fact that black communities are already coping with many recent events that have resulted in black deaths, and that the  Emmanual A.M.E. Church was a politically active and aware congregation:

"Despite both the larger national context of this period of violence, and despite whatever personal plights these individuals may have faced, they still welcomed this young man into their community...What felt important to communicate was this idea of the porousness and openness that we see not just in black churches, but I think in black communities in general." -Dani McClain

Also today, Sheldon Williams and Reverend Waltrina Middleton discuss whether or not churches will be able to maintain their accessibility in the wake of last week's shooting deaths.

Andrew Russell / Trib Total Media

On Sunday, the Tribune Review began running the series “Homegrown Terror,” about how and why U.S. citizens join with ISIS in combat overseas and the potential they may return here to bring the fight to the homeland.  Joining us to discuss the series are Reporter Mike Wereschagin and photographer Andy Russell who recently spent time in Minneapolis visiting and talking with the Somali community there in the wake of a federal indictment that has charged 10 of its members with doing just that.

Wereschagin recalls the Somali community in Minneapolis expressing what persuaded their young men to provide material aid for terrorist groups:

"In this community what we saw and what we heard from people there was that it was not merely an economic issue, it wasn’t merely an educational issue, it wasn’t an issue of just alienation, it was all of these things combined." -Mike Wereschagin

Also, two local companies are collecting the data you need to rent your next living space. WESA Celebrates the great lottery fake of 1980, and Rebecca Harris unpacks the business of summer. 

Essential Pittsburgh: What Constitutes A Hate Crime?

Jun 22, 2015
AP Photo/David Goldman

The tragic massacre of members of an African American prayer group at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina has stunned the nation. While the shooting may be a hate crime South Carolina does not have laws to this effect. We’ll address what constitutes a hate crime with Wilson Huhn, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Akron, School of Law.

Huhn covers the severity of hate crimes and the grave repercussions compared to that of a non-hate crime:

"In all cases, in answer to punishment, it moves it from a less serious felony to a more serious felony, which means additional prison time. …With this particular crime, the motivation is one of the elements of the offense." -Wilson Huhn

Also, Samantha Bushman tackles the awkward stigma of sex education, transforming its delivery for a younger, and vastly unique generation. A new study links the ancient practice of yoga to increased health benefits for those with diabetes. 

European Space Agency / flickr

Happy Martian New Year. That's right it's New Year's Day on Mars and it's being celebrated today and throughout this weekend in Mars, Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh. The goal of this three day celebration of the Red Planet is to encourage young people to pursue careers that will enable NASA's journey to Mars. Mars expert Jim Green who is NASA's Director of Planetary Science is giving a talk as part of this weekend's events and joins us by phone.

Green explains how exactly the Martian New Year works, and the reason we won’t be celebrating it next year:

“Mars is further away from the sun than we are so it has a longer year. In fact, there are more than 670 earth days to equal one year on mars. … So we won’t be celebrating this again for another two years.” -Jim Green

Also, the first Allegheny SolarFest will run completely on solar power and explore Western PA's options for renewable energy. Darren Miller takes on the Sub 3 Marathon on Lake Erie.

Office of State Senator Matt Smith

Last month Senator Matt Smith announced he would be leaving the PA State Senate. He departs Harrisburg to take over as head of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. Will his experience with the state legislature help in his new job?  He joins us for another in our series of exit interviews.

Smith indicates what he will miss most as a Pennsylvania State Legislator, specifically mentioning the relationships he has built with his colleagues and staff members: 

"The work that my staff has done for me over the last eight and a half years has enabled me to achieve the legislative success that I have been able to have in a bipartisan way. Really those relationships are always what’s tough when you move from one chapter of your life to the next chapter." -Matt Smith

Also, the Community Leadership Course for Veterans has won an award for utilizing the skills of Pittsburgh veterans to better the city. Elaine Labalme covers National Parks. 

Essential Pittsburgh: Monthly De-Brief With Mayor Peduto

Jun 17, 2015
Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto makes his monthly visit to the program. Among the issues we'll discuss are why Pittsburgh's homicide rate is getting federal scrutiny, his executive order enacting a long-term, strategic investment and maintenance plan for city owned facilities and the recently held CEO's for Cities Innovative + Inclusive City Workshop.

Mayor Peduto presents a new approach Pittsburgh officials are working on to better regulate and diminish crime in the area:

"There's an ongoing partnership that we've created with the Department of Justice in one of the few cities around the country to create, over the next few years, the model of community policing. Our officers have been engaged in participating in community events that occur. We're working it from both ends... to be able to not only just solve crime but try to stop crime." -Mayor Bill Peduto

Also in the program, Andy Masich explains Point State Park's involvement in Pittsburgh's legacy and we'll learn how Pittsburgh is celebrating World Refugee Day, locally. 

glindsay65 / flickr

The manhunt continues for two escaped prisoners in the northeastern section of New York State. One of the men was serving a life sentence while the other, 25 years to life. The escapees present a danger to the public. However, what happens when prisoners serving a life sentence are diagnosed with a terminal illness? While they may not be a threat to the public should they be released? Public Source reporter Jeffrey Benzing looked at the issue of compassionate release and joins us in studio to address the topic. (starts at 11:56)

Benzing discusses the factors judges take into consideration when determining whether an inmate should qualify for compassionate release:

"The judge has the discretion to look at the threat to public safety. If there’s a risk for escape or someone committing some other awful heinous crime, that’s certainly something the judge considers. They hear testimony from the prosecutor. … They also can hear from the victim. It’s ultimately up to the judge to decide, but each of these parties is able to object if they wish to." –Jeffrey Benzing

Also, State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown removes his name after losing the Senate confirmation vote. WESA Celebrates tells the story of the day the South Fork Dam Broke, and a CMU grad travels to Vietnam to remove mines and bombs that still make the Quang Tri Province dangerous long after war's end.

Essential Pittsburgh: Corporate Equity and Pittsburgh Jazz

Jun 15, 2015

In 2010, the Post-Gazette reported the Pittsburgh region was ranked "dead last" on indicators of racial and economic parity with regard to the Black working poor and African American children. This was done in comparison to 30 other regions in the country. A 2012 analysis prepared by the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board reported African Americans in the Pittsburgh region make less than other groups in the same sector of work. Black Political Empowerment Project President Tim Stevens and organizational psychologist Barry Nathan join us to discuss a possible solution to this problem; the Corporate Equity and Inclusion Roundtable.

Stevens addresses what the Corporate Equity and Inclusion Roundtable encounters as they strive to change Pittsburgh’s racial inequalities:

"We’re dealing with uprooting history and creating a new history. We’re creating a commitment where there has not been a commitment." -Tim Stevens

Nathan gives a social solution to inequality in the workplace, especially in regards to Pittsburgh’s newcomers:

“It’s about making one on one relationships over and over again. … We have to somehow create a sense of critical mass so that when newcomers come into the region they say, even if there’s not a lot of people yet, like me, there’s a network that I can form, people are reaching out to me.” –Barry Nathan

Also, The Pittsburgh Jazz Celebration opens in the Steel City tomorrow, and an archive of jazz pianist and Pittsburgh native Erroll Garner's musical career will find a home at the University of Pittsburgh.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A recent look at The Pittsburgh Promise, a scholarship Pittsburgh Public School attendees can qualify for which helps them pay for college, found African-American males are receiving significantly less financial support than Caucasian males, females, as well as African-American females. Saleem Ghubril, executive director of The Pittsburgh Promise, is in studio to explain why African-American males aren't qualifying, and ultimately not receiving, as much of The Promise as anticipated. 

Ghubril discusses the potential changes needing to take place in order to insure the equality of scholarship acceptance among all students: 

"There needs to be more support services in the community alongside our schools to meet kids mental health needs, physical health needs, to address some childhood trauma issues that are not being dealt with, to provide some academic support services, maybe even some financial literacy. …What we can do better is insuring that the pipeline doesn’t have as many holes in it and the support services that kids need are indeed in place." -Saleem Ghubril

Also, meet two men who are traveling across the country to raise awareness for important causes, and we'll discuss Roots Pride Pittsburgh, an even created out of dissatisfaction with local Pride events coordinated by Delta Foundation. 

Essential Pittsburgh: Healing the Hearts of Pittsburgh Children

Jun 11, 2015
Flickr user Michael Goodin

UPMC’s Children’s Hospital is one of the nation’s top research facilities for pediatric cardiac care. The recent arrival of our guest pediatric cardiologist Dr. Bernhard Kuhn to the hospital is a testament to the facility being able to attract top talent. Dr. Kuhn is leading the charge to find a treatment for heart failure in children, and he joins us today in studio to discuss his progress thus far.

Dr. Kuhn expresses hope in how the recent discovery of proliferation in heart muscle cells could be a leading factor in pediatric cardiac care:

"My vision and hope is that neuregulin one day may become something like insulin for heart failure. Neuregulin is currently in phase two trials in adult patients and we want to understand better how it could potentially work in our pediatric patients." - Dr. Bernhard Kuhn

Also in the program, Circle Camps for Grieving Children gives young girls the opportunity to cope with the loss of a parent within a supportive and understanding environment and Andrew Cohen remembers the 48 hours where JFK first implored us as a nation to change our perceptions of race and nuclear weapons.

There has been a public outcry and calls for changes at the Allegheny County Jail in the wake of the unexplained deaths of two inmates in May. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald decided to sever ties with Corizon Health Inc., the provider of health care services at the facility. The first public hearing on the matter has been scheduled for June 23  in the County Council chambers of the Allegheny County Courthouse. We'll talk with County Council member Heather Heidelbaugh and Julia Johnson of the Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project.

Johnson expresses her concern for the proper treatment and counseling of inmates in hopes to better the health care services in the jail:

"There just needs to be more compassion as far as people with mental health issues and they're compounding those issues at the jail. 60% of people at the ACJ have mental health issues and they are not being give their anti-psychotic medicine, they are not getting counseling." - Julia Johnson

Also in the program, beloved music teacher Adrianne Kelly is retiring after 33 years at Minadeo Elementary School and Steel City Squash is teaching a little-known sport to youth in the Hill District, combining its physical activity with academic development.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

Ron Donoughe has been painting Pittsburgh for 30 years. It was in the last year, however, that he completed 90 separate paintings, each depicting a unique snapshot of each of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods. All 90 paintings are on display together at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, where we met with Mr. Donoughe to learn his reasons for undergoing the project, and what he discovered along the way. (starts at 11:11) 

Donoughe explains his motivation towards the scenes he chose within each Pittsburgh neighborhood: 

“In a lot of cases it was a lighting situation, other times it was where I could find a parking spot. … It was getting out in an area and just walking the neighborhood and finding what really spoke to me.” –Ron Donoughe

Also, Governor Wolf has pulled his nomination for Acting State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown in order to allow more time for consideration. The Frick draws parallels between the industrialization of Wales and Pittsburgh, and Rebecca Harris continues her look at Crawford-Roberts.  

Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board

Mayor Peduto's office and the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board have declared the summer of 2015 as one where the youth of Pittsburgh should prepare to "Learn and Earn" through an increased dedication to placing them in meaningful summer jobs. Stefani Pashman, Chief Executive Officer at the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board and Barbara Parees, Deputy County Manager for Allegheny County join us to outline the joint plan for a productive summer. 

Also in the program, Steve Inskeep chronicles the life of Andrew Jackson in his new book and Bob Dvorchak tries to connect the dots of a potential Penguins ownership shakeup.

Marine Corps New York / flickr

A number of  deployed soldiers return home with severe mental and physical issues. In some instances this could result in criminal actions. The Veterans Court works to find alternatives to incarceration for servicemen and women. We discussed how the program has been working here in Western PA with Ronald Scott, a veteran and graduate of the program as well as David Hickton, US States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Hickton explains that both mentors and mentees benefit from the relationship built by Veterans Court:

"I think they find that the love and support they get from someone they might have never known before gives them the faith they need to trust the society that they're re-entering, and it allows them to shed the anger which causes them to operate off the grid." -David Hickton

Also in today's program, Andy Masich helps us celebrate the 75th birthday of the Jeep (first produced in Butler), and FreeBurgh previews free events in June. 

Flickr user jrgcastro

After stating last month that it would not accept Highmark Medicare patients due to Highmark's cancer treatment "mark-ups," UPMC has been ordered by Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pelligrini to continue to see the 182,000 seniors they currently serve through Highmark. UPMC has already vowed to appeal the court order under a scheduled arbitration to resolve the differences between the two providers. Pittsburgh Business Times health care reporter Kris Mamula joins us in studio. (starts at 15:13) 

Mamula explains Pelligrini's ambitious hopes for the on-going dispute between UPMC and Highmark: 

"He wants all of the contractual issues between Highmark and UPMC resolved by September 30th, which is an ambitious deadline given everything that has happened. ... He wants those things that divide them to be resolved." -Kris Mamula

Also, Acting State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown fielded questions from state Senators at his nomination hearing. Emily Prevetti has the details. And we'll preview this year's Three Rivers Arts Festival with director Veronica Corpuz, and finally, Elaine Labalme has special travel plans to help celebrate dad. 

The city provides Pittsburgh residents with the opportunity to apply for housing vouchers that can place them with attentive landlords, safe structures and affordable rent. However, when landlords become hesitant to accept the vouchers, or standards for housing become overwhelming, are the vouchers being utilized to their fullest value? David Weber, Chief Operations Officer at the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, joins us to explain the voucher program's successes and shortcomings.

Weber explains several hurdles needed to be cleared for the housing vouchers to be successful:

"There are three obstacles: one is a unit that will pass the physical inspection... the second is a landlord who's willing to participate in the program because there are some additional administrative things the landlord, as well as the tenant, have to do, and the third is finding a unit where the rent is within the standard that HUD sets that we're allowed to pay for a unit." - David Weber


Essential Pittsburgh: Pennsylvania's Push for Medical Marijuana

Jun 2, 2015
Mark / flickr

Legislation legalizing the use of cannabis extracts to address certain medical conditions has passed the state Senate by an overwhelming margin and is now being considered in the House of Representatives. Last year a similar measure passed the Senate but died in the House. Allegheny County representative Dan Frankel joins us to discuss where the legislation stands this year.  Also taking part in the conversation is  Vice President of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Dr. Charles Cutler.

 In response to skeptics who claim not enough studies have been done to disprove negative health conditions, Representative Frankel cites the amount of studies done on an international level:

"We believe that there is great efficacy towards using medical marijuana to mitigate some of these conditions and relieve pain, and that that decision ought to be left between a doctor and a patient, as it has, in some form, in 23 states who have legalized it to some level." -Rep. Dan Frankel 

Dr. Cutler counters with the United States' lack of double-blind studies performed in order to ascertain medical marijuana's safety, claiming that the country's major medical institutions stand in favor of more research:

"We've seen over the years, a number of products that were quite helpful in terms of treating illnesses, but had such serious side effects that they were taken off the market... If the FDA, in their wisdom, would be willing to re-schedule marijuana to a category where research could be done...I think we could get the answer." -Dr. Charles Cutler 

Also, Theo Collins describes a new documentary highlighting the tragedy of veteran suicide, WESA Celebrates wooden streets with contributor Margaret J. Krauss and Rebecca Harris focuses in on the community of Crawford-Roberts.

Innovative Modular Solutions

The National Forum on Education Statistics reports Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts. Ensuring every student in PA has access to a quality education, regardless of where they live, is the goal of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. As state legislators prepare for budget talks we’ll address the need for a new public school funding formula with Patrick Dowd, executive director of Allies for Children and Cheryl Kleiman, attorney with the Education Law Center.

Dowd discusses the goal of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding: 

“We have lots of different views on lots of different issues, but on this one we have a common agenda. We want to make sure that the Pennsylvania legislature adopts, by 2016, a fair funding formula for the students of public schools here in Pennsylvania.” –Patrick Dowd

Also, Sasha King explains how to become management material, and WESA's Liz Reid and the Tribune-Review's David Conti present a three-part series on smart meters for the home. 

US Department of Education / flickr

Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings is the keynote speaker for this year's Barbara A. Sizemore Summer Conference on Urban Education, a one-day conference held by Duquesne University’s School of Education. Dr. Ladson-Billings has focused her research on critical race theory, and has dedicated multiple studies to determining best practices for teachers who are educating within a racially diverse student body. 

Ladson-Billings explains her fear of losing great teachers, and ultimately why she wrote The Dream Keepers: 

“One of the reasons that I wanted to do the study that resulted in the book, The Dream Keepers, was my fear that some incredible knowledge and skill was going out the door and no one was documenting it.” -Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings 

Also, Two German professors with the Acoustical Society of America uncover Pittsburgh's urban "soundscape," and an upcoming expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center takes a focused look at improving multi-modal transportation.

Gage Skidmore / flickr

Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has launched a second run for the White House. The 57-year-old Republican finished second to Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. But this time around, there is some doubt about his ability to place in the top 10 of national polls, a prerequisite for participating in the first Republican presidential debate in August. We'll discuss Santorum's prospects with political commentator Joe Sabino Mistick, associate professor of law at Duquesne University.

Mistick explains how Santorum's populistic approach to the GOP presidential nomination could benefit his place in the polls:

"I think his opening up of this other tack, this blue collar families and blue collar worker...it could bear some fruit... He might get some traction and that's enough to knock over a lot of furniture over on the Republican side, and perhaps place himself in a position to make a deal." - Joe Sabino Mistick

Also in the program, Open Streets Pittsburgh takes away traffic on three and a half miles of city pavement, WESA Celebrates 16,000 years of regional inhabitants in McKees Rocks and Elaine Labalme explains why summer camp isn't just for the kids.

Loco Steve / flickr

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Positive Train Control could have prevented the derailment of Amtrak 188 that derailed in Philadelphia earlier this month. Eight people died and more than 200 people were injured. Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey is leading a group of Senators who have sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee calling on Congress to increase funding. It has been reported that it will take $2 billion to fully implement this technology. Senator Casey joins us by phone.

Casey explains that many transit agencies across the nation are in favor of updating train safety, but with so many other areas of the country's infrastructure in need of repair, allocating the funding to trains is a difficult task:

"What the Congress should do, if we're doing the right thing, is to not put Amtrak or any transit agency in the position of having to choose between safety technology like Positive Train Control on the one hand versus fixing crumbling bridges or other parts of the aging infrastructure." - Senator Bob Casey

Also today, Historic Harmony looks for support in protecting the ground George Washington walked on, and former Steelers linebacker Andy Russell welcomes Western PA's six Pro-Hall of Fame quarterbacks to the steel city for the Gridiron Gold. 

Copyright Martha Rial

The Manchester Bidwell Corporation was founded in 1968 by Bill Strickland with the intent of using the environment to shape people's lives. We’ll discover his philosophy for the creation of the guild. We’ll also speak to Chief Operating Officer of the National Center for Arts and Technology Paulo Nzambi and Vice President of Operations Kevin Jenkins on their roles within the Bidwell company.  

“You can do extraordinary things if you have the right people around you. Part of the message is…you don’t have to go to the world, you can bring the world to your neighborhood, and it’s not where you start that matters, it’s where you end up.” -Bill Strickland 

Also, we'll talk about the Bidwell Training Center-- an institute of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation and home to the Manchester Craftsman's Guild, a league of youth and adults working in tandem to create a one-of-a-kind growth and learning experience. 

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Encouraging women to enter the STEM fields may not be a matter of how, but when. As part of WESA’s Life of Learning initiative, guest host Andy Conte of the Tribune Review talks with Theresa Richards, who is CMU’s FIRST  (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Program Coordinator, about mentoring young girls in STEM fields. Also taking part in the conversation is 9th grader Lauren Scheller-Wolf, a past participant on the Girls of Steel robotics competition team.

Scheller-Wolf encourages young students to be a part of Girls of Steel:

“It’s an amazing opportunity. You will learn so much, but it’s the kind of learning that is so fun you don’t realize you’re learning anything.” -Lauren Scheller-Wolf

Also in the program, historian John Brewer takes us on a photo tour of black life in America from the Pittsburgh Courier, and Robert Miles is making life a little easier with a downtown concierge service. 

Ed Massery, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Since its founding in 1996 the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has worked with the city to maintain its historic parks. The conservancy is currently in the process of renovating one city park. Joining guest host Elaine Labalme to address the current state of the parks and what these green spaces mean to the city is Director of Community Projects Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Heather Sage.

Sage addresses the challenge of air quality in the Pittsburgh area in connection with parks and green spaces:

"There's countless amounts of research that tell us you know our lives are better, we're healthier, our mental health is improved, our physical health is improved if were active and living and spending time outdoors. So just spending time intentionally improving those park spaces is very directly and indirectly helping peoples health..." -Heather Sage

Also in the program, TED Talks make their yearly Pittsburgh visit at the ever-expanding local TEDx conference and Smallman Galley is a local restaurant incubator that's giving potential restaurateurs the tools and templates for success.

Gates Foundation / Flickr

The Wilkinsburg School District is undergoing changes. It’s putting resources toward renovating the district’s two elementary schools. In addition, our guest , acting superintendent Dan Matsook is seeking an education partner to take the district’s middle school students. He sits down with guest host Kevin Gavin to address the challenges facing the Wilkinsburg school district. 

Matsook talks about the possibility of partnering with neighboring school districts, and the benefits it has over merging: 

“The plan we set in motion was to meet with representatives from the districts and to talk about the pros and cons of what this partnership could potentially be. What would be the hurdles? And what would be the questions you want answered?” - Dan Matsook 

Also, a program at LaRoche College keeps students globally-minded after events like the devastation in Nepal and the Green Apple Day of Service connects local people and organizations to non-profits. 

opensource.com / flickr

Companies such as UberLyft, and Airbnb have been growing in popularity in the Pittsburgh region. Today’s special look into the sharing economy begins with Robert Morris University Economics Professor Brian O’Roark, who discusses the business models and the effects of the sharing economy. 

According to O'Roark, the sharing economy itself is not new, but the widespread scale of it is a recent development:

"The idea of a sharing economy has actually been around for some time, but this taking off of the sharing economy -- the expansion of the sharing economy to things like tools and meals and even clothes -- is much more of a recent phenomenon." -- Brian O'Roark

Also in the program, Sociologist Kimberly Creasap talks about the role of trust in the sharing economy. In addition, we hear from Pittsburghers Bruce Chan, Andrea Wetherald and Frank Battista about their own experiences with different sharing platforms. And finally, Marty McGough of Campos Research Strategy compares the new system of sharing to older models.

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