in the Public Eye

Before the Institute

posted Apr 17, 2012, 5:07 AM by RH Jannini

To be fair before the Institute began, we have been doing things in the public eye much earlier, with our wildflower habitat, natural fencing, and container gardening. However perhaps the most crystallizing event for the Institute began at our first public introduction last year at the Allegheny Green and Innovation Festival.

It was here that we first introduce the public to the idea of sustainable design incubator that creates quality products utilizing the right balance of materials, efficient design, and minimal energy consumption. Specifically those products work in modular solid cedar planter box for micro-farming, elevated gardening stands, natural milk carriers, and handcrafted jute plant hangers.

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Most important was the idea that the building that housed this design lab also maintained and acted as the design shell since many of the issues related to sustainable design truly need to be applied to our existing infrastructure. Maximizing the efficiencies of our natural resources through minimizing the waste byproduct of poor or inefficient processes should be the goal in society.

Needless to say, being able to interface with a diverse group of people interested in design efficiencies while hearing their frustrations over certain cost barriers that produce slow returns on their investment, seem to confirm that an organization that demonstrates various technologies and approaches would be of some value.

Upon returning from this festival a rough outline was created that embodied what is currently now known as "the Church Institute" - an organization that seeks to share in the creative development of sustainable design paradigms that appear currently hidden from mainstream society.

It's my personal hope, that initiatives like this can create a generation of citizens that actively consider how simple solutions can make large differences in improving their lives.

As you'll read throughout this website, we understand that much of what we do isn't "new" thinking but hopefully a different approach when some very common sense thinking.

River Town Sustainability Fair

posted Mar 23, 2012, 5:05 AM by RH Jannini   [ updated Apr 17, 2012, 4:41 AM ]

Well spring is finally here!

In with it begins our official foray into the steps necessary to begin our first funded project "Sustainable. Clean. Water." where we construct a rainwater harvesting system capable of providing not only irrigation for plants but has the potential of providing potable drinking water as well.

We have a number of organizations that we will be speaking with about this project as well as other project direction of the Church Institute, we do have to start somewhere.  That's somewhere, will be at the River Town Sustainability Fair this March 31. Although a majority of the "vendors" will be selling and promoting various wares ranging from photovoltaic solar panels, deep well geothermal, advances in building materials, and other trade oriented business - we will be there talking about our understanding and practical use of these types of technologies in how we plan on implementing them.

If you're in the area, you should plan on stopping by between 9:30 AM and 1:00 PM to grab from these vendors some brochures, T-shirts, and highly anticipated knowledge.

A cause worth funding

posted Aug 18, 2011, 2:21 PM by Church Admin   [ updated May 2, 2012, 3:29 AM by RH Jannini ]

Personally, I like to believe that individuals have an obligation of sorts to promote worthwhile causes that engage the public and empower people to improve their life on multiple levels. While that sounds like lofty goals better suited for a fund-raising speech, it is in fact quite true.

Much of the involvement I have found myself in is with a fairly wide array of organizations and non-profits and all at a more local level. Whether it is working to rebuild a local museum board, spearhead saving an historic building, develop markets for fund-raising, promote public opinion and advocacy or even local Government management and policy – it is in support of a larger collective whole.

So when one of the better known public funding groups from the “city” thought to bring some funding opportunities to our little corner of the world, it was a good opportunity for groups to find some funding dollars that were a bit more flexible.  Suffice to say it is one of the more progressive groups that have come on the scene in recent years. In fact, much of their work has broken the traditional philanthropic barriers that have existed in this region, so the idea of “outside-the-box” thinking isn’t a new expression but rather a core element of the group.

What didn’t occur to me was the possibility that the work being done here might fit within the scope of their grant proposal or that it was even complimentary to some of the other projects they have funded in the past.   Under the suggestion of a few people and with much vacillation, I began writing for a grant with a little less than five days before deadline.

Having written grants in the past I understood it would become a daunting task if the goals were not aligned with current activities. It seems all too many organizations waste time and energy aligning their goals to compliment the “grant of the month”.  Additionally, it is difficult to know ALL the grants that are available, so many do end up chasing grants over goals. Fortunately this wasn’t the case and probably the only reason a grant could be pulled together in such short time.

Once the decision was made; choosing which project on the white-board would be the most complimentary to not only the underlying sustainability goals currently being implemented but also allow for a wider target audience. Between the drone of the daily local news and a turn of the kitchen faucet, it was clear that water conservation was one of the largest issues facing this region or more to the point “Clean Water Conservation”.

Water Water Everywhere

Very few will argue, the glory years of our neighboring metropolis was built at the turn of the 20th century on the oil and coal reserves of Western Pennsylvania.  The Oil companies that were started have long since left, now seek a return foothold in advance of the next great opportunity. The American Steel Industry owes much of its growth to the rich coal seams, the river, and influx of immigrant workers seeking a better life for their family. It was during these BOOM era economies – hundred of companies sprang up eager to fuel this economic engine and with it came many poorly managed or opportunistic companies shirking even some of the more common sense thinking at the time.

Regardless of how it happened, it is here – Abandoned Mines coupled with a seemingly coincidental lax of enforcement provides the Acid Mine Drainage that has impacted our fish and wildlife (the first visible victims), while our regions soil with its high clay content creates issues for proper on-lot septic systems for our rural areas and storm-runoff of agricultures latest conspired fertilizer only damage the water more. So it is easy to see that when you add a “growing” industry that promotes a technology as requires such an abundant amount of our water resources and returns nothing healthy to its source and we see an impact that is felt by millions never even aware of how their life is being compromised and bartered with.

Our region and this watershed alone, has had more lakes, ponds and streams disappear, flourishing centennial water wells go dry, and more contamination of its remaining water than ever before. Whether it is the impacts of long-wall mining, hydraulic fracturing, or agricultural run-off when it is coupled with poor leadership and safeguards from our elected officials, it creates a problem for everyone.

While there is no escaping the fact that Big Industry has come to Pennsylvania just as it has in Colorado, Texas and Tennessee in pursuit of drilling, processing, and exporting of our natural gas reserves.  What makes Western Pennsylvania so special when compared to those other locations is that does these same things in an water basin with a host of “pre-existing” conditions.  This all creates a challenge to work towards salvaging what we have while continuing to strive toward industry accountability for the protection of our public resources for future generations is what is at stake.

Identifying the Goal

With the broad scope of Clean Water as the goal, ways to achieve it was the meat of this initial proposal.  To be successful, the approach should be simple and complimentary to our daily lives.  That success is what provides a foothold into larger more progressive projects in the future.  In an even broader sense of a good set of goals, is the ability to promote an educated public coupled with an engaged elected body, that actively works towards more supporting sustainable industry to create and support more job opportunities in what is perhaps the only true growth market for a future.

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