Grapple: A new Podcast by Keystone Crossroads.

Our team has embraced a new Podcast called Grapple. "Grapple gives voice to people living and working in distressed communities both big and small. Through personal narratives and long-form storytelling, you'll hear conversations that tell the story of America’s profound economic and social changes — including how distressed communities have changed over time, what they’re grappling with today and how they’re redefining themselves. Grapple’s first season takes you to a series of communities across Pennsylvania that were once vibrant but struggle today. Worth a listen! 

Discarding first, saving second.

Years of memories flooded the common space on Friday—we started the slow process of designing a plan for emptying out all the lockers. Lots of useful items that will need to find there way to new homes. Our goal is to break ground for the community space the week of November 14 but first up...massive garage sale.

People and place matter.

Latham St. Commons focuses on improving the health of all people living in the Garfield and Friendship neighborhoods of Pittsburgh by addressing their social, educational and economic needs. We do this by creating a place where the community can gather to test new ideas and try out new ways of living. All the while, we’re re-connecting a community through relationships—from person to person, person to community, and person to nature.

No matter what we do—from growing micro-greens and educating local teens to forging partnerships with like-minded organizations—we use these fives areas to focus our goals and objectives. Our programming and activities may change over time, but these focus areas will not. 

– People and place: Build vibrant community through inclusion and engagement.
– Education and economics: Cultivate new relationships and business
   opportunities through innovation and hands-on learning.
– Social: Connect neighbors by sharing in-person, online and around town. 
– Nature: Co-design a sustainable eco-system and restore natural capital.
– Health: Nurture and care for people’s health and happiness.

"Growing a replacement economy"

Our 2016 season kicks off with a beautiful passage from John Thackara's new book: How to Thrive In The Next Economy...“Quietly, for the most part communities the world over are growing a replacement economy from the ground up. Their number includes energy angels and wind wizards and watershed managers. These are the bioregional planners, ecological historians, and citizen foresters Alongside dam removers, river restores and river harvesters, there urban farmers, seed bankers and master conservers. You might also meet the building dismantlers, office-block refurbishers and barn raisers. There are natural painters, and green plumbers. There are trailer-park renewers and land-share brokers. The movement involves computer recyclers, hardware re-mixers, and textile upcyclers. It extends to local currency designers. There are community doctors. And elder cares, And ecological teachers.

We are thrilled to learn we received a matching grant from PWSA Green Infrastructure grant program to install a bioswale and pervious pavers to help manage our stormwater.

Please stay in-touch and as always we are looking for volunteers to help get the season underway. 


Fall Harvest: Time for reflection and planning.

Latham St. Commons is both a place and a dream. Today, it’s a parcel of land surrounded by 19th-century garages, half a block from the hustle-bustle of Penn Avenue in the East End of Pittsburgh. We dream of it becoming a place where neighbors come together to learn, grow and create positive, sustainable change in the community. To make this dream a reality, we’ll focus on the critical  intersection of food and health as a vehicle for social change. Our goal is simple: we provide the space and resources for the community to grow in whichever way it desires. LSC is not something imposed upon the community, but rather something that grows out of the community, and reflects the people within it.

Our team will spend the next few months planning the next steps for Latham St. Commons. We hope you will continue to follow our story in Spring 2016.

A Change of Perspective...

Let's face it. Sometimes, we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and it can feel like we're unable to do anything right. For me, Friday was my day to feel beaten down by the muggy Pittsburgh heat that had been happening all week. I dragged myself to the garden, expecting to see the plants fried by the hot hot sun, and as I began to slowly water and prune through all the pots and barrels and beds, it felt hopeless. Not only was it tedious, but I couldn't end the millions of thoughts running through my head that were disheartening my workload. As I addressed the individual problems and fix-ups around the Commons one by one, and saw the drooping cucumbers, smooshed tomatoes, and dried up soil, it felt like I really wasn't making much of a difference. 

Then something changed. 

Glancing up for a moment, I was able to see the bigger picture. And it was the most beautiful thing I had seen all week. I had just finished watering when I noticed the plants had begun to breathe again. All the garden had needed was a bit of water and to be touched up a bit. It doesn't take much, but gardening can be one of the most encouraging aspects of life if you take a small amount of time every week and give a little. It reminded me to look at the bigger picture rather than the messy details every once in awhile, because when you broaden your perspective and see any problem at a different angle, it can be very rewarding.

Just like this:

Watering the garden at dusk...

Watering the garden at dusk...

This Eggplant has quite the nose!

This Eggplant has quite the nose!

Garfield Deliveries!

John and I spent Tuesday afternoon making deliveries throughout Garfield. It was beautiful weather, and there were plenty of people enjoying their front porches on a hot summer day. 

Only three bags of veggies to go!

Only three bags of veggies to go!

Deliveries are a success!

Friday was another trial run for the second set of deliveries from Latham Street Commons. This time, there was much more to be harvested, and we spent the afternoon walking up and down the neighborhood getting a sense for what was going on in the community that day. Unlike the previous week, we sought out the people who were gathered on their porches rather than leaving a small surprise on their doorstep. We rang doorbells, went from house to house, and were met with surprised and smiling faces.

Door to door encounters often involve defensive and bothered responses in certain sales opportunities. Some people immediately opened the door and said "I don't have any money, sorry.", to which we were able to respond: "We aren't asking for money, we just want to share a small piece of our garden with you." The body language, the facial expressions, and entire demeanor changed once they realized that this was much different than some elaborate marketing scheme. It was encouraging to meet other like-minded people within such close proximity of each other. Whether it was someone who values the quality of their food, or someone who values casual conversation outside their doorstep, we had an amazing experience. 

Excited for the next harvest! Come to Latham's event this Friday. Mash-Up #2!

Someone sent us a text message of the greens they used to make a salad, how sweet!

Thrilled to see the community with small gardens of their own, spread the green!

Thrilled to see the community with small gardens of their own, spread the green!

What do our communities need in order to grow?

What do our communities need in order to grow?