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The whereas’s heard ’round the region

EBC-Exterior
The Esther Barazzone Center, dedicated April 28, 2016

 

An hour and a half before guests were due to arrive, drizzle turned to rain and Eden Hall Campus (EHC) sprang quietly into action:

  • Gravel pathways made it easy for water to sink into the earth, rather than run off, as would happen with concrete.
  • The rainwater harvesting system collected the rain, cleaned it, and rerouted it for use for irrigation and other non-potable duties.
  • Raingardens filled with native plants soaked it all in.
  • Crops that will feed Eden Hall community members were watered.

Impressive as that might sound, EHC does so much more than deal intelligently with stormwater, and the completion of the first phase of building that makes it all possible is only one of the reasons that 250 people have ventured into this gray morning on April 28 to gather here in celebration.

As guests arrived, shaking off umbrellas and marveling at what was for many their first look at the new Commons building, there was an excitement in the air that even the prospect of an Eden Hall-sourced lunch did little to quell.

The opening remarks and the lunch
In nature, nothing exists alone, begins the donor wall in the entranceway of the new building. This quote from Chatham alumna Rachel Carson pinpoints a sense of shared experience that President Esther Barazzone echoed in her opening remarks. “This is an absolute thrill for all of us to see so many of you taking part in our first communal meal here.”

Esther was followed by Sigo Falk, chair of the erstwhile Falk Foundation and Chatham Board member since 1981, who noted the multiple dimensions of sustainability, including social justice. Then lunch was served, family-style, and guests feasted on Arugula and Pickled and Roasted Beet Salad with Honey Beet Vinaigrette and Popcorn Croutons; Apple Whiskey Glazed Pork and Rye Berry Pilaf; and Braised Rainbow Chard and Kale, all grown at Eden Hall or sourced from Hatfield Meats or Wigle Whiskey.

lunch

After lunch, guests heard  from Richland Township Manager Dean Bastianini, State Representative Hal English, and Director of the Southwest Regional Office of the Governor Erin Molchany.

Eden Hall Campus is not only a model for sustainable design and net-zero mission nationally, but is also is the world’s first sustainable college campus. We love firsts, here in Pennsylvania. Especially firsts that put us on the global map. And we will continue to hold up Eden Hall Campus and the Commons Center as an example of what we can accomplish together.”
– Erin Molchany

The dedication
The Commons Dedication segment of the afternoon began with remarks from David Goldberg from Eden Hall architectural partner Mithūn. “I’m honored to have collaborated with Chatham Board of Trustees and the Chatham leadership team,” he said. “Esther—your vision and commitment to the project are just unmatched by anything we’ve ever seen.”

esther
Next, Jennifer Potter, Chair of the Chatham Board of Trustees told us that “bold vision, strong leadership, and an embrace of doing big things in a short amount of time have been the hallmarks of Esther’s presidency.” She declared it a great honor to read the resolution at hand, and exhorted guests to “bear with me, this is when I do all the ‘whereas’s’.”

Five whereas’s later: “Therefore, be it now resolved that the Board of Trustees approves dedicating the Commons at Eden Hall as the Esther Barazzone Center at Eden Hall Campus.”  The room rose to its feet, applauding. In a voice brimming with emotion, Esther thanked the Board.

This honor means the world to me. This Board has led me, and given me the privilege of saying that I helped lead them.”
– Esther Barazzone

She also thanked Chatham’s community partners, Richland, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And finally, “Thank you especially to the faculty, the students and the others who work at Chatham. You are, of course, the heart, the soul, and the reason why we do these things. May you learn joyously here. ”

proclamation

The keynote speaker
Next, Falk School Dean Peter Walker introduced keynote speaker Barton Seaver—a young and charismatic sustainability-focused seafood chef turned academic and activist, who gave a dynamic and thought-provoking talk, beginning with the summers he spent as a child by the Chesapeake Bay.

“Every morning at the crack of dawn, I was down by the docks, gathering bluefish, blue crabs, spots, skate,” he said. “There was bounty in those waters, and that’s how I understood the world to be. Then later, when I opened my own restaurant and got to write my own menu, I was inspired by that time. I said ‘All right, let’s get bluefish, blue crabs, oysters…’ and my suppliers said ‘Kid, what are you talking about? We ate all those. What else do you want?’”

Seaver says that it was at that point that he realized that if we have the power to harm the oceans (and fish from the ocean have the power to harm us, through mercury levels), the flip side is that we can also use seafood to heal, and that we can restore the ocean’s systems. He sees it as a turning point in how he began to view sustainability—from a vantage point of guilt to a vantage point of opportunity.

barton

“In the U.S., we eat over 175 lbs per person per year of meat, compared to roughly 14 lbs per person per year of seafood,” said Seaver, calling the meager amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the diets of women of childbearing years in the U.S. “an epidemic.”

Seaver thinks deeply about messages of sustainability, how they’re delivered, and how those deliveries might improve. “I talk to people and then use their own words to explain why the oceans are important,” he said. “The word ‘environment’ practically never came up. Instead we talked about economics. Jobs. Culture, heritage, health.”

All too often what we hear is ‘Save the oceans!’ We’re not trying to save the oceans; we’re trying to save our reality around those oceans. We’re trying to save dinner. Frankly speaking, we’re trying to save ourselves.” – Barton Seaver

The denouement
Following Seaver’s address, guests broke for coffee, champagne, and Eden Hall Global Cow cookies (you had to be there). Guests were encouraged to roam about the Commons, where signs and staff members were positioned to provide information, and to join small group tours that that left from the Commons.

post-event

“Sustainability begins in our hearts and minds,” concluded Seaver’s address. “And fortunately, our hearts and minds have found a loving home”—he gestured around at the Esther Barazzone Center—“here.”

The opening was previewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and NEXT Pittsburgh

Faculty Research: John R. Taylor and Migrant Gardners in Chicago

Professor John Taylor teaches students at Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus

The Industrial Revolution compelled workers to seek employment in cities, a trend that has never really reversed: According to the U.S. Census, in 2013, nearly two-thirds of Americans lived in cities.* Due to a finite amount of land, these cities are expanding, and more land is being incorporated every year.

The largest single land use in cities is residential, so what we choose to do with the space we inhabit is of interest to researchers who study urban environments. For example, the preponderance of residential land use means that residential gardens, including urban agriculture, are increasingly important sites of biodiversity (plants, animals, and micro-organisms) and agrobiodiversity (a subset of biodiversity concerned with food and agriculture) in cities.

But these urban sites of food production haven’t been studied extensively, at least not in the developed world, says Falk School of Sustainability Assistant Professor of Sustainable Agroecology John R. Taylor, PhD who is looking to change that. Further, he says:

“I thought that by doing this I could almost act as an advocate for home gardens. They do make a substantial and unrecognized contribution to urban food systems.”

A polyculture of winter melon, bitter melon, and leafy greens in the backyard garden of a Chinese-origin household in Chicago
A polyculture of winter melon, bitter melon, and leafy greens in the backyard garden of a Chinese-origin household in Chicago

Dr. Taylor grew up on a farm in Latrobe, PA where his family grew corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, oats, and raised cattle and hogs. In high school, he sold crops that he grew in his market garden. “I was like a little plant nerd,” he laughs.

For the current project, Dr. Taylor and his colleagues sought to understand food gardens of a subset of Chicago-area ethnic and migrant households.  Dr. Taylor and his team interviewed 19 Mexican-origin, 23 Chinese-origin, and 17 African American gardeners (for a total of 59), catalogued what they were growing, and asked about their garden histories, gardening practices, and personal histories. Linguistically competent graduate assistants from the focal communities helped secure participation and facilitate interviews.  The research, published on February 15, 2016 is entitled: “Ecosystem services and tradeoffs in the home food gardens of African American, Chinese-origin, and Mexican-origin households in Chicago, IL” by John R. Taylor et al in Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Cambridge University Press.

“Attaining a height of three or more meters…tropical corn is a striking botanical feature in Chicago neighborhoods, potentially acting as a signifier of regional and ethnic identity.”

Among their other findings:

  • Only 9.6% of the inventoried species were native to Chicago.
  • A total of 123 edible plant taxa were identified across the 61gardens, including 17 species of food crops, 27 species of culinary herbs, and 79 taxa of vegetable crops.
  • Only three species (Jerusalem artichoke, pokeweed, and fox grape) were native to the Chicago area.
  • On average, Chinese-origin households devoted a significantly higher proportion of their lot to food production than did African American or Mexican-origin households.
  • Fruit trees were most abundant in Mexican-origin households’ gardens and least abundant in those of Chinese-origin households.
  • Only winter squash appeared in the ten most abundant groups for all three samples.
  • Ethnic food culture and preferences most strongly influenced the species composition of Chinese-origin households’ gardens.
Bitter melon in the backyard garden of a Chinese-origin household in Chicago
Bitter melon in the backyard garden of a Chinese-origin household in Chicago

Planting food for our own consumption might seem to be an unmitigated good to the non-agro-ecologists among us, but Dr. Taylor cautions that there are trade-offs.

“If urban gardeners use a lot of synthetic fertilizers a couple of times each week, that can contribute to storm water pollution. And planting perennial species limits the time that the ground can act as a hospitable environment for “good” insect species.”

Gardeners’ priorities might conflict with those of human urban dwellers, too. Take trees. “While vertical structures like trees are helpful in terms of supporting biodiversity, urban agriculturalists tend to not want a lot of trees, since they block sun,” says Dr. Taylor. But many people see trees as welcomed sources of shade that not only provide comfort, but also mitigate urban heat island effects. “City centers tend to be warmer than fringe areas because of the amount of concrete. This leads to increased costs in terms of cooling, and can lead to a serious negative impact on human health,” he says, citing the 1995 Chicago heat wave that led to 739 heat-related deaths.

“While the composition of the front yard purportedly reflects social class, backyards are alleged to be ‘dreamscapes’ reflecting the owner’s ‘true’ landscape preferences.” – Larsen and Harlan, 2006 (mentioned in Taylor et al, 2016)

Ultimately, Dr. Taylor is interested in evolving the project from descriptive study to experimental work, developing agro-ecological approaches to community gardens. “We could potentially take models provided by the Chinese-origin gardeners—like polycultures, trellises, and vertical gardening—and use them in new ways,” he says. “I’m interested in developing models where perennials, trees, shrubs, and other plants can grow together in a home garden that produces food and supports biodiversity.”

Dr. Taylor cites Pittsburgh’s Mt. Oliver Community Garden Gathering Space, a project run by Bhutanese refugees in conjunction with Grow Pittsburgh and GTech, as a way that culture and agriculture can come together to provide some degree of food security, companionship, and purpose to a migrant community.

The Falk School of Sustainability offers an M.A. in Food Studies (MAFS), a Master of Sustainability (MSUS), a Bachelor of Sustainability, and dual-degree MAFS/MBA and MSUS/MBA programs. Learn about growing food at Eden Hall.

*Population Trends in Incorporated Places: 2000 to 2013 Population Estimates and Projections Issued March 2015 P25-1142 By Darryl T. Cohen (With Geoffrey W. Hatch)

congratulations Eden Hall Fellows!

edenhallscholars

Chatham University and the Falk School of Sustainability (FSS) are proud to announce the 2016 Eden Hall Fellows.

The Eden Hall Fellows Scholarship Program is open to all FSS graduate students. Each year, five new and five returning students will receive:

  • A $10,000 per year tuition scholarship (renewable, provided students maintain eligibility requirements)
  • A $5,000 summer cash stipend to carry out their internship, in which they are expected to engage in social entrepreneurship, community service, or work with or for a non-profit business making changes in sustainability

Meredith Benek is a Master of Sustainability student from Harmony, PA with a bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University in Environmental Studies. Meredith has had a lifelong interest in the environment and living sustainably, working as an Environmental Health and Safety Specialist. Meredith’s summer 2016 internship is with Penn Forest Natural Burial Park, Pennsylvania’s first exclusively environmentally friendly burial ground. She will interface with all aspects of the park – from communicating with the public, understanding the environmental impacts of the area, and situating issues within the context of a socially responsible business.

Elisha (Elly) Helgen is a Master of Sustainability from Danvers, IL with a bachelor’s degree from Mercyhurst University in anthropology/archaeology. After graduating, Elly spent a year with AmeriCorps and led a project that included creating a community garden within a refugee and low-income neighborhood. There she saw the many mental, physical and spiritual benefits that come from bringing communities together around a green space. During her summer 2016 immersion experience, Elly will continue working with community gardens, and further develop her skills as they relate to sustainable and equitable community development.

Zachary J. Schmucker is a Master of Sustainability student from Lycippus, PA with a bachelor’s degree from Davis & Elkins College in Sustainability Studies and History, where he worked to bridge the gaps between the humanities and environmental science. Zachary’s summer 2016 internship is with the United States Forest Service (USFS), where he will continue his work as a trail crew leader in the Monongahela National Forest, including trail condition assessment and remediation; land use monitoring; and community outreach. Zachary has been a crew leader with the USFS in previous years, but will expand on his role this summer by working to redevelop trails with a goal towards watershed improvement.

Megan VanGorden is a Master of Arts in Food Studies student from Olivebridge, New York with a bachelor degree from Saint Michael’s College in Anthropology/Sociology and Applied Linguistics. Megan spent two years with AmeriCorps, managing volunteers and working on healthy aging programs, and serving with a community food council focused on nutrition education for families with young children. Megan’s summer 2016 internship involves two sites: At Eden Hall, she will create a community supported agriculture model that can be scaled up in future years to provide students with produce from Eden Hall. At Churchview Farm in Baldwin, PA, a small, woman-owned farm, she will assist with operations and the business side of running a farm that sells to restaurants and hosts a work-share program.

Mollie Walter is a Master of Arts in Food Studies from Summit, NJ with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Economics and History. For the last three years, Mollie has worked as a tax specialist for BNY Mellon. Currently, she interns for Three Rivers Grown, a regional food hub that specializes in distributing dairy within 100 miles of Pittsburgh. Mollie’s summer 2016 internship will be with The Hatchery in Chicago, a food business incubator that accelerates economic development by helping food entrepreneurs launch their companies. There, she will use and build on her business skills, doing supply chain analysis, production and distribution, business strategy development, research, reporting on food and beverage trends, and more.

Learn more about the Eden Hall Fellows Scholarship Program, including expectations of Fellows and eligibility requirements.

Living at Eden Hall

smaller
Eden Hall residence enjoy a soap-making workshop.

Last fall, Chatham welcomed its inaugural full-time student residents to the Eden Hall campus. We spoke with Graduate Resident Director Catherine Giles (Master of Sustainability, ’16) and Tenzin Lhakmon (MFA Creative Writing, ’17) about their time spent on this unique campus.

What sorts of things are available for you to do outside of class?

Tenzin: Eden Hall is a campus that is close to earth, environmentally speaking. You can hike the trails and there are events that you can take part in. And usually we have one or two events happening every week. For example, I recently took part in an event for soap making and yoga.

There’s a bowling alley in the Lodge, as well as a billiards table. We have workout equipment on the third floor of Orchard Hall. The trails remain open for the entire day and I’m constantly finding new paths that I hadn’t previously explored or realized connected. We have several consistent, popular events, such as Mug Club, Yoga, and Bluegrass Jam. And in the summer, students, faculty, and community members can come to Eden Hall Open Swim at the pool behind the Lodge. – Catherine Giles, MSUS ’16

Where do people socialize?

Catherine: Right now, people mostly socialize at the Lodge or where there’s food. In the future, I anticipate most people will socialize in the Commons. When there are events, like the Bluegrass Jam, we can get quite a few people to attend. Currently, most students, unless they live at Orchard, are only at Eden Hall for class.

cafe

How present is the mission of sustainability in day-to-day life?

Tenzin:
Living at Eden put us at the hearts of the sustainability mission and having to sort out your trash or your leftovers every day is an education in itself!! And recently I learned the dorm uses solar power for electricity that we have around the clock. It feels good to be a part of that.

Catherine: The mission of sustainability is everywhere at Eden Hall. I’m trained as a Tour Guide as well, and from that, I know all about how the infrastructure, down to the metals chosen for the outside of the buildings, were sustainably harvested or retrieved, and have a very specific purpose in the grand scheme of Eden Hall.

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Can you share a favorite moment you’ve had here that you might not have had living in a more traditional campus environment?

Catherine: At night, the paths are illuminated with lights aimed downward. In the summer, walking from the turnabout to the Amphitheatre, these lights attract insects. Frogs and toads frequently sit in front of the lights and feast for hours. And one time, I saw the Eden Hall bear. I was on the shuttle with another resident when the driver shouted, “Look there’s the bear!” and we all turned to see the bear running in front of the Lodge, across the street, and into the far tree line. Shadyside has squirrels, not bears!

Tenzin: Just living so close to nature, and also to the people. I feel like I have formed a very close and genuine relationship with the people here. The chefs and cooks at Eden Hall feel like family. And I am thankful to the Eden Hall Campus for bringing these people into my life. I really am.

WOW Retreat

What’s your favorite thing about living at Eden Hall?

Tenzin: The environment, the freshness of the surroundings, the wind, the flowers, the trees, the calmness… and of course, the people.

Catherine: My favorite thing about living at Eden Hall is that it’s so nature-oriented. I’m immersed in the wilderness, but my room is never too far away. Even when you’re “lost” in the woods, you always know where you are and how to get back home. As beautiful and quaint, as Shadyside is, Eden Hall just simply has more nature. I’ve seen the bear. I’ve seen the albino deer. I’ve stayed up late catching toads and getting my feet wet in the grass. On a cloudless night, you can lie on the Amphitheatre stage and clearly see the stars.

 

green chemistry students win $5000 innovation prize

team
Randy Yakal, Christine Lambiase, and Derrick Ward

A team of Chatham University graduate students came away with $5000 to pursue their innovation at the Department of Energy-sponsored Allegheny Region CleanTech University Prize (CUP) competition, held at Carnegie Mellon University during Energy Week, March 14-18.

The team—called Saloleum, from the Latin stems sal (salt, or “ionic”) and oleum (oil)—consists of Randy Yakal, Christine Lambiase, Derrick Ward, all second year M.S. students studying Green Chemistry. Their efforts were supported by faculty advisor Thomas Macagno, PhD, Assistant Professor of Sustainability and Business and by Cierra Snyder and Tom Hall from the Falk School of Sustainability.

The project started in fall 2015, when Randy was a student in Dr. Macagno’s Leading Organizations and Projects course (BUS575). “Dr. Macagno had found out about this competition and tapped me because they needed a science guy,” he said.

Through much discussion, the team decided on an idea that worked perfectly for the competition criteria. “HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) technology was even in the drop-down menu,” notes Randy.

So what is this $5000 idea? “It’s a new compressor lubricant for a cooling unit,” says Randy. “The compressor circulates a refrigerant through the system. The refrigerant picks up oil particles on its way, and those particles get deposited inside the heat exchange lines.” Randy likens it to how arteries can become clogged, forcing the heart to work less efficiently. “The same thing happens with the compressor,” he says. “It has to work harder and longer to cool the an area than it would if the lines were clean.”

Saloleum’s insight is to replace the oil with a low vapor pressure lubricant that won’t create the same “gunk build-up.” Randy envisions it as the first in a new line of eco-friendly products.

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Click here to download a PDF of the poster. 

“The commercial building sector consumes 18% of all energy produced in America,” he says. “Of that, 32% is used in climate control. If all the buildings in the country experienced a 20% efficiency boost (the anticipated effect of Saloleum), we’d save enough energy in one year to power all of New York City for 288 days.”

The team is proud that they won the prize without a working prototype, on the strength of the idea alone. That’s why they’ll use their prize money to see if it works. “We’ve got all the theory down, now we need to walk the walk,” says Randy. “That should be soon. We’re currently in the process of speaking with a lawyer and becoming an LLC.”

Saloleum logo
Saloleum logo

The Chatham team held their own against a competitive field which included Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania, Case Western Reserve University, University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, and others. The objectives of the competition were to catalyze clean energy technology start-ups, support educational opportunities, and encourage clean energy student entrepreneurs.

“I never thought I’d be a co-founder of anything,” says Randy. “It’s really exciting.”

Chatham’s Master of Science in Green Chemistry is the first program of its kind in the United States. Focused on delivering a truly unique educational experience for students with undergraduate degrees in biochemistry, biology, and chemistry, the M.S. in Green Chemistry program will delve into the design of products and processes that minimize the use and generation of hazardous substances.

Student profile: Lynzy Groves ‘16

lynzy

Lynzy Groves ’16 is one of two recipients of the Collegiate American Marketing Association’s Social Impact Scholarship Award. She will receive $5000 toward her 2016-17 tuition.

An active member of the Chatham Marketing Association (CMA), Lynzy serves as Vice-President of Community Impact, a CMA position that provides leadership, planning, and marketing know-how to guide the club in all of its social outreach activities. For the past two years, CMA has participated in the “Young Art” fair, an event that raises awareness and funds for The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Free Care Fund. Each year, Lynzy planned the format, developed relationships with Hospital staff, collected artwork from students on Chatham’s campus, developed promotional materials, identified and collected silent auction items, and organized and set up the venue.

As President of Chatham’s Relay For Life organization, Lynzy recruits staff, sets goals, coordinates fundraising efforts, conducts community and sponsorship outreach, and designs event promotions and communications. Last year, she interned with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). She did cold calling, mass mailings, volunteer coordination, auction item and donation solicitation, and constructing and sending pre and post-event press releases.

“The best part of Lynzy’s leadership in this role is her ability to motivate and inspire others to make a commitment and stick with it, despite difficulties with competing priorities and finite resources. Her positive attitude is an inspiration to everyone she touches, making involvement in the program rewarding in of itself,”

— Professor Deborah DeLong, PhD.

Where are you from?
Chicora, PA. It’s a very very small town, about an hour and a half from Pittsburgh.

Why did you decide to come to Chatham?
My mom went to graduate school in Pittsburgh, and told me that she thought I would love Chatham. And then the first time I stepped on campus, I thought this is the place I need to be. It felt like home.

I don’t think I would have had as many opportunities anywhere else, such a small school, individualized attention, really fosters your growth as a person. I’m not the same person I was freshman year. 

What course or courses have been most meaningful to you here? Well, I started as an art major, but quickly realized I didn’t want that to be my job, so after freshman year, I started exploring other interests. I took Principles of Marketing with Dr. DeLong, and just fell in love with how it unites the social aspect of business with numbers and creativity. I always knew I wanted to do something that gave back to people, and I thought marketing could be a way I could do that.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I try to focus my marketing skills on the social impact area. I love working with non-profits, especially when I can see firsthand how they give back to the community. I like being able to use my marketing skills to create events and promote them and unite people in the spirit of giving back.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a big music fan; it’s my relaxation. I DJ for birthday parties and things like that. And I still love drawing. I have a minor in graphic design, and I design posters that you might see around campus, especially when it’s time for the Relay for Life.

What do you think you’d like to do after you graduate?
I’m definitely going to go into the nonprofit world. Money isn’t a priority; I want to make sure my work means something to someone. I intend to always have purpose behind my work.

This year, for the second time since 2010, Chatham’s CMA is a finalist in the AMA’s International Collegiate Case Competition. The challenge was  to devise a new strategy and tactical marketing program for the Hershey Company’s Ice Breakers brand.  CMA students will  present their case solution to senior management of The Hershey Company in the finals round held at the collegiate conference in New Orleans in March.

Community Research: Food and Health

Siedle-Mim

Some things just line up. In 2014, Assistant Professor of Nutrition in the Food Studies program Mim Seidel, MS, RD, LDN, found out that the Aetna Foundation was looking to fund a project that addresses healthy eating in low-income communities—an ideal match for Mim, whose interests (and deep experience) lie in food security, sustainable systems, and health. The Aetna Foundation agreed, and Mim’s project was funded.

What followed was an experiential, project-based class that Mim taught in the spring of 2015—FST613: Community Research: Food and Health.

Residents of low-income communities may qualify for federal aid known as WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). Having worked for WIC, Mim knew that the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks they are given often went unused. Having read widely about the problem, she had some ideas of why that might be. With her Community Research class and other Food Studies students (including Dani Lyons, whose internship centered around the project), she staged an intervention in Wilkinsburg (a low-income community in Pittsburgh) called CRUNCH! Eat Fresh, Eat Healthy, Move More, designed to address some of the barriers.

In Mim’s class, students read about low-income neighborhoods; alternative food systems; and programs like farmers markets and CSA (community supported agriculture). Despite the well-documented benefits of eating local, sustainably grown foods, these programs are often underused by minorities and by people with lower incomes.

“We have some “out of the box” recommendations for changes the USDA might make.” – Mim Seidel

It’s not hard to see why: for one, farmers’ market food can be more expensive. For another, some vendors at farmers’ markets aren’t prepared to accept the large, purple WIC checks. An individual who wants to use a WIC check at farmers’ market won’t get change. But sometimes it’s unfamiliarity that poses the biggest barrier, and that is what CRUNCH! staged a three-prong intervention to address.

Participants were recruited at the WIC clinic in Wilkinsburg. They explained the study (including its incentives, including gifts like vegetable peelers, measuring cups, and supermarket gift cards in small denominations) to WIC recipients and in just over three weeks, reached their target goal of 200 participants (202 were actually enrolled). Throughout the study, students staffed the WIC clinic, recruited participants, conducted surveys, held demos, led tours, and entered data—a full spectrum of community-based research. One student used the study as an internship; another received funding to serve as research coordinator.

The first prong was the tastiest. “The students held cooking demos at the WIC clinic using fresh vegetables that you can get at a farmer’s market,” says Mim, “and let them taste everything. If your income is limited, you’re less likely to buy what you’ve never eaten and don’t know how to prepare.”

“Also, we’re less likely to go to a farmers’ market if we haven’t been to one before,” she adds. “It’s unfamiliar, and it can be hard to tell which vendors accept WIC checks. The little signs are hard to find.” To counter that, she and her staff provided casual farmer’s market tours for CRUNCH! participants.

Thirdly, CRUNCH! staff connected with leaders of community gardens, and tried to encourage CRUNCH! participants to check them out—both to associate healthy eating with community, and to reinforce their familiarity with locally grown produce.

“We sent bus tickets to all CRUNCH! participants after some participants mentioned not being able to afford the extra ticket, and we also knew that transportation issues are documented in the research,” says Mim.

CRUNCH! would be considered a success if participants showed an increased use of WIC checks, and indeed, the increase was statistically significant: a 46.5% redemption rate compared to 39% by non-CRUNCH! participants, at the same WIC clinic.

“We also want to write this up to be published in a professional journal and present it at a meeting in Toronto,” says Mim, who lists Food Studies students Malik Hamilton (research coordinator) and Leslie Gordon and Christen Dinger (graduate student assistants) as her co-authors.“We have some “out of the box” recommendations for changes the USDA might make.”

Student profile: Nora Moorefield

Nora

Chatham junior and accounting major, Nora Moorefield ‘17, has been invited to intern with UPMC’s Summer Associates Program—a highly competitive, compensated 11-week internship that exposes college students interested in business or technology related areas to real-world business opportunities.

Nora is the vice-president of finance for the Chatham Student Government, Chair of the Undergraduate Budget Committee, a Student Office Assistant with Student Affairs, and a Resident Assistant at Laughlin Hall.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m from Pittsburgh, and I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else.

Q: What brought you to Chatham?
A: I was attracted to the location and the fact that that at the time, it was an all women’s university. I live in a nearby neighborhood and wanted something close to home. I needed a university in the city so that I could take advantage of such opportunities like internships in and out of the academic year. I was also interested in a smaller campus where I could get to know my professors personally and they could get to know me.

I have grown to feel more confident with my opinions and how to foster healthy dialogue with people surrounding ideas that I feel passionate about and ones that I don’t.

Q: What are you majoring in?
A: I’m majoring in accounting and minoring in mathematics. I came to Chatham to study engineering. Here we had a 3-2 engineering program that I was attracted to where I’d receive my bachelor’s in mathematics in three years and then another in engineering in two years from a neighboring accredited institution like Carnegie Mellon or the University of Pittsburgh. After taking a number of courses that didn’t relate to my studies in my first year of college, I took an accounting class that sparked my interest.

Q: What drew you to UPMC’s Summer Associates Program?
A: I was looking for an internship that allowed me to apply my knowledge from the accounting, finance, and mathematics courses that I’ve taken. I was immediately attracted to UPMC’s presence in the community, and was so excited to hear that they had a program where the employees, including myself, could volunteer around the city during the internship. I was also interested in their new mentoring program where the interns would have opportunities to mentor the employees on a number of different subjects!

Q: What are you looking forward to gaining through this opportunity?
A: I am hoping to get to know myself more, since internships have that way about them that helps you realize your interests. The classroom is different, where most things are learned through the lenses of your textbook and not through the application of that knowledge. There’s also that heightened opportunity to gain full employment after completing the internship, which I’m very excited about!

Q: How has Chatham helped prepare you for this program?
A: My finance and accounting classes as well as my volunteer experiences at Chatham have definitely helped prepare me for this program. During my time here, I have been nominated to attend a number of different conferences that have helped prepare me for this program as well. One was the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders where I met leaders like Chelsea Clinton and engaged in conversation about leadership, networking, activism, and making the most out of your career.

Q: Who have been your mentors here at Chatham? What kind of influence have they had on your perspective towards your future?
A: Dr. Sean McGreevey (Assistant Dean for Career Development) has been a mentor of mine since I started at Chatham. Like so many other students, I frequent his office for advice whether it’s for my career or my finances. He really knows his stuff.

Q: What do you see yourself doing after graduation?
A: After graduation, I see myself working to attain my Masters of Accounting, and going on to pass the CPA.

Q: How do you feel you’ve grown since beginning Chatham? 
A: I have grown to feel more confident with my opinions and how to foster healthy dialogue with people surrounding ideas that I feel passionate about and ones that I don’t.

Q: What are your favorite things to do on campus?
A: For many reasons, I really like spending time in the Carriage House. My latest obsession with the newly renovated space is the massage chairs. I can sit there for hours either studying or, less productively, napping in the chairs between classes and work. I also love studying by the fireplace there or getting a smoothie at the smoothie bar. My favorite Chatham tradition is the Moonlight Breakfast, where our professors and professional staff members serve us breakfast at night in the dining hall. I’ve never won a prize there but the free breakfast is a good enough incentive to get me out every time!

Q: What do you appreciate most about Chatham?
A: I appreciate all of the little things that Chatham does such as moving all of the first-year students’ belongings into their rooms their first semester for them. Another thing that I appreciate here is having an environment where so many voices feel comfortable sharing their perspectives, experiences, and opinions. I have learned so many things in and out of the classroom.

Watch a video about the UPMC Summer Associates Program. 

“My job exists to help you tell someone how you feel”

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Allison Marsh, Class of 96, has made a career out of being forward-thinking. For the past decade, she’s worked in new product development at American Greetings, most recently as a Research and Development Manager. “The sole reason my job exists is to help you tell someone how you feel,” she says. “That’s actually pretty powerful. But what does that gesture look like to a millennial, or to the next generation? Does it have to look like a traditional greeting card? Probably not!”

IMG_2435[1]Marsh’s team handles the cards that “do the unexpected,” she says. “If it sings, dances, lights up, records your voice, shoots confetti, has a QR code—if there’s something above and beyond what you think of as a regular greeting card, it comes from this department.”

Born and bred in Pittsburgh, Marsh loves the city, and when it came time for college, she wanted to stay. “I knew I didn’t want to sit in Psych 101 with a hundred kids and be lucky if the professor knew my name,” she says.

“So I looked at Carlow, Duquesne and Chatham. But once I visited Chatham, I was done. It’s like being in a treehouse above the city. You can’t see that it’s there from the road; it’s hidden, but like two minutes from everything you can experience in city life. I knew I was going to get a great education in a very safe environment. And to me, that’s what I was paying for.”

Marsh came to Chatham hoping to get a degree in art education, but then she discovered art history. “I totally changed my course,” she says. “I thought ‘Oh my gosh, this is amazing. It’s creative, but it’s also research and discovery, asking questions, generating hypotheses, and trying to prove a point.’”

And she found that Chatham was instrumental in helping her take that on. “I was pushed, challenged; my professors knew who I was and what I needed to succeed,” Marsh remembers. “With class sizes that small, there’s no way you’re skipping class. And you don’t want to, because you’ve developed this little community of people, not just with the professors, but also with the others in the class. It allowed me to form really nice bonds with other students, working as a team, understanding how I learn best.“ This is something Marsh says that has paid off extraordinarily well in her career.

“I work closely with creative teams, technical teams, and manufacturing teams. I think of myself as a mediator, doing by best to keep all those people as happy as possible while bringing forth the vision of the product we’re trying to introduce. So communication is hugely important, and so is attention to detail, and getting people motivated to work in a team. “

After graduation, Marsh was accepted into a doctoral program in art history at Arizona State University. After six months, she figured out that “the practical day-to-day life of a professor wasn’t in line with my passion. I was like ‘wow, I am not cut out for this.’”

Back in Pittsburgh, she applied for a job as a studio assistant for the artist Burton Morris. “He was a really well-known illustrator and graphic artist, but wasn’t doing a lot in the realm of fine art, and he wanted to make that distinction,” Marsh says. “He recruited three or four of us assistants to transfer his illustration to large canvases. So I was making ten dollars an hour—this is back in 1998—to paint.” Marsh stayed with Morris for a couple of years, and learned the business side of art galleries. When it was time for her to move on, Morris introduced her to a business friend of his. “He said ‘How would you like to learn product development?’” Marsh recalls. “And I was like ‘Sure! What is it?’ Back then, they didn’t have courses in product development—you could study industrial design or things like that, but there wasn’t this business component.”

The company sent Marsh to China, where she learned about working with manufacturers there. “I ended up falling in love with the culture and the people,” she says. “And I’ve been going back and forth to Asia for work now for 16 years. If someone had said to me when I was at Chatham ‘you’re destined to work with the Chinese,’ I would have just laughed. But it happened.”

“It just goes to show that you never know what you have an aptitude for until you let yourself try it,” she continues. “There’s a lot of trial and error. You’re going to try stuff that you’re not good at, but then you’ll try something else and it’ll be a total surprise. That’s what this has been for me. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be working for the company that invented Strawberry Shortcake.”

Or, one would imagine, create a furry bag with googly eyes that Miley Cyrus has been spotted carrying, but that happened, too. “We intended it as a gift bag,” Marsh laughs. “But Miley turned it into a fashion statement. We’re not complaining.”

 

first-year students address identity and values

Patel with students
Dr. Katie Cruger, Eboo Patel and Chatham Student Government President, Sarah Jukovic ’16

As colleges around the country grapple with issues of diversity and tolerance, first-year students at Chatham have been addressing the subject head-on through a new First-Year Communication Seminar—Dialogues: Identity and Values. The course aims to challenge students’ beliefs and facilitate discourse around issues such as gender, faith, race, and how they contribute to identity. An experience shared by all first-year students, it helps establish a sense of class unity that will persevere regardless of their eventual fields of study even as it fosters respect for differences.

According to Katherine Cruger PhD, Assistant Professor of Communications who directs the Seminar, “It was a challenge determining how to help students practice communication skills like writing, engaging in respectful discussion, and giving oral presentations while also grappling with difficult course content about identity and difference. Bringing Patel to campus seemed like putting that last piece of the puzzle into place.”

Cruger is talking about Eboo Patel —founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, a national nonprofit working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm—whose book Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation is required reading for the Seminar.

Patel came to Chatham on December 2 to give a lecture entitled Sacred Ground: Interfaith Leadership in the 21st Century. The talk was sponsored by the Karen Lake Buttrey ‘67 Chair in Religion and Society, established to honor the legacy of the late Karen Lake Buttrey, who received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Chatham College in 1967 and served on the Board of Trustees. Patel also met with students and administrators during his visit and instructed an interfaith training session.

“The students were very impressed by Patel, which made the significance of that part of the course more personal and profound,” says Elisabeth Roark, PhD, Associate Professor of Art, one of the professors who teaches the seminar. “His humor and ability to pull in personal anecdotes made his talk very relatable. The students also embraced the feeling that, though the lecture was open to everyone, his purpose there was to connect with them and their work in the course.”

After Patel’s talk, first-year students were asked for feedback about what would improve the Dialogues Seminar. The consensus was that Patel’s book was an essential element to the course, and that having him come to campus really brought the material to life.

Patel was named by US News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009 and served on President Obama’s inaugural Faith Council. For over fifteen years, Eboo has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help realize a future where religion is a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division.