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interview with Angie Jasper, Director of Cultural and Community Events

angie

Since 2014, the Eden Hall Campus Summer Series has been bringing entertainment and cultural events to the North Hills. This past summer, events included performances by the Pittsburgh Opera and the Improvised Shakespeare Company; a children’s festival; a bluegrass jam; farm-to-table dining events; and culinary workshops. We spoke with Angie Jasper, Chatham’s Director of Cultural and Community Events to get her reflections about the Series.

This past summer series, was there anything that happened that really surprised you?

For our classical music concert, I was really pleased by the turnout. It was a huge audience that came, lots of people traveled in from Pittsburgh. And everyone dressed up for the concert, like they were going to see a classical music concert in the city. That made it a lot of fun in the space.

We also had our first dance party! Right at the end of the J.D. Eicher and the Good Nights concert, that was really exciting—most of the stuff we do there is pretty low key, you know, in the bluegrass concert you want people to get up and move around, but we had a full on dance party, which I was super excited about. The audience was super into it and pushed for them to do an encore—I think they played I Feel Good—and the people just came right up to the stage and started dancing and having a good time. It was a great way to see out the night.

other summer series

How are you working on building the relationships between neighboring communities and townships around campus?

Alice Julier, program director and associate director of Food Studies) has been a huge help with that. She really has a good understanding of what’s happening in the community, as does Allen Matthews, director and instructor of Sustainable Agriculture), who’s the farm manager up there. I use them as a resource to know who are we working with, where are the students working, and how can we partner with them. I use them as a resource to engage the people up there to get involved.

Who proposes and teaches the sustainability workshops?

We talk with Falk School faculty members about what they’re interested in teaching and what we think community members are interested in learning. Falk School graduates teach workshops, too. Tony Miga, who was part of the inaugural class of the Masters of Sustainability, taught the oyster workshop and rainwater harvesting workshop, and Matt Kettleborn, who was the assistant farm manager, taught the composting one. We do try to keep it to those who work at Eden Hall, so we can showcase what we’re doing at the campus out to the community.

Of all that happened this summer, what are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the fact we doubled our numbers from last year. Last year, we had 1000 attendees. This year, we had 2000. To see that growth for this new programming is awesome, because that’s what we do this for. We do these events for people to come and to see them, and to see the campus. For more people to know about us and come to repeat events was fantastic.

What are some other ways Eden Hall’s community outreach is evolving?

I think a big thing that’ll be coming up in April is the opening of The Commons. This will be the central hub of campus, open to the public, with its café also open to the public. I think that’ll make the campus much more accessible to the outside. There are also hiking trails coming to campus, public art will be coming, we’re opening a lot of spaces up for rentals.

If you wanted to have a wedding or reception, there’s the beautiful original barn; if you wanted to have a business meeting, there’s the field lab classrooms; for a birthday or graduation party, try the lodge, where there’s an old rec room, a patio that leads out onto the pool—all that is going to make us feel much more a part of the community. – Angie Jasper

We’ve also got Community Create Nights going on throughout the school year. Each month takes on a different topic across two sessions, based on what the Falk School faculty actually teach on campus and what types of programming we actually have going on up there, but on a much more manageable schedule for a beginner. They give a basic idea for what the rest of that course of study might entail. The schedule for those is online at chatham.edu/createnights.

And monthly dinners will be launching with the other farming partnerships Eden Hall has in the area. They’ll be BYOB, smaller scale than the farm-to-table dinners we put on in the summer, but they give a good look into what’s going on both at the school and at farms in the local areas. So all that is going on! You can find that stuff on our social media and you can sign up for an e-mail list at chatham.edu/summerseries to get the scoop on these kinds of events as they come up. There’s always a lot going on!

 

EDEN HALL SUSTAINABILITY WORKSHOPS

With the opening of the new Field Lab at the Richland campus this past July, Eden Hall Campus offered this summer’s first-ever sustainability workshop series. The workshops were designed to share sustainability principles with quick payoffs that participants could easily incorporate into their homes and lives.

First up was Roof Runoff: Rainwater Harvest and Usage led by Tony Miga, a recent graduate of the Master of Sustainability program. This past year, Miga received funding to install three underground rainwater catchment tanks that drain the roof of the Eden Hall storage shed. These tanks can fill their 50,000-gallon capacity with only a few inches of rainfall. The workshop began with a tour of Eden Hall, including a stop to examine these 50,000-gallon cisterns.

Then, attendees were led to the lab where they were able to make low-cost, high quality rain barrels. Power drills in hand, attendees bore holes for spigots and hoses in basic blue buckets, creating home approved rain barrels that act as a perfect local water conservation method. Think of these rain barrels as a way to lower your water bill while watering your garden, and an eye-catching conversation starter for your neighbors and friends.

On August 14th, our Field Lab served as the stage for a workshop again, this time for a compost tutorial. Chatham University and Nancy Martin of Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) delivered a presentation on the basics of starting your own composting operation. Martin is the Environmental Educator at PRC, and hosts a number of basic composting and vermiculture (composting with worms) workshops around the city each year. She shared information about what can and can’t be composted, how to prevent rodents and bugs from getting into your handiwork, how to maintain your bin, and how to use your compost most effectively.

Following a full campus tour, the composting students settled into an evening of “How-To’s” to make their composting efforts a success. In order to provide them with the tools to successfully compost, students purchased an Earth Machine composting bin, which can hold up to 80 gallons of compost, as part of their admission. The true takeaway from this event is that composting gives new value to scrap materials that would otherwise go to waste in the garbage. Soil made from composting is more nutritious, can be used as mulch, and overall is the economical choice for a healthy yard.

The concluding workshop for our Summer Series at Eden Hall was entitled Harness the Sun: Home Projects and Energy Saving Tips. The solar workshop centered around how homeowners can determine whether their houses are ready for solar panel installation, how it works, and policies in Pennsylvania that support solar technologies on homes. Dr. Mary Whitney, Sustainability Coordinator at Chatham, and Phil Long, a Burns & Scalo sales professional, delivered a presentation that highlighted important facts to consider about solar home energy, as well as taking note of small energy “zappers” around your home that use up more electricity than you might think.

Dr. Whitney provided participants with worksheets that calculate how much energy is consumed by household activities. She then brought out a Kill-A-Watt meter, a small instrument that plugs into electrical devices to show the real-time usage. Attendees were amazed by just how much energy devices consume, even to make something as simple as a cup of coffee. Dr. Whitney then offered tips on how to adapt solar energy to a personal home.

We are looking forward to hosting more lifelong learning workshops at Eden Hall this year, so stay tuned in and we’ll see you in Richland!