Blue State of Mind
By: Katherine Chamberlain
On November 13, 2014, over 130 people came out to the Inspire Speaker Series event to hear Lisa Schroeder of Riverlife and Dr. Wallace J. Nichols talk about the effect water has on the social, economic and environmental health of communities. There was a lot of social buzz about the event, including a blog by audience member Cheryl Speir.
After the talk audience members, including GTECH Staff and Ambassadors who attended the event provided testimonials about what change they would like to see in the region when it comes to managing our water resource.
“The topics discussed are important to our region because we have issues with poor water quality and infrastructure. There have been a lot of improvements to our water infrastructure, but more improvement is needed and comes with a cost. Many people’s water bills are increasing in order to meet the cost of upgrading our infrastructure. I believe that people need to take part in programs to help residents learn how to conserve water and reduce costs.”
“Water is important to me because the three rivers are all around us. Water surrounds us especially in Millvale. This talk has helped me reconnect with my love of water. Reconnecting with our love of water makes us appreciate this natural resource and inspires us to take care of the rivers.”
“I think that people can appreciate our region’s water resource in a new way when hearing about the environmental and emotional benefits of water from a national expert visiting Pittsburgh. The outside perspective allowed me to look back and see the significant transformation of Pittsburgh’s waterways from where they were to where they are today.”
“I feel that many in Pittsburgh have lost their emotional connection with water. This talk was important because it helped people reconnect with their love of water. Water has the ability to amaze and excite people to care about their surroundings, their health and the environment.”
GTECH staffers found themselves truly inspired by the speakers and excited to consider applications of these concepts in our region. To get the conversation started, GTECH and the Green Building Alliance co-hosted an Inspiration to Action Breakfast with Dr. Nichols and local leaders who are working to preserve and manage Pittsburgh’s water resources.
Twenty movers and shakers in the Pittsburgh region sat family-style around a large table at Marty’s Market (the owner, Regina, happens to be a Social Capital Council member) to debrief the prior evening, exploring new connections and collaborations to maximize the social, environmental and economic benefit of our water-rich region.
Nichols captured the conversation and provided his own insights for application on his blog Towards Submergence Into Blue Mind: Green Building Alliance and GTECH Inspiration to Action Breakfast.
“Ideas were shared with an eye to moving from inspiration (the goal of the evening lecture) to action (big and small ideas for improving Pittsburgh’s blue space). My impressions follow the direct words of many of those who joined us. Overall, main themes of the conversation revolved around access to Pittsburgh’s waterways, better understanding stormwater management and appreciation for the capillaries that feed the three rivers.”
In moving the conversation forward, Nichols said, “The question is how can cities like Pittsburgh use this knowledge to build better cities and communities?” Attendees of the Inspiration to Action Breakfast “had several suggestions for promoting the region’s blue state of mind” in Next Pittsburgh’s article Blue Mind: how our water can build community and improve health.
Calls to action from the article included:
- Make the broader vision of a Three Rivers Park a reality.
- Develop a regional watershed plan that drives decision making.
- Rebrand the rivers as a recreational resource and expand physical access to the rivers.
- Invest in tools and technology to monitor the health of our rivers and waterways.
- Our aging sewer systems need a green overhaul.