Nov 28: "My Tale of Two Cities" screening

November 28:  "My Tale of Two Cities" red-carpet screening for Pittsburgh Homecoming.  
In honor of Pittsburgh's 250th birthday, you are invited to a special screening of "My Tale of Two Cities", a funny and heartfelt valentine to Pittsburgh, about coming home -- and one of America's great cities reinventing itself for a new age.  Please join cast members Franco Harris, Joanne Rogers, Paul O' Neill, Dr. Thomas Starzl, and many other remarkable Pittsburgh neighbors as, after the movie, Mr. McFeely of "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" leads us in singing the city's unofficial theme song "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"  The screening is at 7 p.m. at The Byham Theater in downtown PIttsburgh.  Tickets for the screening are just $10.  Buy tickets at or by calling 412-456-6666.  Making your Thanksgiving weekend extra special by bringing your family and friends and celebrating Pittsburgh together.
The Byham lobby opens at 6 p.m. with musical performances by
Franco Harris and son Dok discuss Pittsburgh with filmmaker Carl Kurlander 
The Newlanders and Mike Stout singing classic Pittsburgh songs.
For those who wish to celebrate further, after the movie, there is  a "PIttsburgh Homecoming Party" featuring special Pittsburgh cuisine and music by former Rusted Root band member Jim Dispirito, the rising new band Donora, Dave Hanner, and Carol Lee Espy.  Before the screening, there is also a VIP "Cast" Reception at Fifth Avenue Place starting at 5:30 where special outtakes from the film will be shown.  
Tickets to these events are limited and can be purchased at or by calling 412-456-6666.  

The entire evening benefits the "Youth and Media Initiative" of Holy Family Institute and the Steeltown Entertainment Project which aims to help inspire young people, mentored by film and television professionals, to tell their own stories on film as they discover new career possibilities in the entertainment industry.  Holy Family's Sister Linda Yankoski is featured in "My Tale of Two Cities" as part of its illustrious cast, talking about how the city of Pittsburgh can comeback as a city.  See for tickets and more information. 

Please note that tickets to these special events must be purchased by November 24th. 
"My Tale of Two Cities" is about a once great industrial giant that built America with its steel, conquered polio, and invented everything from aluminum to the Big Mac, which now, like so many cities across this country, is being challenged to reinvent itself.  But it is also the story of coming home as told through the story of "St. Elmo's Fire" screenwriter Carl Kurlander, who acted on the fantasy of many Pittsburgh expatriates, and left Hollywood to move back to what was quite literally "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."  Carl soon found himself on "The Oprah Winfrey Show", for of all things, moving to Pittsburgh.   But just as he told Oprah how happy he and his wife were raising their daughter here, Fred Rogers passed away and the city declared itself "financially distressed."  

Urged by his dermatologist, Dr. Doug Kress, to make a movie to help their hometown, Carl ended up going shopping in the Strip with Teresa Heinz Kerry, tossing a football with Franco Harris and his son Dok on the North Side, and having breakfast with Paul O' Neill at Ritters' diner, asking them and many more neighbors how Pittsburgh can once again become "The City Of Champions."  But the journey brought up that age old question of "Can you go home again?" as Carl visited his old gym teacher at Shady Side Academy, Bob Grandizio; talked with the girl who first inspired "St. Elmo's Fire", Lynn Snyderman; and returned to the apartment he grew up  with his brother Tom and his mother for a dramatic and surprising resolution.

But even more remarkable is the resolution for Pittsburgh as the film documents the recent resurgence of one of America's great cities, as while others around the country are now dealing with problems Pittsburgh has faced for years, Pittsburgh is poised to lead the way for another spectacular 250 years.  It's no wonder that, for "My Tale of Two Cities", Pittsburghers from Times Square to Beverly Hills to The Point joined to together to sing "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" in tribute to Fred Rogers and their hometown.  As "My Tale of Two Cities" shows, it is never too late to come back!"  

See clips from the movie and a special "Pittsburgh Homecoming" screening trailer with Mr. McFeely inviting Pittsburghers everywhere to come back for this special event at .

For more information about Pittsburgh Homecoming Weekend, go to   For more information on Holy Family Institute, which has been helping young people in challenging situations for more than a century, go to   For more information on the Steeltown Entertainment Project which is nurturing emerging talent, re-connecting the region's film and television expatriates with its rich local resources, and developing socially meaningful, commercially viable projects in Southwestern Pennsylvania, go to
For questions about this event, call 412-622-1325 or

To get further information about "My Tale of Two Cities" or to arrange for a  screening in your neighborhood,

Nov 20: Visual Storytellers at CMU

November 20:  Natural Born (Visual) Storytellers Nancy Duarte & Ryan Orcutt of Duarte Design observe that we live in the most innovative time in history.  That, coupled with pressure from a global economy, means our corporate stories need to be told well and resonate deeply.  In this presentation you'll learn how to step away from your traditional content development process, fold in compelling stories and deliver presentations in your own uniquely human way.  These are the folks who designed the visuals for Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth.
(4:30 p.m. in the Adamson Wing, 136A Baker Hall at CMU.  Free and open to the public;  cosponsored by the Carnegie Mellon School of Design)

November 19: Lecture/Book Signing: Tyranny of Oil

November 19:  Lecture and Book Signing by Antonia Juhasz, author of The Tyranny of Oil, a hard-hitting expose of the oil industry that answers today's most pressing energy questions:  Why are oil and gasoline prices rising so quickly? Where will prices go in the future? Who's really controlling those prices? How much oil is left? How far will Big Oil go to get it? And at what cost to the economy, environment, human rights, worker safety, public health, democracy, and America's place in the world? 

Juhasz investigates the true state of the U.S. oil industry, uncovering its virtually unparalleled global power, its influence over our elected officials, its lack of regulatory oversight, the truth behind $150-a-barrel oil, $4.50-a-gallon gasoline, and the highest profits in corporate history. Exposing an industry that thrives on secrecy, Juhasz shows how Big Oil manages to hide its business dealings from policy makers, legislators, and most of all, consumers. She reveals exactly how Big Oil gets what it wants--through money, influence, and lies. 

8 pm in McConomy Auditorium in CMU's University Center;  free and open to the public

  ">Facebook Event   ]

About the book   | Antonia on Democracy Now!  | Download flyer or π p leaflet  | Facebook Event   ]

Nov 18: Focus groups on Pittsburgh's parks

November 18:  Bring your perspective on Pittsburgh's parks to one of three "Discovery Sessions" designed to give the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy a broader understanding of how people feel about, engage with, and use our parks.  Participants will be divided into three categories:
* Group A – Users of Frick Park and the Environmental Center (both must apply in order to participate in this session).

* Group B – Users and non-users of Frick Park (ideally, nearby residents) and non-users of the environmental center.

* Group C – Recreational Users including college students and organized groups. (This group is not confined to Frick Park but can include those who use it. These participants will ideally use Frick, Highland, Schenley or Riverview at least once per month).

For more information or to register for the sessions, please contact Laura Cook, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, at 412-682-7275 x220.


Nov 15: Film on Haitian leader, with discussion

November 15:  Screening of the Jonathan Demme film The Agronomist, the story of Haitian leader and freedom fighter Jean Dominique (owner/operator of Haiti's oldest and only free radio station) -- followed by an audience discussion on Black/Progressive Radio -- What Is To Be Done? facilitated by Shanara Rose Reid-Brinkley.  Dominique fought tirelessly against his ocuntry's overwhelming injustice, oppression, and poverty.  For more information, contact Aisha at 412-337-7405 or
(5:30 at the Homewood branch of the Carnegie Library, 7101 Hamilton Ave;  $5 donation requested)

Nov 15: Protests for Marriage Equality

November 15:  Protests in support of Marriage Equality.  Join nationwide (and beyond) protests against the anti-equality California Proposition 8 this Saturday at 1:30 p.m.  Here in Pittsburgh, people will gather at the City County Building downtown 414 Grant St., 15219) and at Schenley Plaza in Oakland (4100 Forbes Ave. 15213)  More information at 

Nov 15: Zero Waste Day

November 15th:  National Recycling Day, or Zero Waste Day?  Personally, I think that having a single day where something like this is commemorated is a wee bit silly;  we should strive for zero waste, appreciate our teachers, and generally be conscientious citizens every day.  I also think that recycling isn't the answer, we have to massively reduce packaging and such in the first place.   The TreeHugger folks seem to agree with this notion, and go into plenty of sordid detail at 

Nov 13-14: Community Forestry Conference

November 13-14:  16th Annual Pennsylvania Community Forestry Conference, at Chatham University.  Talks on greenspace law, tree selection, pests, streetscape design, planting practices, ecosystem services, volunteering, and the TreeVitalize program.  Schedule, speaker info, and registration at 

Nov 12: Thomas Merton Award Dinner

November 12:  Thomas Merton Award Dinner will honor Malik Rahim for his work rebuilding the Ninth Ward in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, as well as the One Hill CBA Coalition.  

Nov 11: Policy panel at Heinz History Center

November 11:  The Impact of the Current State of Affairs on Communities and Nonprofits in 2009, a panel covering topics including the presidential election outcome, the state revenue shortfall, and general economic turmoil.
2-4 p.m.;  free, but register by Novemeber 7 at  For more info, call Sherry Parker at 412-281-9690x164.

Nov 7-8: Apple Festival

November 7-8:  An Apple Festival for all ages.  On Friday evening, master apple grower Lou Lego compares Apples To Apples, and hosts a comparison of fresh fruit and ciders;  on Saturday, enjoy Celtic music and dancing, and the Third Annual Pro-Am Apple Pie Contest.  Sponsored by the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club, Slow Food Pittsburgh, the East End Food Co-op, the PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and the Penn State Extension.
(7 p.m. on Friday, 11-2 on Saturday at the Union Project, Negley & Stanton Avenues in Highland Park.  Friday talk $10, Saturday events $5 adults, $3 kids).

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED from now 'till Election Day!

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!  Hundreds of shifts to be filled between now and Election Day -- people to call, canvas, distribute door hangers, watch polls, and/or create sidewalk art (like my daughters and I, above).  People should come to one of the Obama offices or sign up to volunteer at When you insert your zip code, that should send your offer to the local office.

Vote for individual candidates, not straight party line!

On election day, don't use the "straight party line" option on your ballot;  vote for each candidate and issue individually.  I've gotten wind of serious miscounts associated with that function.  
Some web references are:
and a related story, a detailed expose by RFK Jr. and Greg Palast:

Here's a description of the straight-ticket problem (the following was forwarded to me, but I've verified the information).
I'm sending this message to everyone I know -- even those of you not registered to vote in this election, or who are international students, or who are presently out of the country -- in hopes you'll continue forwarding the message to all of your contacts & ask them to do the same.... PLEASE take the following seriously ... and take action in every way you're able.
Thank you! 

I have checked it out on the site:  an organization devoted to fixing flaws in voting machines.  
This information applies to machines used in PENNSYLVANIA & 14 other states.  

Black Box Voting is an excellent organization that's trying to keep integrity in our elections.   The message below is worth reading, but if you're really busy ... 

... the ESSENCE is this:  VOTE FOR EACH CANDIDATE -- and do not cast a straight party vote.   There is evidence that machines in multiple states have been programmed incorrectly, so that the straight party button may result in the Presidential vote not being counted, or in the Presidential vote being counted on the wrong party ticket . 

Please follow the link below, if you want to investigate this and read the following message from its SOURCE.   Then, please pass this email on to others!!  

keystone article 



An email to supporters of the organization Black Box Voting  ( )  an organization devoted to fixing flaws in voting machines, informed supporters of votes being miscounted or not counted at all when the straight party option was chosen.   The text of the email follows, along with a YouTube video:  

THE PROBLEM: "Straight party voting" on voting machines is revealing a bad pattern of miscounting and omitting your vote, especially if you are a Democrat. Most recently (Oct. 2008), a firm called Automated Election Services was found to have mis-coded the system in heavily Democratic Santa Fe County, New Mexico such that straight party voters would not have the presidential vote counted.  

STRAIGHT PARTY VOTING is allowed in 15 states.   Basically, it means that you can take a shortcut to actually looking at who you are voting for and instead just select a party preference.   Then the voting machine makes your candidate choices, supposedly for the party you requested.   

HOW TO PROTECT THE COUNT against Straight Party Trap:  

1) NEVER CHOOSE THE STRAIGHT PARTY VOTE OPTION, because it alerts the computer as to your party preference and allows software code to trigger whatever function the programmer has designed.  

2) SEND THIS INFORMATION OUT TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN,  blog it, root n' toot it out there to get the word out.  

3) ESPECIALLY GET THE WORD OUT TO PEOPLE IN THE FOLLOWING > STATES,         which have straight party voting options:  Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin  


5) LOOK FOR UNDERVOTES  (high profile races with lower-than-average number of votes cast) and flag them, post them, bring them to the attention of others for additional scrutiny.  Details, links to documents, news stories, more specifics can be found here:     
Voting machine miscounts of straight party votes were proven by California researcher Judy Alter in the 2004 New Mexico presidential election;  in Alabama Democrat straight party votes were caught going to a Republican;  and in Wisconsin a whole slew of straight party votes disappeared altogether.  Both DRE and optical scan machines are vulnerable.   Private contractors are involved;  private firms like LHS Associates, Automated Election Services, Harp Enterprises, Casto & Harris and others will program almost all systems in the USA this November.  ES&S scanners were involved in examples cited, but Diebold has also issued a cryptic Product Advisory Notice in 2006 about unexpected results from certain Straight Party option programming practices.   
These enormous cases of "Ooops" need a more serious frame of reference.  
For example: You are counting the cash for a fund raiser. It's discovered that $500 didn't make it into the count, and it turns up in a someone's possession instead.  They say, "Ooops, sorry!" and claim it was a mistake.  Really?!  Will you let them count the cash next time? Probably not.

What are the consequences for Automated Election Services,  for ES&S, or for Diebold? What SHOULD they be?!!

How to help win the election

From now until November 5th:  The upcoming election is about many things, not least the environment;  this country needs to change its path sharply, and soon.  The recent selection of a right-wing, stoutly anti-environmentalist vice-presidential candidate only raises the stakes. Volunteer opportunities abound, especially in swing states like Pennsylvania, and even simply being more vocal and visible can help.   My next-door neighbor, who is a leader in the local Obama campaign, wrote up a great summary of how you and I can help influence this election, with practical suggestions and talking points. 


What Can I Do to Help Obama Win?

      Whether the Obama candidacy will become an Obama presidency will be determined by 21 swing states. Pennsylvania is one of those states and you know people in many of the others. Your vote is important, but it may not be not enough…we need your help to gain still more votes. Here are a few ideas to consider:

1. Make your support for Obama visible. This will demonstrate your confidence in the Obama-Biden ticket and provide conversation-starter for people who want to get more information about the candidates or find out how they can volunteer to help with the campaign. For example, you can

    a. Wear an Obama t-shirt or pin a button on your clothes, backpack, purse, or tote.

    b. Post an Obama yard sign or a window sign and put an Obama bumper sticker on your car, truck, or bike. We can provide these item if you need them!

2. Talk with anyone you believe is undecided. Share your support for Barack Obama. Help make the choice clear. There are numerous ways to do this. For example,

    a. Talk one-on-one with other individuals. In preparation, practice a 1-2 min explanation of why you support Barack Obama and why they might want to, as well. For example:

    * The economy is in terrible shape: Unemployment rate is high (6.1 %) and rising – 600,000 jobs already lost this year alone! The fuel costs have increased by 83% in 12 months, and many will not be able to afford adequate heat this winter. The mortgage market has suffered a meltdown, many hardworking Americans have lost their homes, and we have just witnessed the largest Federal bailout of a financial institution in history at a cost to taxpayers of $25 Billion. The national debt is almost $10 trillion and growing. And our Government is doing little to help the poor and middle class. Many of the problems can be linked to Republication ideals of deregulation and market behavior.

    * War in Iraq must end: Initiated on a lie, so far the war has resulted in 4,000 dead and 30,000 wounded US soldiers, and untold Iraqi civilian deaths. The mistreatment of our veterans is unconscionable. The war costs $10 Billion a month – funding which could be used to provide social programs such as health insurance for all Americans and a better education for our children.

    *  Health care must be made available and affordable: Costs are high and rising, businesses and consumers are burdened with high insurance premiums, and 47 million people are without any health insurance!

    *  The Supreme Court is vulnerable: A least three new Supreme Court Justices will be probably appointed during the next presidency and will decide critical issues including reproductive choices and Constitutional and economic rights. These are lifetime appointments; the Justices’ impact on our Nation will far outlast the next administration.

    *  Also: Torture, global warming, the loss of privacy, the real nature of the McCain-Palin ticket… the topics are many. 

    b. Speak to religious, civic, or professional organizations. Some of the talking points are listed above, others are available at

    c. Host a gathering at your house or community center. Encourage those who have not yet decided who to vote for to participate, including Hillary supporters, Republicans, and Independents. Promote discussion, invite a local speaker, view one of Barack Obama’s speeches that are on You Tube, or watch one of the upcoming debates.

3. Volunteer to canvas or make phone calls from a central location or your own home. Contact your local Obama office or sign up on the Obama web site.

4. Set up and staff an information table. Pick a busy area. Use the opportunity to register people to vote before the deadline (Oct. 6), to talk to people, and/or to sell buttons, bumper stickers, yard-signs, or t-shirts. We can provide all these items, just ask. (Most outdoor sidewalks are public property, and you can set up a table as long as you don’t block pedestrian traffic.)

5. Set up a personal fundraising page via the Obama site, then contact people and ask for contributions. It will raise money and promote commitment. (The site makes it all very easy – you do not actually need to handle any of the funds.)

6. Write letters to the editor and articles for newsletters. Letters to the Editor in newspapers and articles in newsletters allow us to speak up on the issues and explain who we, the Obama supporters, really are. These should be individually written, and personal where possible. People respond to stories, and a well-written letter can change minds!

7. Help recruit more volunteers. The campaign needs volunteers on every block and at every public gathering – fairs, picnics, sports events. No contribution of time is too small.

8. Contact individuals in your address book. Get your family, friends, and colleagues involved, particularly if they live in a swing states. Modify and send this handout. (We can provide an electronic version.) The states listed in bold type are especially important; they are likely to determine the outcome on Nov. 4!

Swing States:

Colorado       Florida        Georgia      Indiana     Iowa      Louisiana    

Michigan    Minnesota      Missouri      Montana         Nevada     

New Hampshire      New Mexico      North Carolina   North Dakota   

Ohio    Oregon     Pennsylvania     Virginia    Washington   Wisconsin

For additional ideas on how you can help, please ideas see

Our work over the next two months will determine the next eight years and beyond.


Pittsburgh Volunteers for Obama    (       9/9/08

November 3: Cafe Scientifique with YERT

November 3:  Cafe Scientifique with Mark Dixon on Your Environmental Road Trip, a year-long eco-adventure through the US.  Cafe Scientifique is a place where folks interested in science can get together in an informal setting to discuss major science issues with the help of an expert in the field.  For the next meeting, join Mark Dixon, who left Pittsburgh on July 4, 2007 with two friends, Ben & Julie Evans, and visited all 50 states to discover the environmental ideas people were coming up with all over the country, as well as sharing insights from Al Gore's climate action training.  Now they are preparing to make an independent film based on their adventure, with some of the many interviews recorded along the way. (7pm at the Penn Brewery, 800 Vinial St., 15212.  Free and open to the public;  many participants also enjoy dinner at the Brewery).