Saturday, December 01, 2007

Agnostic Bible follower?

A.J. Jacobs is a guy who's done some pretty crazy stuff, not the least of these being his literal following of the Bible for a a self-professed agnostic.

Check out the blog interview here.

Pretty crazy stuff! I guess this misses the point of faith and just sticks to the rules, missing the heart of why the rules exist...there is no relationship here. Still, it's pretty interesting for sure. Ha ha, I love it how he "stoned" an adulterer by throwing a pebble at him. :)

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hot Metal Bike/Pedestrian Bridge Now Open!

This is one of a few great accomplishments for the biking community of late. The new Hot Metal Bike/Pedestrian bridge was officially opened this afternoon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that had a tremendous turn-out!! It started on the 2nd avenue side of the bridge...I was a bit late and was met by an almost literal wall of people walking, biking and blading, in the latest gear, in business suits and in regular Jo cold weather clothing. It was a bright sunny day, the bridge looked gorgeous and the Pittsburgh skyline looked fantastic in the background.

To the left is a photo of the event, taken by my friend Mike Vindler. You can see the rest of his photos by clicking on the following link:

The festivities and speeches continued in REI (I'm sure they had some GREAT business that day!).

The completion of this project brings the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage (a trail that will eventually link Pittsburgh to DC) much closer to reality. On a more local level, this bridge will connect the Eliza Furnace Trail to the South Side Trail and bring a safer access point for walkers and bikers alike.

Other recent biking/bridge victories include buffered bike lanes on the redone Birmingham Bridge, and a pedestrian/biking sidewalk on the newly reopened 31st street bridge.

To find out more about biking or the trails in the Pittsburgh area, visit these links:

Monday, November 26, 2007

My Art

Just letting people know I've posted a bunch of new stuff on my deviantART page over the past can check it out here:

Stay tuned for a gallery collaboration with my friend Hongla next month! It will be in the Three Rivers Art Gallery, the show is called 30 Below.

Abba's Child - the rest of it...

I've been busy with Turkeys and families and other things, so I haven't had the chance to write lately. I have been reading though, and almost done with the book, so I'm going to attempt to sum up the final chapters in one go (this may end up pretty long).

Chapter 5 - The Pharisee and the Child
Basically, this chapter talks about the "inner Pharisee" compared to the "inner child". The Pharisee is the part of us who misconstrues the point of faith by bogging it down with "religiosity" (just as the Pharisees of Jesus' day did). The "inner child" is the part of us who knows s/he is beloved by God and fully forgiven with no strings attached. My resident Pharisee (as Manning calls it) craves perfection that is impossible to achieve and places an enormous burden on my shoulders and the shoulders of others. It not only affects my expectations of myself but also others. Instead of focusing on the end goal of love, I am focusing on the "means to an end" in my striving and blaming, which twists such noble things into quite the opposite of love. The Pharisee becomes the "religious face of the Imposter" because our desire to look good and be upright on the surface makes it hard for us to have intimacy. The "inner child" however, is in touch with his/her emotions, and is more receptive to God's Spirit moving in his/her midst. The power-hungry and controlling Pharisee cannot match the worry-free experience of the inner child...the child is humble, realizes his weakness, and relies on God's strength and rests his whole identity on the fact that he is Beloved.

Chapter 6 - Present Risenness
The risen Christ must be realized as not only a past event, but a present reality. This is the whole power of the gospel and what makes followers of Christ different from any other faith. Jesus is alive right now and present in our lives. Not only can we get caught up with Christ of the past, but we also get caught up with the Christ of the future. We feel this resurrection is only something that happens at the end of time, in the future, removed from our present day situation. Christ is with us NOW, and our cynicism often blocks the signs and little miracles of every day life that show us this is true. For when we realize that Jesus is truly risen and in our midst, we view life differently, especially the mundane and routine. As we grow closer to Christ, we see more of the Father, we feel driven to compassion as He did and we see a little more revelation of the mystery of life. Following Christ is a discipline and a decision that must not be made requires awareness. This "awareness of the present risenness of Jesus is intimately linked to the recovery of passion...

Chapter 7 - The Recovery of Passion
This chapter talks about how we recover passion by listening to "Christ's heartbeat". We do not merely know about Jesus, but know Jesus' essence: "the human face of the God who is love." It is like discovering a great treasure and selling all you have to possess it. We are so often distracted from true passion in Christ by the "little trinkets" of the world.
The recovery of passion begins with the recovery of my true self as the beloved. If I find Christ I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him. This is the goal and purpose of our lives. John did not believe that Jesus was the most important thing; he believed that Jesus was the only thing. For "the disciple Jesus loved," anything less was not genuine faith.

Manning goes as far to say that the essential quality in church leaders should be in their passion and love for Christ, not "biblical scholars, administrative geniuses or spellbinding preachers." God doesn't work through those who have it together, but through those humbled who love as Christ loves.

Chapter 8 - Fortitude and Fantasy
This chapter deals with the truth of life and death. Either we have the fortitude to face life (and death) or we deny death (and life). Feeling secure in my own accomplishments actually creates more anxiety in the end for fear of losing all in death. True security lies in realizing that in Christ we have "enough" each day. Brennan Manning speaks more about passion in this chapter:
Passion is not high emotion but a steely determination, fired by love, to stay centered in the awareness of Christ's present risenness, a drivenness to pay the price of fidelity. To own my unique self in a world filled with voices contrary to the gospel requires enormous fortitude...The truth of faith has little value when it is not also the life of the heart.

Manning notes that many of these voices of human approval are the stumbling block in our way of an authentic faith in Christ. We are afraid to be the Beloved in fear of losing our relationships with others. I've seen it revealed in this book that while we are meant for community with others, it is our primary relationship with God that directs our relationship with others. The value we place on each other cannot compare to the value our Abba places on us. Faith in the present risenness of Christ (who is God and who is love) is more powerful than death...this is true Hope.

Chapter 9 - The Rabbi's Heartbeat
Manning says that there are a few responses to the radical love of God: Over analyzing, Acceptance and Hope, Cynical, Emotional yet uncommitted. When we allow it, "the love of Christ (not our love for Him but His love for us) impels us. The integration of mind and heart shapes a unified personality living in the state of passionate awareness." Manning speaks of the "unaffected heart", which is one who doesn't get beyond the surface of life. Commitment and confession of sin are the way to dig deeper according to Manning. We commit to something beyond ourselves and we realize we desperately need our Father. With confession of sin comes humility, something that even Mother Theresa felt driven to do.

In Christ is reconciliation for ourselves and the world. He did this through becoming broken, by fully experiencing our own humanity and still being God. In His life and death he turned everything upside down: making foolish things wise, turning "sin into honor", curses into blessings, and death into life. This doesn't mean he makes all bad things good, but that being hurt, being forsaken, being cursed, we are somehow blessed. He went through the same. The most intimate we can be with someone is to show them all of our brokenness, shallowness, and anxieties. We can only fully do this with someone we know we can fully trust will forgive these things and accept us as we are. Christ not only forgives and accepts, but also has the power to transform us. When we listen to the Rabbi's heartbeat, we grow closer to God (Father, Son, and Spirit), we see others rather than ourselves, we learn Christ's passion, and we regain mystery and awe for the world around us, and the God who created it (and Loves it all).

That's about it, in a very large nutshell. I wish I could expand more, but I really feel I'd be missing the point. Instead of thinking about it and over analyzing, I think I will try to learn how to listen to Christ's heartbeat myself! Oh how hard it is to let go and Trust like a child. Abba, show me how to meditate on your Love...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Abba's Child (with the chapter of the same title)

This chapter at first seemed to be a bit jumpy, but after reading through a couple times (ya, I actually have time to really read this), I think there is a cohesiveness. The main thought I pulled out was that God is Compassion, and we learn this compassion from his human form in Jesus, who is "Abba's Child". Once we realize God's compassion for us, we can then begin to be compassionate to ourselves and to those around us, even our enemies.

The idea that we can call God "Abba", which is the Aramaic form of "Daddy", is pretty crazy, but that's what Jesus did. Learning how to find this intimacy with God as Christ did confirms our identity as His children:
The greatest gift I have ever received from Jesus Christ has been the Abba experience. "No one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Matthew 11:27). My dignity as Abba's child is my most coherent sense of self. When I seek to fashion a self-image from the adulation of others and the inner voice whispers, "You've arrived; you're a player in the Kingdom enterprise," there is no truth in that self-concept. When I sink in to despondency and the inner voice whispers, "You are no good, a fraud , a hypocrite, and a dilettante," there is no truth in any imaged shaped from that message. As Gerald May has noted, "It is important to recognize these self-commentaries for the mind tricks they are. They have nothing to do with our real dignity. How we view ourselves at any given moment may have very little to do with who we really are."
How funny, I find myself going between both of these extremes in one sitting!

Intimacy with God and others involves tenderness or compassion. I love Manning's description of the power of compassion in the following paragraph (all quote and not much analyzing...I just love the quotable-ness of this section):
Tenderness awakens within the security of knowing we are thoroughly and sincerely liked by someone. The mere presence of that special someone in a crowded room brings an inward sigh of relief and a strong sense of feeling safe. The experience of a warm, caring, affective presence banishes our fears. The defense mechanisms of the impostor -- sarcasm, name-dropping, self-righteousness, the need to impress others -- fall away. We become more open, real, vulnerable, and affectionate. We grow tender.

Jesus did what he did (hang out with the sinners and the outcast) because his Father loved him. We do the same...we can only truly love when we realize our Belovedness. This growing compassion is what allows us to love others especially when it is difficult to do so. It allows us to forgive indiscriminately. However, showing compassion to our enemy is hard! Manning says that this takes time, and we need to be patient:

Experientially, the inner healing of the heart is seldom a sudden catharsis or an instant liberation from bitterness, anger, resentment, and hatred. More often it is a gentle growing into oneness with the Crucified who has achieved our peace through His blood on the cross. This may take considerable time because the memories are still so vivid and the hurt is so deep. But it will happen. The crucified Christ is not merely a heroic example to the church: He is the power and wisdom of God, a living force in His present risenness, transforming our lives and enabling us to extend the hand of reconciliation to our enemies.

This is pretty amazing and breaks down many barriers. Manning says that "The heartfelt compassion that hastens forgiveness matures when we discover where our enemy cries." He also says that, "Wherever the gospel is invoked to diminish the dignity of any of God's children, then it is time to get rid of the so-called gospel in order that we may experience the Gospel." We are not only called to forgive, but also to look at our own deep-seated prejudices. A prejudice often comes from either fear (which comes from a lack of understanding of the "other") or from an inflated sense of self-importance and comparison.
...Whenever I allow myself anything but tenderness and compassion to dictate my response to life -- be it self-righteous anger, moralizing, defensiveness, the pressing need to change others, carping criticism, frustration at others' blindness, a sense of spiritual superiority, a gnawing hunger of vindication -- I am alienated from my true self. My identity as Abba's child becomes ambiguous, tentative, and confused.

To deny that we have these prejudices, whatever they might be, is self-defeating in getting rid of such thoughts. Manning quotes Sister Barbara Fiand as saying, "Wholeness is brokenness owned and thereby healed." We need to give up acting like we have it together and let God fix us in his time!

I see a correlation between forgiveness, compassion and "knowing". When we spend time with God, we get to know him and his Complete love for us. When we spend time with others (especially those not like us, or the object of our hatred), we find that we see our brokenness in them, acknowledge their Belovedness as equal to ours. We don't have to like them, but we can love them. Also, knowing others helps us to put away the fear that causes prejudice, fear that comes from the "unknown". We need to fully realize that all of us are Beloved without exception...he made us after all. This is what we need to understand in order to do God's work on earth.
What makes the Kingdom come is heartfelt compassion: a way of tenderness that knows no frontiers, no labels, no compartmentalizing, and no sectarian divisions. Jesus, the human Face of God, invites us to deep reflection on the nature of true discipleship and the radical lifestyle of Abba's child.

I hope I can see the prejudice, hate and fear, as well as the self-importance and down-playing of myself that I have allowed to pervade my heart. Especially hatred toward myself. God will mend in his time. Let me be patient and wait on Him.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Abba's Child - The Beloved

To be completely honest...I was feeling pretty badly about myself until I started reading this chapter. Here's where the HOPE comes in...

The last chapter said that "Peace lies in acceptance of truth." If we were to stop there, we would wonder what kind of "peace" the author is talking about, since the truth means realizing that we are broken. Broken isn't a good thing last I checked. However, if you add the fact that an all-powerful God is also an all-loving God, and LOVES me as I am, then I begin to see that I have been measuring myself with the wrong standard.
While the impostor draws his identity from past achievements and the adulation of others, the true self claims identity in its belovedness...
God created us for union with Himself: This is the original purpose of our lives. And God is defined as love (1 John 4:16). Living in awareness of our belovedness is the axis around which the Christian life revolves. Being the beloved is our identity, the core of our existence. It is not merely a lofty thought, an inspiring idea, or one name among many. It is the name by which God knows us and the way He relates to us.

This is what I was missing. I do not need to constantly beat myself up for not being good enough. I am already loved and need to rest in that love. But how do I do it? How do I let God's love saturate into my being? Manning says that "time alone with God" is where this occurs.
Our longing to know who we really are - which is the source of all our discontent - will never be satisfied until we confront and accept our solitude. There we discover that the truth of our belovedness is really true. Our identity rests in God's relentless tenderness for us revealed in Jesus Christ.

Many people will find this time for solitude as a selfish endeavor...what is life without community and serving others? It would be good to note that Jesus himself took time to get away from the crowds and spend time with his Abba. If Jesus had to take time to reconnect with God and feel his belovedness, why should this be any different for me? In taking care of my relationship with God, I can be more loving in my other relationships, since I will be more in touch with who I am: Beloved.

Solitude is not easy. I do not know what to do or not do. I feel like meditation is a great thing, but it is so hard to let go of worry and all the million thoughts running through my brain at any given moment. This requires some dedication and discipline.

Part of me wonders about the value of prayer and alone just doesn't seem to make sense at times. I suppose one way to look at it, is that I know that God loves me with my brain, but I do not KNOW it with my whole being. I can rationalize my way into believing my Belovedness, or I can let go of my "trying" and open myself up to feeling God's love in every way possible. I can only do this through quieting myself and letting Abba speak. Maybe I don't always hear a voice...maybe He doesn't speak at all...but perhaps it is just "being" in the presence of God that matters. I hope I can begin to do this more...I have plenty of time that I spend just over-thinking and over-analyzing...why don't I give up that time and those situations I'm worrying about to God?

I'll close as the chapter closes: "Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Abba's Child - The Imposter

This is from the second chapter of Abba's Child.

Manning writes about the "Imposter"...the self that creates a facade to hide brokenness:
Imposters are preoccupied with acceptance and approval. Because of their suffocating need to please others, they cannot say no with the same confidence with which they say yes. And so they overextend themselves in people, projects, and causes, motivated not by personal commitment but by fear of not living up to others' expectations.

Imposters draw their identity from what they "do" as well as from their relationships with others (the need to please others). The true identity of being "Beloved" does not play into the Imposter's view of self. My "Imposter" is focused on how I can get the next word of approval from somebody. Now there is nothing wrong with being affirmed and getting approval. But how much of my time is spent seeking this approval, when I already have it? I find myself a glutton for approval...even when God or my closest friends or family tell me repeatedly that I am worthy, I keep seeking after approval as if they told me the opposite.

Manning breaks down the reality of the impostor:
The sad irony is that the impostor cannot experience intimacy in any relationship. His narcissism excludes others. Incapable of intimacy with self and out of touch with his feelings, intuitions, and insight, the impostor is insensitive to the moods, needs and dreams of others. Reciprocal sharing is impossible. The impostor has built life around achievements, success, busyness, and self-centered activities that bring gratification and praise from others. James Masterson, M.D., stated, "It is natural of the false self to save us from knowing the truth about our real selves, from penetrating the deeper causes of our unhappiness, from seeing ourselves as we really are - vulnerable, afraid, terrified, and unable to let our real selves emerge."

So we are not only hurting ourselves by building this false self but also others. It can also hurt to see ourselves for who we really are, but peeling off these layers can be freeing. It is my first reaction to thrash the Impostor inside of me. But Manning says that is not the way to go about healing wounds:
Peace lies in the acceptance of truth. As we come to grips with our own selfishness and stupidity, we make friends with the impostor and accept that we are impoverished and broken and realize that, if we were not, we would be God. The art of gentleness toward ourselves leads to being gentle with others - and this is the natural prerequisite to for our presence to God in prayer.

God is compassion. Therefore as His sons and daughters, we need to be compassionate to ourselves. And if I do not forgive myself, how can I truly forgive others? I can come to love my true self, because that is the self that God created and loves very much. This is not the narcissistic love of self brought about by the Imposter, but the self-confidence of knowing to Whom I belong. The more I realize how I am loved by my Abba, the smaller the imposter becomes.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Abba's Child - Come Out of Hiding

I'm currently reading a wonderful book called Abba's Child by Brennan Manning. It really speaks to me and I think it may speak to others as well, so I'm going to include a particularly good excerpt from each chapter and share my thoughts.

The following comes from the first chapter, Come Out of Hiding:

Manning cites Henri Nouwen (another great author) as saying,
Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody." ...[My dark side says], I am no good...I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence. (emphasis added)
Manning goes on to say,
We learn to be gentle with ourselves by experiencing the intimate, heartfelt compassion of Jesus. To the extent that we allow the relentless tenderness of Jesus to invade the citadel of self, we are freed from dyspepsia toward ourselves. Christ wants to alter our attitude toward ourselves and take sides with Him against our own self-evaluation.
I have beaten myself up over so many things: my failure to "measure up." The crazy thing is that I say I believe in a God who loves me infinitely, yet my attitude of myself has often been quite the opposite. God can forgive people's sins, but I can't forgive my own. I downplay the tremendous Grace that Christ has to offer me by doing this. I also dismiss the many talents and the good that my Creator has placed in me. I think this blocks God's ability to use me in caring for others. The funny thing as I write this is that I feel I am beating myself up, for "beating myself up". God save me from this terrible cycle of self-condemnation!

I think it is in times like these that I need to stop thinking so much and self-evaluating and just invite God in to my moments of self-reflection. Just let His peace settle into my being and still all voices but His.

Manning goes on to iterate the fact that God uses us in our weakness and to deny or shun that weakness is to deny the very thing that may help someone else. We relate to each other not through our power or strength, but through our humbleness and weakness. Jesus Himself says, blessed are those who are poor in spirit, and I think this is why: we are more capable of receiving God (and each other) in this humble state. This is why we can relate to Christ, because He Himself was humbled by becoming human.

Stop beating yourself up and start seeing that you are Beloved. Stop over-analyzing and just bask in the presence of a loving Abba (Father). I am saying this to myself of course...but maybe you can relate?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fires on Google Maps

I saw a cool/scary thing on Google maps just now. They are showing reports and updates on the fires out west. They have burn areas, evacuations, shelters and other information represented visually on their maps. I haven't seen anything like it.

Things like this remind me how terrible these fires really are and remind me to keep prayer for and think about those effected by this disaster. It also makes me think, though technology is great and can really help society, in times like this (and any time really), it is community and person-to-person contact that really matters.

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Portfolio website!

It's finally complete! My portfolio website can be found at my new domain here:

Let me know what you think! I had a bear of a time trying to get the colors and other details just right.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Hi all~

If you've come here looking for my portfolio at, it's not quite ready yet. Keep checking back and in the meantime, you can enjoy my Blog.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tricia's Best of the 'Burgh

This is my unofficial guide to some of my favorite eateries and hangouts in Pittsburgh. So next time you're complaining about how there is nothing to do here...refer to this list. This is a work in I'll have more to add soon.

I will definitely take other suggestions under consideration for addition...just comment and I'll add it to the list if I deem it worthy. :)

I will make a new post for each neighborhood...when I add to the list, I will add a new post and a link back to the original post.

But first, here are some categories that do not fall under a certain neighborhood:

Best Place to buy Fresh Produce
Neighborhood Farmer's Markets - Check out my buy fresh, buy local blog.

Best Place to Read (for Free!)
Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh - All you need is a card! There are several locations.

Check out:
The Best of East Liberty

Tricia's Best of East Liberty

My neighborhood
East Liberty
The neighborhood north of Shadyside in between Negley Ave. and Negley Run and East Liberty Boulevards and Stanton and Center/Penn (with a small section hanging out on Black and Chislett in the North West corner). Click here for more information.
Buses that run through East Liberty are:
To/From Downtown via the Strip District: 77 D/F/G from Friendship along Negley and Stanton, 86A/B via Penn Ave
To/From Downtown via Bigelow Boulevard, Baum and Negley: 77 A/B/C
To/From Downtown via Oakland:
71A from Centre along Negley, 71C via Ellsworth and Penn Ave., 500 via 5th Ave and Highland Ave.
To/From Downtown via the Hill District: 81B along Centre, Penn and Lincoln
To/From Downtown via the Busway: EBO, EBA, EBS, LP
To/From the Waterfront via Squirrel Hill and Shadyside: 64A along Negley, Centre and Highland Ave.
To/From Garfield via East Liberty Blvd., Penn and Negley: 89A
To/From Morningside, Stanton Heights and Larimer Ave: 94 A/B/C

Best Theatrical Venue
Kelly-Strayhorn Theater - Formerly the Regent Theater, it is the only movie theater of 7 from East Liberty's past to renovated into a live theatre venue focusing as a unique cultural and educational resource in the community.

Best Place for Ribs
Steel City House of Ribs
- I need to get the exact street address, but it is on Highland Avenue right before Eastminister Presbyterian church across the street from National City. GOOD food, the price is right, and the service friendly.

Best Place for Ethiopian

Abay Ethiopian Cuisine - Pittsburgh's only Ethiopian Restaurant and it's sooo good! The Combo plate for 2 is probably good enough for 3 people.

Best Place for a Drink
Sharp Edge Beer Emporium - Very nice selection of imports, leaning heavy on the Belgians. They also have great burgers. A bit pricey, but you can get selected food for 1/2 price after 10:00 PM.

Best Place to get Groceries
It's a between Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market, but Trader Joe's wins for the price. Also check out the Farmer's Market.

Best Place to get your Groove On
Ava and the Shadow Lounge...I haven't been to Ava yet, but Shadow Lounge is pretty cool. Both places are connected to each other.

Best Place for Pizza
Vento's Pizza - Home Depot came in but this little pizzeria wouldn't budge. There are other good places for pizza, but I picked this one just for the good story. :)

Best Place to Read
Border's Books - 2 HUGE floors full of books, with a Seattle's Best Coffee on the 2nd floor. Also check out the East Liberty branch of the Carnegie Library system.

Best View
The bell tower in East Liberty Presbyterian Church. Take a tour of the's pretty amazing.

Best Place to go to the Doctor
East Liberty Family Healthcare Center - They will often help you even if you don't have health insurance.

Best Place for Coffee (non-chain)
Union Project Cafe - technically it's in Highland Park, but there's another one I'll highlight there. This Cafe also has a program for training youths aging out of foster care.

More will be added as I discover them!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

2nd Community Meeting for East Liberty

If you live in the area, please come! And encourage other residents to get involved as well. Information is listed below:

Pittsburgh is taking notice of East Liberty and its recent developments, and this is not happening by chance. Please help us keep the momentum going and pass the word on!

On Tuesday September 18 from 6 to 8 pm, East Liberty will hold its second Community Meeting of the summer at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. East Liberty began its discussion of an updated Community Plan in late 2003 and early 2004 with the formation of Task Forces focused on key neighborhood issues. This past June, the community reconvened to begin action planning. This community meeting will lay the framework for up-coming developments by reinvigorating the community Task Forces. We need the your support to make these Task Forces the diverse, powerful representations of East Liberty that are necessary for this new plan to be a success.

These Task Forces will address eight areas that have been highlighted by community stakeholders for their importance to the continued progress of East Liberty.

The Task Forces to be convened are:

- Safe Neighborhoods – The members of this team will explore realistic, sustainable approaches to East Liberty’s issues with drugs, violence and crime.

- Workforce – This team will work to ensure that the residents of the neighborhood will benefit from the up-and-coming economic and business developments through local, quality employment.

- Youth Engagement – This Task Force will explore and highlight positive scholastic and extra-curricular options for our youth.

- Healthy Community Members – This group will strategize ways to help the community to learn about, understand and embrace the importance of healthy, constructive lifestyles and habits.

- Housing – This team will find ways to ensure that existing and planned housing provide a high quality of life for everyone in the neighborhood.

- Parks and Recreation – This Task Force will explore strategies to ensure that East Liberty will have clean, healthy and green places for all ages to enjoy.

- Commercial Core Planning – This Task Force will underscore the importance of approaching current and future commercial development in a thoughtful, strategic manner to ensure the best outcome for those who live, work and play in East Liberty.

- Small Business – This team will investigate strategies to support the growth and vitality of small businesses which are integral to preserving the culture of East Liberty.

East Liberty is rapidly changing and it is the community’s responsibility to shape the neighborhood’s future. All community members and stakeholders are invited to attend.

For more information about the Community Meeting or Task Forces or to get involved, contact Emily Nordquist at 412.361.8061 or

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Goin' to Ottawa!

My friend Maria is getting married in Ottawa this weekend. I'm so excited...this will be my first time in Canada. We are camping for two nights in Gatineau Park near Phillipe Lake. Then we'll be staying in a hostel our final night.

Expect lots of cool photos when I return. :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Freedom to Love

In looking at boundaries, we cannot escape one main point: responsibility. Our boundaries basically define our sense of responsibility for us. They tell us what our lives consist of and what we are responsible for. We must own our body, feelings, attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, choices, desires, and limits.

If we were to stop there, behind carefully guarded fences, we would live a very safe, but very unbiblical existence. This would fall short of love, the goal of life. The biblical concept of love involves loving and laying down our life for others. However, it is impossible to give away what we do not have, and boundaries are our way of “having” the self that we can then choose to give away.

Owning our own lives is the essence of freedom, and there is no love without freedom. Freedom realizes oneself, and love motivates us to give that self to others. When we give before we are free and truly own ourselves, we have fallen short of servanthood and into slavery. Realize what you own, and then share yourself with others. This is to fulfill the law of Christ.

I read this from a great book called Changes That Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud. (cheesy title I know, but this is one of the only books that makes sense to me in terms of blending psychology and faith) This passage about "Seperating from Others" really speaks to me at this point in my life. The idea of first having freedom and then giving yourself away in love is a refreshing way to think about my sense of self and how I relate to others. I'm sure I don't have to have it ALL together in order to start giving to others, but at this point, I feel like I need to do some serious soul-searching and responsibility-building. Then I can give myself fully and not half-assed.

I'm sure it's a balance that's hard to achieve...I hope I can be at peace with where I'm at and take comfort that I don't need to try so hard...I just need to give it up to God and things will work out the way they need to.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Favicons - They are the little icons you see in your web browser, tabs, bookmarks, RSS readers, etc. I just found out how to get our Jo Outdoors logo onto our website!

Here's where I found out how:

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Buy Fresh, Buy Local

I just wanted to share some information with you all as to why buying local foods is really a no-brainer.

Reasons why I try to buy local:

1. Buying local helps you know where your food comes from. Local food is more nutritious and generally less likely to be doused with chemicals (or antibiotics for meat products) or genetically modified. By the way, eating local honey may help you fight seasonal allergies!

2. The food is fresher, tastes better, and comes in more variety. Produce shipped from far away is grown for longer shelf life and not for taste. Big farms usually opt for the more durable or "reliable" varieties. (ie: Red Delicious apples from Washington).

3. You are supporting the "little guy" as opposed to those evil commercial farms. Small farmers are a dying breed (my family has a small farm, so I feel very strongly about this!). The middle man is cut out and more of the profit goes directly to the farmer.

4. Urban gardens can bring a community together. They also provide much needed green spaces in urban areas. There are many great programs that can be designed around an urban garden to educate the community about their health and keep youths involved rather than "in trouble".

5. Resources used to ship food hundreds and thousands of miles are saved when you buy local. You are also supporting the local economy by supporting local farmers. Local farmers tend to buy from local merchants as well, keeping money in the community and saving even more in resources.

6. Buying produce that is in season can save you money. You can even split a produce "subscription" with a neighbor, bringing the freshest crops of the season to your doorstep.

Learn more about buying local from these websites (thanks Amara for the links!):
(where I got most of my facts)
(find small farmers, urban gardens, farmer's markets and more)
(buying local in PA)

Grow Pittsburgh
(great model for sustainable urban agriculture in Pittsburgh)

Urban Farms: Oasis in the Inner City
(cool article about the social implications of urban farms/gardens)

Wikipedia has a great list of resources about Urban Farming

Simply in Season is a great cookbook about using produce that is in's the blog!

Victual Reality
(blog about the eco-politics behind your food)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Matt Clement comeback

So my cousin is Matt Clement who pitches for the Red Sox...or tries to.

He's been laid out for a while having had reconstructive surgery on his shoulder. He's been given a lot of flack by the media and individuals in certain articles. Besides being biased, I think much of it is skewed or unfair.

Anyway, he seems to be on the fast track to recovery and should return to the rotation in a few months. Read an article about him here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

one of THOSE days....

Ever had one of THOSE days?
Ever had everything wrong?
All your plans are set ablaze?
And your day runs on too long?
(it's a test)

Today I had such a day.
Today it was mine to own.
All my progress wiped away
and into the wind was blown.
(I am blessed)

I want to start a fire.
I want to hide in a hole.
Lay down into the mire
and castrate my very soul.
(what a mess)

Somebody please hold me now.
Somebody please help me stay.
Cause I really don't know how
I will move on from this day.
(give me rest)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ode to Snow

Oh Snow, you are so cold...
but also beautiful.

You freeze my toes...
but warm my heart.

You crash people's cars...
but make my sled fly.

Oh terrible and wonderful thing that is Snow...
How sad and glad I am that you have come!

If you like sled riding, but hate the cold, try out Line Rider!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

txt msg = wtf??

People are so's a text message I received from a number I didn't know, but it was a 724 area code, so I thought it might have been someone from home who changed their number... Bottom line: don't bother responding to these random messages...they get you nowhere.

Random #: So theres this guy im totally in love w. his names mike **** n he is so amazing n way too good to me n i cant stop thinking about him. Goodnite i love u <3

Me: Hey, I dont hav this # in my fone so im not sure who this is. :\

Random #: Who is this?

Me: Tricia

Random #: Tricia who

Me: Chicka. r u from Saltsburg?

Random #: No im from hempfield. Dont txt me i dont kno u

( text'ed me first!)

Then later, I got another text from a different number that was in the middle of some kind of conversation... Do people actually send these things to the wrong number or is this Spam?? :P

Monday, January 08, 2007

Chatham University?

For those who missed it, here's a letter to the Chatham Alumni about the creation of Chatham University with 3 Colleges inside it... One being Chatham College the undergraduate women's college.

For my two cents...I'm sure this will be great for the overall health and "marketing image" of the institution as a whole, but I'm concerned about the traditions of Chatham College, (the undergraduate women's college) which makes it so unique. I hope the "University Transition Team" won't take this matter lightly and address it without being partial or indifferent. (see the last question for more on this)

Check out the original letter below (IT's a doozy! But I learned alot about the difference between a college and a university, which has apparently changed over the years...)

Dear Chatham Alumnae and Graduate Alumni,

I hope each of you had a healthy and peaceful holiday season.

As president of the Alumnae Association, I am excited to advise you that Chatham is starting 2007 in a big way. As you know, we have been talking about the possibility of Chatham becoming Chatham University for well over a year now, and a major step in that direction will take place on the campus in less than two weeks.

During the week of January 16, 2007, an evaluation team organized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and comprised of seven individuals involved in higher education throughout the Commonwealth will be on campus interviewing faculty, staff, students and trustees as part of their consideration of our application to the State.

There will be two all-campus public meetings about the potential change from College to University on Tuesday, January 9 at 11:30 a.m. in the Eddy Theatre and Thursday, January 11 at 4:00 p.m. in the Welker Room, Laughlin Music Center. You are welcome to join the campus community in these discussions.

President Barazzone has prepared the following questions/answers about the potential transition and has asked me to share them with you. I hope that you will take the time to read these materials and stay engaged in the process. I have been asked to serve on the University Transition Team referenced in the answer to the last question and look forward to working with faculty including Liana Dragoman ‘98, staff and current students in this process.

Thank you in advance for your participation. Happy New Year!

Kim Francis '80

President, Alumnae Association Board


Q: Why does Chatham want to become a university?

A: Primarily because it will help us be better understood for who we are today as an institution.

Chatham wants to become a university because “university” best describes what Chatham has become. We are many things. We are an historic women’s undergraduate college, one of the oldest in the nation. We are also a graduate institution with nineteen masters programs and three doctoral programs serving men and women. Our “on the ground” enrollment of 1,000 full-time students is evenly balanced between graduate and undergraduate students. Graduate students make up 50% of our total enrollment, a percentage that compares favorably with the percentages at other Pittsburgh institutions that recently became universities (e.g., 24% at Carlow; 22% at Robert Morris; 13% at Point Park). Finally, we have a new and promising virtual and world-wide campus on-line, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees to both men and women.

It is the opinion of many, and of the College’s Board of Trustees who voted to apply to become a university last summer, that we already are a university, as defined by all the characteristics above.

We believe people will understand better what we are – a coeducational university with a women’s college within it – if 1) we are recognized by the state as a university and 2) we change our name to Chatham University.

There are other reasons, too: the image will help us more effectively market the institution, and it will create better circumstances within the institution for all who work or study here by the changes it will bring about.

Q: What is the difference between a college and a university?

A: It depends. Times are changing in the way the words are understood, as well as in the development of higher education institutions.

This is a question that is very subject to history at this dynamic time in US higher education, and especially in Pennsylvania higher education. The Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recently reclassified all US higher education institutions because the old, simple, distinctions between colleges and universities just don’t hold any more. The Foundation, for example, classified Chatham this year in the “Masters Colleges” and “Universities/Medium” category, after having identified us since our founding as an undergraduate institution.

Historically, colleges have been institutions that award only or primarily bachelors degrees to students after four years of study. Colleges do not generally award graduate degrees.

Universities are usually more complex and sometimes larger institutions than colleges. A university is often a collection of “colleges” – each focused on one area of study (e.g., “Teachers College” of Columbia University). Universities usually offer graduate degrees through the masters and doctoral levels (although in Pennsylvania it is not required that an institution already have a doctoral degree program to be designated a university). Some institutions have the further distinction of being called research universities for obvious reasons.

In recent years, the definition of “college” has become blurred as institutions have begun not only to change in the nature of their offerings, but also in the way they wish to be perceived. For example, most community colleges have dropped “community” from their names in part to reflect that they now offer four year degrees and not just the associate degrees of the past. Today “junior colleges” are virtually unheard of after being very common until the 1970s or 80s. Many institutions, and not just Chatham, are offering more graduate programs, as the demands on higher education for preparing students for the workplace change.

Finally, just to add to the confusion, the word “college” has entirely different meanings outside the United States. In many places in the world, the term “university” is the equivalent of the term “college” in the United States, with “college” referring more to a secondary or vocational school.

So, this is all to say that both the reality and the perception surrounding the words “college” and “university” have changed in recent years. It is important for Chatham, which is even more graduate intensive than many other colleges that have added graduate programs in recent decades, to be recognized for what we are, especially when there are distinct advantages in terms of public perception to being a university rather than a college.


Q.: So are you saying this is all about marketing?

A: Marketing IS an important part of it, but this is also about the future in other very important ways.

This is about marketing because we need for people to understand who we are in order to keep recruiting great students and faculty. It is so much about marketing that some of you know we have retained Red House Communications, a terrific marketing firm, to help us prepare the branding and marketing efforts for Chatham when we become a university. However, it is also about taking the “next steps” as an institution that will permit us to grow in size and in quality in the future.

Q: Next steps? I thought we already WERE a university? What really are the criteria to become a university in Pennsylvania, and do we have to make a lot of changes to fulfill them?

A: We believe we basically fulfill the criteria set out by the state. (Of course, the review team coming in mid January will make that final determination.) However, there are some things that we need to do to meet the state’s requirements fully. Where we don’t yet meet the criteria, changes are required that we should want and need to make anyway.

Pennsylvania defines a university as “a multiunit institution with a complex structure and diverse educational functions, including instruction, promotion of scholarship, preservation and discovery of knowledge, research and service.” (22 Pa. Code Section 31.2.) We certainly meet that definition.

The same section states that a university must also have a minimum of three administrative units: one unit providing for study of the arts and sciences at the graduate level; a second unit providing advanced degree programs through the doctorate; and a third unit providing a minimum of five professional programs at the graduate level.

Chatham has all the academic offerings and degree levels that are required to meet these criteria. However, we do not have the organizational structure that seems to be required to meet the definition of a university (the three “units”). We need to create these three administrative units to meet the criteria for a university.

Q: What will these new administrative “units” look like? And would we create them if we were not applying to become a university?

A: We are creating three “colleges,” each with its own dean, to represent and better serve the different types of students, with their different needs, who are enrolled at the institution. We will need to go from being a place that has a pretty simple organizational structure to a more complex one that corresponds to the complexity of our programs and student body. This is a need that has been developing and something we would need to do even without becoming a university.

Our College has evolved mightily since the early 90s when there was basically only one type of student, and even one type of degree, on the campus. At that time, we had fewer than 500 full-time students, all in baccalaureate degree programs. Today we have about 1000 full-time students (and a total of 1600 students, including part-timers), many more programs and degree levels, but pretty much the same organizational structure. Dr. Armesto, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, still has an office staff the same size as the one that existed in the early 90s. About 18 months ago we recognized the need to begin to create some additional structures and created the School of Continuing Education with its own dean, and began to search for a director of graduate studies.

The colleges that are now being created will matriculate students and have alumni/ae. There will be Chatham College (the women’s college), Chatham Graduate College (for graduate students) and Chatham College for Professional Studies (the former School for Continuing Education, to serve on-line and continuing education students.) Each will have a dean who is responsible for the educational experience of students in that college.

The faculty structure will remain essentially unchanged, with one Vice President for Academic Affairs who will continue as Dean of the Faculty. Faculty and programs may serve more than one college. The main difference is that there will be two more deans, reporting to Dr. Armesto, than there are now: the Dean of Chatham College, and the Dean of the Graduate College (the position of the Dean of the College for Professional Studies already exists in the Dean of the School of Continuing Education).

With the restructuring of the institution into Colleges the three “units” described in the statute will be clearly reflected in the structure of the new Chatham University.

Q: Why didn’t we take these steps sooner?

A: We had started somewhat down this path, but had not reached the critical mass of students to make it worthwhile. We always try to stay as administratively lean as possible.

Two things needed to happen, beyond applying for university status, to make the creation of Colleges the right thing to do. First, we had to get a positive growth in the undergraduate college to make sure it was not going to be swamped by the growth in other programs; secondly, we needed to see the graduate programs prove that their growth was going to persist.

Both things have happened in the last few years. Undergraduate enrollment has begun to rise dramatically, experiencing a 35% growth in the last five years. And graduate programs have had a steady and dramatic rise.

Probably the time to make this organizational change was yesterday, but it is certainly now! This is a change which should both serve the College’s students better, as well as satisfy the state’s requirements for three units.

Q: Please say more about how will this be good for the students who will be in the various colleges. Why, for example, will this be good for women undergraduates, and will we lose our character as a women’s college?

A. The main reason that it will be good for the undergraduate women is that it will preserve Chatham College for Chatham undergraduate women.

Undergraduate women will be the only people enrolled in Chatham College, whereas other student populations will be enrolled in Chatham University, in either the Graduate College or the College of Professional Studies.

There is nothing implied in university status about class size, course requirements or anything else that will affect the quality of the academic experience. The Dean of Chatham College should have deep experience in women’s education and commitment to women’s colleges to perpetuate the historic foundation of the institution.

Q: How will this be an improvement for the graduate students and programs?

A. The graduate students should have a significant improvement in their experience and feel more directly their relationship to the institution.


Graduate programs at Chatham have not always received the attention that they deserve, despite the fact that their high quality has brought the institution additional public recognition, and that the contributions of both graduate students and faculty have added greatly to the intellectual vibrancy, as well as to the overall financial health, of the institution.

Program directors have worked hard and well to support their students in their individual programs without much central support directed exclusively to graduate students irrespective of program. The addition of a dean for the Graduate College will mean that graduate programs and graduate students receive the attention they deserve both as individuals seeking further education and as the integral part of the institution that they are.

It may also remove confusion in the public to be able to say that men and women go to Chatham University and students in the women’s college go to Chatham College.

Q: What difference is this going to make for faculty?

A: Basically, none.

Dr. Armesto will remain dean of the faculty, existing faculty committees will remain intact, and faculty will still meet as a whole, so little will change in the academic governance of the institution.

Q: So what are the next steps, and what is the timeline to become a university?

A: If all goes well, March or April.

Our application has already been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). A copy of the application and the appendices has been placed on reserve (behind the circulation desk) at the Jennie King Mellon Library. I encourage you to read it.

Chatham’s application will now be evaluated by a team of higher education administrators who will visit our campus from January 16-19. The seven people on the team (six administrators from higher education institutions and one representative from the PDE) will interview faculty, administrators, students, members of the Board of Trustees and other campus constituencies.

The various steps involved in writing reports, publicizing findings and so forth will take us until about mid-April to get a final decision if the schedule is used fully. Should things move more quickly than the maximally required calendar, it could be earlier. Thus, sometime in March or April is probably when we will get a final answer.

Q: Other than creating three colleges, what changes will come with becoming a university?

A: No doubt there will be more changes than we can imagine. However, the changes we anticipate are invigorating and necessary for the recognition and positioning of the institution for the future.


Becoming a university is more than a name change. It is, I am sure you will agree, a psychological change, toward something larger, that knits us together more fully as an institution, while also acknowledging the differences within our institution. It will gain us a greater reputation in the community, as it comes to be understood that our students include not only the wonderful women graduates who are such great community leaders and alumnae, but also masters and doctoral students and their faculty.

In addition to the organizational changes that will add deans and colleges, there will be changes large and small in the actual operations of the institution. For example: what will the colors of the University be? What will the alma mater be? How will the diplomas for the Colleges read? Will we reissue diplomas for those alumnae and alumni who graduated from the College and may want to have a new diploma from the University? A University Transition Team has been created that will look at questions like these and help guide the institution through the transition.

There will be other challenges, too, that we will successfully address. For example, although being a university means being part of something larger, we must still preserve the treasured spirit of the residential liberal arts college which has been the foundation of this institution. And, even as we acknowledge that having doctoral students means having faculty who do more scholarship, we must continue to preserve the values of the institution that say teaching and learning matter above all.

These are all issues that we already confront, but they will be magnified with the arrival of university status. They suggest that the change to university status will be invigorating, even as it acknowledges the changes of the last decade. It will be a change that encourages us to take nothing for granted, but to talk and plan together for a future that is worthy both of the name “University” and of the name “Chatham.”

We did change our name 50 years ago, from Pennsylvania College for Women to Chatham College. Now, as we seek to change our name again, we are undertaking a more profound change than we did in 1955, as we seek both to recognize a very successful past and create the conditions for an even brighter future.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

An "Ecclesiastes Moment"

I'm having an "Ecclesiastes Moment"...

You know...when you wonder what the heck this is all for?

When you sit back, take stock of your life and think, "What is the meaning of this?"
Or, "How can I keep up this charade?"
Or, "Why do I even bother?"

(This is not in a suicidal tone, by the way.)

It is really about feeling you are missing something.
Like something is not quite right.

People say, you are being too negative.
People say, you need to lighten up and live a little.

But the "Ecclesiastes Moment" tells me differently.

Is it ok to feel this way?
Am I really just being silly?
Should I just forget about it and go on with my life as usual?

I don't know for sure...

Perhaps, these "Moments" point us to something deeper.
Something bigger.
Something greater than my own life.
Greater than this world.
Greater than all that is.

Perhaps the "Ecclesiates Moment" turns into something else.

If we wait patiently.
If we look intently.
If we trust completely.

Perhaps in those "Moments" we find Hope.

Real Hope.
Not the fake hope that the world gives us.
Hope that carries us.
And gives us real meaning.
And a reason to truly LIVE.

So don't brush aside that "Moment" when it appears.

Ask, "What is this for?"
Ask, "Why am I doing this?"
Ask, "Who am I anyway?"

Pay attention and someday the "Ecclesiastes Moment" may turn into a
Moment of Peace.