Category Archives: Environment

Thrive Sustainability Summit – April 21

The Center is proud to announce the Thrive Sustainability Summit, Friday April 21, in collaboration with the League of Women Voters, Evergreen Conservancy, and the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development!

Why should YOU attend? The sustainable economy is no longer a pipedream!  According to the latest research, there are more than 3 million clean energy jobs in the US – and many more are projected.

Clean vehicles, grid development, energy efficiency, and battery storage are among the fastest growing industries in the country. And in Pennsylvania, renewable energy jobs are growing faster than jobs in fossil fuel. The numbers are even better if you include sustainable agriculture and other clean economy sectors.

Given these exciting developments, you may be asking yourself . . . What can we do to attract economic development to our rural counties and towns? Can we guarantee good jobs and healthy communities in the new sustainable economy? How can we use existing assets to ensure that our communities can once again thrive?

To help answer these questions, you are invited to the THRIVE: Sustainable Economy Summit.     At the Summit, you will learn from local and national experts about:

  • various types of renewable energy and related infrastructure, including regional initiatives by clean energy companies;
  • the economic potential of sustainable agriculture, eco-tourism, and energy efficiency; and
  • the emerging field of green chemistry and its potential to transform manufacturing.

Capacity-building sessions will provide tools to measure the economic benefits of sustainable development, as well as strategies for marketing those benefits. We want to help you to attract funding and new businesses to your community.

The THRIVE Summit is specifically designed for municipal officials and staff of local and county governments in rural Southwestern PA. Community members and students who want to become involved by serving on community boards and task forces are also welcome.

Your help is needed. Let’s join together to build thriving communities in the new, sustainable economy!


Final 2016 Film Features Hellbenders!

This week the Center rounds out the 2016 Film Series: Getting Local, and we get SUPER local! If you’ve been following us, you’ll recognize the East Run HellBenders Society, a group of community activists in Grant Township, Indiana County so powerful they legalized civil disobedience.

These brave folks are featured in the lastest from IUP alum Melissa Troutman, and her production company Public Herald Films. This team of investigative journalists last brought us Triple Divide – which documented fracking across the Pennsylyvania

Their new film picks up locally, called Invisible Hand.

“Free market forces have recently manifested as ‘fracking’ in Pennsylvania – a high risk method to extract natural gas – that state and federal governments support. But communities hell bent on protecting their rights are fighting back against state and corporate take over – some with success.

So what does it take to defeat a billion-dollar corporation with more rights than you? INVISIBLE HAND tells the story of people figuring out how. One method is by bringing about the Rights of Nature.”

The film documents the stories of Grant Township, and others who pushed back against the weight of big monied gas companies to protect their community. Indiana County is among the epicenters of a movement to reclaim our local authority from the unholy alliance between big gas and our state government. Join us to see how you can help!

Thanks to the IUP Sustainability Studies Program for co-sponsoring.


See you there!

invisible-hand-flier-v2-docxDoors open- 6:00
Director Comments – 6:30
Film – 7:00

3/27 Power Of One Voice – Featuring the film-maker!

Great news! Not only are we very excited about our upcoming screening of “The Power Of One Voice,” on 3/27, but we have also confirmed the film-maker, geneticist, and Rachel Carson expert, Dr. Patricia DeMarco as our Keynote speaker!

The Power of One Voice  chronicles the life of Rachel Carson, and her transformative work, Silent Spring. It is no exaggeration to say that without this one woman, we would not have the environmental movement we have today.

Come join us as we move from Awareness to Action!

Friday, 3/27

6:00 Doors Open

6:30 Keynote Speaker

7:00 Film followed by Q&A with the film-maker.

Please join us!  

“Wrenched” comes to Indiana!


The Center for Community Growth is hosting a screening of the film, “Wrenched,” which examines the work of Indiana County native Edward Abbey and his influence on the modern environmental movement this Thursday, 9/4 @7pm at the Indiana Theater.

The screening kicks off this year’s Northern Appalachian Folk Fest, and we’re proud to be partnering with the Center for Northern Appalachian Studies, and the IUP English Department to bring this 2013 film to Indiana.

Born and raised in Home, PA, Edward Abbey attended Indiana High School, and then went on to graduate from IUP. He shortly moved West to become a writer, and is known for his edgy, non-compromising opinions on environmental preservation. His novel, “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” tells the tale of a group of environmentalists who take drastic measures to stop encroachment on what they consider sacred space. From chopping down billboards, to pouring sugar in the gas tanks of construction vehicles, this fictional gang inspired a generation of radical environmentalism epitomized by the group EarthFirst!.

In addition to the screening, join us at 4pm in front of the Indiana Theater for an Edward Abbey walking tour, presented by Abbey expert and retired IUP English professor, Dr. Jim Cahalan.

More about Abbey can be found on Dr. Calalan’s webiste,

Check out our Facebook page to RSVP! See you there!298174_275267305839648_819636671_n

Event Recap: Urban Roots Showing (May 30th)

This past Thursday, on May 30th, Indiana residents came to the Indiana Theater to see our screening of Urban Roots, a documentary on permaculture and community gardens in Detroit.  Many of Detroit’s urban poor live in “food deserts” where processed, pre-prepared food is more accessible than fresh ingredients to make their own healthier food.  Additionally, like many other poor areas in major cities, crime rates are high, and employment is low, leading to communities with residents who feel disempowered and not in control of their own lives.  The solution for many Detroit residents has been urban gardening, which not only allows these people to have access to fresh produce, but it also gives them something to work towards that actually shows results compared to a repetitive, low-wage job.  These gardens help solve environmental problems in addition to social ones by providing a sustainable alternative to major agribusinesses.    It’s very possible that these community gardens offer a glimpse into the future of urban living, where nature is integrated into cities rather than being separate from them.


However, Detroit is not the only town that can benefit from community gardening—Indiana benefits from local farms and gardens as well.  Before the film, we featured some local farms and gardens in the lobby who tabled to spread awareness about their businesses, including Rosary Acres, the Indiana Community Garden, Gaia’s Garden, and Vera Bonnett.  Additionally, after the movie screening, the audience participated in a discussion panel regarding the impact of community gardening on Indiana.  The members of the panel included Chloe Drew, Kay Snyder, Nicole Dann-Payne, Marie Olson, and Sandi Petkus, who are all part of the Indiana Community Garden, and Renzy Shade, a guest from Pittsburgh who participates in permaculture in her city.


The members first discussed the Indiana Community Garden and its origin.  Marie Olson, who had the original idea for the garden, learned of the benefits of a community garden for a neighborhood and decided to create one of her own.  Thanks to the Mack Foundation, she and a few others were able to obtain funding and a location for the garden.  Now, one year later, the garden is quite extensive and has features such as a pavilion and compost bins.  It is also quite busy—according to Kay Snyder, the garden will have a table at the Indiana Farmer’s Market on June 15th, and Nicole Dann-Payne holds food demos that educate the community on the nutrition that they can get from the produce raised in the garden.


Renzy Shade works with Gaia’s Garden, a permaculture garden in Pittsburgh.  Permaculture According to Shade, permaculture is “growing in a way that goes along with the land.”  Instead of going against the existing ecosystem, permaculturists work along with it.  While watching the movie, Shade found that the decaying areas and empty lots in Detroit mirror those in Pittsburgh.  According to her, many people are saying that Pittsburgh is going through a renaissance, but they are ignoring that fact that there are still communities that are living in poverty.  Permaculture may be one of the solutions to the social problems occurring in Pittsburgh today.


The audience had their own stories to tell, as well.  Cybil Moore, an Indiana resident, spoke of her involvement with the Chevy Chase Center and its community garden as well as her memories of when gardening was ingrained into the culture of the area.  Other audience members discussed the social aspect of gardening and preserving food, which bonds families together and creates group ties.  Even though Indiana does not have as much of a problem with food deserts and poverty as Detroit does, it can benefit from the strong social ties that come with being involved with local farming and gardening.

Special thanks to the Indiana Community Garden, Treemedia, Rosary Acres, Gaia’s Garden, and Vera Bonnett. 

For more information on the Indiana Community Garden, you can find their website here.

If you want to learn more about Gaia’s Garden, the garden that Renzy Shade works with in Pittsburgh, you can find more information here.

(Article written by Melissa King and edited by Colleen Donovan)