Urban Ecologist and Professor, Dr. Marijke Hecht shares how design patterns influenced by systemic racism affect green space and the plant and pest variety in cities across the country and Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Courtesy photo)

Better nature, better relationship, better planet — A conversation with a Pittsburgh urban ecologist

Are discussions about the non-human natural world relevant to folks outside of climate change and environmentalist circles? After listening to Pittsburgh urban ecologist Marijke Hecht, you’ll understand how everyone plays a role in creating the environment. For episode 6, we’re reviewing a Science Magazine article on how design patterns influenced by systemic racism affect green space and the plant and pest variety in your neighborhood. Do you see more weeds or butterflies where you live? Hecht discusses her work as an urban ecologist and how community design, race and mental health are all related in Pittsburgh’s environmental ecosystem.

Etta Cetera (left) and Avis Lee (right) at SCI Cambridge Springs Prison in Crawford County, PA. Etta and Avis co-founded Let's Get Free: The Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee in 2013, to end death by incarceration and to challenge the "outdated and dysfunctional" commutation process in Pennsylvania. (Photo illustration by Natasha Vicens/PublicSource)

Episode 5, Season 2: Let’s get free — A Pittsburgh-based prison abolitionist’s point of view

It’s not every day you meet someone who can say they’ve helped someone get their freedom back. I mean, not anytime after the 1860s, and not from someone who isn’t a lawyer or police officer. And not in 2021, because who still needs to be given their Constitutionally recognized freedom these days? For this episode, you’ll meet Etta Cetera, a colorful Pittsburgh artist, community organizer and prison abolitionist envisioning a world where punishment for violence and crime doesn’t involve prisons. We discuss what she sees as the day-to-day injustices that come with imprisonment and how she went from virtually having no political consciousness to adopting the mission of a prison abolitionist.

(Photo via iStock)

Episode 3, Season 2: How Pittsburgh shapes and cages the experience of Black women. For real. (Part 2) (Season 2)

Black women are not a monolith. So, building on the first part of the episode about Black women in Pittsburgh, I spoke with Jahqwhan “Jah” Watson. A native Ohioan by way of Cleveland — who came to Pittsburgh as a Pulse social service fellow last summer —Jah picks up where Naomi Ritter and Janel Young left off. We explore more of what gets left out of the conversation when discussing Black women in Pittsburgh and the unique experiences that shapes and cages their identities. 

Jah’s reflections are important because they’ve had a life not shaped by what we're used to as long-time residents of Pittsburgh.  Their reflections come from trying to acclimate into a city with its own set of systems, rules for socialization and history. Jah’s reflections are intimate, authentic and a fresh take on how we talk about Pittsburgh nurturing and shaping Black women. 

“Whatever my experience in Pittsburgh is has really sort of like beat me out of myself, and I'm really having to beat back.

(Photo via iStock)

Episode 1, Season 2: Why vote? We spoke to local residents on why they’re at peace sitting it out.

Two words can be used to explain the predictions for the looming presidential election of 2020. Record. Breaking. It’s being predicted that in this election, 17 million more Americans than in 2016 will show up next week to cast their ballots in Biden v. Trump. If you’ve noticed, in our media, on TV, radio, social media there are targeted efforts to make sure that all eligible voters turn up and turn out on Election Day.

Courtesy photo. (Photo illustration by Natasha Vicens/PublicSource)

Episode 12: A mom of boys navigates the pandemic and fight for justice

Pittsburgh resident Kim Neely was taking the pandemic in stride. It was a relief, to some degree. And it was because her family was home alongside her, and that makes a big difference for the Black mom of two Black boys and wife of a Black man. On this episode, she shares how she's been impacted by the movement against racism and police brutality and the experience of taking her son to his first protest.