Written by Guinevere Stearns
Carlow recently hosted Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh, Dr. Joylette Portlock, as part of Women’s History Month. Sustainable Pittsburgh is a nonprofit organization that works to advance the sustainability policies and practice around southwestern Pennsylvania. Portlock is also currently on the Allegheny County Board of Health where she works to help create a healthy community.
The event on March 30, 2021 was called ‘Comfort with Complexity,’ but Portlock had discussed that she was going to call it ‘Building a Region to Last.’ She described the alternative title gets into the question, “How are we building our world to last for the generations to come?”
What Portlock discussed that her “key takeaway” from the event was the idea that people and the “natural world” are always interconnected and interdependent. This means that we are all connected to the world and earth around us in so many ways, in addition to being completely dependent upon the natural world.
Portlock brought up a quote from Carl Sagan on this topic: “Everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives…on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
Portlock discussed sustainability and what it really means. She said that sustainability sits at the intersection of economic prosperity, environmental stewardship, and social equity. To explain this in more detail, Portlock presented multiple maps of Allegheny County and the increasing hazardous areas in it. She also discussed that climate change is an equity issue that we must face and deal with together in order to prevent global warming from getting even more out of hand.
Portlock discussed more about Sustainable Pittsburgh and all the things that they do for our community. One way that they work to help the community is with their Pittsburgh Restaurant designations that indicate the levels of waste reduction and water conservation at different restaurants around Pittsburgh. There is also CEOs for Sustainability that provides tools for companies and universities on including diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as reducing carbon emissions.
Other aspects of Sustainable Pittsburgh include their sustainable innovations which are used to help create sustainable solutions to problems, and their Allegheny Eats program that works as a meal kit service to help restaurant workers, farmers, and producers.