So it begins

Wednesday, 05 January 2011 08:13 PM Written by

Here I sit in my corner of gate C6 in the Washington-Dulles airport, about to embark on the single most mind-opening journey of my life thus far. I feel like I'm on the cusp of my adult life. Literally, in a way, I am. Not only am I hours away from travelling the globe, but tonight at midnight, while thousands of miles high in the night sky, I will turn twenty years old. In four hours, not only will I be transitioning into a potentially life-altering semester, but I will also be transitioning out of the teen years and into adulthood. This is a very bittersweet feeling.

On a lighter note, the travels so far haven't been too bad. We left Pittsburgh this afternoon at 3pm after a bit of a delay, and have been at the Washington-Dulles airport since 4. You'd think I'd be more nervous, too. The thing is, since deciding to join the Pitt MAP 2011 cohort this past October, I haven't really felt anything but excitement. My nerves didn't show face until this morning when saying goodbye to my parents at the Pittsburgh airport. This whole trip didn't feel like it was really happening until that moment.

Immediately following our goodbye, I was shepherded to security and away from all that's really familiar. Just when I thought my nerves were going to take the best of me, a small pick-me-up happened at the security desk. One of my fellow travellers, Clara, was directly in front of me in line for security. She handed her ticket and passport to the intimidating guard behind the desk, who proceeded to nervously tort, "uh-oh!" He let the stressed tension that his remark caused hang in the air for a second, only to flash his pearly whites and let out an embracing laugh a few seconds later. He told us he was just making sure we were awake.

That minor laugh so early in our travels expelled any remaining doubt within me, any doubt that even let me think for a second that I'm in over my head. Bring it on, world.

Christopher Hoffmann

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A tree by any other name is ...

Tuesday, 02 November 2010 12:10 AM Written by

An email appeared in my inbox today declaring the beginning of a new group in town, Tree Pittsburgh, the wonderful non-profit formerly known as Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest. They have a new web address, and a new logo. The new logo is the creation of Jonathan Fobear, a Pittsburgh based graphic artist, part of which depicts the City of Pittsburgh. It's a nice clean look and a sleeker, easier to remember web address. Wish them the best.

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Halloween can be green

Monday, 25 October 2010 06:48 PM Written by


It's that time of year when ghost and goblins and scary things go bump in the night and money drains out of your pocket for a costume for yourself, your kids or your cat ... yes, he does go trick or treating but I get the treats.

The thing is, so much of the stuff we purchase is made of plastic and shipped all the way from China only to end up tossed into the bottom of the closet never to see the light of day again. Why not go green this year and try creating your own or maybe go secondhand from a thrift shop?

Don't fear, there is a web site for just for this most frightening of eves. Green Halloween is a program of the EcoMom Alliance, a global network of mothers, working towards a greener future for all children. Both these sites are worth a look but for today let's head for the amazing amount of great ideas at Green Halloween.

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Trees for Ophelia!

Sunday, 24 October 2010 09:52 PM Written by

arboraidposterwebsite1The other day I opened a letter from the folks at TreeVitalize Pittsburgh with the wonderful news that my street is getting trees! This is great news for someone who lives near if not right on top of one of Pittsburgh's major thruways, the Boulevard of the Allies. What a difference they will make in a couple of years as they grow and block out that traffic, shade my house and gulp up the storm water that usually runs down the street to the city storm drain.

TreeVitalize Pittsburgh is a partnership between Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest. This is a great group and is really making a difference in our city and our environment by planting and maintaining trees throughout the city.

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Day of Caring can mean more

Tuesday, 12 October 2010 06:27 PM Written by

pghfoundationlogoWednesday, Oct. 13 is a very famous day in Pittsburgh history as we celebrate game 7 of the 1960 World Series and the amazing Mazeroski's home run that charged the city into a giant celebration and continues to fascinate us 50 years later. Wednesday is also a day when we can celebrate by giving to the nonprofits throughout our city that are doing great work everyday to help our environment, our urban forest and our world in general. 


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City wishes

Friday, 01 October 2010 11:31 AM Written by

20090805dsskyline_500Over the years I have lived in big cities, small villages and the suburbs. At one time I lived in the West End of London which was the theatre district.  It was fantastic living in the middle of one of the world's greatest cities, museums, theatre, shopping and great restaurants. Then, for some reason which seems fairly vague now, I bought a car. Well, after three weeks of trying to figure out where to park the car and having to move it every other night, I took the car back realizing it was more of a hassle than anything.

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Into the forest we go

Friday, 01 October 2010 11:14 AM Written by

A few days back I went out to North Park for a lecture and demonstration on controlling and prevention of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) beetle. And while it was truely fascinating and a wee bit scarey, it may not have been the best place for a person with severe allergies. After a few days of sneezing, coughing, and of course this happens on my days off, I am back to work with some good and bad news to tell.

First, the bad news ... EAB is spreading through Pennsylvania and will destory numerous trees as it goes. The good news is that there are ways to prevent the spread that doesn't mean cutting down healthy trees.

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Stylish Composting 101

Thursday, 23 September 2010 12:00 AM Written by
compostflexbinUnder the heading of "Simple but great ideas" comes this one from Fuccillo design.  Like many of you who want to compast but don't have either the room in your backyard or starage space in your kitchen, these guys have come up with a clean and rather stylish solution, the Freezer Compost Bin.

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