In January 2015, there were nine Point Breeze homes with solar energy systems. In February, the Point Breeze Organization and a team of volunteers, led by PBO President Larry Gerson and Point Breeze resident and solar owner Fred Kraybill, joined the Solarize Allegheny campaign with a goal to double the number of solar installations in the community.
Solarize Allegheny is a campaign managed by SmartPower, a non-profit marketing firm for clean energy, and funded by the Heinz Endowments to double the number of solar installations in Allegheny County in two years. The program provides education about the benefits of solar energy and connects people to pre-screened, qualified, local solar installers. The Point Breeze Organization applied to participate in the first round of communities in the project. Solarize Point Breeze launched at Pino’s Restaurant on February 8 when almost 70 people came out to learn more about going solar. Following the launch, volunteers organized other events at St. Bede’s church and at Homewood branch of the Carnegie Library, as well as two solar tours and a Solar Trivia Night at the East End Brewery.
The campaign officially ended in June and Point Breeze met its goal with nine new solar owners (read about them here) for a total of 18 solar homes--making it the solar-est community in all of western Pennsylvania. The first homeowners to go solar through the program were the Taylors on Willard St. Their journey to solarize was featured in the documentary short by filmmaker Kirsi Jansa from Sustainability Pioneers. You can watch the Rooftop Transition video here. The Taylors' next door neighbor was so enthralled with solar that he too went solar.
To date, more than 60 Point Breezers have requested a solar quote through the program. While some of them found out that their roof had too much shading or there were other considerations that made solar unattainable, many of those 60 homeowners are still in the decision-making phase, so we anticipate many of them to join the solar bandwagon in the near future. In addition, Point Breeze residents can still go through the program and request a quote by going to the website www.solarizeallegheny.org and clicking on the blue button that says “Find Out if My Home is Good for Solar.” After filling out your contact information and details about your electric bill and roof, you will be contacted by two solar installation companies that will provide a solar quote.
Larry Gerson, PBO president, was correct when he stated at the beginning of the program in February, “Point Breeze is a gem of a neighborhood and we are now shining brighter with this solar initiative.”
Project Director, Solarize Allegheny
Vice President, SmartPower
Solar installation at the home of John and Louise Taylor, Willard Street
Photos © Louise Taylor
I recently finished the Citizens Police Academy 15-week program. Why did I do this? First, I heard from two other people that the course was well worth taking and very informative. Second, I am involved with the Point Breeze Organization and have enjoyed working with Pittsburgh City Council on improving our neighborhood and hosting neighborhood events. My role on the PBO board is working with the safety committee. That involvement led me to the Citizens Police Academy course to get a better understanding about what all the different City of Pittsburgh Police departments do.
For 15 weeks, 3 hours per class, we had instructors and police officers explain what their departments do. Some of the courses included the bomb squad department. Since my birthday was closest to this class date, I got to wear the 90-pound bomb suit. Our class also went to the K-9 Unit training facility to meet and watch the K-9’s in training. The Citizens Review Board explained their function. A Duquesne University Law Professor discussed criminal law and how to determine at what level a criminal can be charged depending on the crime. We got to ride in BIG BEAR, the bomb squad vehicle. We did simulated police chases. There were so many more interesting classes.
The next class starts September 8 and applications are due by Friday, August 21. Class size is limited to 30 participants, and anyone interested must give permission for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to conduct a background check to determine if they have a criminal record. The participants in the class are from many neighborhoods and once in a while from West Virginia. I took the class with my wife and both of us enjoyed it.
Citizens Police Academy
“Sit down a spell. That’ll wait.” So says Claude Stephens, founder of the Professional Porch Sitters Union Local 1339. On Saturday, August 1, Point Breeze residents will be opening their porches to neighbors and friends and we invite you to join us for a chat...whether you have something worthwhile to say or not.
Porches were a necessity before air-conditioning. They were places to sit and catch a breeze and even sleep. They were places to relax and watch the world go by, say hello to your neighbors, and even have short conversations with others. These private/public spaces were a way to see and know your neighbors and feel part of a community.
But after World War II, the suburbs grew, and people began to socialize in the more private backyard areas of their homes. Newer homes, especially in the suburbs, were not built with porches. With air-conditioning and the demise of the outhouse and the coal porch, families could have private decks and patios to enjoy.
Douglas Kelbaugh, a professional urban planner and dean of the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture, talks about the importance of porches on the NPR show, All Things Considered. He claims that, especially in today’s world where we are continuously bombarded with technology, face-to-face live interaction between people is crucial to building and sustaining community. Porches are a great way to facilitate these types of interactions.
The Point Breeze Organization is working to get us out on our porches and talking with neighbors—even if just for one evening. On August 1, residents of Point Breeze will open up their porches and invite neighbors to chat and perhaps share an iced tea. All residents are welcome to join in. You can sign up formally on the PBO Porch Crawl registration page or simply signal that you are open for a chat with a balloon, ribbon, or sign. Some neighbors are providing refreshments but your company is all that is required.
Don't have a porch? Then why not take this opportunity to stroll the neighborhood and visit with others on their porches? Porches are open from 6 pm to 9 pm. (Participant map)
Learn more about porch living from Professional Porch Sitters founder Claude Stephens at
For other reading and listening about porches:
· The American Porch: An Informal History of an Informal Place by Michael Dolan
· A Spell on ‘The American Porch, NPR guest host John Ydstie speaks with Michael Dolan
You can see photos from the 2014 Point Breeze Porch Crawl, as well as last year's National Night Out and other Point Breeze activities and neighborhood views, at the PBO Facebook Page.
On behalf of the Board of the Point Breeze Organization, I want to welcome you to our web site, pointbreezepgh.org, and to The Breeze Blog. We hope you’ve been finding the site useful since it went live last month. The PBO is committed to enhancing the quality of life in our neighborhood. We’ve recently reorganized and have a number of new board and committee members who are hard at work to create new events and to continue the successful record of previous ones. We have also gained 501(c)(3) status.
We now hold three public meetings a year with interesting speakers and timely subjects, and we welcome your ideas and suggestions for future programs. We also welcome your comments on neighborhood issues and feedback on the organization’s programs and activities. You can always contact us at email@example.com. The upcoming meeting on Tuesday, October 6, will deal with winter safety.
The PBO is making good use of today’s social media to keep Point Breeze residents informed. We now have an active website, email list, and Facebook page, and participate on Twitter and Instagram. Board members also post to Nextdoor Point Breeze. We hope we’re making it easier for you to stay informed and to make sure you don’t miss any great events.
The next few months are busy ones for the PBO. Coming up on Saturday, August 1, is our Second Annual Point Breeze Porch Crawl (see Annette O’Boyce’s blog post for more information and use our registration page to join in the fun); National Night Out on Tuesday, August 4; the Fifth Annual Point Breeze Neighborhood Yard Sale on Saturday, September 19; our very popular signature event, “The Bonfire,” on Saturday, October 3, at Sterrett School, and to close out the year, Light Up Point Breeze, on Saturday, December 5.
We have some great people working to make the PBO a success, but, we also need your help. Visit our contact page and register to be a member. There is no cost to belong. United we can make our neighborhood even better.
I look forward to seeing you at our events.
President, Point Breeze Organization