Author Sigrid Nunez Opens 'Ten Evenings' Series In Oakland

Sep 23, 2019

On today's program: Author Sigrid Nunez breaks hearts with puppy love; an Oakland man insists mentorship has no retirement age; Pittsburgh's historic buildings were identified, but not protected; a peek at ALCOSAN's long-awaited sewege plan; and how the South Hills are recovering after a gargantuan water main break flooded multiple neighborhoods.

How a cat person found healing in the paws of a 180-pound pup
(0:00 — 12:16) 

Author Sigrid Nunez won the National Book Award for her latest novel "The Friend," in which the companionship of a traumatized Great Dane helps inspire love, grief and the unexpected comfort of obligation.

"People do use humor in the most dire situations to help them cope," she says. "Comedy is a part of every human experience no matter how grim that experience is." 

Nunez joins The Confluence's Kevin Gavin for a conversation about finding hope through unexpected eyes. Hear her again tonight at 7:30 with Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. Tickets are still available here.

Oakland businessman finds purpose mentoring young adults 
(13:42 — 17:22) 

Greg Spencer, owner of the chemical company Randall Industries, is approaching retirement from his day job. His work outside of that job, though, is far from over. Spencer talks with 90.5 WESA’s Elaine Effort about his work mentoring the young people in his community for more than 30 years.

Problems and solutions around Pittsburgh's aging Historic Register
(17:24 — 32:45) 

Completed 25 years ago, the Pittsburgh Register of Historic Places identified nearly 1,900 noteworthy structures peppered across all 90 neighborhoods. Long-time preservationist John DeSantis, who first suggested the idea, says the intention was to protect as many as possible, restore what they could and inspire thoughtful conversations before development razed them all. But a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation published Sunday finds nearly 300 are now gone—most out of city or homeowner neglect.

Reporter Sean Hamill spoke to Mayor Bill Peduto, who said the idea of something like a demolition-delay ordinance has floated around City Council for years, but has never been enacted. Hamill writes it might have a chance now.

Peduto tells the Post-Gazette: “I think that once people start seeing that over 15% of our historic structures have been lost in a quarter century, that might be enough to compel legislation.”

New rules for ALCOSAN and what we know after Friday's "massive" water main break
(32:48 — 39:15) 

After seven years of negotiations, the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority has a new plan to prevent untreated sewage from flowing into the rivers. The new consent decree gives ALCOSAN until 2036 to come into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, at a price of at least $2 billion. Officials say the deal allows for far more green infrastructure than the original 2012 document, but critics say it still relies too heavily on construction of new pipes and tunnels.

And a 24-inch water main broke in Pittsburgh’s Carrick neighborhood Friday. Flooding forced residents to evacuate and closed Becks Run Road all the way to East Carson Street and put 35 municipalities under a flush and boil orders while Pennsylvania American Water assessed its service. While there were no injuries, officials described the break as "massive" and are still evaluating the damage.

90.5 WESA's Margaret J. Krauss reports on the fallout from both.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.