Celebrating The Moon Landing, 50 Years Later

Jul 18, 2019

On today’s program: Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy wants to cultivate a trust fund; citizen scientists are counting fireflies; formerly incarcerated residents confront redevelopment in Homewood; the Trump administration’s inaction on environmental issues could affect Lake Erie; a Penn State professor remembers witnessing the Apollo 11 launch; and a 1988 conversation with Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins.

Parks Conservancy plants seeds for future park upkeep
(0:00 – 12:29)

This week, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy released a multi-year plan to spend more than $50 million on maintaining, rehabilitating and managing Pittsburgh’s 165 parks. But, the plan is contingent on voters approving a tax increase on themselves. Parks Conservancy president and CEO Jayne Miller told The Confluence’s Megan Harris that involving the voters in the process has always been a priority for them.

“This is land that is owned by the citizens. We the Conservancy and the City are stewards of that land, but let the voters decide if they want to make additional investments in their parks,” she said.

The Conservancy is in the process of collecting signatures to get the referendum on the ballot this November. They will continue gathering signatures through the beginning of August. The full maintenance and rehabilitation plan, plus a schedule of upcoming listening tours for citizens to give feedback are available here.

Citizen scientists on the lookout for fireflies
(13:51 – 17:51)

The numbers of fireflies are declining at a similar rate to the numbers of many insect species. For the Allegheny Front Environment Update, Andy Kubis went to a citizen scientist firefly watch training to learn more about the regular people counting the bioluminescent beetles in their yards to help scientists conducting research on fireflies.

Homewood Bound: finding housing after incarceration
(17:52 – 22:32)

Housing is a central tenant of Homewood’s redevelopment efforts. But formerly incarcerated people often find themselves being locked out, leaving them without access to safe and affordable housing. In the latest installment of 90.5 WESA's Homewood Bound series, Katie Blackley looks at some of the reasons why it's difficult for people returning from prison to find a place to stay.

Erie beaches are back in working order, but environmental threats still loom
(22:33 – 26:43)

Each year, after waves erode the shoreline on Erie’s Presque Isle; it takes 68,000 cubic yards of sand to rebuild the beaches. President Trump said last fall that he would provide federal aid to restore the beaches before the summer tourism season. The aid helped provide a replenished habitat for native species, but environmental activists tell 90.5 WESA’s Lucy Perkins that the Trump administration’s overall record on environmental issues have been “abysmal,” and that other environmental threats to Lake Erie remain.

The 50th anniversary of one giant leap for mankind
(26:48 – 30:24)

50 years ago this week mankind stepped foot on the moon for the first time. Watching astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin taking that historic leap for mankind was a 22-year-old engineer named Denny Gioia. Now a professor at Penn State University's Smeal College of Business, Gioia worked as an engineer on Apollo 12 and was part of the backup team for Apollo 11. This gave him a front row seat to the launch of the Saturn V rocket, which carried Apollo 11 into space. WPSU’s Kristine Allen spoke to Gioia about that historic sendoff, and what it was like to be on the ground the day Apollo 11 went into space.

Fmr. astronaut Michael Collins pilots the delicate dance of the moon mission
(30:25 – 39:32)

The flight to the moon and back was a “long and fragile daisy chain,” recalls Michael Collins, the now-retired astronaut who piloted the spacecraft that orbited above while his fellow astronauts walked the lunar surface. It was an experience Collins captured in his book, "Liftoff: The Story of America's Adventure in Space."

In 1988, shortly after the 19th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, The Confluence’s Kevin Gavin spoke with Collins about that trip to space and his hopes for space exploration in the future. This interview comes from the former WDUQ program, "Between the Lines."  

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

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.