Coro Center Marks 20 Years With New Leader At The Helm

Nov 18, 2019

 


On today's program: The Coro Center is celebrating 10 years in Pittsburgh; how a local book club inspires kids to dream; American shale gas is playing a role in the UK’s debate over fracking; the city’s low-barrier winter shelter opens downtown; and what to look for in the city’s 2020 budget.

Selena Schmidt returned to Coro this month as its new executive director.
Credit Coro Center for Civic Leadership

  Marking 20 years for the Coro Center for Civic Leadership
(0:00 — 12:57) 

Selena Schmidt, who served as a trainer when Coro began in Pittsburgh 20 years ago, “returned home” this month as its newest executive director.

The center sponsors a nine-month, full-time fellowship, an accelerate five-month Women in Leadership class, a cadre designed for grassroots leaders already making a difference in their neighborhood and partnerships with graduate level collegiate programs. 

Schmidt says Coro looks for would-be leaders with diverse backgrounds and experiences who immerse themselves in the community, “so we can build complex solutions for the complex problems we have.”

“Pittsburgh has a great history of problem-solving and people who came from all different backgrounds making incredible change across the globe,” she says. “We still have that here. We can’t make one kind of leader. We need to bring people together to make a difference.”

Coro is currently accepting applications for its Women’s Leadership Program

Book club celebrates literacy’s ability to improve the world
(13:57 — 17:37) 

Nosakhere Griffin-EL, founder of the Young Dreamers Book Club, challenges young people to strive for greatness while learning and works with families to help teach them how to find fellowship over books.  

He tells 90.5 WESA’s Brian Cook about his experience partnering with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Scotland banned fracking, but they still import shale from PA
(18:02 — 25:22)

The American fracking boom has produced so much ethane that it’s fueling a chemical boom in the U.S., where over 300 new chemical and plastics plants are either planned or under construction, including a massive new Shell ethane plant in Beaver County. 

But for the past few years, this ethane has fed hulking chemical plants around the world, including one in Scotland recently visited by StateImpact Pennsylvania's Reid Frazier.

He reports the U.S. has quickly become the world’s leading exporter of ethane, feeding growing plastics industries in India, China and beyond.

Winter isn’t technically here yet, but your thermometer might disagree
(25:39 — 35:19) 

For a third straight year, Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net is partnering with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services to operate a winter shelter seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at the Smithfield United Church of Christ, Downtown.

In past years, the shelter opened only when the temperature dipped below 25 degrees. This year, the facility opened Friday with extended service from November 15 through March 15, no matter the chill outside.

“Often people would show up to the doors and find it to be closed because of a degree or two degrees of difference,” says Dan Palka, outreach team leader for Operation Safety Net.

Palka says the shelter now offers warm beds, hot meals and basic health care services and counseling, as well as advice on how to obtain permanent housing. He credits these resources to growing partnerships that help provide nightly for up to 120 men, women and even animals, should someone come in with a pet.

Last season, Palka says the team served 1,5oo unique individuals during the four-month period. He says building relationships prior to every opening is critical. “So that they trust the same people they’ve known out of the street or in the encampments will be in this space to facilitate the provision of these services.”

Operation Safety Net welcomes both donations and community support.

Calendar quirk accounts for much of the city’s 2020 budget bump
(35:20 — 39:39)

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto formally announced his $608 million operating and capital budgets last week. The 2020 proposal includes three substations for the police bureau, plus new body cameras.

The mayor also promised again to release a long-awaited vision for his One Pittsburgh initiative, first discussed by name in 2014. WESA’s Chris Potter reports One PGH remains short on detail.

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