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Veterans Declare 'I Am Not Invisible' With New Photo Series

Gene Russell
Adagio Health
I Am Not Invisible is a national portrait project localized through Adagio Health. Organizers say they wanted to increase visibility of women veterans in Western PA by honoring their service and creating a safe, compassionate space for health services.


On today's program: The NCAA is changing its tune on compensation for college athletes; a historic society honors Hazelwoods past and future; what to consider when lighting up your wood-burning fire pits this Autumn; and a new portrait series honors the thousands of local women who served in the armed forces.

NCAA says college athletes can get paid, sort of
(00:00 — 12:31) 

The NCAA’s board of governors voted unanimously last week to allow college athletes to benefit from their names, images and likenesses "in a manner consistent with the collegiate model." Though short on exactly what that will ultimately mean, the action comes a month after California enacted a law to allow student athletes to hire agents and make money from endorsements.

 Andrew Brandt, executive director of the Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at Villanova University’s School of Law, is a columnist for Sports Illustrated and The Athletic. He says people should keep in mind, this is not a paycheck from the university for playing or as a cut of the paraphernalia sold by the school, often dubbed “pay for play.” 

"The one thing the NCAA is very clear about here and the schools that I've talked to [is that] none of this money is going to come from the schools. It's going to come from the local car dealer, the local shoe company," he says. "It's not going to come from the university."

The NCAA, the national governing body for collegiate athletics, tells NPR its decision followed input over the past few months from "current and former student-athletes, coaches, presidents, faculty and commissioners across all three divisions." The NCAA has reported annual revenues of over $1 billion.

What’s old is new again for the Greater Hazelwood Historical Society
(14:01 — 17:51) 

Like many areas in Pittsburgh, renovations and major structural changes are taking place in the city’s Hazelwood neighborhood. It is with that in mind that JaQuay Edward Carter says he started the Greater Hazelwood Historical Society in 2018 with an eye toward “restoring neighborhood pride and preserving the pillars of our community’s past.” 

“It was actually founded at a time when the focus on the community’s development was the future,” Carter said. “Without any regard to the historic preservation of the buildings and places and spaces that were beloved by many members of the community.”

Popular backyard fires aren't fun for everyone
(17:52 — 25:04) 

Outdoor fire season in the Pittsburgh region is in full swing, but there’s a darker side to popular backyard fires. The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple reports that wood smoke contributes to air pollution, pumping PM 2.5, or fine and ultrafine particulate matter, into the air. 

Sue Seppi, with the Group Against Smog and Pollution, says wood smoke is both a neighborhood and a regional issue.

“The smaller they are, the deeper they’re going to penetrate into your lungs, and even into your blood,” she says.

Local women vets recognized in portrait series
(25:08 — 39:18)

A new local photo exhibit hopes to combat the masculine image most people conjure when thinking about the military.

I Am Not Invisible began as a national portrait project through the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, and now includes more than 700 participants across 14 states. Adagio Health organized a Western Pennsylvania version open to the public one night only from 6 to 9 Wednesday at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are over 2 million women veterans in the United States, and Adagio suggests between 14,000 to 20,000 live in Western Pennsylvania.

Joining The Confluence to talk about its inception are:

  • Elizabeth Heft, director of Strategic Initiatives at Adagio Health and lead on its Women Veterans Initiative;
  • Sandy Soloski, Army veteran and coordinator of Adagio’s Women Veterans Project; and,
  • Patti Gerhauser, Navy veteran and women’s program coordinator with the Veteran’s Leadership Program.

Both Soloski and Gerhauser’s portraits will be included in the exhibit and reception. Award-winning U.S. Veterans Affairs photographer Gene Russell took their photos and others as part of a day-long event in June. Mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and service dogs took part.
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.

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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