Tag Archives | GTECH Strategies

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Environmental Justice & Civic Conversation

“I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again.  Simple, honest, human conversation.  Not mediation, negotiation, problem-solving, debate, or public meetings.  Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well.”  — Margaret Wheatley On January 17, 1971, John […]

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Inspire Speakers Series Presents: Charles Montgomery and Chris Koch

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Online registration closes at 2:00 p.m. on May 14. General admission is available when doors open at 5:00 p.m.

“Whatever creates or increases happiness, or some part of happiness, we ought to do; whatever destroys or hampers happiness, or gives rise to its opposite, we ought not to do.” – Aristotle

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Charles Montgomery, urban experimentalist and author of Happy City, believes that happiness should be a city’s primary goal for its residents. His research and experiments show that trust and positive social connections are imperative ingredients for urban happiness. But U.S. cities have been “designing social connections out of our lives” for the past half-century. Even in dense cities where people live close together, we manage to stay confined to our own cars and homes.

As populations grow and cities become even more dense, Montgomery asks: How can we build more sociability, and thus more happiness, into cities of the future? What kinds of choices would residents make if we felt more trust and empathy towards our neighbors? What other goals can we meet – like strengthening our economies or combating climate change – if we prioritize happiness?

We’ll explore these questions and more with Charles Montgomery at the season finale of Green Building Alliance’s Inspire Speakers Series. Charles will be joined on stage by Chris Koch, CEO of the Design Center in Pittsburgh. Where Charles offers examples and experiments from happy cities around the world, Koch offers local opportunities for addressing happiness through the lenses of sustainability, equity, and livability.


Charles MontgomeryCharles Montgomery is an award-winning author, community organizer, and social experimenter. He blends urban design and psychology to explore how changes to city planning can improve the well-being of people in high-density living while decreasing the effects of human activity on the environment. Charles helps planners, city builders, and regular people find new ways to see and change the world around them. He and his team also create participatory programs where people use their own cities as laboratories. His work has been covered in Dwell, The Atlantic, and the Guardian. Fast Company offers three excerpts from Montgomery’s book here, here, and here. Learn more about Happy City and Montgomery’s latest experiments here.


More about Charles Montgomery:

  • Received a citation of Merit from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society for outstanding contribution towards public understanding of climate change science.
  • Partnering with the BMW Guggenheim Lab, Montgomery used a phone app to track the emotions of people in public spaces in New York City’s Lower East Side.
  • Started the Home for the Games initiative, which paired 2010 Winter Olympic guests with homes in Vancouver. Proceeds went to homeowners and to help Vancouver’s homeless population receive housing aid.
  • Learn more about Charles Montgomery here.



Chris KochChris Koch is CEO of the Design Center, an organization dedicated to design, urban planning and public policy resulting in more livable, equitable and sustainable communities in the Pittsburgh region. In her role, Chris is responsible for management and execution of the organization’s education activities, public policy efforts, and its core programs. Prior to joining the Design Center, Chris was Chief Operating Officer of GTECH Strategies, the non-profit social enterprise she co-founded in 2006 as a graduate project. Koch has provided expertise on urban blight reduction strategies and social entrepreneurship to organizations such as the Brookings Institute, Princeton University, and has been honored at the White House as an emerging leader in the field of social innovation.

More about Chris Koch:

  • Chris holds a Masters of Public Policy Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College
  • Honors include:
    • Echoing Green Fellow
    • Women Greening the Pittsburgh Region (Women and Girls Foundation)


120907_8872_feinstein063.JPGPeter Walker is our guest emcee for this lecture. Dr. Walker is the newly appointed Dean of the Falk School of Sustainability at Pittsburgh’s Chatham University. In this role, he is not only building a new School, but also a new Campus at Eden Hall, and a new approach to education. Eden Hall’s 388-acre campus will embody Chatham’s commitment to sustainability and become a living classroom dedicated to attaining the greatest social, economic, and environmental impacts through greatly limiting its ecological impact. Dr. Walker spent 12 years as the Director of the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University and 25 years in disaster and humanitarian crisis management around the world.




1. Understand how urban design can benefit public health.

2. Evaluate ways that urban design projects have transformed areas with poor living and working conditions into more livable spaces.

3. Discuss how urban design can create equitable communities in Pittsburgh.

4. Explore the connection between social and environmental sustainability in the built environment.

GBCI CMP AIA logo This event is approved for 2.0 GBCI CEUs and 2.0 AIA HSW credits.

Partnering with USGBC and AIA, GBA makes it easy for our members to report continuing education credits.  Please provide your GBCI and/or AIA number so we can auto-report your credits (for applicable events).  Non-members can still earn continuing education credits but will need to self-report their GBCI CEUs.

Is this event out of your price range? We want this incredibly inspiring evening with Charles Montgomery to be accessible to everyone in our community.  If you find the $20 rate to be prohibitive, please email Jenna Cramer to discuss your options.

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Inspire Speakers Series

Michael Slaby and Debra Lam Bring Inspiration to Pittsburgh

“Bonafide bad ass.” This was the phrase of the night according to guest emcee Andrew Butcher at GBA’s April 9 Inspire Speakers Series lecture. Butcher himself was kind of a bad ass, seamlessly leading the audience through the evening’s kick-off without lights or audio for a time when a thunderstorm caused a brief power outage. Once the […]

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March 2015 Inspire Speakers Series

Looking Back: March’s Inspire Speakers Series

As we reflect on the past few weeks, GBA’s staff is filled with gratitude. The March edition of our Inspire Speakers Series went better than we possibly could have imagined – thanks mostly to our partners. We’re still buzzing about the motivating conversations, perspectives, and collaborations that surrounded our lecture with Will Allen, Stephen Ritz, and […]

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Inspire Speakers Series Presents: Will Allen, Stephen Ritz, and Jennifer Flanagan

Register Now

Online registration closes at 2:00 p.m. on March 11. General admission is available when doors open at 5:00 p.m.

Food=Community. By investing in healthy, fresh and local food, we can, Create Jobs, Improve Public Health, Connect Communities, Teach Useful Skills & Reduce Food Waste. Food connects all of us and is central to some of our region’s most pressing issues. Join us to learn how an urban farmer, a social entrepreneur, and a teacher are using food as a key to creating more livable places for all.

Will AllenWill Allen
has made it his life’s work to change the vast American food distribution system, with its propensity to cater cheap, highly-processed food to low-income urban populations, but his 20-year-old urban farm humbly squeezes bushels of vegetables and hundreds of fish and livestock onto a three-acre plot.  A pro-basketball player turned farmer, Allen founded Growing Power in 1993 to teach Milwaukee city-dwellers about healthy food production while in turn providing what was then a neighborhood food desert with fresh produce. Today, Allen’s vision to teach and farm creatively has spread to numerous farms in and around Milwaukee, inspiring partners from diverse backgrounds to provide local communities with affordable food through closed-loop farming practices.  No less a teacher than a farmer, Allen instructs his partners in the Good Food Movement how to build wholesome communities by growing wholesome food.

More about Will Allen:

  • Works with 3,000 volunteers annually through the Growing Power Community Food Center
  • Has offered tours, workshops, and hands-on experiences to over 15,000 visitors
  • Was a 2008 Genius Grant and MacArthur Fellow, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • One of Time Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010
  • Member of the Clinton Global Initiative
  • Holds honorary doctorates from Marquette University and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
  • The son of a sharecropper, Allen became the first African-American scholarship athlete at the University of Miami.  Allen played professional basketball for one year in the ABA and several years in Belgium before moving into corporate sales and marketing.
  • Will’s work has been featured on PBS, The Colbert Report, The Huffington Post, and more.
  • Learn more about Will Allen here.


Jen FlanaganJennifer Flanagan co-founded Pittsburgh Community Kitchen, a nonprofit food service company with a fully- integrated culinary-based workforce development program for adults with barriers to employment. Flanagan oversees the agency’s training programming and is responsible for fundraising, program evaluation, and community partnerships. Since launch, she has secured $1.2 million in start-up and gap funding and together with her co-director, they have secured over $2 million in food service contracts. They focus services on congregate and institutional food services, in particular those serving at risk or low-income individuals, and on ensuring that children and families have access to nutritious, freshly prepared food, regardless of their economic situation.

Prior to launching the Kitchen enterprise, Flanagan worked at Allegheny County Department of Human Services on workforce development initiatives for individuals coming out of the Allegheny County Jail. Previous experience also includes securing and managing federal grants and multi-state demonstration projects for the health care and educational sectors, as well as 10 years spent in corporate marketing and communications.


SJRitzHeadshot_web-150x100Stephen Ritz is the perfect person to emcee this lecture. As a former Inspire Speakers Series presenter, TED Talker, and Huffington Post Blogger, Ritz’s enthusiasm and passion for the power of healthy, locally grown foods is sure to ignite the audience. Ritz is a South Bronx educator / administrator who believes that students shouldn’t have to leave their community to live, learn, and earn in a better one. Ritz has led his students to grow healthy food in their own community while creating jobs and increasing school attendance. So far, his students and community members have grown more than 30,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx. Stephen’s TEDx Manhattan Talk was ranked in the Top 25 Food/Education TED Talks of all time and is used globally for teacher training and workforce development. As this Inspire Speakers Series lecture’s emcee, Ritz will lead us through the event, apply some context to the lecture topics, and facilitate the Q&A session.

More about Stephen Ritz:

  • Some of Stephen’s accolades include:
    • Named a 2014 Top Fifty Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize
    • 2014 Greenius Award
    • 2014 Green Difference Award
    • General Motors National Green Educator Award
  • Stephen’s work has appeared in:
    • Forbes
    • Wall Street Journal
    • The Guardian
    • Fast Track
    • NPR
    • Caring Magazine
    • CNN
    • ABC
    • And much more
  • Learn more about Stephen here and here.

GBCI CMP This event is approved for 2.0 GBCI CEUs.

Partnering with USGBC and AIA, GBA makes it easy for our members to report continuing education credits.  Please provide your GBCI and/or AIA number so we can auto-report your credits (for applicable events).  Non-members can still earn continuing education credits but will need to self-report their GBCI CEUs.

Is this event out of your price range? We want this incredibly inspiring evening with Will Allen to be accessible to everyone in our community.  If you find the $20 rate to be prohibitive, please email Jenna Cramer to discuss your options.

We’d like to thank our Inspire Speakers Series Co-Presenting Partners:

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Thanks also to our Inspire Speakers Series Media Partners:










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ISS Crowd

The Inspire Speakers Series Lives Up to Its Name

Things got personal at last Thursday’s Inspire Speakers Series event. They often do at this monthly lecture circuit, which is hosted at the Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium in Hill House’s Kaufmann Center, and is presented by Green Building Alliance and its partners – Hill House Association, GTECH Strategies, and Chatham University.  Last Thursday’s event kicked […]

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