The Punch List – 7/13/18

Let’s get swinging along the riverfront. Izzy Rudolph of McKnight Realty Partners says his company’s renovation project of the Terminal Building (where GBA’s office lives!) is a potential spot for covered public riverfront swings. KDKA’s Ken Rice has been advocating to have these tranquil swings in Pittsburgh after seeing them along the Ohio River in Cincinnati (inspired by Charleston, South Carolina’s Waterfront Park).  Even more enticing? Researchers say that the swinging motion can reduce anxiety and make people more social. Rudolph says the swings will need to be funded by a donor. Any takers? 

Calling out the County for better air. GASP and the Clean Air Council are suing Allegheny County Health Department for misuse of funds. The Department has been renovating their office, with half of the funds for their $9 million budget coming from the Clean Air Fund and the other half from a pollution permit enforcement fund. A huge part of Allegheny County’s poor air quality is attributed to expired permits. Some proposed alternatives to use the $9 million for: university funding for air quality research and better air quality control efforts (aka the money’s original intended use). 

Drink up – just not with plastic. Pittsburgh restaurants are following the leads of Starbucks, American Airlines, and Hyatt in cutting back on single-use plastic straws. The movement for this small but symbolic change is quickly gaining momentum and is actually projected to help reduce waste in the ocean that hurts wildlife. Roland’s Seafood Grill, Senti, Butcher and the Rye, and Merchant Oyster Company—and likely many more soonin Pittsburgh say they will only provide straws upon request (important for people with disabilities). Restaurants are looking to distributors to keep up with the sudden demand for paper straws, biodegradable straws, and different types of beverage containers. 

Construction inflation to counteract historically low mortgage rates. Costs for labor and building materials have sharply increased in recent months, along with land costs that are rising steadily. Not good news for contractors, owners, buyers, and businesses – and especially impactful on current projects with set budgets. Rising gas prices this summer could play a role too.

Hitting the pause button on self-driving cars. Uber let go of 100 autonomous car operators in Pittsburgh and San Francisco this week, part of Uber’s scale-back of their self-driving vehicle tests. The layoff comes after an Uber self-driving vehicle killed a woman in Arizona earlier this year. Most drivers were surprised, as they expected to go through more rigorous training after the accident. The company is encouraging them to apply for more specialized (albeit, fewer) available positions at Uber

Colorful artwork with a strong sustainability message. A local artist is calling attention to endangered and extinct wildlife – particularly amphibians – through her artwork. Ashley Cecil’s “Edged Out” exhibit focuses on the impact humans have on the health of animals and their habitats and features some species that are completely extinct in the wild, like the Panamanian golden frog. Cecil’s vivid paintings and sculptures that cast animal-like shadows are open to the public at Frick Environmental Center through the end of August.

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