Stefani Danes and Doug Cooper (RCE founders) have been members of The Pittsburgh Cohousing Group for many years and are delighted that those goals are being realized in Rachel Carson EcoVillage. They both have architectural backgrounds and teach in CMU’s School of Architecture. Doug’s a muralist whose work explores the ways we experience cities, and Stefani’s a practicing architect with a passion for housing and community. With Doug’s charcoal drawings and Stefani’s fabric collage, they have also been making murals together. They’re members of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir and the Pittsburgh Paddlefish Dragon Boat Team. Their five children are all on their own and doing well.
Judy and Jim Robertson both were born and raised in Pittsburgh. Jim was an Engineer and Judy a Social Worker; both are now retired. Early in their marriage they lived in South Africa and Belgium. Jim later spent seventeen years commuting to China. Both enjoy traveling and paddling. They paddle outrigger canoes and have paddled in Europe and the South Pacific. They were members of the Pittsburgh Paddlefish Dragon boat team for 13 years. They are looking forward to being part of the intentional community and the opportunities for socialization and being active physically and intellectually with projects including helping with the chickens, gardening and more. They have four grown children all living with their families in states throughout the country.
Originally from Georgia and now transplanted (via Ohio & West Virginia) in Pittsburgh for the last 28 years, Grace Astraea (RCE Information Manager) has two children ages 12 & 19 and currently lives in West Homestead. They’ve operated a multifaceted business since 2005 that continues to challenge and amuse them. Zie loves to garden and connect in the natural world to anything zie can as well as relax with a good book or puzzle when zie’s not tending to zir garden or other volunteer pursuits. What interests zir most about living in an intentional community is the intentional part; after living in about a dozen or so of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods since moving here and experiencing a lack of felt community despite zir efforts to integrate, it just makes sense to join with others who actually want to be in community with each other in building a place to live. The most exciting aspect of the Rachel Carson EcoVillage for zir is the location and relationship with Chatham University’s Eden Hall campus and what that will add to our community.
Ray Brady and Kris Barone fell in love in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh and decided to make a life together. Professional pursuits took them to Chester County, PA where they both enjoyed full careers, Kris in life sciences R&D and Ray in Systems Engineering and Project Management. Early adopters of geo-thermal and solar and recent adopters of living with Better Air, Kris and Ray are avid believers of living sustainably. Recently retired, we find ourselves leaving our suburban community most days to venture out into the countryside looking for farm fresh food, birds, cows, horses and other aspects of nature. Kris also focuses on becoming a whole food cook and a writer, in addition to being a student of history, Daughter of the American Revolution, sacred music choir alto and an accompanist. Ray has traded the data center for bird feeders but maintains his daily yoga and meditation practice and reads voraciously about Economics, History and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning. Both are life-long students and mentors to small businesses and work to help those who have left the workforce to find employment.
Becky Lubold is a retired environmental educator who has worked with many conservation and community groups throughout her career. She now focuses on education and activism related to climate change and local/regional food systems.
Becky loves spending time outdoors…walking/hiking, camping, observing (and submitting observations through “community/citizen science” projects like the Great Backyard Bird Count and Project FeederWatch), gardening, and cross-country skiing. She also enjoys cooking (and eating!), reading, music of many types, drumming, contra dancing, and practicing yoga.
Rachel Carson EcoVillage seems just what she is hoping for in the next chapter in her life: living in a multi-generational, diverse, vibrant, and supportive community; having opportunities to learn, befriend, garden, share skills and interests with others; living more lightly on the earth and demonstrating how, as humans within natural ecosystems, we can have positive impacts and transition to a sustainable future. An innately curious person and lifelong learner, she is excited and intrigued by the possibilities for connecting with Chatham University’s sustainability programs and other activities at Eden Hall Campus.
Jerry Sales is a Pittsburgh native who grew up in Highland Park. He earned his BA and MBA at Northwestern University. He is a CPA and has worked as a Chief Financial Officer for over 30 years. He has been interested in cooperative living since his early college days and has been involved in fostering cohousing in Pittsburgh as a member of the Pittsburgh Cohousing Group for over 15 years. He has visited over 10 cohousing communities and understands what is required to help them succeed. He is married to Jane Critchfield and has 2 adult sons, both artists.
A native Pittsburgher, (with art school and some college in Cleveland), I am Margot Critchfield. I have been interested in co-housing for quite a while. I took a weekend workshop at Ecovillage Ithaca and have visited a number of other communities. I am 78 and settled in Naples, Florida but I am willing to give up ‘endless summer’ and a bunch of good friends for a chance to be part of co-housing in my home town. My interests are reading (human prehistory, social history, detective stories set in first century Rome), watercolor painting, riding my tricycle, arts and crafts, getting my old cat to eat, discussions with friends, going to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Naples. Rachel Carson EcoVillage at Chatham University seems like a nearly ideal situation, very exciting. (If it just didn’t have snow and ice—just kidding).
Dave (Inquirer Manager) & Sherry (RCE Concierge) Geis grew up in Oakmont, PA, went to college in PA, had their careers and lived all their lives in the Pittsburgh area except for one year when they lived in New Zealand with their 7 year old daughter Jessica and 5 month old Sarah. Their only experience with co-housing was an intentional decision to share a house with another couple for several years in the early 70’s. Sharing finances, house chores, cooking and grocery shopping as well as meals, friends, dreams and struggles was a wonderful experience for them and they’re excited about the possibility of living in community at RCE.
Dave spent his 35 year career as an educator in the Fox Chapel Area School district. He started out as a high school biology teacher and as a result of attending an NSF summer institute initiated an ecology course offering. Our year in New Zealand was the result of a personal exchange program he managed to arrange through a Kiwi who had taught for a year in Pittsburgh. After returning home Dave began his second career as a guidance counselor, initially at the high school and his final 12 years in one of the elementary schools. Dave retired in 2001 and has become active in the Oakmont Presbyterian Church as a deacon and member of the chancel choir. Dave’s interests often center around nature and the out of doors, enjoying swimming, bird watching, nature walks and fishing. As a couple we have traveled extensively both in and out of the US and value the perspective we receive from traveling. We are also interested in life long learning and enjoy reading. We have both enrolled in the Osher program coming from CMU through connection with Chatham’s Eden Hall campus which will start in January.
Sherry graduated from Penn State in General Family Studies with a BS in Education, then from Pitt with a Masters in Ed. Counseling and has taught and counseled individuals age 4 years to 75 years in various venues on varied topics over many years. Her last position was as Elementary Guidance Counselor at Richland Elementary School, just a stone’s throw from where RCE will be situated. Sherry is a yoga student who works to practice yoga both on and off the mat. Curious and eager, she loves learning, understanding and working at solving problems, and working with others as part of a team. In addition, she enjoys bird watching and nature walks with Dave and is happy when working with her hands whether with clay, fabric or food. She can often be found dancing in the kitchen or around the house while cooking or cleaning because she truly loves to dance! Along with Dave she is a member of Oakmont Presbyterian Church where she serves as an Elder.
After learning about cohousing from friends who were involved with planning a community in Massachusetts, Jill Brethauer was excited to find out about the proposed RCE. Knowing her neighbors and being an active member of a vibrant community is important to Jill. She also is intrigued by the opportunity to live on the Chatham Eden Hall campus.
Jill was born in Alabama and raised in West View. She attended college in Massachusetts and then moved to West Philadelphia. Life in Philadelphia instilled a love of urban living, which spurred Jill to eventually purchase, renovate, and live in a home in Pittsburgh’s central North Side. In the late 1980s, Jill and her then-future husband purchased land and began building a home in Gibsonia. It was an adjustment to move to what was then “country”. But wonderful neighbors, involvement in the community, and a growing understanding and appreciation of the power and rhythms of nature had a huge positive impact. In the eight years since the house was converted to solar, hearing the “hums” and “clicks” of the inverters and tracking and reducing the energy usage have reinforced that connection with nature.
Jill is retired from a career in healthcare finance and management. Volunteer commitments include the AFS exchange program, Friends of the Northern Tier Regional Library, Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church, and some others. Hobbies include hiking, gardening, knitting, enjoying the arts, traveling, and taking classes at CCAC, although ailing knees have forced Jill to curtail some of those for the time being. Jill’s husband has returned to his home state to live. Jill’s extended family includes her cat; her siblings and their families; host siblings from when she was an exchange student in the Philippines many years ago; and her “son” from India whom Jill and her husband hosted when he was an exchange student at Pine-Richland High School 10 years ago.
Hi, I am Dr. Linda Ingling Rogness and I grew up in St. Petersburg, PA – a town of 400 along Interstate 80 north of Butler. I have lived in Ohio for the past 20 years, after stints in South Carolina, Maryland, and Virgina, teaching at Muskingum University in the Education Department. I am a biologist/chemist by training but teach teachers how to teach science k – 12. My interests are sustainable, native yards ala Tallamy, edible landscaping (love growing strawberries and tomatoes), playing classical organ, and learning dressage with my lovely Arabian mare. I share my living space with 8 cats. (When they come to your door hungry and homeless what else can you do?) I am interested in Rachel Carson Ecovillage because I am interested in living and working with people who have similar interests and don’t think a yard full of golden rod and milkweed is weird.
Cliff and Joan currently are residents of Allison Park (Hampton Township) a little South of where RCE will be situated. However, our origins are far from Pennsylvania. Joan was born near Albany, NY, and grew up there. Cliff is from the infamous Marin County in Northern California. Joan attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY where she majored in Economics. Cliff attended the College of Marin and the University of Idaho where he began in Engineering but changed to Chemistry. He then joined the Peace Corps and taught Physics and Chemistry at a secondary school in Nigeria for 2+ years. Cliff and Joan met while graduate students at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. They married in a 13th Century chapel in St. Andrews in 1969. After that, Cliff completed his Ph.D. in Polymer Chemistry and they moved on to Glasgow, where Cliff was a Research Fellow. Joan finished her B.Phil. thesis in Political Economy there and worked as a librarian at the Royal Infirmary. From Glasgow, they returned to the U.S. where Cliff was a member of the research staff in the Chem. E. Department at Princeton and Joan was bookkeeper at McCarter Theater and then was administrative assistant for the Geophysics Department.
September 1974 brought huge changes as son Brian was born (and briefly lived in a bureau bottom drawer) just before we moved to Allison Park where Cliff began a job in the Physical Chemistry Group at the PPG Coatings Research Center. Having a new baby, new house, and new job (Cliff’s first real job) made life exciting for quite a while. Gordon completed our family in June 1977. Joan raised the kids, worked for a psychologist for a time and became active in the League of Women Voters. Eventually, she found a great job as the office manager for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. At the same time she served on Hampton Township’s Environmental Council. Over the years, Cliff’s duties at PPG evolved from mostly research to mostly problem solving and teaching, some of it outside the U.S., particularly France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, and Mexico. After 28 years, PPG forced him into retirement, but he was hired by one of the PPG plants and worked part time (at his old desk) for nearly three more years. Joan retired a few years later and started a new career at the Narcisi Winery. Cliff worked there occasionally but continued to teach and do problem solving for the coatings industry in many parts of the world. The Covid 19 Pandemic has clipped his wings, but he still reviews manuscripts and writes articles. Older son Brian lives in Durango, Colorado. Gordon and his wife Alison and our three grandchildren live in Havertown, PA , near Philadelphia.
Outside interests include Oakmont Presbyterian Church where Joan sings in the choir (in normal times) and Cliff is an Elder and has been active in supporting and promoting mission activities locally and overseas. We both love travel, hiking, gardening (Cliff grows the vegetables, Joan takes care of the flowers and shrubs), the Pittsburgh Symphony, Pittsburgh Opera and Chamber Music Pittsburgh. We are birders, support several environmental organizations and lean on our elected officials to protect the environment. Cliff is a train buff and has traveled widely to ride, chase and photograph steam trains. Joan is active in the Pittsburgh Symphony Association, a book group and knitting group. We have three indoor cats, all born feral, two about ten years old and one about nineteen.
Laurie Eytel (EcoResources Group Facilitator) currently lives in Renfrew, PA. She was born in Poughkeepsie New York, and lived in eastern Pennsylvania and California as a young child, then moved to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1966. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and a Fish & Wildlife Technician’s associate degree from Sir Sandford Fleming College of Natural Resources in Lindsay, Ontario.
After 25 years in Canada, she returned to the USA (Northern Virginia) to pursue her career in environmental stewardship and work in Fairfax County, Virginia in 1990. She worked there for 23 years; first as a park naturalist and then as program manager for volunteers with the Department of Family Services. She continued to work as a park naturalist in the area part-time besides her program manager job. Once retired in 2013, she moved from Ashburn, Virginia, (not far from Washington, D.C.) to western Pennsylvania to be among the rolling hills and to live in a more rural setting.
Environmental stewardship has been her career and passion. Other key interests include nature photography, volunteering, organic gardening, hiking/keeping fit, cooking, writing, wildlife and pets, swing dance, and occasionally trying to enhance her flute playing skills. Her passion for animals has included having horses, felines, fish, and various reptiles. Her constant at home companion is her crazy but loveable orange tabby rescue cat, Shakespeare. Oh, she love puns and humor – humor can help provide balance in the world!
She’s quite interested in living at RCE for many reasons. The two primary reasons are the environmental nature of the community and that it will be a community composed of environmentally minded residents where people want to connect with others. She feels the concept of co-housing is of great benefit to all and helps give soul and creates meaningful relationships amongst residents. The Chatham University Eden Hall campus programs are also a big draw for her.
Libra, left handed, tried a vegetarian diet 40 odd years ago and I’m still at it! Fiber artist, nature lover, mother of 3 fine young people, fond of peace and all about repurposing and recycling. A perfect day for me is one spent outside or working with my hands. A gratifying moment for me is when I’ve been of service to someone.
North Hills native: Born in Bradfordwoods, raised in Pine Township, graduated from Richland High School (which is the elementary school across from the Ridge Road). I’ve had my adventures; living for a time near the Rockies and then in northern California. I reluctantly returned to Pittsburgh, but grew to recognize what a gem of a place we have here. I’m a big fan of Pittsburgh, which is possible even without following the sports teams. Travel will never get old for me.
I’m presently employed at Rodef Shalom Congregation as their Director of Membership and Human Resources. I’ve held a variety of positions (with a 12 year stint as a stay at home mom and busy volunteer) in educational settings and nonprofit organizations. I’m consistently inconsistent about most things and I’m learning to embrace not knowing what will happen next.
To live in community to me means that I’ll put time and effort into knowing my neighbors and I’ll care about their welfare. It means sharing in something special and putting energy into sustaining it. It means expanding my social network and increasing my opportunities to learn and grow.
I’m excited that the RCE is founded on principles that honor the planet and engage members in being good stewards of the earth. I like the fact that it’s located on a university campus and that it feels like I’m returning to my roots. I value the earnestness and sense of humor of our members and the compassion I’ve witnessed both on an individual and collective level.
Frank Gmeindl grew up in Stowe Township, PA. After earning his BS in Physics from Duquesne University, he, his wife, son moved to Morgantown, WV during the 70s’ back-to-the-land movement. They lived on a communal farm, gardened, kept bees, baked, chopped wood, maintained farm machinery and designed and built a grid-independent automated high efficiency wood-fired hot water heating system.
He was one of the first members of the Mountain People’s Co-op and worked as a volunteer to convert an old dry cleaner into a still thriving grocery store and café where he remains an active member.
At WVU, he earned an MS in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA. While working on my MBA, he started the Wholesum Bakery where he and a friend made organic whole grain breads and sold them through the Co-op. He continues to bake regularly. Many local craft bakers are using his starter and methods.
He worked in the Physics department and then at the Morgantown Energy Technology Center where he engineered energy components and managed a group that assessed energy system social, business and environmental impact. His work in management and organizational development led the Director to appoint him Quality Coordinator where he helped change the culture to a customer-focused, measurement-based, team environment.
He brought these skills as Total Quality Leader to the Software Engineering Institute at CMU as facilitator of the Management Team and as a process development consultant for SEI customers and as the Quality Manager of ProLogic, a software startup in WV.
Since he was 3 years old, bicycling has been his passion. He is a certified cycling instructor. He taught PE212 Confident City Cycling at WVU and organized and chaired the Morgantown Municipal Bicycle Board. He also served on the Monongalia County MPO and revised WV’s bicycling laws.
On a bike trip to Ottawa with a friend three years ago, they studied Edward Burtynsky’s “Anthropocene” exhibition and became zealots to raise others’ awareness of the changes humans are making to Earth and the need to change direction. RCE is playing a role. He has 3 sisters in the Pittsburgh area and looks forward to living closer to them while sharing life with the members of the Rachel Carson Ecovillage.