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Stefani Danes (RCE Project Lead) and Doug Cooper 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 (Equity Manager) 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 (Information Manager) has two children ages 13 & 20 and currently lives in West Homestead. Zie has 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 the community.

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 (Hospitality 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. 

Dick spent part of his childhood in a houshold that lacked indoor plumbing, but raised and grew most of its own food, and he remains a committed home gardener. Along the way he earned a Ph.D in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics and an MBA and is retired from a career involving air pollution monitoring instrumentation. A life-long learner, he reads wide-ranging topics from philosophy to the social sciences to the latest in medicine, astrophysics, and quantum science. During the pandemic, he took advantage of CMU’s Osher Zoom courses.

Marilyn grew up in Carrick, a neighborhood in the South Side of Pittsburgh of small lots and close neighbors. She is a Pittsburgher through and through and likes the idea of a neighborhood where neighbors interact. Her degree is in Fine Arts and she has been an Art teacher to all ages from kindergarten to those in assisted living facilities. In retirement she teaches watercolors and drawing.

Always an environmentalist, she was a charter Board member of GASP, (Group Against Smog and Pollution} and Environmental Chair of the Allegheny County League of Women Voters.Classical music is one of her passions—in fact she met Dick, her husband of 30 years through music! She is one of the founders of the Edgewood Symphony, where she continues as Personnel Chair and plays in the violin section. She is also nuts about accordion music.

Dick and Marilyn have long been active in several local orchestras – he as a violist and she as a violinist. Between them, they have four children, eleven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren – none living close-by, alas. Dick and Marilyn are attracted to the RCE project as a viable option for their final stage of life: as a way to live in a supportive, intergenerational setting and within a lifestyle that embraces their values. Although they have no expectation of living at RCE in the near future, they consider themselves friends and supporters of the project, and Dick is heavily involved is the Community Life and Governance Planning Group.

Cliff & Joan Schoff

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. 

Mel Scott & Stu Bush

Mary Ellen “Mel” Scott grew up in Fair Bluff, NC along the banks of the Lumber River. Shoes were optional; she loved riding horses, swimming, and playing with her animals. Stuart “Stu” Bush grew up in Rochester, NY. In April 1970, he created a slideshow with photos of pollution in Rochester, set to Bridge Over Troubled Waters that he presented at a school assembly on the first Earth Day.

After earning a BA (Chemistry) at Wittenberg U., Stu enrolled at UNC.  He met Mel at a Chapel Hill bus-stop. While at UNC, Mel finished her BS in Psych, then studied massage while Stu completed his PhD. Married in 1983, they moved to Doylestown, PA in 1984. Mel practiced massage/Reiki for 32 years, became an interfaith minister, and an entrepreneur. Stu was a research leader at Rohm & Haas for 25 years until it was acquired by Dow Chemical. For 12 years, Stu has worked for human service nonprofits, for eight years as an Executive Director. They parented two wonderful sons who live in Swissvale, PA and Somerville, MA. Breast cancer has paid Mel a visit twice and has shaped her literally and figuratively. 

Because of her vision loss, nature has become less available to Mel; RCE seems like a great place for her to feel the dirt between her toes again. Both Mel and Stu envision RCE as an ideal home to create and live into the Quaker testimonies of Stewardship, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Simplicity. 

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 his 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.

Dawn Tedrow

I have lived with my husband Allen in Youngwood, PA (35 miles east of Pittsburgh) for the last 30 years.  We have two grown children who live locally and have been blessed with two grandchildren who are 2 and 8 months. I am so grateful that we are able to watch our grandchildren every day, for now, and it is an incredible joy to watch them grow.  

I retired last March from Friendship Academy, a school for children who have emotional and behavioral challenges, where I was the school librarian and reading specialist. I have been positively euphoric since retirement, and love to camp and hike, fly-fish, bike, swim, play pickleball and practice yoga.  I also read voraciously and enjoy traveling in our trailer to explore new parks and streams.

I am new to the world of co-housing and intentional communities and was intrigued by the idea when my son’s partner mentioned she had attended an RCE introductory session.  They have since settled in Regent Square, but I was curious and checked into a session late last year.  The Explorer process has helped me realize that I very much want to pursue a more sustainable, eco-friendly way of life, and the idea of living in community with other like-minded folks just feels right. The Chatham campus location is very exciting, and I look forward to all the amenities that Eden Hall will provide.  I have a lot to learn about living sustainably and the RCE community has made me feel very comfortable and welcome; I look forward to the next stage of my life and want to live it mindfully, doing my best to show up and contribute what I can to make our world a bit better.

Elizabeth is a native of Pittsburgh’s South Hills with a love for nature and the outdoors. She graduated in 2017 from Duquesne University with a degree in Classical Civilizations and English Literature with a minor in German. Having been interested from a young age in the German Wohngemeinschaft form of living but concerned about the lack of privacy in full communal living, the Rachel Carson EcoVillage embodies her dream of living as one with nature, while fostering the human connection that is so often missing from modern living. She is extremely excited to learn everything there is to know about putting permaculture into practice and living lightly on the planet with likeminded people. 

When she’s not out kayaking, hiking, gardening, biking, practicing yoga, walking barefoot, or reading on a hammock, you might find her traveling (still working on making that more eco-friendly) or spoiling her pet rabbit.

Barbara Wright Abernathy grew up in Piscataway, NJ with a large extended family (2 sets of grandparents, 20 aunts & uncles, too many cousins to count). She went to Syracuse University, spent a year studying weaving and textile design in Finland, then traveled in Scandinavia, Russia and Great Britain. She lived in California for many years, then Portland, OR, Nashville, TN and Raleigh, NC. Yes, there’s gypsy in her soul! Now she lives in New Jersey near her family until the EcoVillage is built.

Her motto used to be “Design all day, dance all night.” She has an interior design business specializing in eye doctor offices all over the US and Canada. Although she could retire, she’d rather keep working part-time for a few more years because she loves her work and her clients. She taught ballroom and belly dancing for many years and plans to teach again once she moves into the EcoVillage. Once you know that you are a dancer, you gotta dance!

Co-housing caught her interest back in California because she misses the closeness and good times of her childhood family gatherings. So she investigated several co-housing projects over the years, was a member of two groups but dropped out because neither group was anywhere near starting construction.

She is so looking forward to having dinner with everyone in the beautiful Common House every week. It will be fun to cook up a great Italian dinner for everyone.

The steady dedicated leadership of our founders makes all the difference to me. We are close to having enough Pioneer (fully committed) members and starting construction. It’s really happening! She’s also excited about the beautiful campus we’ll be living on and the nearby woods and walking trails. She can’t live without trees!

Most of all she’s excited to at last be a member of a community with so many interesting kind-hearted people of many talents. She’s lived in many different places but there is nowhere she would rather live than Rachel Carson Ecovillage. I click my heels together and whisper “There’s no place like home!”

Judy Trupin currently lives in New York City (specifically in Kew Gardens, Queens). Her work experience has been varied – starting as a performing artist creating movement theater pieces and simultaneously working as fitness instructor and writer in the field of health and nutrition.  While continuing her work in performance, she earned her Master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other languages, and became an ESOL teacher. Currently, Judy is a yoga teacher and professional developer for teachers of adult immigrants. She also writes and performs her original poetry.

Other interests for Judy include  dancing of any kind, bike riding, reading, walking, and vegan cooking. On her wish list is  the chance to garden outdoors instead of on an apartment windowsill.  She loves learning new things and finding a balance between quiet time and time with friends. 

Judy is looking forward to living in a community that takes care of the earth and values living sustainably. And of course, she’s very excited about living, laughing and spending time with her new RCE neighbors.

Sue Battle-McDonald is a 58 year old born and raised Baltimorean with a master’s degree in environmental policy and has worked for the Maryland Department of the Environment for 30 years. While widowed, she feels very lucky to have and is close with her 3 young adult children Will, Cait and Michael who are sprinkled throughout the US (though Michael is in college in Maryland)…but with her love of kids she’s psyched to have grandchildren, even though it may be a while. Maverick, her rescue husky mix is her awesome 12 year old companion along with the rest of her big southern family.

She’s a passionate 32-show Springsteen fan who can’t wait for his next tour. She loves dancing, singing, sailing, is a recovering news junkie, walking in the woods with Maverick, meditation, trying new things, board games, and long deep talks with my friends. She’s also always ready to defend the admittedly-arguable proposition that The Wire is the best TV show ever, and Omar Little is the best TV character ever.

Being part of a bonded group that cares about and looks out for one another definitely seems like the way humans are supposed to live.  She’s been part of four cohousing groups over the last 30 years, including two that aimed to bring cohousing to the Baltimore area.  She attended the 2019 CohoUS conference in Portland and came away very inspired and motivated.

What’s exciting to her about RCE is:

  • Being in a group that shares her values about caring for our planet.
  • Being part of a college community
  • Being part of a group that is actually succeeding at creating a coho community.  She knows how hard that is and is super impressed by what RCE has organized and accomplished already.

Kelly (he/they) is originally from Indiana but currently lives in Georgia with his spouse and two dogs. He’s passionate about finding or creating connections, especially regarding people. He enjoys hosting events but is happiest when he’s part of a team that comes together to collaboratively solve a problem or create something beautiful. He also enjoys genealogy, which has led to many collaborations with relatives and others interested in the topic. Kelly thrives on studying science and contributing to science, whether it be natural sciences or physical sciences. He’s been an amateur meteorologist, cartographer, photographer and naturalist all his life and is now a strong supporter of citizen science by sharing data online related to weather and wildlife at his Georgia homestead. He was described as a “sponge for knowledge” when he was younger. He has a passion for education. He loves to teach others and share skills. Kelly loves to travel, especially in the Northeast US and Northwest US. He has been a strong advocate for diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging in his career. This passion led Kelly to sociocracy and eventually to find us at the Rachel Carson EcoVillage. At RCE, he looks forward to building new friendships, building community and interpersonal solidarity, practicing nonviolent communication, sociocracy, social gatherings, learning cooking and gardening, volunteering to support sustainability goals and perhaps hosting game nights to bring everyone together for some light-hearted fun.