Caren Glotfelty

With five county parks and several green spaces doubling as her office this week, Allegheny County Parks Foundation executive director Caren Glotfelty is busy overseeing major improvements to our region’s top environmental assets and outdoor destinations—from designing a demonstration meadow at Allegheny County’s highest elevation point to mitigating stream pollution from coal mines. “I’ve spent many years repairing some of the dire ecological consequences of industrialization to our region,” says the Northern California native. “It’s a joy and privilege to now concentrate on the needs of 12,000 protected acres in our county parks—an abundant and rare asset for a single county.”

Monday, July 18

I water the gardens early at my “green” Mt. Washington house near Emerald View Park, and play with my cat, Sassy, before driving to Boyce Park where we share space with the park management. I’ll prepare for tomorrow’s board meeting and fit in a walk to Indian Hill, the highest elevation in Allegheny County and the future site of our demonstration meadow. Meadows are incredibly beneficial to the ecosystem, so we’re planting it next spring with the hope of installing them in all of the parks.

Straw bale garden at the Edible Teaching Garden in Point Breeze.
Straw bale garden at the Edible Teaching Garden in Point Breeze. Photo by Caren Glotfelty.

After work, I’ll stop by the Penn State Master Gardener Program‘s Edible Teaching Garden in Point Breeze where Pat Morgan, a fellow Master Gardener, and I created a straw bale vegetable and herb garden. I’ll make sure the water barrels are full to keep our solar irrigation system running.

Tuesday, July 19

I have an early coffee meeting with Amy Wolfe, executive director of the Pennsylvania Chapter of Trout Unlimited to talk about research studies TU has funded in Pinkertons Run in Settlers Cabin Park. Drainage from old coal mines has polluted this stream which is otherwise beautiful and peaceful. We’ll discuss the stream’s clean-up before she visits the site with coal mine pollution consulting expert, Bob Hedin.

At 9 a.m. I will meet with the Foundation Board of Directors. We have a packed agenda of events and projects. After the meeting, I’m heading to Settler’s Cabin to hear what our experts are recommending for next steps.

In the evening I’m joining several board members for a small reception at one of their homes. They have invited friends and colleagues to socialize and hear about why they are excited about the Allegheny County Parks Foundation.

Wednesday, July 20

I’m attending the Summer Garden Luncheon at the Hartwood Acres Mansion, which will feature a menu with edible flowers. We’ll tour the formal garden and then I’m taking a five-mile hike along the Rachel Carson Trail with board member Tom Armstrong.

Kayaking at North Park Lake. Photo by Mary Lynn Marsico.
Kayaking at North Park Lake. Photo by Mary Lynn Marsico.

Afterward, I’m meeting a friend at The Porch at Schenley Plaza, and then we’re hopping over to the Late Night Cabaret event at Opera Theater of Pittsburgh’s SummerFest at Falk Auditorium at Winchester Thurston School in Shadyside. I am hosting a teacher/performer at my home this summer and she is singing tonight.

Thursday, July 21

I’m hosting a meeting at the Babble Brook Shelter at North Park with the CEOs of several regional environmental organizations. We meet periodically to share information about the initiatives we’re each working on. And afterward, kayaking! Joey-Lynn Ulrich, executive director of Venture Outdoors, has invited us all to kayak on North Park Lake, where they have a busy kiosk.

In the evening I’m attending a family program by the Park Rangers—A Beaver’s Life—at Deer Lakes Park.

Friday, July 22

I’m meeting with the manager of White Oak Park to talk about the trail he’s marked off for a 10K for our new race series, The Allegheny 9. Thousands of people train in our parks every year, so we decided to sponsor races of our own.

One of Caren's gardens at her Mt. Washington home.
One of Caren’s gardens at her Mt. Washington home.
One of Caren’s gardens at her Mt. Washington home.

On my way back into the city, I’m going to try to fit in a stop at BE Galleries in Lawrenceville to pick up my new painting, Migration, by local artist Elizabeth Myers Castonguay. Later, I could head to the Summer of Love concert series at South Park but I might make it an early night and get take-out from Kabob-G Grill in Castle Shannon. They’re often voted as one of the top Middle Eastern restaurants in the region and they’re definitely mine.

Saturday, July 23

I have an early morning appointment with my trainer, Anna Squilla of Adaptive Fitness Training, LLC. Got to keep in shape for all this park activity!

In the afternoon, I’m going to an Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania program at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, “Plants to Support Hummers,” in the afternoon. It’s all about attracting hummingbirds to the landscape and I’ll probably be tempted to buy a few native plants.

Artist Scott Saloney working on his Mt. Washington mural.
Artist Scott Saloney working on his Mt. Washington mural.

This evening I’m attending Opera Theater of Pittsburgh’s production of Julius Caesar, again at Winchester Thurston.

Sunday, July 24

I’ll pick up my weekly groceries at the SHOP ‘n SAVE on Virginia Avenue. It’s under new management and looks great. I’ll check on the progress of artist Scott Saloney’s mural on the side of the store. He’s using acrylics on his highly detailed Pittsburgh scene. It’s amazing.

Maybe I’ll treat myself to a pastry at Grandview Bakery, but don’t tell my trainer!

I’m meeting my son, Jake Schoonhoven, and his girlfriend at the Pirates game this afternoon to take advantage of Venture Outdoors’ Paddle at the Park event.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.