Triple Divide


Monday, December 31, 2012

Triple Divide: Split Estate from Public Herald on Vimeo.

A wonderful video by Melissa Troutman and Joshuah Pribanic!

Not to be missed by those who are committed to Community Empowerment for a Sustainable FutureSpace is limited to 35 maximum. Sign up early and please forward this to people you know who would find this a really useful 

Friday evening, January 4,  6pm to 9pm 
Saturday, January 5, 9am to 6pm
2013, located in the Friends Meeting House, 4836 Ellsworth Avenue.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Community Rights Workshop

Not to be missed by those who are committed to Community Empowerment for a Sustainable FutureSpace is limited to 35 maximum. Sign up early and please forward this to people you know who would find this a really useful 

Friday evening, January 4,  6pm to 9pm 
Saturday, January 5, 9am to 6pm
2013, located in the Friends Meeting House, 4836 Ellsworth Avenue.

NEW! PAY BY Credit Card or Pay Pal. 

Wondering why corporations have more power than those of you living in your community? Wondering why Harrisburg licenses and permits corporations to harm your community? Wondering why Harrisburg routinely prevents you from making decisions that are in the best interests of your community?

The Pennsylvania Community Rights Workshop takes an in-depth look at how Pennsylvania's political and legal structures have been set up to protect the interests of an elite minority, at the expense of the majority of Pennsylvanians. We'll look at how Pennsylvania's constitution has continually evolved since the American Revolution to protect wealth and privilege over community self-government; we'll look at how corporations in Pennsylvania have received more rights and protections than those of you living in your community; and we'll look at how Pennsylvanians have pushed back against these oppressive structures to reclaim democracy in their communities.

Finally, we'll consider what it would take to create a Pennsylvania constitution that protects the rights of people, communities, and nature by securing our inalienable right to local self-government, free from corporate and state interference.

and let us know how you will be paying. 

The total cost of the workshop is $50 per person.
A partial payment of $25 must be paid by January 1 unless a special arrangement is made (call Wanda at 724.327.2767 or 412.596.0066


Checks should be made out to the Thomas Merton Center, with a memo notation 
“for Env. Just. Workshop”
Please send to Thomas Merton Center, 5129 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15224

The balance should be paid in full the evening of Jan 4 at the workshop. 

We are keeping our expenses to a minimum to ensure affordability for everyone. 
For this reason we will be sharing food.

A member of the planning committee will be calling to coordinate POTLUCK OFFERINGS.


Pittsburgh's Community Bill of Rights: 
leading the way toward true local democracy, sustainability and justice

Can we support a Referendum?

In 2010, Pittsburgh famously became the first U.S. city to pass a Community Bill of Rights (CBoR) ordinance which, in contradistinction to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, limits the rights and influence of corporations and makes them subordinate to the rights of people and the natural communities upon which we depend. 

Now, this groundbreaking ordinance could become part of Pittsburgh's local constitution with great organizing. 

So what does the Community Bill of Rights do? It asserts the rights of residents to clean air, pure water, freedom from chemical trespass, peaceful enjoyment of home, local self-government, and the right to establish sustainable energy policies. It recognizes the rights of natural communities and ecosystems as well, and empowers community members with legal standing to enforce those rights. Included in the Bill of Rights, indeed the issue that prompted its introduction in the first place, is a provision that prohibits corporations from extracting natural gas within the city (with the exception of gas wells already established and in operation at the time of adoption of this amendment).

Here’s the reason why it could be important to move our Community Bill of Rights from the status of an ordinance to that of an amendment to the city Charter: Numerous times over this past year, the community has rallied to support the ordinance as the mayor was prodded by the gas industry to overturn the drilling ban so that such companies might "feel welcome" to set up their headquarters in Pittsburgh. If the citizens of Pittsburgh succeed in embedding the Community Bill of Rights in the Charter through a ballot initiative it will be clear to politicians that the people of Pittsburgh take their rights seriously. It will also take the Community Bill of Rights, including the gas extraction ban, out of the hands of future mayors and council members, who might be persuaded to rescind it on behalf of the gas corporations. 

So if you are a city resident and would like to learn more please come to the workshop.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

ACT Educational and Accountability Event Mon Oct 15th!

Environmental organizations and community groups will hold an event to educate the public on Act 13 prior to this year’s the State Supreme Court’s ruling. Please join us on Monday, October 15, from 6:30-8:30 PM at the Murrysville Community Center, 3091 Carson Avenue. 
Act 13 is Pennsylvania's controversial new oil and gas law, which stripped local governments of their right to plan where natural gas drilling operation can happen in their communities. In July portions of this new law were challenged by local township government officials, a Monroeville doctor, and Delaware Riverkeeper, and overturned by the Commonwealth Court and declared “unconstitutional.”

But the battle continues, as Governor Tom Corbett and his administration appealed the Commonwealth Court decision. These two sides, will argue their cases before the state Supreme Court on Wednesday, October 17th in Pittsburgh.

Many other municipalities and groups have filed amicus briefs in support of the Commonwealth Court’s decision that preemption of local municipal control over shale gas extraction is unconstitutional, including Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association, Pennsylvania State Association of Township Officials, State Association of Boroughs, Pittsburgh City Council, Earth Justice, Murrysville Council and Mountain Watershed Association.

Two days before this historic court hearing, the public is invited to a free, educational discussion about the new law, which covers all aspects of natural gas development in the state, as well as how the law came to be.

The event is hosted by PennEnvironment, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen Group, Local Authority Western Pennsylvania, Mountain Watershed Association. State Representatives of the 59th, 54th, and 25th districts and candidates for those seats have been invited as well. The question and answer period will be moderated by Wanda Guthrie of Local Authority of Western Pennsylvania and Thomas Merton Center.  An optional phone bank to call state legislators will immediately follow. 
For more information, contact Melissa at Mountain Watershed Association, 724-455-4200 ext. 6# or

Monday, October 1, 2012

Opportunity from the EarthQuakers

Join us for the Weekend of October 19-21.
At Merion Friends Meeting (Main Line Philadelphia).
Meals, Housing, Training Provided by Earth Quaker Action Team.

To prepare for a Day of Action
across the PNC Footprint
on December 1st.

Larry Gibson was nationally recognized as an inspirational leader in the movement to stop mountaintop removal. He spent over two decades working to preserve his family’s ancestral land on Kayford Mountain, despite continued harassment, including arson and violence. Larry passed away of a heart attack in early September; he was 66. (Donate to Larry’s Foundation and legacy, the Keepers of the Mountains, here.)

Our campaign is called Bank Like Appalachia Matters – and we need YOU to join the fight against mountaintop removal and other forms of extreme extraction, and the banks that finance and profit from these industries.

By the end of the weekend, you will be able to:
• Understand more about what nonviolent direct action is (and is not)
• Develop strategies for applying what you learn
• Describe the dangers and injustices of mountaintop removal and other extreme extraction methods
• Design and build a nonviolent action for your community (with EQAT’s help)
• Build a stronger network of allies in your Quaker meeting and/or home town
• Deepen your spiritual practice and apply it to your activism


Or Download the Registration Formto Distribute Widely
Registration Deadline is October 7th.

Space is limited, so Apply today!

More information available from Zach 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Statement of Anti-fracking groups at the Cupula Dos Povos

June 22nd 2012, Rio de Janeiro For a Future without Fracking!

Gathered in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday 22nd June 2012 during the Peoples’ Summit, we, activists and campaigners engaged in the struggle against shale gas and shale coal and shale oil from around the world, including France, Spain, the United States, Canada (& Quebec), Australia, New Zealand and other countries, affirm our determination, our categorical opposition against all extraction of shale gas and shale oil and every use of hydraulic fracturing and other associated extractive industries such as frack-sand mining on our territories.

As many examples indicate in the United States, Canada, England and elsewhere, the exploitation of shale gas has lead to countless cases of chemical and toxic pollution, violations of human rights, health consequences for the populations, the wasting of drinking water, destroying lands, earthquakes, hazardous air pollutants leading to poor air quality and major greenhouse gas emissions. In order to deal with the energy crisis, fracking is not only being promoted as a low carbon transition fuel, but is one of the “false solutions” of the Green Economy.

We reject shale and coal seam gas & shale oil here and everywhere, today and tomorrow.

We must substantially reduce our reliance on dirty, non-renewable sources of energy and call on our governments to invest in the deployment of energy efficiency and support the development of clean, renewable sources of energy alternatives. Following the civil society mobilisations, especially the protests of local people most directly concerned, victory has been gained across the world with hydraulic fracturing being forbidden in hundreds of places on our planet.

To amplify these mobilisations, we engage ourselves to:

  • Reinforcing the coordination of our actions at international level; 
  • Strengthen the alliances and solidarity between international, national and local movements; 
  • Work on a process at the international level to hold frackers legally accountable; Coordinate a global joint calendar; 
  • Build a day of international mobilisation as well as supporting all national action days against fracking. 

 Signatories in Rio: Gabriella Zanzanaini (Food & Water Europe), Maxime Combes (Attac France), Samuel Martin-Sosa (Ecologistas en Accion, Spain), Vincent Espagne (Collectif Plaines du Languedoc, France), Darcey O’Callaghan (Food & Water Watch, USA), Jacqueline Balvet (ATTAC France), Terran Giacomini (Friends of the Earth Canada), Terisa Turner (Friends of the Earth Canada, Ecosocialist Horizons), Patrick Bonin (Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique – AQLPA, Québec) Antonelle Risso, Mariann Lloyd-Smith (National Toxics Network, Australia), ACSUR-Las Segovias (Spain), OMAL (Spain), Ekologistak Martxan (Basque Country), ISF (Spain), Alianza "¿Economía Verde? ¡Futuro imposible!" (Spain), Polaris Institute (Canada), Supporting Organisations:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy

What on Earth

EventSpot by Constant Contact

James Gustave Speth, former Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, has recently published his book America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy.  Please see below for the description of this important book about a bold vision of economic transformation in America.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thomas Merton Center Signs on to the Chambersburg Declaration Center Becomes the Newest Member of the PA Community Rights Network

For Immediate Release

Contact: Wanda Guthrie Phone: 724-327-2767
What on Earth

EventSpot by Constant Contact

Pittsburgh, PA (September 5, 2012) The Thomas Merton Center became the latest organization to sign onto The Chambersburg Declaration, which denounces the concentration of “wealth and greater governing power through the exploitation of human and natural communities,” and declares that “environmental and economic sustainability can be achieved only when the people affected by governing decisions are the ones who make them.”

The Chambersburg Declaration calls for the convening of a People’s Constitutional Convention with delegates chosen from every County and Township “representing municipal communities, who will propose constitutional changes to secure the inalienable right to local, community self-government free of state and corporate preemption.” The Board of Directors decided to become a part of the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network and sign onto the Declaration at the same time they are launching a new Environmental Justice Committee, according Wanda Guthrie, a member of the Board. “We recognize that the destruction of ecosystems is not simply a question of conservation and environmental regulation. People and all living things depend for their lives and health on the protection of nature. We are not separate from the natural world, but a dependent part of it. Today, law-makers sacrifice our natural habitat to serve corporations and the privileged few who become wealthy at the cost of everyone else’s health, safety, welfare and quality of life. There is no justice in that, and it is time for the people affected to take charge.”

In 2010, citizens from more than a dozen counties met in Chambersburg on Saturday, February 20th , to initiate plans to convene a Pennsylvania People’s Constitutional Convention made up of delegates from municipalities across the state. The Community Rights Network Conference brought together men and women who have struggled for years to assert the rights of citizens to protect the health, welfare and environment of their communities, only to be met with a barrage of legislative preemptions and threats of corporate lawsuits. “Not one of our 12.5 million Pennsylvanians enjoys the fundamental right to self-government in the communities where they live,” commented Ben Price, Projects Director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

“In January 2008, attorney general Tom Corbett’s office declared in Commonwealth Court that ‘there is no inalienable right to local self-government’ Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly think he’s wrong, and it’s time for our State Constitution to reflect the will of the people,” Price said.

Over the past few years, more than two dozen communities across Pennsylvania have adopted local self-governance ordinances that challenge the authority of the state to preempt local decision-making on behalf of corporations. In response, the state and corporations have conspired to adopt anti-democratic legislation that preempts and forbids local decision-making, and have used the courts to sue a handful of these municipalities.

Some cases have been dismissed, some communities have prevailed and others are ongoing, but state agencies, municipal solicitors, state legislators and corporate lawyers have erected a legal fortress to protect corporate privileges against democratic governance at the community level. The need for constitutional change has been recognized by a growing number of people and organizations across the state. Of highest importance to the convening of any constitutional convention are the manner of its convening, the scope of its powers and the choosing of delegates. The Pennsylvania Constitution recognizes that “All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.” (Article I, Section 2) It also cautions us “To guard against the transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.” (Article I, Section 25) And yet, the legislature and courts, to whom we, the people, have delegated high powers, claim that the “inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper” may be exercised by the people only if and when the legislature places a question on the ballot to call for a convention or to allow the people to adopt an amendment proposed by the very government the people want to alter, reform or abolish.

The Chambersburg Declaration is a common-sense assessment of the obstacles to Pennsylvanians realizing their aspirations right there in the communities where they live. Placing a constitutional convention in the hands of real people representing their municipal communities is the innovative solution that is demanded. 

In 1776, when Pennsylvania revolutionaries drafted the first state constitution, they asserted that: 
“all government ought to be instituted and supported for the security and protection of the community as such…government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people, nation or community; and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single man, family, or set of men, who are only part of that community: And…the community hath an indubitable, unalienable and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish government in such manner as shall be by that community judged most conducive to the public weal.”

The Thomas Merton Center recognizes that it is time to realize those principled aspirations.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ridge and Valley School: Earth Literacy for Life

Their Mission: 

Ridge and Valley Charter School Core Values

In working together to manifest our vision for our children and families, for our professional staff and organization leaders, and for the school community as a whole, we are committed to cultivating relationships that are rooted in:
Respect. We conduct ourselves and communicate with kindness and respect for all students, staff, parents/guardians, school leadership, and the community of life.
Responsibility. We assume responsibility for our choice of thoughts, emotions, attitudes, actions, educational and organizational decisions.
Honesty. We are honest with ourselves and others throughout the school community, seeking greater understanding of the needs of others.
Humility. We think and act with humility so that we may be open to continuous learning in service to our students, families, and professional associates.
Equality and Fairness. We treat others as we wish to be treated, fairly and equitably, regardless of their behavior, or their ethnic, economic, racial, sexual, or religious orientations.
Harmony. We strive to live in peace and harmony with ourselves and the natural world around us through the practice of acceptance, empathy, and forgiveness.
Open Communication. We address our feelings, needs, and ideas directly to those empowered to improve our lives, the lives and learning of students, and the well-being of others throughout the school community. We avoid the temptation of gossip and hurtful innuendo.
Enthusiasm and Positive Attitude. We focus joyfully on what is positive in others, in our school community and the community at large. We work to develop our potential for doing better. We look toward new ideas for improving the quality of life for the benefit of all.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Environmental Justice Committee has joined Earth Justice in filing a friend of the court brief

 The brief supports the municipalities who are challenging the Constitutionality of Act 13, an act that would take away the rights of communities to plan for the future of their communities.

The Environmental Justice Committee is one of four Committees generated by the  Thomas Merton Center, a Peace and Social Justice Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since 1972.

We believe that:
The larger Earth Community is a primary obligation of each nation
Communities have the ability to preserve clean air, clean water, and clean soil - biologically sustainable systems.

Biological sustainable systems require both a cognitive and spiritual shift in perceptions if we are to move from an Industrial Economy to an abundant Global Commons.

The Environmental Justice Committee of the Thomas Merton Center affirms that:
    •    Earth is the common home of every being that has emerged from her and depends upon her for sustenance and a place of habitation;

    •    The dominant economic model which has held sway upon the Earth for the past five hundred years is environmentally unsustainable. Our finite planet is not capable of absorbing an infinite amount of poison and pollution to produce unlimited “energy” and this highly industrial quest for yet another finite fossil fuel will accelerate the rate of poisoning of our environment.

    •    We find the destruction of human cultures and biological communities shocking including legislation that presumes to take away both our local autonomy and our right to clean air, clean water, and natural living ecosystems. We believe that every community must have the right to speak for the well being of Earth as the most vital member of the community, our source of life.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

                           The Thomas Merton Center
                           Environmental Justice Committee invites you to

                                              “What On Earth?”

                           Sunday, September 23, 2012
                           2 to 5 p.m.
                           Friends Meeting House
                          4836 Ellsworth Avenue (Oakland)

                          We hope you will bring

                               * your vision, energy, creativity and
                                  enthusiasm for environmental justice

                               * an idea for our new idea bank and/or
                                  a brief story about something that you are personally doing

                             * a musical instrument, if you play, for an old fashioned sing along,
                                words to your favorite songs about the natural world, or
                                a drum for a drumming circle, if you wish to make music

                            *  handouts about what your environmental group is doing

                  If you have a favorite finger food for snacking, bring some to share, if you wish.

  But definitely come, whether you bring any of these things or not.  

What on Earth ... have you been thinking about ... working on ... dreaming about?  What on this awesome earth does this mean to your community... your family ... your culture ... your spirit? What does it mean to your place in creation?

Children are most welcome
Please RSVP to  or  412-441-6593