Pittsburgh Festival Turns Junk Into Art

This month, Pittsburgh is hosting its first Re:NEW Festival, an art and performance event that’s all about reusing materials and environmental sustainability.

For example, one of the sculptures commissioned for the festival is fashioned from old street lights. Duquesne Light donated about 30 of them along with some other decommissioned fixtures for sculptors to re-imagine. Eddie Opat helped design the piece and says it’s inspired by pre-Columbian architecture.

“One of the main things we were trying to do is use this consumer infrastructure refuse to build something that nods to a culture that was sustainable in itself,” Opat says.

LISTEN: Your Environment Update for September 14, 2016

Over the weekend, Opat and others put the finishing touches on the sculpture, which is 18 feet tall and surrounded by office buildings in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Gateway Center Plaza. High school student Haydon Alexander was also down there learning to weld and work with metal in the Mobile Sculpture Workshop. When we visited with him, he was up on a ladder, securing light fixtures that have been refashioned into cobra heads.

“The general feeling of Gateway Center is sort of all the buildings are very sterile,” Alexander says. “And this piece follows some of the geometry we see in Gateway Center, but it’s more natural and more flowing. We’re using industry and urban elements to create something that has natural beauty.”

Opat’s sculpture looks a bit like a silver flower sprouting in the courtyard of these highrises. And it lights up. He says the piece is titled Almenara—Spanish for “beacon.”

“It’s a beacon for sustainability and moving forward,” he says. “And hopefully, [it will] inspire people to take things out of their conventional form and explore other options after their intended life.”

You can see Almenara at Gateway Center through October 9. And check out more about the Re:NEW Festival here.

Reporting by Kara Holsopple

 

What Kids Know About Climate Change (That Their Teachers Don’t)

A new study out of North Carolina State University digs into how students’ beliefs about climate change are shaped by their teachers’ beliefs.

Kathryn Stevenson, lead author and assistant professor in the College of Natural Resources, says they found that 92 percent of the North Carolina middle school students they studied had a teacher who believed climate change is happening. And that was a big influence on kids.

However, just 12 percent of students had teachers who believed climate change is mainly caused by human activities—a conclusion that is almost universally accepted by climate scientists. But that belief among teachers didn’t seem to have the same influence on students.

“Among adults, what we’re finding over and over is that people’s perceptions of climate change really have very little to do with how much they understand the science,” Stevenson says. “It has more to do with their political ideologies or what news sources they turn to. But with kids, it has less to do with these political ideologies and much more to do with their actual understanding of climate science.”

In other words, kids in this study seemed to understand that humans are causing climate change—even if their teachers didn’t.

Go here to check out the study.

Reporting by Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio