| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Community : Development News

140 Community Articles | Page: | Show All

Raise awareness for domestic violence and contribute to a community art project this weekend

In the United States, one in four women aged 18 and older have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Everyday more than 67,000 victims of domestic violence seek services from domestic violence programs and shelters.
 
While there will be many events this March honoring Women’s History Month, this weekend, at the Society for Contemporary Craft in the Strip District, the community can come together to raise awareness for domestic violence and create something beautiful.
 
The Dignity & Respect Council of Greater Pittsburgh will be hosting the second annual Ceramic Tile Quilt Event at the Society for Contemporary Craft on Saturday, March 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A ceramic tile will be painted by each guest with words and images of hope and made into a 100-pound “quilt.” Once assembled, it will be permanently displayed at Bethlehem Haven, a local women’s shelter that offers safe, supportive shelter and housing for 96 women each night. 
 
And, you don’t have to be an artist to participate. Artist Alix Paul will be attending the event again this year to guide guests though the mechanics of painting a tile and will then assemble the tiles to make the ceramic quilt.
 
“It is an honor to be a part of the Ceramic Tile Quilt Event for the second year in a row, and I can’t wait to see how the final quilt will turn out,” Paul said.
 
In addition to painting tiles, guests are asked to bring full-size shampoo, body lotion, washcloths, bath towels and flip flops to donate to Bethlehem Haven.
 
Each hour of the event will host different organizations from around Pittsburgh providing resources and information to attendants. Last year’s sponsors included the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, the Latino Family Center, Strong Women, Strong Girls and the YWCA Women’s Empowerment Initiative, among others.
 
Guests will also get the opportunity to view exhibitions currently at the Society for Contemporary Craft. Refreshments will be provided from Strip District merchants such as LaPrima Coffee, Enrico Biscotti and Colangelo’s Bakery.
 
The event is open to the public but guests must RSVP for a specific time slot.
 
Source: Dignity & Respect Campaign

Innovative online supper club Dinner Lab launches in Pittsburgh

Dinner Lab began in New Orleans in 2012 and has since become a national sensation. The pop-up supper club has hosted innovative dining events in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York. Today, Dinner Lab announced Pittsburgh as its newest city.
 
“We’re really excited about coming to Pittsburgh,” said Zach Kupperman, co-founder of Dinner Lab. “Pittsburgh [has] an amazing cultural and culinary scene … Pittsburgh is a very cool and underground cultural city with a lot going on.”
 
According to its website, Dinner Lab is an underground dining club that strips away the typical restaurant trappings and replaces it with a pop-up experience. City-dwellers become members online to receive a calendar of events. The menu is posted beforehand, but the location isn’t disclosed until the day before or the day of the event.
 
“Dinner Lab, at its core, is a membership-based social dining club,” Kupperman said.
 
The company operates as a subscription service where people pay upfront for access to the calendar. This is not to be exclusive, but how Dinner Lab subsidizes the cost of dinners, hires local people and rents kitchens. Guests then pay for each dinner and have access to not only events in the local market, but in every other city that Dinner Lab operates. Tickets, which include gratuity and alcohol, are purchased through the website a few weeks prior to the event.
 
Dinner is usually five courses (though it can be more), includes all-you-can-drink beer and wine. There's a pre-dinner cocktail hour, too. Membership rates vary between $100 and $200, depending on the participating city, but Pittsburgh’s membership rate is $125. Starting today, you can register online.
 
Dinner Lab chefs are usually the second or third at great restaurants. But, as Kupperman explained, they are often in the back of someone else’s kitchen, cooking someone else’s food. There is a disconnect between what chefs prepare on a regular basis and what they actually care about, he said.  
 
Dinner Lab pulls about 50 percent of its chefs from the local market and then will bring in top performing chefs from other Dinner Lab city markets. The group requires its chefs' food to tell a compelling story. Chefs have the opportunity to cook for an event and create a menu that is unique to their experience and palate.
 
Dinner Lab focuses on global cuisine enjoyed in random, local places outside a traditional restaurant setting. Kupperman said abandoned warehouses, old churches and rooftops are transformed for one night as a pop-up dinner venue. Guests dine together at community tables. Food is designed to be the common element to bring participants together.
 
There is also a diner feedback component to Dinner Lab. Diners rate each course and all of this information is aggregated and delivered back to the chef.
 
Though Dinner Lab officially launched in Pittsburgh today, it will be a few weeks before the first event. Kupperman said it will take time to hire people to operate the program in Pittsburgh and scout venues. Once Dinner Lab is established in a city, members can expect as many as six or seven events per month.
 
Pittsburgh’s first event will feature New Orleans Chef Mario Rodriquez, most recently of La Petite Grocery in the Big Easy. His menu concept will feature the flavors of Malay cuisine through the lens of a fine dining chef. 
 
Source: Dinner Lab, Zach Kupperman

Donate clothes to break a world record this weekend at the Public Market

In the spirit of the University of Pittsburgh’s Year of Sustainability, the Office of PittServes launched the Give a Thread Campaign, a world-record attempt at collecting 150,000 clothing items for donation and recycling. Since the campaign’s kick-off in December, the drive has gathered more than 61,000 items via the support of students, staff, faculty and local partners.
 
PittServes Director Misti McKeehen explained that the Pitt community wanted to think beyond campus when it launched Give a Thread. She said they wanted to create a project where anyone in the community could participate. And, in order for Pitt to reach the ultimate goal of breaking the world record, the university has enlisted support from the city and area organizations. Pitt’s next Give a Thread community collection event will be at the Pittsburgh Public Market on Saturday, Feb. 14, and Sunday, Feb. 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
 
PittServes staff will be at the Public Market, 2401 Penn Ave. in the Strip District, collecting items on both days. University students and staff will accept any clothing donation, like shoes and accessories, but only clothing items like pants, shirts, outerwear, sweaters, skirts, dresses and children’s clothes -- including baby onesies -- will count toward the Guinness goal.
 
To encourage support and patronage of the small businesses at the market, select Public Market vendors will provide discounts to customers who donate clothing items to the campaign.
 
McKeehen said those who donate at the market can enjoy a free sample of beer at the East End Brewing Co. booth, buy one get one free treats at Eliza’s Oven and Ohio City Pasta, deals at The Olive Tap and Glades Pike Winery, dollar off ice cream and a discount on Backstage Alpaca socks.
 
“There’s a lot of different kinds of coupons,” McKeehen said. “[The event is] a nice way to introduce vendors.”
 
Erika Ninos, PittServes sustainability program coordinator, said she hopes the Public Market drive brings in “a few thousand items.” She explained that the market sees 1,000 patrons per weekend. If everyone just brought five items, she mused, imagine what that could do for the drive?
 
Give a Thread is already receiving assistance from the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, the City of Pittsburgh, Bank of America, Delanie’s Coffee Shop, Mayor Bill Peduto’s Office and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. These offices have all collected at least 1,000 items for the drive.
 
Ninos said Give a Thread has collected 65,045 items to date -- and joked that with the haul they have already collected, she can’t imagine what 150,000 items will look like. However, if PittServes has not collected 125,000 items by the end of February, they will not continue the world record campaign. If the goal is reached, the final push to reach 150,000 donations will be in March.
                         
The campaign’s Get a Thread partners will receive donations and include: Goodwill Industries of SWPA, Dress for Success and Pitt’s on-campus student-run thrift shop, Thriftsburgh. Goodwill will recycle any items unfit for donation to reduce landfill deposits.
 
“You can bring a grocery bag or a garbage bag [to the Public Market event]; any bit of clothing will help us at this point,” Ninos said, adding that it is all going toward a good cause.
 
In addition to the community collection event at the Public Market, donations are accepted throughout the University of Pittsburgh, including the William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave. The Give a Thread Campaign will be collecting items through the end of February. For a list of the drop-off locations and more information on the campaign, please visit www.pittserves.pitt.edu.
 
If your business or organization would like to participate, please reach out to the PittServes office. The deadline for donating is at the end of February.
 
Source: Misti McKeehen, Erika Ninos, PittServes
 

Supporting Pittsburgh's homeless in powerful, creative ways

With temperatures dropping to dangerous digits, homeless shelter options are making the news this winter. Pittsburgh students and officials have presented lifesaving ideas, technology and housing. Now, via an Indiegogo.com campaign, any Pittsburgher can take action.
 
Carnegie Mellon University students recently made headlines for their heated pop-up homeless shelters, which use aerospace technology to convert a portable sleeping bag into a durable winter shelter. Last week, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded a $15.5 million Continuum of Care grant to Allegheny County. The grant will go toward the county's Department of Human Services and its efforts to reduce homelessness.
 
The Department of Human Services will administer the grant funds to 25 agencies that provide housing and vital services to the homeless. The county department will contribute fiscal and operational support, and monitor service through regular site visits.

But one Pittsburgh resident is working to create a local homeless shelter at the community level via an Indiegogo campaign, The Pittsburgh Home.
 
“In second grade, my class was asked to draw a picture of how we envisioned our lives when we were older. I drew a picture of a big house with tons of strangers living in it and lots of hearts all over,” Jon Potter says on the Indiegogo page about his inspiration for The Pittsburgh Home. In a follow-up interview, he joked, “I guess it was a second grader’s version of what a co-op would be.”
 
Potter said he thought he had accomplished this dream with his Lawrenceville hostel, which has hosted 3,000 people in its three years in operation. But, Potter says he realized that he wanted to do more and create a safe and free place for the homeless men and women of Pittsburgh.
 
Last month, Potter took to Reddit, r/Pittsburgh, and asked the community for support on his journey to opening a homeless shelter. The response was huge. Through the post, he connected with a real estate agent, several contractors, local restaurants and food pantries and a nonprofit that is helping him secure 501c3 status.
 
“Most of the big things that we needed, Reddit came through with,” Potter said.
 
He added that The Pittsburgh Home is looking to help people who are actively working toward a goal to better themselves. Through his hostel, Potter said he has encountered many people who have been through a fire or another event that leads them to needing longer term housing than most homeless shelters allow.
 
He said The Pittsburgh Home would also provide the “most important thing” someone needs to make a change: an address. Potter explained that you can’t vote or apply for a job without an address.
 
The Pittsburgh Home page on Indiegogo is now active and working toward a $50,000 goal to buy a house. Donors are eligible for prizes including a personal hakiu written by Potter or a paragliding lesson from Potter, who is also a professional paraglider. These prizes were offered in the past, when Potter created an Indiegogo campaign that helped The Bloomfield Sandwich Shop get back on its feet. 
 
From the hostel to the sandwich shop to the homeless shelter, why does Potter give so much to the city?
 
His answer was simple, “Pittsburgh is just the friendliest city on the planet.”
 
 
Source: Jon Potter, Office of the County Executive, The Pittsburgh Home

Hill District agreement solidifies U.S. Steel headquarters and $20 million investment

The long-awaited redevelopment of the Hill District is moving forward, thanks to cooperation among city officials, neighborhood residents and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
 
"We are committed [to] implementing a transformational development on the Lower Hill District site that rebuilds the Middle and Upper Hill District,” said Mayor Bill Peduto. “When I took office last January, I committed to having an open-door policy for my administration, and this agreement proves that. Everyone will have the opportunity to have a seat at the table. "
 
The agreement clarified the Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan for the Lower Hill at the 28-acre site of the former Civic Arena. A new U.S. Steel headquarters will anchor the project.
 
In addition to U.S. Steel’s headquarters, the agreement also included plans for the Greater Hill District Reinvestment Fund, which is slated to invest more than $20 million in projects throughout the Hill District.
 
"This renewed agreement is important not only because it allows this project to move forward, but because it also ensures continued benefits for the neighborhood that is most likely to be impacted," said Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny). "I'm proud that we have continued to work together to find compromise, and that we have a stronger agreement thanks to the work of this dedicated team."
 
Under the settlement, the Hill Community Development Corp. withdrew its appeal of the Lower Hill Planned Development District approved by the city Planning Commission in December, and agreed to support the U.S. Steel headquarters as a catalyst for the overall development of the Hill District.
 
City Councilman Daniel Lavelle will introduce an affordable housing task force comprised of city, county, state, federal and community leaders. An executive community created under the CCIP agreement will also appoint an independent consultant to help implement the community collaboration plan and issue progress reports to the committee.
 
According to the Mayor’s Office, the deal was reached with the assistance of Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (D), Congressman Mike Doyle (D), Fontana and state Sen. Jay Costa (D). State Rep. Jake Wheatley (D) and City Councilman Lavelle (D) took leadership roles in helping to preserve the opportunity for the most robust investment ever made by a public-private partnership in the Hill.
 
 
Source: The Office of Mayor William Peduto

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina receives big Yelp win; plans expansion

Last week, Yelp ranked Strip District restaurant Gaucho Parrilla Argentina No. 7 on its Top 100 Places to Eat in the United States for 2015. Gaucho was the only East Coast eatery listed in the top ten.
 
“It’s just awesome news. [It’s] great for us, great for our neighborhood and great for the city,” said Gaucho chef and proprietor Anthony Falcon. 
 
Rachel Carlson, Yelp Pittsburgh community director, explained that the bar for good food in Pittsburgh has been raised. And while taste and quality are part of the equation behind a positive Yelp review, Carlson said Yelpers also make note of good customer service and atmosphere. She noted that users recognize these qualities at Gaucho.
 
“They have 298 reviews and a perfect five-star rating. And that’s unheard of.” Carlson said about Gaucho’s online popularity. 

Falcon said regular customers and new faces have been commenting on the Yelp shoutout. The win comes on the heels of some other news for Gaucho.
 
The restaurant at 1607 Penn Avenue will be expanding into the building next door. Falcon said the project, which has been in the works for one year, finally has the green light from the city. He said construction is expected to begin as early as next week and added that he hopes it is completed in three or four months for summer business.
 
“The new space will be a lot more comfortable for our customers,” Falcon said. Currently, Gaucho only has limited stool seating. But, the expansion will bring additional stools, tables and chairs to accommodate 40 people. He added that there are tentative plans for a bar in the future. “We really want to focus on local craft beers and South American, Argentine-inspired wine.”
 
He said the current Gaucho space will be converted into a large kitchen and the space next door will serve as the dining area. In addition to physical renovations, Falcon said the menu will also add items, like more vegetable dishes, paella, coffee and baked goods. But don’t worry, the mouthwatering steaks, five-hour braised rosemary beef sandwich and other customer favorites will all still be there.
 
Falcon said he wanted to give “a massive, huge, heartfelt thank you” to the community and out-of-town diners who supported Gaucho on Yelp. He said these positive reviews and local support are what made the restaurant No. 7 in the country.
 
 
Source: Anthony Falcon

Big Day transforms to suit developing Upper Strip District

Driving down Penn Avenue in the Strip District, one couldn’t miss Big Day Wedding and Event Center at 26th Street. The white building was designed to look like a tiered wedding cake -- topped with life-sized bride and groom statues.
 
Building and business owner Sal Richetti has transformed the space into 26th Street Market and Café, currently in its soft opening with a grand opening planned in March. Out with the statuesque couple, and in with orange and green trim.
 
'The wedding business is more Internet-driven now,' Richetti said about his decision to transform the space. Big Day Entertainmnet, Video and Photography still operates online and on the second floor of the building at 2549 Penn Ave., and Celebrity Bridal Boutique is open by appointment on the first floor.
 
Richetti said 26th Street will fill a niche in the developing Upper Strip District. He said the current model is Starbucks meets Sheetz, without the gas. The café currently offers a self-serve coffee bar, Nicholas Coffee Co. products, lunch options like soups, salads and sandwiches, convenience goods from candy and snacks to cigarettes, co-working meeting spaces, a cozy café area and free wi-fi. The two meeting rooms, which can host six and 10 people, are currently available by appointment at (412) 566-2889.
 
After the grand opening in March, the space will provide grab-and-go lunches, an array of hot sandwiches like paninis and hoagies, smoothies, breakfast and specialty coffee drinks from espresso to lattes to iced coffee.  The spring will also bring outdoor seating and an al fresco atmosphere as the café features a garage door, which can open up the café on sunny days.
 
As more condominiums open at this end of the neighborhood, the space fits several needs in the growing neighborhood including convenience store products and business space, according to Vicki McGregor, manager of 26th Street Market and Cafe and Richetti's sister.
 
McGregor said residents need more eateries and businesses to provide convenience goods.
 
Richetti, who has owned the 26th and Penn building for more than a decade, said increased neighborhood foot traffic influenced the building’s renovation.
 
“I bought this building in 2001," Richetti said. "[Today,] I just see so much more walk-by traffic." 
 
Both Richetti and McGregor commented on the Strip’s expansion toward Lawrenceville.
 
“[The Strip] is expanding toward Lawrenceville and Lawrenceville is expanding down [toward the Strip],” McGregor said, as she gestured with her two hands, one representing each neighborhood, an eventual meeting.

 
Source: Sal Richetti and Vicki McGregor

PHDA, Inc. receives subsidies grant for first-time homebuyers

First-time home buyers with low to moderate incomes can apply for help with down payments and closing costs, thanks to a grant program available from the Pittsburgh Housing Development Association, Inc.

PHDA, Inc. recently secured funding from the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation to support the First-Time Home Buyers Subsidy Grant Program for an additional year. Launched in 2014, the program assists eligible, first-time home buyers with down payments and/or closing costs.
 
The grant will be dispersed through an application process. To be eligible, applicants must have an assigned contract on a specific property, be first-time homebuyers, meet income eligibility guidelines and complete a certified Home Counseling Program.
 
“The grant is available to any qualified and eligible first-time homebuyer,” said Greg Whitted, PHDA, Inc. executive director and co-founder, about the Wilkinsburg-focused organization. PHDA, Inc. was formed in 1982 with a mission to assist low to moderate income first-time home buyers with educational workshops and resources to achieve their dream of homeownership. 
 
Whitted said the grant can be used on any Pittsburgh home, but added that Wilkinsburg has a lot of home ownership opportunities.
 
“[Wilkinsburg] is an up-and-coming community,” he said. “The housing stock is strong there.”
 
Funding for the grant program was provided in part by a grant from the national Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, which provides funding to assist nonprofit community organizations in achieving and sustaining their missions through strategic leadership in servicing low-wealth communities.
 
Applications are currently available.  Interested applicants should email info@phdainc.org or call (412) 242-2700 for additional information and an application.
 
Source: Greg Whitted, PHDA, Inc.

Frick Park's "Stink Creek" cleanup is national model for waterway restoration

A study by a University of Pittsburgh hydrologist shows that a local project is one of the largest urban-stream restorations in the United States and has led to the recovery of fish and, more importantly, a groundswell of local support.
 
Pittsburgh’s Frick Park is home to Nine Mile Run, a stream formerly known as "Stink Creek." From 2003 to 2006, the City of Pittsburgh and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers poured $7.7 million into restoring 2.2 miles of the stream and tributaries into waterways approximating what they were prior to urban development. The project remains one of the largest urban-stream restorations undertaken in the United States.

Dan Bain, Pitt assistant professor of hydrology and metal biogeochemistry in the Department of Geology and Planetary Science within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, says the project has made a difference and sets an example for other cities to follow. The evidence is tallied in Bain’s paper, "Characterizing a Major Urban Stream Restoration Project: Nine Mile Run," published last month in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

Nine Mile Run, which is part of a watershed that drains 6.5 square miles of Wilkinsburg, Edgewood, Swissvale, Forest Hills, Squirrel Hill and Point Breeze, had been abused by urbanization and industrialization. Toxins leached into the creek from a slag heap left over from the steelmaking process, sewer lines discharged into the water and so much of the waterway had been buried in culverts or diverted from its natural path that Nine Mile Run had become toxic.
 
The three-year restoration project involved rerouting the creek to a natural pathway, reestablishing flora, creating areas to catch floodwater and building natural "slash piles" and "snags" from cut-down trees to create bird and animal habitats. It also involved infrastructure interventions: adding rain barrels to residents' homes, preventing some storm water from overwhelming the stream and fixing parts of the underlying sewers.
 
Some of the impediments remain, but neighbors and Frick Park users have been motivated to continue the work. This support has been imperative to restoration.
 
“What we found is that, properly done, urban-stream restoration can create a citizen involvement in the process of appropriately managing urban streams and give us a greater opportunity to understand how restorations work in an urban system, particularly when compared with our ability to understand restoration success in less populated areas,” Bain said.

In his paper, Bain reports that fish populations are improving. However, the human response to this restoration has been vigorous -- the rise in the number of volunteer hours as well as the number of rain barrels installed at private residences appears to be associated with the restoration of the stream.
 
Those inspired by the improving health of the stream have enlisted as volunteer Urban EcoStewards with the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, a nonprofit that advocates for and monitors the area. These EcoStewards visit an assigned plot on a regular basis to remove invasive species, plant native flora, clean up trash and install rain barrels on their property to reduce runoff and slow erosion.
 
Source: University of Pittsburgh
 

Rent-free Wilkinsburg storefront up for grabs for interested arts nonprofit

Do you work for an arts nonprofit in need of office or gallery space? Wilkinsburg may have just the place for you.
 
PMC Management Company, LLC, a firm that owns commercial property in Wilkinsburg, has offered to temporarily donate a storefront at 811 Wood St. to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit or government-run arts organization.
 
The space will be available for donation for up to two years while the firm renovates the building’s upper floors. The unit will be donated rent-free, but interested organizations must agree to pay utilities. 
 
Qualified organizations must provide documentation detailing their nonprofit or government status as well as a plan for the donated space by Dec. 15. This information may be sent to Chuck Alcorn, Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation economic development coordinator, via email (chuck@wilkinsburgcdc.org) or general delivery (1001 Wood St., Wilkinsburg, PA 15221).
 
Activating the storefront goes hand in hand with WCDC’s mission to revitalize Wilkinsburg and surrounding areas through business and residential development and cultural enrichment.
 
“We really see this as an opportunity to bring in another positive aspect to Wilkinsburg,” Alcorn said. He added that the storefront is a promising space for local artists, as the unit is large enough to showcase work. “[We] hope that people see the potential in the space and contact us with proposals.”
 
For questions about this opportunity, please email (chuck@wilkinsburgcdc.org) or call Chuck Alcorn at (412) 727-7855.
 
Source: Chuck Alcorn, Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation

Friendship Circle finds new Squirrel Hill home at site of old Gullifty's

Rabbi Mordy Rudolph and his wife Rivkee have been running The Friendship Circle since its inception in 2006, when 15 teen volunteers were paired with about a dozen children with special needs. Today, the program boasts more than 200 alumni. 
 
The organization has outgrown its 1,200-square-foot storefront space and will move to a new, 10,000-square-foot home at 1922 Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill as part of a multi-million dollar renovation at the site of the now-closed Gullifty's restaurant.
 
“Friendship Circle began eight years ago with about a dozen volunteers and a desire to remove barriers for children with special needs,” explained Chuck Perlow, a founding board member and co-chair of the capital campaign. “Today, this vibrant program works through nearly 300 active teen volunteers and more than 120 friends who are no longer defined by their disabilities. This unique space will be a celebration of the dramatic connections created and those yet to come.”  

Since 1994, Friendship Circle organizations have been created in more than 60 cities around the world. The program allows children and young adults with special needs to enjoy the company of teenage and young adult volunteers in a full range of social activities. Friendship Circle aims to enrich the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions and lasting friendships.
 
Rudolph said the renovation will allow the growing organization to continue to engage students with activities like art, drama and cooking clubs. The renovation will include a first-floor storefront with glass windows along the Murray Avenue front of the venue, opening it to the community. This floor will include a multi-purpose space with a performance stage, a teen lounge, a pop-up gallery space, new elevator and a working kitchen for cooking clubs and other opportunities.
 
A second floor with work pods will allow youth with special needs to actively participate in the planning and behind-the-scenes work of Friendship Circle in a supported work setting. The second floor will also include a play space for younger children, a parent lounge, executive offices and conference room space for the staff of Friendship Circle. A rooftop garden and outdoor recreational space will maximize the footprint of the building and provide space for members to garden and enjoy the outdoors.
 
On a visit to a Friendship Circle site in Michigan, Rudolph said he witnessed the organization using its center to create a simulated community within the building. Inside the site were storefronts and a manufactured Main Street. While Rudolph said the idea of community is apparent in this model, he prefers the opportunity that the Murray Avenue location gives the Pittsburgh space. Participating in an existing community is more beneficial than creating an isolated environment, Rudolph said.
 
In addition to creating a person-to-person community in Friendship Circle, Rudolph said, the new building has the opportunity to create relationships with neighboring businesses. Rudolph explained that he hopes to engage with existing neighbors, like barbers and grocers, for Friendship Circle field trips and outings.
 
Working on the new venue are Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel Architects and construction manager John Paul Busse of F.J. Busse Company. Stuart Horne, an architect with Seigle Solow Horne and former Friendship Circle board member, is helping to oversee the project. The new venue will be completely ADA-compliant, with parking available behind the building as well as at street meters.  
 
“I think that there is tremendous potential just by moving into the space,” Rudolph said, adding that though the organization has grown so much in almost a decade, he is still excited about the future. “[In some ways,] it feels like we’re still in our infancy … like we’re just getting started.”
 
Rudolph says the goal is to complete the renovation by fall 2015, in time for the start of the 2015 – 2016 school year.
 
Source: Rabbi Mordy Rudolph, The Friendship Circle

Local working mothers find support at The Mom Con

When local attorney Natalie Kovacic gave birth to her son Joey four years ago, she was starting her career and balancing motherhood. Kovacic said she struggled with this transition, like many women. And, after attending a business conference, she came up with an idea to build a network for Pittsburgh working mothers: The Mom Con.
 
Last year, Kovacic created a one-day Mom Con event with the idea that there are two sides to every mom: the goals you have for your children and the goals you have as a woman.
 
The Mom Con returns on Friday, Nov. 14, and Saturday, Nov. 15, as a two-day conference to empower and inspire modern and working moms through motivational speakers, workshops directed to the working mom, a retail marketplace, lunch, and even a bit of pampering. Childcare is available at an additional cost. Because moms are often the ones behind the camera, Kovacic said the conference will offer attendees an opportunity for headshot photos of their own.
 
“The conference has the same goal -- empowering and connecting moms -- but there's a lot that's different this year,” Kovacic said about the growth of the 2014 conference. “We have 10 new speakers offering more content and covering a wider range of topics that are important to our attendees.”
 
The Mom Con expects 175 moms to attend the event at the North Pittsburgh Marriott Hotel in Cranberry Township. Guest speakers set to share tricks of the trade include Helen Hanna Casey, president of Howard Hanna; Dr. Amanda Jordan, pediatric and pregnancy chiropractor; and Cooper Monroe, co-founder of The Motherhood, Inc.
 
In addition to career tips, attendees and speakers will discuss balancing it all, personally and professionally. Kovacic said speakers will discuss everything from finding inspiration to health to finance.
 
“I would like for moms to feel like they now have a community, a support system, to help them on their journey to growing or starting their business dreams,” says Nicole Mildren, marketing director of The Mom Con.
 
Kovacic echoed the sentiment that The Mom Con’s most important role is creating a community for area mothers, where women can find friends, mentors and support.
 
As for the future of The Mom Con, Kovacic said she hopes it will continue as an annual event that discusses the unique obstacles mothers in business face. She added that one day she may expand the conference to other cities, but, for now, her goal is to continue to support mothers here in Pittsburgh. 
 
“[The Mom Con is] an annual event that continues to grow, but also a thriving community of moms that support one another throughout the year. That's really what The Mom Con was made for. To learn together, connect with one another and keep that connection long after the conference is over,” she said.
 
To register for the event, please visit themomcon.com/registration/.
 
Source: The Mom Con, Natalie Kovacic

Koolkat Designs to take over big red barn as The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh

Since its inception eight years ago, Mt. Lebanon art boutique Koolkat Designs has nurtured local artists and fostered a supportive creative community throughout Pittsburgh. Now, the artist collective is going big, with a re-branding, an expansion into a roomy red barn, and a partnership with one of the neighborhood's most recognizable family businesses.
 
In spring 2015, Koolkat Designs will relocate to the iconic big red barn where Banksville Road becomes McFarland Road in Mt. Lebanon. Koolkat owner Kate McGrady, creative director Kate Wagle Hitmar and Bob, Chuck and Doug Satterfield are working together to create this 10,000-square-foot art and cultural center in the South Hills. The Satterfield brothers are the third-generation owners of Rollier's Hardware; the business occupied the barn space from 1953 to 1994 before moving to its current location on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon.
 
The new art space will continue in the Koolkat tradition, fully dedicated to showcasing the talents and creations of greater Pittsburgh artists, though the business will be renamed The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh.
 
The building's barn facade appealed to McGrady. 

"There are many art barns throughout the United States. The arts and barns are a natural fit,” she said. “Artists and farmers share a history of producing, crafting by hand, creating something new from the ground up and valuing their communities.”  
 
This expansion was born from Koolkat’s success in the community as the go-to spot for handcrafted jewelry, accessories and art made locally. In its eight years in business on Washington Road, Koolkat grew from 22 local artists to more than 200.
 
"We have truly amazing and loyal customers," McGrady said. "We have ideas and talent that far exceed our existing store's capacity. The Pittsburgh region is overflowing with creative energy, and we want to serve that need in the South Hills.”
 
Wagle Hitmar said she attributes some of this support to the “Buy Local” and “Support Small Business” movements. 
 
"People want to support the arts and their community, and feel connected to the businesses with which they interact. The Satterfields, [McGrady] and I are all Pittsburgh-born and raised; our love for the city is innate. When people shop with us, they're not only supporting our small business, but the creative enterprises of hundreds of fellow Pittsburghers," said Wagle Hitmar.
 
The Satterfields still own the art barn, situated at a well-traveled location not far from where Mt. Lebanon and Dormont meet the City of Pittsburgh. Doug Satterfield, who creates ceramics, explained the need for the Satterfields and McGrady to join forces.

"We decided to put our best qualities together, combine our strengths and to bring something unique to Pittsburgh at a scale not usually seen," Doug Satterfield said. "We share the vision and want to see this develop."  
 
The barn will undergo substantial interior and exterior renovations in the coming months. Berryman Associates Architects of Shadyside are consulting on the design. Tedco Construction Corp. of Carnegie will manage the construction.  
 
The first floor will include a significantly expanded showroom and a café with a performance space for live events, such as musical performances, lectures and life drawing. Larry Lagattuta of Enrico Biscotti will supply artisan foods to the cafe. The downstairs, affectionately dubbed "The Underground," will have additional showroom space, a revolving exhibition gallery and a dedicated teaching space.  
 
In addition to a fresh coat of paint and a new color scheme, 1635 McFarland Road will see other improvements including a re-graded parking lot, a new main entrance, outdoor seating, landscaping, lighting and space for art installations. McGrady said she plans to take full advantage of the outdoor space, using it to host food trucks, farm stands and outdoor eating.  
 
"The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh will be a destination, and help bridge the South Hills to the Greater Pittsburgh arts community. We look forward to collaborating with this community to enhance everyone's exposure and experience with local art, music and food," McGrady said.  
 

Source: Koolkat Designs
 

Landmarks Community Capital Corporation awards $99,000 loan to Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation

Landmarks Community Capital Corporation, a nonprofit lending subsidiary of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, closed on a $99,000 construction loan to the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation in September to renovate its storied community center.
 
The loan will provide rehabilitation funds for BGC's community center, located on North Pacific Avenue in Garfield. This building, a former Methodist church constructed in 1898, serves as a primary meeting place for public events in the Garfield community.
 
Rick Swartz, BGC executive director, explained that the Landmarks Community Capital Corporation was interested in the community center as an important part of the neighborhood. Although the 19th-century church is not a certified historic landmark, the building has a lot of history, Swartz said.
 
“It is something of a historical asset in the neighborhood,” Swartz said. 
 
The first phase of building improvements include: new flooring in the main hall, window replacements, heating and cooling upgrades, new entry doors, painting and enhanced lighting. Exterior brickwork, window replacements and outdoor painting are also planned to enhance the building as a visible part of the neighborhood.
 
The BGC serves Bloomfield, Garfield and Friendship; the center provides programming for those communities, including a BGC children’s summer camp. Swartz says these improvements will benefit events and programming.
 
He said renovations will make the space more attractive for neighbors seeking a family-friendly venue. He said he hopes the upgrades to lighting and lower-volume heating and cooling can attract more professional and job orientation sessions. The improved temperature systems will also help with costs to the nonprofit.
 
Swartz said it is difficult to find grants and gifts for building improvements of this kind. But the loan from the Landmarks Community Capital Corporation is helping the BGC get started.  Swartz noted that the Urban Redevelopment Authority did assist the BGC with a $5,000 grant for community center renovations. And, he said, Garfield resident and architect Gary Cirrincione is lending a hand by assisting in plans and overseeing construction.
 
“We’re just trying to make it … a space you feel very comfortable in,” Swartz said, adding that he hopes neighbors see it as a place for meetings, baby showers and anniversary parties in the future.
 
Construction on the BGC community center should be completed December 2014.
 
Source: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, Rick Swartz

Heinz History Center opens new Museum Conservation Center

The Senator John Heinz History Center opened its new Museum Conservation Center last week, providing Pittsburgh with a place to bring heirlooms -- from family Bibles to photographs -- for professional services and advice on caring for antiques.

By appointment, trained staff will provide visitors with information on how to preserve their treasures, including works of art, photographs, wedding dresses, and furniture. The Museum Conservation Center also connects visitors with conservators should their heirlooms require professional repair.
 
With the opening of the new Conservation Center, the History Center becomes one of the first museums in the nation to provide professional conservation services directly to the public.
 
“It’s a place where visitors can link with professional services and seek advice,” said Barbara Antel, Conservation Services Manager.
 
The Conservation Center provides visitors with access to the same quality assessment and treatments that the museum provides for its own collections. 
 
The center is also an education resource. It opened to the public with a hands-on workshop focusing on preserving paper documents. Experts provided tips on how to best preserve birth certificates, passports, letters and other materials.
 
“The process of conservation is to preserve an object from further deterioration,” Antel said about the center’s educational efforts.
 
The next family archives workshop is Nov. 22. A “Holiday Heritage Workshop,” discussing care for delicate ornaments, linens and antique china, will be held Dec. 11.
 
In addition to conservation services, the nine-floor LEED-certified green building also houses the History Center’s collection of more than 32,000 artifacts. The new 55,000-square-foot storage space features Smithsonian-quality lighting, temperature, humidity, pest control and security.
 
The Conservation Center is located behind the History Center in the Strip District at 1221 Penn Ave. and is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, primarily by appointment.
 
 
140 Community Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts