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Love Your Block announces 14 fall grant recipients

Mayor William Peduto announced last week the 14 organizations that will receive funding for the seventh round of the Love Your Block grant program, a servePGH initiative.
 
The block revitalization program, with help from sponsors, awards $1,000 to purchase supplies and tools to implement a block improvement project that mobilizes community volunteers to transform blighted lots into neighborhood assets. 
 
Sabrina Shaner, LYB coordinator and neighborhood service associate, says the project provides a creative and sustainable solution while “promoting public safety, encouraging real estate and pride.”
 
Melanie Ondek, City of Pittsburgh grants officer working with servePGH, explains that while Pittsburgh is currently growing, the city faced a declining population for five decades resulting in blight. She says community engagement efforts revitalize neighborhoods and improve the quality of life of citizens. 
 
LYB uses “citizen service to tackle city needs,” Ondek says. She adds that, “We see our most successful projects happen when the entire block is engaged.”  
 
The mini-grant initiative began in 2011 and has funded Pittsburgh blocks every fall and spring since its inception. Ondek says LYB has completed 104 projects and assisted 321 blocks with more than 1,000 volunteers who have removed 30,000 plus pounds of litter. Ondek adds that LYB has touched 43 of Pittsburgh’s 98 neighborhoods.
 
“I am happy to announce that LYB is once again uniting neighbors, community members and volunteers to improve their neighborhoods by turning blighted properties into usable green space,” says Mayor Peduto. “These projects exhibit the sense of pride and spirit of volunteerism that are regularly demonstrated by so many citizens that live in the unique neighborhoods of Pittsburgh.”
 
Fall 2014 grant recipients are as follows: 900 Block of Liberty, Beechview Community Garden, The Borland Garden Cooperative, Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council, Grow Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville United, Northside Coalition for Fair Housing, Observatory Hill, Inc., South Pittsburgh Development Corp, Southside Community Council of Pittsburgh, Troy Hill Citizen, Inc., Uptown Partners, West End Alliance and YWCA.
 
LYB is made possible thanks to Peoples Natural Gas, the PNC Foundation and The Home Depot. Peoples Natural Gas donated $15,000 and the PNC Foundation added an additional $10,000, while The Home Depot is providing $9,100 worth of supplies. LYB is also supported by the Corporation for National Community Service, the AmeriCorps VISTA program and it's based on the Cities of Service Blueprint of the same name.
 
Additionally, a special $2,000 prize will be given to the organization that carries out the most successful block transformation, according to identified criteria. Fall project implementation will take place from August 31 to October 31, 2014.
 
Source: Office of Mayor William Peduto, Sabrina Shaner, Melanie Ondek, Love Your Block
 

New parking options for Eliza Furnace Trail bike commuters

Mayor William Peduto’s administration is providing new daily parking options for bike commuters who use the Eliza Furnace Trail — a stretch of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail on the Monongahela River's north bank.
 
Parking restrictions put into place in advance of construction of a new protected bike lane on Saline Street in Greenfield displaced some commuters who park their vehicles by the Eliza Furnace trailhead and bike to work each day. Other daily commuters commonly took advantage of free parking on Saline and would take buses to work.
 
This construction is part of the city’s protected bike lane project with lanes being built from Schenley Plaza to Anderson Playground in Schenley Park; along Saline Street between Greenfield Avenue and Swinburne Street (Panther Hollow Trail) in Greenfield; and on Penn Avenue from 11th Street to Stanwix Avenue, Downtown.
 
Thomas Baxter, executive director of Friends of the Riverfront says the Three Rivers Heritage Trail is becoming more heavily used, which he says is “a great problem to have.” 

Baxter notes that when Friends of the Riverfront began working on the trail, the project focused on recreation. Today, efforts have expanded to transportation.
 
To continue to encourage biking, the city is planning to add parking spaces to the lot at the Eliza Furnace trailhead and mark them for weekday bike commuters. For those seeking to use the trail for mid-day exercise, parking at other spaces in the trailhead lot will remain restricted to three hours.
 
Work may take a couple of weeks to complete so bike commuters may park their vehicles at the soccer field in Junction Hollow, on Boundary Street just north of Saline Street. From there, bicyclists can connect with the Eliza Furnace trail to get Downtown or go the opposite direction to travel to Oakland.
 
“Pittsburgh is becoming one of the best cities in the country for bicyclists, and we’re doing all we can to add even more bike-friendly infrastructure,” Mayor Peduto says.
 
 
Source: Office of Mayor William Peduto, Thomas Baxter

Principal of evolveEA named to international committee for creating ecodistricts

Christine Mondor, principal of Pittsburgh-based evolveEA, has been selected as one of eighty international experts, practitioners and leaders to be part of the Ecodistricts Global Protocol Advisory Committee, convened by Portland, Ore., non-profit Ecodistricts.org.
 
The Global Protocol Advisory Committee will discuss goals, milestones and deliverables for establishing a broad adoption of ecodistrict planning and sharing of knowledge. Ecodistricts.org holds an annual summit to promote sustainable urban design principles. 
 
“In order to accelerate sustainability, you need to think at the neighborhood scale,” Mondor says. This is where ecodistricts comes into consideration. Instead of acting as a single home or business owner, ecodistricts encourage action at the neighborhood or block level.

Ecodistricts creatively synthesizes ecology, economics and placemaking to create strong communities and community planning projects across the country. 
 
EvolveEA has worked with communities in Western Pennsylvania to incorporate innovative energy, water and food systems into the design of neighborhoods, planned developments and urban districts.
 
Ecodistricts.org describes the Protocol as, “a platform for building district governance and leadership, a framework for unleashing innovation, a system for encouraging and rewarding leadership and a blueprint for creating just, sustainable and resilient cities and neighborhoods for all.”
 
Mondor presented at the annual summit in Boston in November 2013, was part of a Pittsburgh team at the 2014 Ecodistricts Incubator in Portland, Ore. and will be presenting this fall at the Ecodistricts Summit in Washington, D.C.
 
Mondor calls the summits a place where people from around the world working on sustainable projects find “commonalities” in their efforts. She says those who attend conferences and apply for the Global Protocol Advisory Committee hail from across the globe, from Boston to San Francisco, to Europe and even South America.
 
The committee hosted their first meeting earlier this month. Mondor says in addition to sharing common experiences, the committee plans to create a framework for cities starting ecodistricts—providing guides and training tools.

Sustainability consulting and design firm evolveEA has led ecodistrict planning, design and stakeholder education initiatives in a number of communities since 2009. The firm’s approach to promoting equity for community members by fostering grassroots capacity-building has been recognized with design awards and invitations to collaborate nationally and internationally.
 
“I think Pittsburgh is in a really good spot right now to take leadership in this movement,” Mondor says, adding that the city is “ahead of the curve in a lot of ways” and noting green building efforts. She calls the Global Protocol Advisory Committee a convergence of a national movement and local leadership.
 
Source: Christine Mondor, evolveEA

The Frick completes first phase of $15 million renovation project

The Frick Art & Historical Center in Point Breeze opened its new Orientation Center and Frick Museum Store last weekend, with a wide range of activities including free tours of Clayton, meet-the-architects sessions, free gallery talks and family activities.
 
Located on the Pittsburgh estate of late 19th-century industrialist Henry Clay Frick, the Frick Art & Historical Center is a legacy to the people of Pittsburgh — left by Frick’s daughter Helen Clay Frick upon her death in 1984.
 
Built by Helen Clay Frick in 1969, The Frick Art Museum displays a permanent collection of European paintings, sculpture and decorative arts from the 13th to 18th centuries.

Clayton, the Henry Clay Frick family mansion, was the home where Frick and his wife Adelaide raised their family until the turn of the century. Their daughter Helen returned home and maintained Clayton as her primary residence. Restored and opened as a house museum in 1990, 93 percent of Clayton’s artifacts are original. The permanent collections include art, cars, carriages and historic objects (including buildings).
 
Also included on the Frick’s 5.5-acre site are the Frick Children’s Playhouse, designed by renowned architects Alden & Harlow; the renovated Orientation Center and Frick Museum Store; a large working greenhouse (also designed by Alden & Harlow); an education center; and The Café at the Frick.
 
The opening of the orientation center marks the completion of the first phase of a $15 million expansion project. The space incorporates educational technology that enables visitors to learn about the Frick family and life in Pittsburgh at the end of the 19th century. It also includes the new Frick Museum Store.
 
A new entrance was constructed at the center of campus in front of the orientation center, between the Car and Carriage Museum and the café, creating a new cohesion for the multi-venue Frick.
 
“The roof kind of floats over the walls,” says architect Jon Traficonte of Schwartz/Silver, a Boston architecture firm that worked with local Loysen + Kreuthmeir Architects on the Frick renovations. Traficonte describes how the wood ceiling is suspended by glass walls at various heights, “folding” up and down to be on scale with surrounding buildings. This feature makes adjacent buildings visible from indoors, helping orient visitors.
 
New technology spearheaded by Seattle’s Belle & Wissell, Co., also assists visitors.
 
“It will allow them to better plan their visit,” says Greg Langel, Frick media and marketing manager about the state of the art interactive maps, touch screens and apps.
 
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by the multiplex, three large electronic screens that present information about the collection. There is also an interactive map that allows guests to plot their visit and provides estimated walking times around campus.
 
Two touch tables describe what is on view in the collections. The iPad bar additionally provides history apps and mission related topics to educate museum guests about the Frick family, Pittsburgh, national and global history.
 
Langel described how the renovation creates a balance between futuristic technology and the site’s history, calling it a “modern yet traditional” green building.
 
“I think that architecturally this building is impressive,” he says.
 
To enhance the Frick's environmental sustainability, all Frick expansion project phases adhere to LEED standards. The glass design of the Orientation Center provides a visual connection to the Frick’s park-like setting and enhances the “green” character of the facility through the use of natural daylight. An exterior sun louver system reduces heat-gain and energy consumption required for cooling. Building materials were selected based on recycled and Low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) content and, where possible, have been harvested and manufactured within 500 miles of Pittsburgh.  "Rain chains" drain water from the roof and hydrate plants on the building’s periphery. The architects also created two new adjacent green spaces.
 
The new museum shop is double the size of the old store. Visitors will find local artisan jewelry, books, kids activity items, art reproductions and Frick products. Pittsburgh artist Audra Azoury created Frick-inspired jewelry for the new shop.
 
The second phase of the expansion project calls for a new education center that will be housed in a renovated facility (the current Carriage Gallery of the Car and Carriage Museum). In addition, a new Carriage Gallery will allow the Frick to better exhibit its important collection of Frick family carriages.
 
In the third phase of the project, the Frick will construct a new community center that will provide additional education and program space and create a venue for rental events. When completed, this plan will join together the multiple components of the Frick, support the enhancement and expansion of its educational offerings and enrich the experience of more than 125,000 annual visitors.


Source: The Frick Art & Historical Center, Greg Langel, Karen Loysen, Jon Traficonte, Kate Blumen

Goats at work in Polish Hill

Tree Pittsburgh got a little help from a special breed of volunteers Tues., July 8 when 30 goats lent their efforts to a hillside restoration project in Polish Hill.
 
Tree Pittsburgh worked with Eco-Goats of Annapolis, Maryland to clear a hillside at West Penn Park of invasive species like knotweed and poison ivy.
 
Goats were provided by a farm in Butler County and began work at 8AM, snacking to prepare the hillside for planting 110 trees grown by Tree Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze nursery. The project was organized by Tree Pittsburgh and funded by the Alcoa Foundation and American Forests’ Global ReLeaf Partnership for Trees.
 
The goats were secured by fence in the tenth of an acre parcel procured by Tree Pittsburgh and worked until 3PM. The event served not only as a restoration project but eco-workshop.
 
Danielle Crumrine, Tree Pittsburgh executive director, called Tuesday’s efforts a teaching opportunity and demonstration, noting that eco-groups across the country use goats for outdoor restoration and that this was an educational experience for local environmental groups. Those who attended the event were able to witness Brian Knox, supervising forester of Eco-Goats, handle the goats.
 
Tree Pittsburgh says goats are attractive in vertical clearing efforts because, “unlike human volunteers, goats can navigate the steep hillside terrain without issue or safety concern. They also eat many invasive species, including some that may be dangerous to humans. Goats are light on their feet, so the trampling from their hooves will prepare the soil for planting later in the year.”
 
The goats in Polish Hill were visible from West Penn Park and Brereton Street.
 
“Cars were pulling over all day, taking pictures,” Crumrine says. She added that children in the adjacent park came over to see the goats, several of them doing their best goat impressions with bleets and bahs.
 
Crumrine says they will be working at the site for about a year and half and noted that in addition to their lot, the entire hillside is fighting invasive species.
 
“You have to shade it out, you have to be diligent,” she says about the uphill battle. The 110 trees will be planted to help reduce sun exposure to the non-pioneer plants.
 
The goats produced a noticeable difference and cleared much of the invasive species Tuesday, but there is work left to be done. Had they been able to stay for 24 hours, Crumrine says, the goats may have been able to clear the small plot.
 
Crumrine says she hopes to see more goats in Tree Pittsburgh’s future.
 
“This is something that Tree Pittsburgh and other local environmental groups would like to continue,“ she says. “[But] goats aren’t free.”

Source: Tree Pittsburgh, Danielle Crumrine

Mayor announces first phases of protected bike lane program

Last week, Mayor William Peduto announced the first phases of the city’s new protected bike lane program to be built in Schenley Park, Greenfield and Downtown. More lanes will follow around the city in partnership with People for Bikes and the Green Lane Project.
 
The city’s first protected two-way lanes will be built from Schenley Plaza to Anderson Playground in Schenley Park; along Saline Street between Greenfield Avenue and Swinburne Street (Panther Hollow Trail) in Greenfield; and on Penn Avenue from 11th Street to Stanwix Avenue, Downtown.
 
These segments account for just more than one mile out of five that are being partially underwritten through $250,000 in support from the Green Lane Project. The Green Lane project chose Pittsburgh as one of six cities that will receive such support. The budget for this first phase, paid out of city capital funds, is $188,000. Bike PGH advocacy director Eric Boerer added that the Mayor has a goal of five miles of protected trail in two years. 
 
"We’re in the top 30 best cities in the country for cycling but that’s not good enough," Mayor Peduto said at a July 3 press conference in Schenley Park. "We have the ability to be a top 10 city in this country and even do better, and that is going to be the commitment our administration is going to make. We will make sure cycling is not only safe, but a viable part of our economic development strategy and a critical part of our transportation needs."
 
Boerer elaborates that this is the type of infrastructure Bike PGH has been advocating. He explains that these protected lanes physically separate cyclists from cars, which creates a multi-use framework that motivates Pittsburgh to get on their bikes.
 
“[The protected lanes create an] infrastructure that is safe for all types of users from eight to 80 years old,” he says, calling the Green Lane Project’s initiative the “next level bike infrastructure on the street.” 
 
Penn Avenue traffic Downtown will be changed to inbound-only to accommodate the protected lanes, which will be on the southern side of the street. Later phases of the Downtown protected lanes are planned to connect to the city’s existing trail systems and the Strip District. Construction on the Greenfield and Schenley Park lanes will begin first later this month and construction Downtown will follow.
 
“There’s a really big symbolic element,” Boerer says.  “[The protected lane initiative] shows that Pittsburgh is thinking differently than ever before … It’s pretty huge step forward for our city.”
 
Boerer also notes that these bike lanes help Pittsburgh keep up with the rest of the country in a national bike movement.  Other cities with protected bike lanes have seen them strengthen neighborhood and business development.
 
“Protected bike lanes have proven to be economic generators from San Francisco to Chicago, and they will be too in Downtown Pittsburgh and other neighborhoods citywide,” Mayor Peduto said. “These lanes are in keeping with the decades-long revitalization of the Cultural District and will add human-scale improvements to the Downtown streetscape as it turns into a unique residential neighborhood.”
 
Source: Eric Boerer, Office of Mayor William Peduto

PNC Financial tops off its new global headquarters Downtown

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. celebrated the topping off of its new global headquarters, The Tower at PNC Plaza, Tuesday. Officials, labor dignitaries, construction workers, PNC’s employees and project partners gathered to sign the final steel beam before it was placed atop the building structure.  

The 33-story, 800,000-square foot tower—located on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Wood Street—will house approximately 2,200 employees upon its opening in fall 2015. The building will help accommodate PNC’s growth and support further business development in Downtown Pittsburgh. PNC says they expect 2,500 people to be hired during construction of The Tower at PNC Plaza.   

“The tower’s construction is a reflection of PNC’s commitment to Pittsburgh and a testament to our tremendous growth over the past decade,” says PNC Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Demchak. “The new headquarters will serve as a statement about the importance that we place on sustainability and innovation and on providing the best-possible environment for our employees.” 
 
With a double-skin facade and a solar chimney, the tower is anticipated to ventilate naturally at least 42 percent of the year and consume 50 percent less energy than a typical office building. The building’s floor-to-ceiling windows and narrow floor plates will allow daylight to illuminate 90 percent of all open workspaces, and a water recycling system is expected to decrease the tower’s annual water consumption by 77 percent.  PNC says they believe that the building will exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification and set the new standard for green building. 

“In 2000, the 650,000-square-foot PNC Firstside Center opened as the first U.S. LEED-certified financial services building and the largest LEED-certified building in the country,” a statement from PNC explains. “Since then, PNC has certified 225 projects to LEED standards, including more newly constructed LEED-certified buildings than any other company."
 
Source: PNC

PGH and CLE face off in the National Bike Challenge

Last year, Pittsburgh rallied 1,515 riders to pedal 738,000 miles to victory against Cleveland in the Rust Belt Battle of the Bikes, as part of the National Bike Challenge.  
 
“The National Bike Challenge is a nationwide event uniting thousands of current bicyclists,” according to nationalbikechallenge.org.  “It is a free and easy way to challenge yourself, colleagues and the greater community to ride more. Users compete on a local, state and national level. The Challenge aims to unite 50,000 riders to pedal 30 million miles from May 1, 2014 until September 30, 2014.” 
 
So, as of last week, the competition was on.
 
“This year, we’re going to register 1,750 riders, pedal 800,000 miles and keep the Rust Belt Champion Trophy on our turf,” Bike PGH’s website boasts.
 
According to Bike PGH’s profile on nationalbikechallenge.org, Pittsburgh already has more than 650 riders, clocking in at more than 13,000 miles in defense of the Rust Belt victory. 
 
In addition to riders and mileage, the page also tracks Pittsburgh’s total calories burned, dollars saved and pounds of CO2 conserved.
 
Bike PGH calls the National Bike Challenge a fun, friendly, free challenge that encourages Pittsburghers to get out and ride bikes — whether it’s for fun, to commute, stay healthy or save money and emissions. They invite more Pittsburghers to register as bikers in the competition against CLE.
 
Riders who participate in the National Bike Challenge also have the opportunity to partake in the Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe’s Pedal for Pints n’ Pop Program. For each medal you earn — personal mileage milestones are marked on the card and designated as medals — you can present your Pedal for Pints Card for a free pint of soda or suds.
 
Bike PGH advises Pittsburghers to make the competition local in the race against CLE. The site suggests riding solo, with a team, or your workplace in a match against another office.
 
The PGH vs. CLE race, along with the national campaign, will go throughout the summer and close September 30.

New bike shop in the Strip aims to make pedaling around PGH more accessible

Kindred Cycles, the new full service bicycle shop in the Strip District, will open next week. The closest bicycle shop to the center of Downtown Pittsburgh and three blocks from the Strip District Trail, Kindred Cycles specializes in commuter and folding bikes as well as repair and maintenance.

Owners Katharine Jordan and Aaron Stein have a mission of love and support for people using pedal power. With more than a decade of combined professional experience wrenching, they see an opportunity to include average Pittsburghers in the growing bike-riding community.

“More and more people are realizing that biking puts a smile on your face. The best trip is one that I would have used my car for,” gushes Aaron. “When you bike you see the neighborhood differently.”

Kindred Cycles hopes to grow with the riding community by promoting accessibility for new riders through programs like Positive Spin, partnering with local businesses, and eventually organizing classes and group rides.

“We want to encourage the average Pittsburgher to bike by giving everyone access to a friendly and inclusive community-driven bike shop,” Katharine summarizes.

Kindred Cycles fits like a true spoke in Pittsburgh’s continuing transportation evolution. Last month, Mayor Bill Peduto gave the opening address at the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. and announced that the PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project selected Pittsburgh to develop protected bike lanes. The Pittsburgh Bike Share Partnership will start this summer. The David L. Lawrence Convention Center will host the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place National Conference in the autumn.
 
Writer: Adam Schøtt Hovne
Sources: Katharine Jordan and Aaron Stein

Riverlife launches guide to aid Pennsylvania's riverfront development

Pittsburgh’s importance in the founding and forging of America owes a great deal to its rivers. For the last 15 years, Riverlife has worked with property owners, community groups and elected officials to restore Pittsburgh’s riverfront territories as assets which have helped to once again set the city apart.

Now, Riverlife is sharing its methodology with the world. This week, the organization released a new resources guide for river towns looking to duplicate Pittsburgh’s success in reviving waterfront property.

“We have 86,000 miles of rivers and streams in Pennsylvania. We have more river communities than most places in the world,” says Riverlife President and CEO Lisa Schroeder. “The guide compiles what we’ve learned here at Riverlife over the last 15 years as we’ve worked on projects on and adjacent to the river.”

Schroeder added that in creating the guide, which took about a year, Riverlife tried to make its lessons and processes applicable to communities of all sizes, and thinks it will be of particular help to river towns in and around the Rust Belt.

The guide is divided into four sections. The “Natural” section encompasses information about ecological conservation. The “Connections” section details best practices for maximizing public access to riverfront developments. “Built” covers elements of design, materials, stormwater management and river-adjacent structures, and “Character” touches on everything from landscape architecture and invasive species management to integrating public art projects.

“Whether a community hopes to build a park or a stormwater garden, we hope this gives them the sense not only that they can do it, but of how to go about it,” she says. “We’re very pleased we’ve been able to layer in years of experience from accomplished professionals.”

The Benedum Foundation financed the creation of the guide and has helped to make it widely accessible. Complimentary hard copies are available through Riverlife, and a digital, print-friendly version is posted on the organization’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Lisa Schroeder

Remaking Cities Congress will convene in Pittsburgh this October

Twenty-five years ago, urban planners, architects and civil engineers from around the country and the world convened in Pittsburgh with the specific aim of addressing the problems facing historically industrial cities in a post-industrial world.

The gathering, called the Remaking Cities Institute, involved days of closed-door meetings, idea exchanges and ultimately, a set of recommendations and principles for industrial cities around the world to set about pulling themselves out of their post-industrial funk.

From October 15th to 18th, the organization, now called the Remaking Cities Congress, will gather 300 of the world’s leading urbanists here once again to review what worked, what didn’t and to issue a new list of recommendations which will inform and guide the next generation of urban planning policy for post-industrial cities from Pittsburgh to Germany’s Ruhr Valley.

“There were policy recommendations, and people walked away from [those sessions] and said, ‘we’re going to see how these affect our urban centers,’” says Pam Wigley, the director of media relations for Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts, who is helping to organize the congress. “The delegates have closed-door sessions on urban planning. They vote, they make decisions on policy, research and economic impact, among other things.”

Pittsburgh has benefitted from several of the recommendations put forth by the last gathering, including making substantial efforts to reclaim riverfronts and redevelop brownfields. Other involved areas, such as Detroit, have had substantially less success.

The congress’s honorary chair, Charles, the Prince of Wales, attended the 1988 conference in Pittsburgh, but this time will send a delegate in his stead and deliver his address via a videotaped message.

“Prince Charles has always had an interest in urban development and community planning,” Wigley says.

In addition to a series of invitation-only sessions, the congress will include several speakers such as Richard Florida and The Brookings Institute's Bruce Katz, as well as a host of tours and mobile workshops which will showcase various aspects of Pittsburgh's resurgence as case studies in post-industrial redevelopment.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Pam Wigley

Grocery store with focus on local produce coming to Lawrenceville

Starting in October, a new joint venture between two neighborhood residents will bring organic, locally-sourced food to Upper Lawrenceville.

The 52nd Street Market will hearken back to the days of the neighborhood corner grocery while offering residents a local option for healthy food and produce.

“We really do want people to feel like it’s their corner store,” says Dora Walmsley, one of the market’s co-owners.

Walmsley, who works for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, met co-owner Deirdre Kane while working on Lawrenceville’s organic community gardens.

The market will occupy the first-floor space at 601 52nd Street, which years ago was a corner grocery called Bloomfield Market. Walmsley and Kane were looking for a location when they learned that the building had just been sold to real estate development firm PA Wealth Builders, which initially planned to use the space for its offices.

When Walmsley and Kane approached Jon Perry from the firm about using the first-floor space for a market, he was eager to help.

“He believed in our vision,” Kane says. “He believed in local food economy and remodeled the building for us at no extra charge.”

Walmsley and Kane hope to cull as much of their stock as possible from local farms and community gardens. Eventually they hope the market which is scheduled to open in mid-October, could be supplied by its own small farm.

“We hope to acquire land to have a little farmette,” Walmsley says. “The farmette will supply the market, which will hopefully sustain both the market and the farm.”

In addition to produce, the market plans to offer a selection of prepared foods, soups, salads and a coffee bar with a seating area.

“I decided Lawrenceville was not only going to be my home, but my future,” Kane says. “I really wanted to be a part of the neighborhood fabric.”

Kane and Walmsley plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign soon to help cover some of the costs of opening the market. For updates and information on how to get involved, visit the Facebook page.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Dora Walmsley, Deirdre Kane

Lots of Green Bike + Bus Tour now bigger and better and ending in a party

For the second straight year, Growth Through Energy + Community Health (GTECH) will host a BikeFest event highlighting neighborhood efforts to make Pittsburgh greener.

The Lots of Green Bike + Bus Tour, which will take place on August 10th, offer participants bike tours of seven and 32 miles, as well as the option of a 90-minute bus tour for those less inclined to ride.

To expand upon last year’s bike tour of new and innovative community green space, GTECH has partnered with Grow Pittsburgh to make the event even bigger.

“Most of the projects that will be highlighted are former vacant lots — spaces that have been transformed into community green spaces,” says GTECH’s Sara Innamorato.

The tours will begin at 9 a.m., and leave from GTECH’s offices at 6587 Hamilton Avenue.

“If you look at the route, a lot of the gardens are in neighborhoods with high levels of vacancy,” Innamorato says. “There are these green efforts happening in the community and there are people who really care about them and want to make them better.”

The tours include stops at community gardens and parks in city neighborhoods such as Garfield, Greenfield, the South Side, East Liberty, Homewood and Larimer, and areas just outside the city, including Braddock, Wilkinsburg, Homestead and Millvale.

When the tours conclude, participants will meet back up at GTECH’s offices for a party, featuring food from local vendors such as Marty’s Market, My Goodies Bakery and Rob’s Awesome Italian Ice, drinks from Commonplace Coffee, and beer donated by East End Brewing Company.

The Tech Shop will be on hand with a bike-themed demo, and Carnegie Library of Braddock’s Print Shop will be doing custom screen printing.

Tickets for Lots of Green are $10 and may be purchased through Showclix. For more on 2013 BikeFest, visit its website and check out Pop City’s expanded coverage.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Sara Innamorato

Schenley Park to get two new water management systems

In an effort to reduce runoff and pollution and restore the ecosystem in Panther Hollow, two new rainwater management systems will be built in portions of Schenley Park.

“These are pilot projects and they’re part of a larger effort to restore the Panther Hollow Watershed,” says Erin Copeland, a restoration ecologist for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

One system will consist of French drains along Bartlett and Beacon Streets in Squirrel Hill, near the park’s perimeter.

The drains are designed to collect surface water and groundwater into special piping which will redistribute the water.

The other system, which will be installed along Schenley Drive through the Bob O’Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park, involves a process called retentive grading.

Utilizing strategically chosen areas of the golf course, the conservancy will construct 20 to 25 earthen mounds perpendicular to water flow and made of soil mixtures designed to effectively soak in the most water.

Copeland says that together, the two systems will absorb about 1.9 million gallons of water each year, all of which will be redistributed to the Panther Hollow Watershed.

The systems, both of which qualify as pieces of green infrastructure, are part of the conservancy’s larger plan to restore the streams, woodlands and lake in Panther Hollow.

“Right now, the lake drains back to the sewer system,” Coleman says. “We’d like to change that. We want to get that water back out of the lake and create a stream in Junction Hollow.”

The upgrades, which the conservancy has been planning since 2010, will be completed next spring.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Erin Copeland

Homewood getting a new 12,000 square-foot Renaissance Center

A new type of community facility will be at the center of an effort to revitalize North Homewood.

After plans to put a dollar store in the space at 7258 Frankstown Avenue fell through, Dollar Bank agreed to donate the building — valued at $2 million — for what the Homewood Renaissance Association is calling The Renaissance Center.

Among its features, the 12,000-square foot Renaissance Center will include classrooms, community space, a kitchen, a recording studio and other recreational amenities, in addition to housing the Homewood Renaissance Association’s new offices.

Apart from acting as a community center, the space will have 4,000-square feet dedicated to four retail storefront spaces. Businesses local to Homewood will occupy three of the spaces, and the fourth will act as a business incubator, according to Homewood Renaissance Association spokesperson Kelley Denny.

Collaborating with the association on the Renaissance Center are City MissionHosana IndustriesRebuilding Together Pittsburgh, along with backing from a myriad of local foundations and volunteer efforts.

On track to open in early 2014, the Renaissance Center is the prime initiative in a broader community revitalization campaign which will also see the construction of a youth home, the establishment of a transitional housing program for the homeless, the expansion of both a career skills training program for young men in Homewood and a daily after school program for children of all ages.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Kelley Denny
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