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Tour local artists' studios and help our health-care system

The new documentary on Healthy Artists' work shows Pittsburgh why it's important to keep reforming our health-care system – and how local artists' studios are very cool.
 
The 30-minute film "Healthy Artists (the movie!)" by Garret Jones and Anthony DeAngelis of the local Studio Corrida documents the participation of more than 30 Pittsburgh artists in the Healthy Artists Movie Poster Exhibition in January, which illustrated the need for health-care reform for artists and other freelance workers.

The Sprout Fund Seed Award-funded work features Seth Clark, Lizzee Solomon, Jim Rugg, Andy Scott, Steph Neary, Brett Yasko, Laurie Trok and others, including Julie Sokolow, head of Healthy Artists.
 
It will be shown as part of Film Kitchen on July 9 at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Melwood Screening Room, with a reception at 7 p.m. and the presentations at 8 p.m. Accompanying the new documentary will be short works from Brooklyn-based comedian/filmmaker Travis Irvine, whose work has been featured on Funny or Die and The Tonight Show.

Next comes the debut of the four-minute "The Intuition Artist" by local filmmaker Tim Murray, profiling Gabe Felice setting up his psychedelic art show and explaining what it’s like to be uninsured. Sokolow's six-minute "Everything Will Probably Be Fine" follows, depicting CMU graduate Jenn Gooch's experience with bankruptcy due to medical bills.
 
The featured Healthy Artists documentary, says Sokolow, " is instructive about how to get a grassroots effort going and have it take off in a national way." It shows how, following the poster exhibition, her group was invited to blog for Michael Moore and won an Emerging Artist Award in the MacArthur Foundation’s June 2013 Looking@Democracy Competition.
 
"We've had our message resonate nationally," she adds, "but it's important to address the issue in Pittsburgh," especially given the controversy over health-care giant UPMC's role as a nonprofit in the community.
 
After the screening, pediatrician Scott Tyson, president of Health Care 4 All PA‘s Education Fund, will talk about a new economic impact study by Prof. Gerald Friedman at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. This research, Sokolow says, demonstrates how the state could save $17 billion a year while providing medical, dental and vision coverage to all residents and create jobs in the process. "Republicans can get behind this study because it's about getting financially responsible," she says; after all, former GOP officials, such as state House Rep. David J. Steil, are on Healthcare 4 All PA's board.
 
Current state Sen. Jim Ferlo will then speak about his recent reintroduction of Senate Bill 400 as single-payer health-care legislation for the state.
 
"Our big approach has been to address the health-care crisis in our quirky voices," says Sokolow, "so it's interesting to get a politician to step onto our turf. We think it will be inspiring to see somebody meeting us halfway like that."
           
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Julie Sokolow, Healthy Artists

Hurry, Athena Award nominations close Friday, June 28

The Athena Award "is the only award that really recognizes women for giving back to other women," notes the chair of this year's host committee, Beth Marcello, director of women's business development at PNC.
 
Nominations for the award (see the form and rules here) close on June 28, so get your submission in now, she says. No matter how prominent a woman may be in our community, Marcello cautions, the winner is based only on the nomination form.
 
The awards program, given in hundreds of cities around the world, regularly attracts a large following here, drawing more than 850 people to its annual luncheon (on Sept. 30 this year), making Pittsburgh one of the top 5 Athena sites in the city's 23rd year of participation. Pop City is again one of the sponsors.
 
Winners are women who excel in their profession, give back to their communities and act as role models to other women. While nominee numbers vary from year to year, Marcello says, the group averages 25 submissions for the main award and 12 for the award honoring a young professional, which is only in its third year. "It is very competitive," she says. "It's a tremendously difficult task for both selection committees," which choose five Athena finalists and three for the young professional award.
 
Marcello emphasizes that past recipients get involved with the Athena for the future, including winners from the last several years: Athena winner Kim Berkeley Clark, a judge in the family division of Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, and Young Professional Award winners Christy Uffelman, a partner in Align Leadership LLC, and Jennifer Cairns, executive director of Sarah Heinz House, which houses the local Boys & Girls Club of America.
           
"The intent is very much to keep these women in the Athena loop," Marcello says. "The Athena Awards are tremendously important for the Pittsburgh region. Pittsburgh has won a ton of awards recently ... but there is still sometimes a perception that Pittsburgh is not a welcoming place for women in leadership. It's pivotal to communicate within and outside the region that we are a community where women are doing great things."
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Beth Marcello, Athena Awards

Patrick Dowd takes kid advocacy experience to Allies For Children

The region has gained a new children's advocacy group but lost a city councilman.
 
Patrick Dowd will resign in July from elected office after 10 years on the school board and council to become executive director of Allies For Children, a new public-policy advocate for children.
 
While it already has funding from the Heinz Endowments, The Grable Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, the local United Way and others, Dowd called it "a start up" at the announcement on June 17. "I think we have an office; I don't know if we have a phone," he said. "I don't even know if we have a bank account."
 
From temporary offices in the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, the group will work across the state on the health, education and well-being of children – "all their basic needs," said interim President Martha W. Isler. While anchoring the western part of the state, she added, Allies For Children will team with partner organizations here, in central Pennsylvania and in the Philadelphia area to push local and state governments to act on a variety of kids' issues.
 
Locally, Allies For Children will join with such organizations as the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children. PAEYC's leader, Michelle Figlar, seemed very pleased with the new group's role in creating better government access and influence. "Building relationships with the grass roots and the grass tops is the key to success," she said. "Our collective and amplified voice can now advocate with all public officials."
 
In Dowd, said Pittsburgh Foundation Senior Program Officer Kevin Jenkins, "we believe we did find the person who ... is going to be able to do good things in the public policy arena."
 
"I am eager to be able to listen to you, to learn from you and to collaborate with you," Dowd told the crowd. "There is a real urgency to this work," Dowd added. In a region with 250,000 kids, 1 in 6 lives in poverty and nearly 1 in 2 is in a low-income household, forcing them to start life with a deficit.
 
"You will see Pittsburgh held up across the nation as a model," he concluded, "where people will say, 'Yes, that is the place where they are doing the most …'"
 
The group may be contacted here.
 
Writer: Marty Levine

Who else knows you are reading this? And why? PublicSource panel has the info

The June 25 showing of the documentary "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks" by Pittsburgh Filmmakers at the Harris Theater seemed the perfect time to hold a discussion on government information gathering, says Sharon Walsh, editor of PublicSource, the local online investigative news organization. With governments seeking more information from ordinary citizens and attempting to reveal less to us, the panel will discuss the public's right to know, as well as the government's, and the press's role in all of this. It will concentrate on "privacy and the advantages and disadvantages of what we know not just the government but everyone is collecting on us," Walsh says.
 
Panelists will include:
  • Attorney Tom Farrell, previously a Greater Pittsburgh ACLU board member, who has sued the Obama administration, contending that a National Security Agency (NSA) program that collects telephone information violates the Constitution; 
  • Kim deBourbon, executive director of the Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition, a nonprofit that tries to ensure Pennsylvanians have access to federal, state and local documents to which the law entitles them; and
  • Carl Prine, a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer who has reported on the NSA and whistleblowers.
Walsh will moderate the discussion, which is free with the price of a film ticket and will take place prior to the movie, at 7 p.m.
 
"As a journalist, you want the government to be transparent, but when you find out what they are collecting, you're not sure you want them to be transparent about you," Walsh says.
 
While certain records are supposed by law to be publically accessible, she points out, "there are lots of different gradations to who is supposed to have access to what under law." Members of the public, she adds, "don't realize that journalists are asking [for documents] on behalf of the public, but they have as much of a right to these documents as we do." Politicians and bureaucrats stand in the way, as does the lack of public knowledge of how to request government documents.
 
Walsh says that, as a journalist, she tries not to have a public opinion about issues, but that "public information is the one thing journalists can have an opinion about."
 
Do Good:
Learn how to use Pennsylvania's Open Records Law at the ACLU's "YOUR Right to Know" workshop, June 27, 7:00 p.m., at the Homewood Library (7101 Hamilton Ave., 15208) with Sara Rose, ACLU staff attorney. To RSVP or for more info, email here or call 412-681-7736x322
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Sharon Walsh, PublicSource

Inspiration to action: Public Allies to hold first leadership conference

Public Allies Pittsburgh is hosting its first Leadership Conference to share the wisdom of a local group of leaders who rarely get to take center stage, says Misti McKeehen, the group's site director.
 
"We took a look at who in our community was doing innovative things and taking action but may not always be the presenter at typical conferences in town," she says. The event, June 25 at the Senator John Heinz History Center, will feature 10-minute presentations from 27 different people – representatives of the United Way of Allegheny County, Fitwits and The Garden of Peace project as well as those who have been serving with Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program of Coro Pittsburgh and Public Allies' national group that sends people into a 10-month service experience with local nonprofits and their communities.
 
The short presentations will concentrate on professional development, community engagement and issues specific to western Pennsylvania. Over lunch, participants will decide the action they will take as a result of what they've learned at the conference: perhaps mentoring a young person in the community or changing the way they perform their own leadership.
           
The conference begins with a keynote address from Cris Ros-Dukler of Milwaukee, who brought the Electronic Benefits Transfer card to the national food-stamp program, reducing both the cost to government and the perceived stigma of using the program.
 
Says McKeehen: "We wanted someone who could share with the audience how innovation and action could really have a huge impact."
           
Admission to the conference is free for students and AmeriCorps service members. The $10 fee for others includes lunch and admission to the Heinz History Center afterwards.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Misti McKeehen, Public Allies Pittsburgh

Who's the oldest kid in Pittsburgh?

Our local kids' museum turns the decidedly un-kid-like age of 30 today, but the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh is unabashedly celebrating with a very kid-friendly and public birthday party and free admission on June 22.
 
In 2004, when the museum was considering its recent expansion, it was receiving 100,000 visitors a year. "This year we expect to break all records; we're on track to pass 260,000," says museum spokesperson Bill Schlageter. When it opened, the museum's annual budget was $540,000; this year it is $5.4 million.
 
"It's a big moment for us," he says. Indeed, the museum was featured in May in a new book called Magnetic Museums, which covers five museums in the country that have "become vital players in the social, civic and economic vibrancy of their communities," he explains. The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh was also invited to join 20 other American institutions to start the “Wonder Collective” to show families across the country what attractions and assets they all offer.
 
The 30th birthday celebration runs 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and features:
  • Live music from the local Soundwaves Steel Drum Band and Elliott Sussman, who plays ragtime blues, Tin Pan Alley tunes and doo-wop on everything from dobro to banjo, ukulele, dulcimer and autoharp
  • Performances by Ben Sota, unicyclist and founder of Zany Umbrella Circus
  • Hula hooping with Stefanie Moser of Spinster Hoops, and
  • The chance to make birthday hats and die-cut birthday cards in the museum's studio and musical instruments in its MakeShop. "The kids will come up with their own musical instruments, and we hope everyone bring their instruments to the parade" at 2:00, says Schlageter.
The day is sponsored by the Jack Buncher Foundation.
 
Writer: Marty Levine  
Source: Bill Schlageter, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

Custom dog collars and photos: winning businesses for Entrepreneuring Youth

Two teenage entrepreneurs split nearly $3,000 in prize money from the finals of the George W. Tippins Business Plan Competition here June 6 – and one of them is headed to New York City in October to compete for a $25,000 prize.
 
The winner of the Up-Start division for younger high-school students, Derica Sanchez of Urban Pathways Charter School downtown, pitched a business designing custom dog collars, beating out more than a dozen other students earlier in May's semi-finals.
 
"Derica is a quiet, responsible young lady who in the end revealed a greater depth of ability and talent for marketing than I would have expected for someone so young in her career," says Jerry Cozewith, head of the local nonprofit Entrepreneuring Youth, which sponsored the contest and preparatory programs educating kids about business success in Allegheny and several other local counties. "The judges were impressed by the prototypes of her products. She had a firm grasp on the competitive edge she needed to go forward."
 
Besides winning $1,200, she'll be attending the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition this month as a guest of Entrepreneuring Youth, and Cozewith expects her to be back next year to compete in the Start-Up division for older high schoolers.
 
There, the $1,500 top winner was Meghan Boboige, founder of Meg’s Photo Booth, which
sells her own and custom-commissioned photographs printed in high resolution on canvas. She was in the eleventh grade in Moon Area High School this year.
 
Meghan will be competing in the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship business plan competition this fall, where last year's Tippins Start-Up winners, teens Jesse and Joziah Council of Beaver Area High School, took their line of all-natural skin-care products to New York and were runners up, winning $5,000.
 
Says Cozewith: "Meghan clearly had a quality product and understood the limitation of her business, so she had a very strong grasp of what her product was, what her business is, and the opportunity to grow it. She was very, very confident in her presentation."
        
In general, he adds, most kids only know the world of business from a consumer angle. Entrepreneuring Youth will be working over the summer to teach Meghan more about inventory, taking orders and other skills needed to make her idea work in the real world.
 
"Her fundamentals are strong, but we really need to get her thinking about the future, where the opportunities are, and what the costs and resources are," he says. "She'll be up against kids with more experience. We'll find someone in the photography business who can really speak to the world and really steel her to do a great job in New York."
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Jerry Cozewith, president, Entrepreneuring Youth

Umoja honoring 25 years of African-influenced arts at Asanté Awards

After 25 years of bringing African culture to Pittsburgh, Umoja African Arts Company will be holding its first Asanté Awards on June 28 for local artists in many categories. Asanté (Kiswahili for “thank you”) nominees were chosen because they worked with Umoja in the past, perform an art form that is tied to African cultures and are known to be community arts leaders.
 
"We realized that it was time to thank those who have contributed in the arts," says President and CEO Darcel Madkins.
 
The Asanté award nominees are:
  • Blues: Jill West & Blues Attack, Muddy Creek Blues, Pittsburgh Blues Society
  • Hip hop: Chris Edmunds, Hip Hop on L.O.C.K,, Jasiri X
  • Jazz: Joe Negri, Kevin Howard, Roger Humphries
  • Performing arts: August Wilson Center Dance, CAPA High School, Hill Dance Academy Theater
  • Spiritual: David Dance Team, Macedonia Baptish Church, Northside Institutional Church
  • Spoken word: Christina Springer, Kimberly Ellis, Leslie “Ezra” Smith
  • Theater: Bricolage Production Company, Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh Playwrights
The winners will be announced at the ceremony, which Umoja plans to hold every year from now on.
 
The honorary chairs of the event, including Oliver Byrd, will be honored for their arts leadership in the local community; Byrd helped create the August Wilson Center (where the awards will be held) and served on the board of the Multicultural Arts Initiative of the Heinz Endowments and Pittsburgh Foundation. The Umoja “Unity” Award goes to Damien Pwono, who founded Umoja when he was a student at the University of Pittsburgh, while the Cultural Spirit Award will be given to visual artist Thaddeus Mosley. Lynn Cullen will MC the event.
 
The semi-formal evening begins at 5:30 with a VIP reception featuring jazz and Congolese dance; the awards begin at 8. Says Madkins: "This is a way for people to showcase their work, for people in the community to see what they have done." Tickets are available here.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Darcel Madkins, Umoja African Arts Company

25 schools get STEAM spaces thanks to AIU, Grable, Benedum

Since 2009, Allegheny Intermediate Unit's (AIU) Center for Creativity has been making grants to fund education focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). "It's the concept of thinking in a more integrative way" about these educational subjects, says Rosanne Javorsky, the AIU's director of teaching and learning. "Science class doesn't end after a 42-minute period."
 
Since last year's experiment of giving larger grants was so successful, she says, this year the AIU has once again teamed with the Grable and Benedum foundations to make more and larger grants among a wider range of schools. On June 3, they announced $500,000 in funding to re-design or create spaces in 25 schools to involve students in STEAM subjects and projects. They awarded $20,000 each to 25 school districts in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington and Westmoreland counties.  
 
Javorsky says they received more than 80 applications. "I could have awarded another 25, because they were just that good," she says. "People really had a vision for what STEAM education could look like in their schools, to engage kids in learning across different content areas."
 
Allegheny Valley Junior-Senior High School, for instance, received a grant to form Rachel's Neighborhood Garden as an outdoor classroom next to the Rachel Carson Homestead. East Allegheny students will spend a year designing a city with a local engineering company, while the Elizabeth Forward Middle School will create The DREAM Factory for kids to become makers. In that same spirit, Fox Chapel's Kerr Elementary will form the Creative Learning Maker Studio to use digital media in literacy education, and Keystone Oaks Middle and High School's Digital Playground project will teach computational skills through computer programming and gaming. North Hills will turn its Junior and Senior High libraries into research centers and media labs, while South Park Elementary Center will get a new "SPEC-TECH-ular Studio" where, they say, students will "explore STEAM through five pods including an art and music Creation Station, green screen, editing, robotics and discovery spaces.
 
"Our focus has always been on engaging students in meaningful learning," Javorsky says, leading to "kids who have not been very excited about school who are suddenly wanting to stay after school.
 
"On the national level there's a lot of talk about STEAM," she adds, "but we've been doing it here for five years, so I feel like we're ahead of the game."
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Rosanne Javorsky, AIU 3

Walk this way (for public art) and make your venue's new arts-guide website

It's a huge couple of weeks for public art in Pittsburgh: a new edition of the free public art walking guide is debuting; we're getting a new website for regional arts venues; and the sculpture Arch returns.
 
You can pick up your free third edition of Pittsburgh Art in Public Places: Downtown Walking Tour June 12 in the Agnes Katz Plaza (Penn at Seventh downtown) from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m., when 10 local artists will be on hand to give 30-minute tours of their own local favorites. You can also get it in the city's Office of Public Art at 810 Penn Avenue, Suite 200 (also the location for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, or GPAC), or just download it from here starting that day.
 
With a new design by local firm Little Kelpie and new photography by local artist Renee Rosensteel, the guide will take you to new artwork such as Cellphone Disco by Information Lab at Tito Way (between Penn and Liberty Avenues and Seventh and Eighth streets) and Ned Kahn's sculpture Cloud Arbor in the Buhl Community Park near the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. It will also lead you to new locations for existing art, such as Romare Bearden's 780-square-foot tile mural (in the new Gateway T station) and Clement Meadmore's piece, Up and Away, still here from the Three Rivers Arts Festival in the 1970s, which was at Wood Street and Fifth Avenue but is now in First Side Park.
 
The book also contains an expanded tour of the North Side, separating it from the previous North Shore tour, covering territory from the Federal Street underpass art project to the Mattress Factory.
 
But not everything arty in the Burgh will fit in a book, notes Office of Public Art Director Renee Piechocki. Her office is now beta testing a new website, Pittsburgh Art Places where every arts venue in the 13-county region can get a free page. It will also document former and temporary art that's gone. The idea is similar to the Pittsburgh Artist Registry, begun in 2007 to provide individual artists with their own pages.
 
Piechocki says they hope to have 150 venues listed by the time the site goes live in July. In the meantime, interested venues can email her here about how to create a profile prior to the debut, or attend one of the free informational sessions, listed here. The next one in Allegheny County is at GPAC on June 20.
 
In the meantime, regional residents can once again enjoy Arch, the robot/transformer sculpture that stood nearly 20 feet tall on the corner of Ft. Duquesne Boulevard and Seventh Street downtown from November 2008 through November 2011. Commissioned from Los Angeles artist Glenn Kaino by the Heinz Endowments to celebrate Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary, it was mostly made of wood and needed a restoration after years in Pittsburgh weather. Now it will have a new home on the terminal side of Pittsburgh International Airport, near US Airways. The installation began June 4 and can be followed on Arch's Facebook page through its debut on June 10.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Renee Piechocki, Office of Public Art

Make learning challenges your own through Remake Learning research fellowship

Remake Learning – headquarters for learning innovation news and programs of the Kids+Creativity Network – is offering two new fellowship opportunities for emerging researchers, technologists, scholars, writers, educators, practitioners and others. The Sprout Fund's two 2013-2014 Remake Learning Fellowships offer $15,000 (a $10,000 stipend and $5,000 for project support) to those with fresh research proposals in the area of connected learning, with a deadline of 5 p.m., June 14 (and an application available here).
 
Connected learning emphasizes students taking a personal interest in a subject, learning with their peers and still getting the academics needed to life, school and career. In places such as Assemble, the makeshop space in Garfield, students are there because they want to be, and they are working alongside and with other kid who have the same interests. "When young people are contributing, sharing, giving advice to each other … in a social setting, that creates a better experience," says Sprout's Program Officer for Engagement and Collaboration Dustin Stiver. "There is a sense of collegiality, if it's not just an older, didactic model of 'sage on a stage.'"
 
Next, they may be inspired by this informal learning and seek other classes or opportunities elsewhere in Pittsburgh. "Their interest really drives the academics," Stiver notes. "We're interested in looking at how that learning happens."
 
Sprout suggests three types of projects as possible proposals. You might want to investigate how and why kids traverse the cultural/learning landscape in Pittsburgh from one arts/learning venue to the next. Or you might chart how good digital citizenship – kids creating their identities online and curating who they are in digital media – stays healthy or turns into a bad experience, such as cyberbullying. Alternatively, you may wish to show how connected learning bridges from informal to formal learning settings.
 
You don't have to have an academic background to apply, says Stiver. "We're interested in taking the theory of connected learning and putting it in practice."
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Dustin Stiver, The Sprout Fund

Young arts leaders find futures at Contemporary Craft

The Society for Contemporary Craft in the Strip District has expanded its apprentice and internship programs to help create the next generation of arts-management professionals. Even its artist-in-residence this summer is a college student.
 
"A lot of our thinking in bringing in these young people," says Contemporary Craft's Executive Director Janet McCall, "is making sure we stay relevant and connected to the community."
 
Winner of the Judy G. Cheteyan Scholarship this year is Sarah Ceurvorst, a recent undergraduate in psychology and fine arts at Carnegie Mellon University. Begun in 2001, the scholarship allows an arts-management student to learn Contemporary Craft's operations, from fundraising, marketing and how to run the organization's retail store to education, administration and exhibitions, which this year will be "ENOUGH Violence – Artists Speak Out." McCall says Contemporary Craft was reluctant at first to take on this exhibit but decided that "artists have problem-solving abilities the rest of us can learn from, and they are courageous in speaking out."
 
This year's studio apprentice post, launched last year, will be awarded to Samantha Skelton, who just earned her Master of Fine Arts degree at Miami University in Ohio. A year-long full-time position, this apprenticeship was created, McCall says, when the growing number of unusually high-quality Cheteyan scholarship applicants signaled that young people in the arts seemed unable to find jobs in the field. "The goal is to teach them how to build an arts education center," she says: "At the end of the year we hope they will have gained the real-life work experience they need to go on to the next step in their career," or in their education. They will also have a chance to develop their own art through time using the Contemporary Craft studio and working closely with visiting artists.
 
The newly created year-long exhibitions apprentice position, funded by the Fine Foundation, will give the recipient hands-on, behind-the-scenes experience in running an exhibition: creating the concept, identifying artists, choosing the artwork, developing the catalog material, doing the installation and de-installation, and working with artists on any lectures. It was awarded to Natalie Sweet, who has previously interned with the Andy Warhol Museum and Concept Gallery.
 
Finally, this year's artist in residence is Jennifer Moss, an MFA student in fiber arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design. "The artist in residence is a little bit of a surprise for us," says McCall, noting that this position usually goes to a well-established artist. "But we didn't want to let go of her, because we were very impressed with this very young fiber artist." Moss will be seen working on her art, which runs from wearable pieces to large-scale installations, everywhere from Strip sidewalks to the inside of Contemporary Craft's building, including a site-specific fiber piece on its walls in conjunction with the 2013 Fiberart International exhibit there.
 
"It should be a very fun and dramatic piece that will remain here," says McCall. "I think [Moss] represents where our organization wants to go."
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Janet McCall, Society for Contemporary Craft

Spanish! Farming! Art! Sign up for great summer camps

It's not too late to sign your child up for some great summer camps – some brand new, some long running, and some just back for the summer of 2013. Here's a guide to some wonderful camps that still have openings:
 
Mini Mad Scientist Camp at Assemble: Kids can dive into new inventions and science experiments while (shhhhh!) learning about the scientific method and the design process and meet local pros in the science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) fields. Cost is $100 per week (bring your own lunch). Each week runs Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sign up here for ages 5 through 7, July 8 through 12; here for ages 8 through 10, July 15 through 19; and here for ages 11 through 13, July 22 through 26
 
La Escuelita Arcoiris, a Spanish immersion pre-school in Squirrel Hill, has one-week Spanish language and culture day camps running June 24 through Aug. 2 (although Week 5, July 22 through 26, is full). Kids 6 through 10 will learn to speak Spanish while enjoying outdoor games, arts and crafts and cultural-immersion activities. Register here for a session that runs Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. through 3:30 p.m., with an extended day option available until 5:30 p.m.
 
At the Harvest and Create: A Farm to Table Immersion camp, run jointly by Union Project and Garfield Community Farm, there's already a waiting list for a second session this summer. It introduces kids 8 through 13 to both sustainable farming and hands-on clay creations. The two-week experience concludes with a mal made from student-harvested veggies on student-made ceramics. It also includes field trips to other farms and local restaurant kitchens. Running Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. and costs $450 per child. Get on the waiting list here
 
MobileQuest CoLab is a one-week camp for kids who want to make and play their own games on mobile technology. They'll work toward a game exhibition on the last day, and "come away from camp as designers and makers with real-world experiences in mobile technology and game design," say sponsors The Sprout Fund. Kids in the Greater Pittsburgh area must apply by May 28. Some need-based scholarships are available by emailing here. Apply to attend the camp here; acceptance notifications go out in early June.
 
Civic Engagement Summer Camp at Community Human Services in Oakland offers six one-week camps that each "introduces 5th and 6th grade students to topics and activities that broaden perspective, engage passions, and equip young people to become leaders," they say. "With a strong emphasis on community engagement, students will interact with leaders in various fields and come to a better understanding of what impacts their lives and how they can create positive change." The camp runs 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 pm. weekdays from June 24 until Aug. 2. Each week includes volunteering and a field trip. The cost is $125 per week, but there is a sliding scale for those whose income prevents them from affording the entire fee. Contact Trevor Smith by emailing here, or calling 412-246-1615. Week one has the theme of leadership, with subsequent weeks focusing on science, arts and music, diversity, environment and government.
 
Writer: Marty Levine

Girl-led change and fresh take on Title IX at Girls Coalition Conference

This year's Girls Coalition Annual Conference on June 13 – dubbed "Girls Can Change the World!" – is all about engaging girls' voices and hearing what girls are doing to advocate for change, says Heather Mediate, program director for the Coalition.
 
It will highlight thriving girl-led initiatives, solutions to continuing issues for girls and ways to build the success of girl-serving organizations.
 
Partnering this year with The Ellis School as its host, the Coalition's conference will cover such topics as "Grassroots feminism in Pittsburgh," "Developing inclusive programming," new developments in Title IX (including Pennsylvania's recently enacted Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act, set to take effect in October) and the Hardy Girls, Healthy Women curriculum.
 
This curriculum, developed at Colby College in Maine, "is really about helping girls to build strong critical thinking skills," says Mediate. "A lot of it is media literacy, and helping the leaders of girls' groups deal with the problems they see all around them" – and take action. Chatham University and the local Girl Scouts of America are piloting the curriculum here.

The leader of the Philadelphia chapter of Black Girls RUN!, Deneen Young, will speak at the conference about this organization, which has 55,000 members nationwide but no Pittsburgh chapter yet, and promotes solutions to health risks in the black female community.
 
The Maikuru Project: Teen Mom Mentoring Study out of the University of Pittsburgh will also be featured. Maikuru aims to prevent repeated teens pregnancies, using young mothers or couples as mentors to provide role models in parenting, wellness and decision-making and get teen mothers connected with the resources they need.
 
The other major goal of the conference is to bring together organizations that share the Girls Coalitions' focus. Thus, the conference has sessions for local leaders on building strong organizations, training and using a dedicated volunteer force, using social media and other crucial topics.
 
"Let's start some of the work and learn what is working," says Mediate.
 
Writer: Marty Levine 
Source: Heather Mediate, Girls Coalition Southwestern Pennsylvania

Questyinz 2.0 launches with new quests and new ways for kids to take part

Kids love being sent on journeys to get answers and solve puzzles, so the Allegheny County Library Association's online game Questyinz will be back June 1 with all new quests for children in grades K-5 to undertake this summer. The game is designed not only to promote literacy but to motivate kids to want to read.
 
Kristin Rama, the Association's youth services coordinator, says the game sent 2,741 kids last year on an average of five quests, involving 10 questions each, and they spent 2.5 million minutes reading to get to the end of their searches. In 17 categories, from math or science and nature to "Around the World," "Pittsburgh" and "My Neighborhood," each quest's queries prompted the kids to seek answers by completing real-world activities, asking questions of adults and looking up items in libraries and on the Internet to earn points and badges.
 
With funding from the Grable and Benedum foundations, the Association has devised all new quests this year and focused on adding other new features to help kids be even more successful in maintaining and developing their learning skills over the summer. One new feature is an online quest journal in which the kids can bookmark their favorite questions and quests. "With this age group, they're not big note takers," says Rama, "so it's nice for them to print something out and take it into the library." Or just to have someplace of their own to keep and examine the materials online.
 
This year the Association's mascot, the Reading Creature, will also be able to send "RC Mail" emails to kids, telling them they did a great job or earned a special badge, allowing the libraries to interact with kids and keep them motivated. A new "Read to Me" button lets the younger kids ask for the game to be read aloud to them.
 
Kids can now also add their own questions to Questyinz for other kids to answer, although these questions are not part of any specific quests.
 
The Association is continuing to partner with the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre to develop the quests, which allow students to interact with these organizations. But Questyinz's developers are also hoping that schools see the impact of the program and how it might be used in their own classrooms. They believe that teachers will be interested in helping to devise quests that will promote skills that will help them in fall classrooms.
 
The overall goal, says Rama, is "to teach kids how to be lifelong learners and pursue what interests them. It models how you can go about pursuing your interests and go through your own quests in your mind, and it may even lead to kids being interested in certain careers."
 
Kids can start their game by picking up a Questyinz game card at their local library.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Kristin Rama, Allegheny County Library Association
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