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The Etsy hot list: 7 Pittsburgh makers to shop for the holidays

When it comes to shopping local, most people assume visiting a neighborhood coffee shop or clothing store will suffice. However, Pittsburgh artists and makers of all types are increasingly turning to Internet marketplaces like Etsy to sell their wares, so we've compiled some of the most interesting Pittsburgh-made gifts you can find on Etsy. 

They may not have storefronts on Penn Avenue, but their unique wares draw shoppers from beyond the Three Rivers:

SadieFlowerDesigns creates amazing hand-painted canvas shoes featuring anything from pink flamingos to Tom Brady. Priced at $50 and up, they can feature the design of your choice. The shoes are decorated by Sadie Flower, a 21-year-old artist who lives in the Pittsburgh area. "When I was in college, I bought a pair of white Vans and sharpie fabric markers," Flower said. "A lot of people loved the artwork I did on them and wanted a pair for themselves. After doing a couple just for fun, I decided to start charging for the designs. Now, three years later, I've done about 45-50 pairs of shoes for people of all ages." You can see some of her beautiful work in the slideshow above. 

If shoes are not on your wish list, pottery sold under the name Turnbuckle Farm is quite impressive and also costs $50 and up. The seller, who goes by the name Turnbuckle D, began her shop in 2011 and makes everything from wine decanters to cups and lamps in a distinctive style, often depicting various animals. She says her work is inspired by the animals on her farm. "I was born in Pittsburgh and grew up here. Moved away for a bit but realized my mistake and moved back," she said in an email interview. She describes her studio as "a spruced-up old garden shed that opens on two sides. Chipmunks run through."

Marcy Bates turns books into sculptural objects under the name Recycled Reads. She'll fold your name or favorite Steelers logo into a book to create an unexpected piece of original art. On her Etsy site, Bates writes that she decided to make book art because she had many books to work with as the owner of a used book store in Cranberry Township, Butler County. "I often come across books that are outdated or unsellable," she wrote. "With an extreme personal need to keep these books out of landfills I began creating beautiful art out of them." Bates spent much time and effort perfecting the folding process through trial and error -- who can even imagine all the folding! Her work is priced from $40 and up. 

Stentor Danielson, who works by day as an assistant professor of geography at Slippery Rock University, moonlights as Mapsburgh on Etsy, where he carves out intricate paper designs based on local Pittsburgh maps or any map of your choice. His Etsy business started as the result of a thoughtful gift he gave his former girlfriend: a carved-out map of the distance between their houses. She liked the gift so much that she suggested he sell the delicate lacy designs on Etsy. "With that bit of encouragement, Mapsburgh was born. It provided a great way to combine my interest in art with my love of maps. (I have a Ph.D. in geography from Clark University.) I've enjoyed making maps for so many different customers, and I always look forward to the new challenges that people throw my way," Danielson writes on his Etsy site. Prices start at $24 and are higher for hand-carved maps.

If you're still scratching your head, wondering which gift is perfect for a more casual acquaintance, an old standby has always been soap. Who can't recall getting a bar of soap or giving a primary school teacher a body product from Bath and Body Works? Since you know you're going to give someone soap, why not make it Hip Modern Soap, made in Pittsburgh by Carrie Robertson and her partner John Elliff. The couple makes the soap out of their Lawrenceville kitchen in a variety of blends including rosemary mint, vetiver, lemongrass mint, wild cherry, pink champagne and caffeine buzz. They also make bath bombs and other personal care products in a cruelty-free, all-natural and all-around hip, modern fashion.

The pair came upon soap-smithing kind of randomly: "Blending the DIY ethos with a strong desire to bathe regularly, the two decided one day that 'Hey...I bet we could do that,'" they wrote about their Etsy shop. The trial-and-error phase was then underway. Drawing heavily on Carrie's childhood memories of Grandma Bina sweating over a legit cauldron of pig fat and lye, the two decided that, "Hey...I bet we could do WAY better than that." They say that they are constantly just fooling around with the concept of "Will this get me clean?" Their soaps are not only solid scrubbing agents, but also marbled art objects. And all for $6 and up.

Alternate Histories, a card maker on Etsy, is one of my personal favorites. The card company created by Matthew Buchholz takes historical images, then inserts the fantastic. "My work began with a show at WildCard in 2010, a great store in Pittsburgh, where I had the inspiration to Photoshop a gigantic monster into an old engraving of the city," Buchholz writes on his site. "Since then I've expanded with different cities, holiday & greeting cards, original works and more, all taking historic images and adding in something from a pop culture sci-fi background." You can buy art prints or greeting cards from him on Etsy with titles like "The Menacing of the Great East River Suspension Bridge," featuring a historical painting with a giant squid arm interjected, wrapping around the bridge, or a card with a giant cat pushing over the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

In his Etsy bio, Buchholz writes that he has been able to travel to different cities selling his wares, and has had his work featured as part of the Futur Anterier show at agnes b. galerie du jour in Paris. "Each piece starts with the original image. I do a lot of online and flea market research to find interesting pieces, then I look for some monster, robot, alien or other creature that fits the style of the piece. I do all this in between sessions of noseball with my dog Otis," Buchholtz writes. Prices for his work are $20 and up. 

The last Etsy seller of note is No Sleep Boutique, created by late-night crafter Alaina Dadey. She makes bows, cufflinks, bow ties and earrings by hand in a vintage style. She captured my eye with her pizza cufflinks, which I trust you, dear readers, will make best sellers. Dadey says she gets the urge to craft most often at 3 a.m. "My shop started one night when I was having trouble falling asleep. I started making bows, and I fell in love," Dadey writes in her bio. "My third floor has been converted into a NoSleepBoutique studio. My studio in Pittsburgh is my perfect adorable oasis filled with wonderful things that inspire me. Finding new and wonderful fabrics is something that truly fuels my slightly caffeinated life." With prices starting at $5, they would be perfect stocking stuffers.

Because I am compulsive and couldn't stop looking at all the great Pittsburgh stuff on Etsy, here are some of my favorite individual items: a necklace that is actually a living plant, called a "wearable friend;" a beautiful droid-inspired jeweled ring; this strange $1,800 sculpture; and these crocheted pierogies. Your holiday shopping is now done. You're welcome.

Who's hiring in PGH? Rothschild Doyno, Lawrenceville United and more

Each week, Pop City brings you exciting opportunities in Pittsburgh. If you have a job to share, email innovationnews@popcitymedia.com with "Hiring" in the subject line.

The folks at Lawrenceville United are looking to hire a Community Engagement and Program Manager to work on the neighborhood's revitalization. The Community Engagement and Program Manager will help to identify needs within the community and will convene partner agencies to devise strategies to address those needs through special programs and initiatives. Starting salary is between $33,000 and $38,000, depending on experience. If you want to apply, submit a cover letter and resume to hr@Lunited.org.

Are you experienced at designing buildings? If so, Rothschild Doyno Collaborative is looking for you. The firm is seeking a project architect with eight to 12 years experience and at least a bachelor’s degree in architecture with an interest in urban design. They are also seeking an architect intern who is working on a degree in the field. The company is committed to developing the careers of new hires and looking for people who are talented individually and work well collaboratively.

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is hiring tutu makers, among other positions. The company is looking for a costume assistant who can help dye fabric and shoes and make hats and crowns. Starting salary is between $25,000 and $30,000 per year. At least three years of experience in costuming or fashion is desired. The theater is also hiring telemarketers, a pilates instructor, a part-time accompanist and a part-time fitness instructor. All jobs are listed here.

The Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania is looking for a public affairs associate to manage media relationships. The associate would also manage the organization's blog and write newsletters. The mission of the Veterans Leadership Program is to provide essential housing, employment and vital support services to eligible local veterans, service members and their families. Interested applicants should have at least three years of related experience; veterans will be given preference. The application deadline is Sept. 26, so polish up your resume!

A few weeks ago, we mentioned that the Phipps Conservatory was hiring for a number of positions including executive secretary. They still have a number of positions to be filled, so check them out and let your job skills bloom.

The Global Switchboard will offer coworking space for international-minded organizations

There’s a new Lawrenceville co-working space opening in May that will bring fresh resources to the city and cultivate new global ideas and connections. Known as The Global Switchboard Project, this shared-space, community-oriented work-center will be Pittsburgh’s home for organizations committed to global engagement.

Nathan Darity, project manager of The Global Switchboard, says it will bring together dozens of organizations in Pittsburgh already working on global and local connections and enhance their work through collaboration. 
 
“Pittsburgh is a global city,” says Brandon Blache-Cohen, executive director of Amizade Global Service-Learning, the organization leading the project. “It was built and continues to grow from an ever-changing group of immigrants, and the contributions of their children. We believe The Global Switchboard will both export the best practices of community development that we have pioneered here, and begin to import new ideas from our friends around the world.”
 
Amizade’s mission is to empower individuals and communities through worldwide service and learning. Blache-Cohen says he expects The Global Switchboard to significantly improve the way Amizade connects its community partners abroad with Pittsburgh and transform the way Pittsburghers engage with the rest of the world.
 
The Global Switchboard is the in midst of a crowdfunding campaign to raise $10,000 to complete its office space at 3406 Ligonier Street. The facility near Doughboy Square will serve as headquarters for both Amizade and anchor organization Global Solutions Pittsburgh, a nonprofit providing non-partisan, internationally focused education to schools and communities throughout western Pennsylvania.  

 “The Global Switchboard is an opportunity for Pittsburgh to reinvest in itself and rededicate itself to building an inclusive and engaged community, says Daniel Giovannelli, executive director of Global Solutions Pittsburgh. “Phrases like 'international relations' sound like they are only for PhDs, JDs, and MBAs, but in the 21st century Pittsburgh interacts with the world and the world interacts with Pittsburgh. The Global Switchboard is both a physical and symbolic representation of that shift… into the larger community.”
 
In addition to Global Solutions Pittsburgh, the Global Switchboard already has six member organizations: Global Pittsburgh, Rukmini Foundation, Classrooms Without Borders, ChildLight, Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation, and Cameroon Football Development Program.
 
Other organizations and individuals with a commitment to socially responsible international development, global education in Pittsburgh and abroad, and/or community empowerment can apply to be a paying member of The Global Switchboard at www.theglobalswitchboard.org.
 
Writer: Amanda Leff Ritchie
Sources: Brandon Blache-Cohen, Daniel Giovannelli

Astrobotic a frontrunner in the Olympic-like race to the moon for the Google Lunar XPRIZE

Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic remains firmly among the frontrunners in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, a race to the moon that is beginning to resemble an Olympic-style event.
 
The deadline to complete the lunar mission is October 2015. The first to the finish line wins a $30 million purse.
 
The Strip District robotics firm, a CMU spinout, has been a serious contender since the competition was announced in 2007. The XPRIZE pits university scientists from around the world against one another in a mission that involves creating the hardware and software to land on the moon, explore the lunar surface and relay high-definition footage back to Earth.
 
The idea behind the contest is to inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of space exploration. But the sheer cost of the race itself has proved a hurdle for many.
 
“Most people are putting us on top of the rankings,” says John Thornton, CEO, who stopped short of predicting an outright win.
 
Thornton has been instrumental in growing the business side of Astrobotic, especially its payload to the moon business as a way to raise the money to win the money and, of course, the prestige that goes with it.
 
This month Astrobotic picked up $1.75 million as one of five finalists in the Google Lunar XPRIZE Milestone Prize, an award created to recognize the teams that have completed several of the objectives so far, technology for landing, mobility and imaging the mission.
 
Of the five teams selected, Astrobotic and Moon Express (Silicon Valley) were the only two to earn the cash award in all three categories. The other three milestone winners were Hakuto (Japan), Part-Time Scientists (Germany) and Team Indus (India).
 
Earlier this month, Astrobotic cut a deal with Astroscale in Singapore to transport the popular Asian sports drink, Pocari Sweat, to the lunar surface. It will be the first commercial beverage to touch down on the moon, says Thornton.
 
“For us, this is just like any other payload that we will fly to the moon,” he says. “That’s our business strategy, to carry payloads.”
 
Astrobotic plans to launch a robotic lander and rover aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in October 2015, exact date to be determined, for a four-day flight to the moon.
 
While the mission will be monitored from the space center, scientists from CMU will control the rover.
 
Astrobotic employs 12 and operates out of a warehouse in the Strip District, next to the Opera House, and plans to add another 5,200 square feet for a total of 8,000 square feet.
 
“We’ve come a long way,” says Thornton.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: John Thornton, Astrobotic

The story behind Aquion Energy, the promising sustainable energy storage solution

Growing up, Jay Whitacre had a dream. He wanted to work for NASA, a dream he realized upon receiving his doctorate from University of Michigan when he landed a job with the Jet Propulsion in California.
 
Life was good and the work was exciting, for awhile, he says. Then he began thinking about the global energy crisis and started doing the math. He realized the demand for energy would well exceed the energy the world had in ready supply, he says.
 
With that, research commenced on a sustainable, scalable, cost-competitive energy storage system and Aquion Energy was born. The year was 2008. It came together with assistance from a company in California that agreed to allow the research to take place at CMU.
 
“Many universities don’t allow this kind of interaction, which I think is a mistake,” Whitacre told an audience at a recent Project Olympus Open House on CMU’s campus. “This is a decade long project, based on speculation and risk. It’s a long drawn out process.”
 
As the research ensued, the need to integrate renewals like wind and solar with the energy grid through an energy storage solution became apparent. The search was on for a system that not only proved to be environmentally adaptable, but promised a long life and was completely reliable.
 
“Energy technology is all about the cost,” he adds. “We had a lot of technical things to overcome.”
 
In April, Aquion announced a $35 million round of venture funding with backing from several investors including Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates who believes in the need for a “battery miracle” to support the growth of renewable energy.  Gates has funded three battery-startup firms to date.
 
The company was also named one of 50 Disruptive Companies 2013 by the MIT Technology Review.
 
The Aquion solution uses seawater and magnesium oxide, creating a utility-scale, temperature tolerant technology that can endure 5,000+ charging cycles with 85% efficiency. The sodium-ion solution makes the batteries environmentally-friendly, minus the toxic chemicals contained in acid and alkaline-based batteries or the problems associated with lithium ion units.

Apparently, it's also edible, according to the Wall Street Journal.
 
With a battery factory underway on the former Sony site in Westmoreland County, Aquion hopes to roll out the first batteries within a year. The plant is expected to generate 400+ skilled manufacturing and engineering jobs. The company headquarters, based in Lawrenceville in an old railcar building, employs 127 people.
 
The dream now? Build it in Pittsburgh and replicate the factory in other parts of the world, says Whitacre.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jay Whitacre, Aquion Energy

Looking good Pittsburgh. PittsburghTODAY report highlights the state of the region

PittsburghTODAY released its 2013 Today & Tomorrow report and the news across many sectors is enlightening.
 
With the economic recovery still underway in much of the country, Pittsburgh is the only benchmark region out of 15 that has experienced job growth and housing price appreciation. In addition, the labor force is at an all-time high and young people are returning and staying in the region.
 
Southwestern Pennsylvania continues to be one of the most affordable places for moderate-income families to live. A Brookings Institution study says so too, listing Pittsburgh as one of three cities in the U.S. to have recovered from the deep recession that began in 2007.
 
The region, however, has work to do in several areas, including transportation, the environment and issues pertaining to diversity, particularly in helping African Americans in the region to achieve the same quality of life as whites.
 
Among the highlights:
 
Population: It has been official but bares repeating: the region is attaining and attracting young talent. The region’s population of 20- to 34- year-olds grew by 7% over the last five years and is expected to grow another 8% in 2020. Three decades earlier the region was losing more than 50,000 people than it was attracting, mostly young adults.
 
Jobs: Jobs grew by a non-seasonably adjusted 1.7 percent in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) from November 2007 to November 2012. Certainly not robust, but it was better than any of the Pittsburgh TODAY benchmark regions. Pittsburgh was the only region to post job growth over that period.
 
Tourism: Visitors to Southwestern Pennsylvania pumped $8.1 billion into the local economy in lodging, recreation, retail, food and beverage, transportation and other spending during 2011,the latest year the full data was reported. This is a 9.6% increase over 2010.

Housing: Pittsburgh was the only region in which the 5-year housing prices rose from 2007-2012.
 
Environment: While fine particle pollution is slowly decreasing, and met federal air quality standards for the first time in 2011 since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, smog and sewage spills and the health of our rivers remains an issue.
 
Fracking: Across the region, a survey shows that far more residents are convinced of the economic potential of the Marcellus Shale gas industry than are against drilling for it. More than 70% of those surveyed believe that gas drilling is boosting the local economy.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: PittsburghTODAY

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Who isn't? 50+ jobs posted this week starting with Deeplocal

Pop City reports on companies hiring in the region each week. This week several very cool companies report the hiring of five or more employees.
 
Deeplocal regaled the entrepreneurial community with an open house at its expansive new digs in the Strip District last Thursday evening. As Nathan Martin, CEO, put it in his remarks to those in attendance, let the hiring begin.
 
The highly creative marketing firm is revving its engines with clients like Disney, Reebok and Nike.  Current openings include account manager, Android and iOS mobile developers, web developer and two interns for mobile development and software engineering.
 
Branding Brand works the mobile commerce space and counts American Eagle, Ralph Lauren and Sehora among its clients. The firm is hiring nine people in a variety of positions: lead software engineer, web application developer, account manager, project manager, iOS developer, director of account management, VP of project management, quality assurance director and a financial analyst.
 
4 moms is the company behind creative robotic technology that is taking the art of parenting to the next level. The Strip District firm has more than doubled each of the last four years and expects to double again this year.
 
The firm is hiring 13 people at the present time, looking for mechanical and software engineers, a user experience designer, network administrator, logistics and quality technicians and product developers.  There’s an internship for an industrial graphic designer too.
 
EDMC, one of the largest providers of post-secondary education opportunities, is hiring four for marketing and IT positions: admissions representative, academic advising manager, systems analyst III and software supervisor.

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation is hiring a chief learning officer.
 
Kelly Strayhorn Theatre in East Liberty is hiring an event manager.
 
MEMS Industry Group is looking for a marketing associate.
 
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is hiring a director of media relations.
 
SnapRetail is looking for a sales rep for its Pittsburgh-based tech company that helps to market independent retailers through its online marketing system.
 
College Prowler, the online service that guides students through the college decision process, is hiring a quality assurance analyst.
 
Philips Electronics, developer of medical devices for the care of neonates and infants, is hiring a technical writer for its Children’s Medical Ventures New Product Development Dept.

Premier Medical Associates, is growing rapidly and hiring and hiring 16 for its Monroeville, Forest Hills and Penn Hills offices. Positions include: medical assistants, physician assistants, patient care coordinators, accounts receivable and patient care reps.

The architectural and urban design firm of Rothschild Doyno Collaborative is in need of talented and motivated team members with one to five years of post-degree professional experience.  The ideal candidates must also possess excellent communication and graphic skills with both hand-drawn and digital media. Preference will be given to applicants with experience in urban design.
 
Nothing here? Take a look at last week's postings. Have hiring news? Email Pop City and include the job links.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
 


2013 Carnegie Science Awards recognizes outstanding innovators in the region

The 2013 Carnegie Science Awards were announced this week, an illustrious list of educators, researchers and business leaders working to improve the lives of others. The awards celebrate the accomplishments of individuals working in the fields of science, technology and education in Western Pennsylvania.
 
The winners include:   
 
The ExOne Company’s David Burns, Advanced Manufacturing Award 
Burns was recognized for positioning this promising North Huntingdon company as a leader in additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. ExOne recently announced a public offering.
 
Edward Argetsinger, Jonathan Stinson, Paul Turner, Paul Jablonski, National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Advanced Materials Award NETL assisted in the design of a new alloy for coronary stents used by physicians to open blocked or restricted arteries.

Nancy Minshew, University of Pittsburgh, Catalyst Award
As the head of the Center for Excellence in Autism Research, Minshew has extensively studied autism and applied the findings to practice and public policy. Her work has led to the region’s recognition as a world-class center for autism research.

Tracy Cui, Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, Emerging Female Scientist Award Cui is researching smart biomaterials for neural implants and neural tissue engineering.

Raul Valdes-Perez, Jerome Pesenti, Vivisimo, Entrepreneur Award
The Squirrel Hill-based company, recently acquired by IBM, has taken an untraditional and creative approach in helping companies and governments discover, analyze and navigate large volumes of data.

Bob Enick, Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, Environmental Award
Working in collaboration with a GE Global Research Team, Enick has developed a unique method of capturing carbon dioxide from the stack of coal-fired power plants, a technique that may cost far less than current technologies.

Patrick Daly, Cohera Medical, Start-Up Entrepreneur Award
As president and CEO of this promising Pittsburgh startup that grew out of research conducted at Pitt, Daly is helping to move the company’s first product, TissuGlu, into the market. The adhesive is designed to reduce the need for surgical drains in plastic surgery procedures and speed healing time.
 
David Vorp, Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and NETL-RU, Life Sciences Award Dr. Vorp's work on aortic aneurysms has changed the way clinicians view this disease and research on vein graft modification may one day change arterial bypass surgeries.
 
Peter Lucas, Joe Ballay, Mickey McManus of MAYA Design, Science Communicator
MAYA is helping the world to think more scientifically about design through informational films and interactive websites as well as the book, "Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology."
 
Check out the complete list of 2013 Carnegie Science Award winners.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Award recipients Dr. Robert Enick and Dr. Tracy Cui, courtesy of Carnegie Science Center 

2012 was a good year for VC growth in Pittsburgh despite a nationwide decline

Venture capital investment across the region continued to climb steadily in 2012 with 79 deals that totaled $168.97 million, a 7.9% increase over 2011 when $156.53 million was raised and spread over 55 deals. 

The news in Pittsburgh was a bright spot; nationally VC figures declined by 10 percent from the prior year. All figures are from the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), based on data from Thomson Reuters.

“We’re bucking a trend here in Pittsburgh which is very positive,” noted Gary Glausser who joined Innovation Works this month as Chief Investment Officer.

A longtime venture capitalist in the local community, Glausser was with South Side-based Birchmere Ventures for 13 years. He most recently handled alternative investments for the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System, a total portfolio of $7 billion. He is also a member of the IW Board of Directors.

Among the highlights of the MoneyTree report for 2012:

The strongest showing in Pittsburgh was the life sciences and software sectors. More than 23 companies received funding in life sciences, predominantly medical device companies, and 19 software and IT services companies were funded. The number of software company deals last year is a sign of the region’s strength in this sector since software companies generally don’t require large infusions of cash, noted Terri Glueck of Innovation Works.

Innovation Works and The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG) were the largest overall investors, IW with 12 deals and PLSG with six according to the MoneyTree report.

The companies that raised the largest rounds included: Avere Systems ($20 million), Thorley Industries ($20 million), TriStar Investors ($15 million) Duolingo ($15 million) Knopp Biosciences ($14.94 million) and BodyMedia ($11.89 million). 

Other local investors included: Birchmere Ventures, Draper Triangle Ventures, Adams Capital Management, BlueTree Allied Angels, Eagle Ventures and Pittsburgh Equity Partners.

“I personally think the next few years will be exciting,” Glausser adds. “We’re looking at a pipeline of opportunities here. Our mission is going to be to get the capital to put into these companies.”

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: NVCA and MoneyTree 

Pop City previews the latest local blogs, apps and n'at

Among the latest Pittsburgh-based websites, blogs and apps to surface in recent weeks:
 
Treading Art is the region’s latest resource for cultural happenings in the city.
 
Christine Smith and Melissa LuVisi moved to Pittsburgh after graduating from UCLA, where they met. They were drawn to our region’s thriving arts community and the city’s drive to redevelop and expand.
 
Their background in business development, museum administration and curatorial management is perfect for reaching out to the creative communities in the city. TreadingArt will highlight the scene, promote cultural happenings and post reviews, photographs, interviews, commentary and critiques.
 
In the coming year, the duo plan to launch a membership program with access to arts events—underground openings, panels, tours and workshops.
 
“Eventually we would like to see this transpire into a physical space,” says LuVisi.  “We are truly thankful to have landed in such a receptive and innovative city.”
 
Look for the Weekend Treadings newsletter and agenda events in January of 2013.
 
Built In Pgh is connecting the dots for local entrepreneurs and innovators. The website, brought to you by the same people behind the RustBuilt Initiative, is a clearinghouse for the startup community, listing events, forums, job postings and company news.
 
And here’s several apps and games to keep small minds busy during the holidays.
 
IOnFuture is a cool way for middle schoolers to explore potential careers in the STEM fields. Considering a career as an ecologist or urban planner? How about an industrial designer or Veterinarian? This gives students an opportunity to learn different activities and hobbies they might try as they explore various career paths in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
 
The Lemonade Stand is a free educational iPad game that teaches children ages 3-6 about money and work by letting them actually run a virtual lemonade stand. The app was created through Idea Foundry’s Riveted program.
 
Online reviews comments that it teaches youngsters literacy and math skills while offering kudos for the rocking music.  
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Melissa LuVisi, Kit Mueller

Sprout Fund supports 20 new biodiversity projects with $190,000; PLSG on the move

Good news for the region's biodiversity and life sciences industry.

PLSG received $500,000 in funding that will help to establish a life sciences campus on the South Side at the River Park Commons Business Center.

The funding comes from a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant from the state. The new campus will provide space for four to six wet-labs in addition to the existing 9,000 square feet of life sciences labs. PLSG will also move its office to the campus.

"The demand for this campus is significant as an increasing number of new biotechnology companies are being launched throughout the nation, and geographic clusters to house these new, start-up companies are highly competitive," said John W. Manzetti, President and CEO.

In other news, 20 biodiversity projects received $190,000 this week as part of a new initiative to support the stewardship of Southwestern Pennsylvania's natural resources.

The Sprout Fund and The Pittsburgh Foundation hope to jumpstart community-based biodiversity projects in the region through the Spring Program. The funded projects were selected from among 75 applications, says Dustin Stiver of The Sprout Fund.

"These projects offer an exciting array of innovative solutions to the many environmental challenges we face," says Stiver. "With diverse objectives and creative approaches, they give promise that the biodiversity of our resource-rich region can be preserved and enhanced for generations to come."

Six biodiversity projects received $20,000 awards including:

BioShelter and Food Systems Center at the Garfield Community Farm, where a permanent bioshelter will extend the farm's growing season and offer educational opportunities to the nearby elementary school;

Green Roofs for Bus Shelters in East Liberty, introducing flora and fauna into the urban environment through a living green roof on Penn Avenue;

Heritage Seed Bank and Nursery for seed banks and educational opportunities in the preservation of native heritage or heirloom edible plants;

Native Appalachian Garden, part of Pittsburgh Botanical Garden, cultivating woodland species of the region;

And Take a Hike: Backyard Biodiversity for a traveling presentation that will lead elementary school children on an exploration of the Earth's biomes at the Carnegie Science Center.

The other 14 recipients receiving $5,000 awards are include outdoor classrooms for children, ecological gardens, artificial chimney habitats for neotropical migrant birds, rain gardens in schoolyards with the help of Nine Mile Run Watershed Assoc. and native plant restoration projects.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: PLSG, Dustin Stiver, The Sprout Fund


Pittsburgh aspires to be the most tech-savvy city in the country

The e-democracy race is on and if Councilman Bill Peduto has his way, Pittsburgh will blow the door of city government wide open and leave cities like Boston in the dust.

Peduto invited several Pittsburgh-based tech companies to City Hall this month to discuss using a mix of homegrown technologies to promote a unique blend of tools that would help constituents to better track goings on.

Among those who came to the table were online social political network MyGov365, searchable video data company Panopto Inc, web-based broadcaster Vivo and the Carnegie Mellon developer of YinzCam technology, which allows mobile phone users to watch replays of Penguins action inside the arena.

This is just the beginning, says Peduto. The discussion won’t be limited to these companies.

“Pittsburgh can be a model of e-democracy for the world. We want Pittsburgh (government) to not only be on the forefront, but to offer leverage to our own Pittsburgh-based companies to use the city as a test market to sell their products worldwide.”

Pittsburgh has $52,000 to webcast council meetings, which should be enough to cover the webcast and more, Peduto says. The city plans to award a contract to begin providing webcasts and searchable video by the end of this month.

Other proposed initiatives include an iPhone application for city government, a searchable database of all council votes and records offered by MyGov365 and offering online access to community meetings.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Councilman Bill Peduto, City of Pittsburgh

Image courtesy Councilman Bill Peduto

Getting ready for the G-20 Summit--weigh in now!

When leaders of the world’s most important emerging-market countries come to Pittsburgh this fall, what will they need, see and experience?

Suggestions poured in this past week during three public brainstorming sessions. Not able to attend?  Share your ideas and sign up for potential volunteer opportunities at the Pittsburgh G-20 Partnership Web site by clicking here.

“We’ve gotten some really great ideas, things we hadn’t thought of,” reports Kevin Evanto of Allegheny County. “Many say they want the city to gleam, a display of flags of all the nations, to welcome people in their native language.”

One gentleman suggested inviting illusionists to walk the streets because no one needs a translator to understand the language of magic.

Other thoughts? Pittsburgh must live up to its green image with sustainable opportunities and recycling offered everywhere, at hotels, on the streets, in parks. Stage a special light-up or festival of lights, get the ethnic communities involved, improve signage and enlist university and high school students to volunteer.

“We’re still waiting to hear from the White House on many issues, but we want to be as prepared as possible so when we get direction, we can act,” Evanto adds. “We want to be in a position to respond to the White House right away.”

The county plans to create an online media center so when 3,000 reporters descend, they will find a Web site filled with story ideas and local opportunities.

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Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Kevin Evanto, Allegheny County

Marcellus Shale: drillers move in, environmentalists rally for tax and habitat relief

The largest gas deposit in North America, a reservoir lodged in rock 6,000 feet under the ground, is luring big gas drillers from around the world to our region.

It’s also causing concern among environmental groups across the state.

Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas recently opened a regional office in Pittsburgh to better position the company for Marcellus Shale business, a deposit that spans four states and may contain 50 trillion cubic feet in natural gas estimated at $1 trillion. 

Pittsburgh is the firm's new North Region office; the company’s offices in Charleston, W.Va. and Denver, Colo. will close by the end of the summer and more than half of the impacted staff will move to Pittsburgh, according to the company.

Environmental concerns about the drilling have prompted local groups to rally for a state severance tax on the drillers, money they believe should go to restore and preserve local habitats and urban streams, such as the restored Nine Mile Run Watershed in the East End.

In addition to the tax, PennFuture and others want to place a portion of the funds in the state's Environmental Stewardship Fund, which would reinvest in parks, habitats, waterways and open spaces.

The Marcellus Shale gas deposit runs from upstate New York, across most of Pennsylvania and into West Virginia and eastern Ohio. Most states charge drillers a small tax in exchange for extraction rights.  Pennsylvania should do the same, say tax supporters.

If approved, the tax could generate more than $100 million next year and $600 million by 2013, says Joylette Portlock, Western Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for PennFuture.

PA Republican senate leaders are against the tax. Now is the time to contact legislators before the drilling is well established, Portlock told an assembled group at East Liberty Presbyterian Church last week.

“There are tremendous environmental impacts of drilling on the local economy,” added Hannah Hardy of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. “This is the best way to ensure that there will be benefits to our community.”

To join PennFuture in support of the severance tax, click here.

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Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Joylette Portlock, PennFuture

Image courtesy flickr.com



Internships galore, find them and get 'em here

Looking for that perfect intern or internship? The Regional Internship Center of Southwestern Pennsylvania is an indispensable resource.

RIC is an online, local clearinghouse for internships in the region, connecting talented and eager college students with businesses, explains Regina Anderson, director of RIC.

This month the center launched a new streamlined Web site with a complete listing of available jobs-in-training, including resume help and networking suggestions. The site serves as a one-click location where students can connect with opportunities and businesses can recruit talent.

RIC also plans to expand its reach in the next several months to include other parts of the state.

“We’re very unique in terms of the kind of support we provide,” she says. “We directly address the brain drain by helping to attract and retain talent in the region.”

It’s not too late to find work for the summer, notes Anderson. While RIC currently lists internships for the fall, openings are posted on a year-round basis.

More than 400 students participate in the RIC summer program each year. In today’s job market, a student can’t have too many internships, she adds. Those who take advantage of multiple opportunities have an advantage over student job-seekers who’ve only done one internship during their college career.

The cost to participate is $50, but many companies agree to cover the fee.
The RIC is supported by 70 educational institutions in the region and is a program of Coro Pittsburgh. The program is sponsored by the Alcoa and Benedum foundations as well as The Heinz Endowments.

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Regina Anderson, RIC


Image courtesy Coro Pittsburgh


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