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Family of Pittsburgh firefighter featured on Ellen

Viewers of The Ellen Degeneres Show know the host and comedienne enjoys sharing stories that inspire her. One such story featured Matt Onyshko, a City of Pittsburgh firefighter with Engine Company 32, who has been battling ALS for more than seven years. He and his wife Jessica first appeared on DeGeneres’ show in October where they shared their story and their positive spirit.

During that first appearance, the firefighters of Engine Company 32 surprised the Onyshkos onstage. The close friends had covered Matt Onyshko’s shifts at the firehouse since he went off the job three years ago and ensured that Matt would continue to get paid.

Just last week, the show’s Ellen’s producers and the firefighters arrived with cameras rolling at the front door of the Onyshkos’ Brighton Heights home. They stopped in to announce that the family would receive a living room makeover from HOUZ.

According to DeGeneres, the show will return to the Onyshko home in a few weeks to feature the results of the Houz makeover.
“You make a choice,” Matt Onyshko had said during his first appearance on the show. “To either have fun or be in pain. We really have nothing to complain about.”  

A gofundme page has been created to help the Onyshkos.
 

Local Etsy artist takes wholesale business to next level

When e-commerce site Etsy went public last week, Etsy crafters in Pittsburgh and across the world gained global attention, too.

The New York Times recently profiled Sharpsburg artist Amy Hamley’s association with Etsy two days before the company went public. Hamley, who makes jewelry and decorative items out of porcelain, credits Etsy for taking her wholesale business to the next level.

“I’ve gained as many buyers and retail stores as I had in the entire three years doing it on my own,” she told the Times.

Since Etsy’s beginnings in 2005, the massive online site for vintage and handcrafted artisan goods has provided a vehicle for sellers to display their work for low sales fees plus a 3.5 percent commission. This changed the game for artisans, who used to depend on street fairs, arts festivals or gift trade shows to market their items. But with tens of millions of unique visits to Etsy’s site each day -- many of whom are retailers buying products wholesale-- sellers like Hamley gained a level of visibility never before granted to artists like her.
 
Last year, Hamley moved to Pittsburgh and launched Redraven Studios from a building converted from an old ice cream shop in Sharpsburg. She was one of a select group of Etsy sellers worldwide invited to attend the ringing of the stock market bell the morning the company went public. She was also among the small gathering of artisans who set up shop in Times Square to display and talk about her work. 

Pittsburgh is home to a number of Etsy crafters who bring their imaginations to market at the e-commerce site.

Source: The New York Times, Nasdaq, Upstart Business Journal

Pittsburgh competes for Outside Magazine's Best Towns 2015

Outside magazine has included Pittsburgh in its competition of 60 U.S. cities to determine the best towns of 2015. 

Based on outdoorsy criteria like access to trails and public lands, walkable restaurants and neighborhoods, farmers markets and a good beer scene, online voting for the competition begins on May 4. 

Cast your vote for Pittsburgh here

Satisfaction: The Rolling Stones come to Heinz Field

The Rolling Stones have announced a round of tour dates, and they include a stop in the Steel City. The British legends will hit Heinz Field on June 20.

The Zip Code tour will once again reunite singer Mick Jagger, drummer Charlie Watts and guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood.

The last time the Rolling Stones played North American stadiums was during their "A Bigger Bang Tour" in 2006. They opted for arena venues for their "50 & Counting" tour in 2012 and 2013.

"We love being out on the road and it is great to come back to North America," said Richards in a statement. "I can't wait to get back on the stage!"

And quite the stage it will be, including a section that juts far into the crowd, allowing the Stones to interact with fans. As is the band's practice, the stage design will employ cutting-edge technology to enhance the performance, including video screens and special effects.

Check out the complete list of tour dates here.

Original source: The New York Times

Amazon acquires local startup Shoefitr

Last week’s acquisition of Shoefitr by Amazon should bring a long-awaited sigh of relief for the online retail giant as well as for footwear customers turned off by the order and return process.

The Oakland-based software company Shoefitr personalizes the online shoe buying process. The technology helps shoppers to order comfortable, precisely fitted shoes and enables online footwear retailers to recommend sizes for customers.

The company was started in 2010 by Matt Wilkinson, along with fellow Carnegie Mellon University alumni Breck Fresen and Nick End. Initially, Shoefitr focused on running shoes before digging into heels and other footwear options.

The size, brand and style-specific technology is designed to get the right fit, which lessens the high rate of return that online shoe sellers (and clothing apparel retailers alike) regularly experience.

It works like this: Customers enter their shoe size and the basic information from a favorite, current well-fitting shoe. Then Shoefitr matches it with footwear in its database to recommend the size and styles that provide a similar fit. It takes into account variables such as shape, sole thickness, and weight, giving customers comparisons against their current pair.

Presently, Shoefitr works with more than 1,000 brands worldwide, according to its website. The number is expected to grow as the acquisition by Amazon is finalized.

Learn more about the online shoe buying process using Shoefitr here.

Local companies make Forbes list of best employers

Four major companies from our region are among Forbes magazine’s 2015 best U.S. employers: The University of Pittsburgh, PPG, Alcoa and Mylan.

Of the four, Pitt came in at No. 91 -- the only one that placed in the top 100. With a local, full-time force numbering upwards of 12,000 workers, Pitt also stands among the city’s big three non-government employers.

Not far behind, PPG landed on the list at No. 159. Alcoa followed at 223. The pharmaceutical giant Mylan claimed its spot at No. 292; its Washington County headquarters made it the only ranked Pittsburgh-area company located outside of the city.

Also listed within regional proximity was Sheetz. Headquartered in Altoona, Blair County, the massive convenience center-gas chain continues to hold a hefty presence in Pittsburgh. It came in at No. 181.

The top 500 U.S. employers were chosen based on an independent survey given to 20,000 employees across 25 different industries. All employees responded anonymously. The survey was administered to larger companies and institutions with a minimum workforce of 2,500, including U.S. divisions of international firms.

View all 500 companies here.  

 

Mini Grants awarded to underserved communities

Each year, Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh provide the Mini Grants Initiative: Civic Inclusion & Engagement Fund to promote underserved or minority communities in the region. Grants were awarded to 16 winners this year.

The winners include:
  • Navigating Pittsburgh/Navegando Pittsburgh Summit for a bilingual event for Hispanic newcomers;
  • Pittsburgh Chinese Cultural Festival to build awareness of Pittsburgh’s Chinese community;
  • Livin’ Out Loud 2 for education regarding bullying against LGBT youth;
  • English Language Accelerator, a program for 9th- and 10th-grade recent immigrants to master English.
Review the complete list of winners of the Mini Grants Initiative here.



 

Earth Day celebrates sustainability and success

The worldwide Earth Day event on April 22 has special significance here in Pittsburgh. This year, Pittsburgh Earth Day marks the recent advancements our city has created in sustainability, technology, and innovation.

Involvement in the day’s lineup springs from sources ranging from the local business community gathering for a speakers’ breakfast to the fashion shows, exhibitors, music, pop-up dance party and the food truck festival that will follow.

Events will take place throughout the day in Market Square and Mellon Square in Downtown and Schenley Plaza in Oakland.

See the full lineup of events here.

 

Pitt sociology professors publish groundbreaking study on domestic violence

The American Sociological Review recently published a first-of-its-kind study that investigates the earning history and potential of Pennsylvania women who applied for a Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders.

Written by University of Pittsburgh Sociology Professors Melanie Hughes and Lisa Brush,“The Price of Protection” examines the effects on women’s earnings before, during and six years after petitioning for PFAs.

The study found “shocks and stalls” in the women’s earning potential in the first year after filing and beyond. These were often due to time off for medical care and court appointments or to find safe housing for herself and/or children in the family.

Since the effects of domestic violence on women’s work and earning potential hasn’t been extensively studied, Hughes and Brush’s work has been highly publicized with features in the New York Times and Jezebel.

Read the full study in the American Sociological Review here.
 

New York Times spotlights Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

The New York Times credits the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh for leading a current movement among U.S. museums.  

The trend originated when the museum moved to its current location on the North Side to accommodate the ever-growing number of visitors in the late 1990s. Once the museum moved, however, a surplus of space existed with a shortage of content to exhibit. The need to fill the space prompted museum leaders to lease it in order to generate income outside of the typical exhibits and special events. 

Over time, museums across the country with similar concerns took notice and followed the lead of the Children's Museum. Now the museum administrators offer consultations on how to expand revenue opportunities to institutions across the country.

More details in the full article here.
 

Three Rivers Arts Festival now voted No. 1

The probability of rain during the Three Rivers Arts Festival’s 10-day run each year can't spoil the fun of festival goers. Nor has it dampened the interest of the experts at USA Today, who nominated 20 arts festivals across the United States so that readers may cast their votes for the top 10.

Of those 20 nominations, USA Today readers are currently ranking the Three Rivers Arts Festival at No. 1. It leads similarly sized arts events in major metro centers like New York City, San Francisco and Chicago.

Readers can vote until 11:59 a.m. on April 13 and may cast no more than one vote per day.

Check current rankings and cast your vote.

Grove City College exhibits WWII vintage propaganda posters

Last year, more than 170 rare World War II propaganda posters were found in the Rare Book Room of Grove City College's Henry Buhl Library. The vintage posters represent those widely distributed between 1941 and 1945 and contained messages that encouraged home-front sacrifice, workplace production and bond drives.

The collection includes iconic posters by Norman Rockwell and the rare work of French graphic designer Jean Carlu, among others. Some posters, discovered still folded as originally sent during the war years, have never been displayed until now.

Fighting for Freedom: Grove City College’s World War II Exhibit” continues through March 27.

Forbes ranks Pittsburgh among the 25 best places to retire

Forbes magazine released this year’s best places to retire, and Pittsburgh once again made the cut. The alphabetical listing considers data such as housing and other costs of living, taxes, crime rates, weather and air quality as well as doctor availability and the accessibility to an active lifestyle such as walking, bicycling or volunteering.

Pittsburgh returned to the 2015 list due to the city’s cost of living advantages as well as the “strong economy mixed with big city amenities and elements of a college town,” according to Forbes.

Read the complete listing and details here.

 

CMU grad student awarded national prize for screenplay

Savannah Reich, a graduate student in the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama dramatic writing program, won the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Student Grand Jury Prize from the Tribeca Film Institute for Best Science-Themed Screenplay. The award recognizes the best student screenplay in the nation that uses science and technology themes in a narrative.

Reich wins $30,000 plus $20,000 if the screenplay goes into production. The Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize will boost development of the project and introduce Reich and her work to the industry at large.  

Learn more about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation here.

Google bestows honor on South Side marketing firm

ProFromGo Internet Marketing in the South Side was given a PR/Marketing award by Google for its local public relations initiative utilizing the Google Business View program.  

ProFromGo’s winning campaign provides retail stores, restaurants, and dealerships ways to invite potential customers inside their places of business. This allows would-be patrons a virtual shopping tour of the brick-and-mortar establishment, granting them an up-close view of product availability, store layout and ambiance, among other details. And because ProFromGo’s virtual tours are Google based, they can be accessed via Google Search, Google Maps and Google+ Local.

More about ProFromGo’s trek to receive the award from Google can be found here.
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