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Local artist wins finalist for Martha Stewart award

Brad Bianchi, a local self-described reuse mixed-media artist, is the 2014 Wildcard Finalist for Martha Stewart American Made program. The awards in categories including crafts, design, food and style honors the next generation of great American makers.

As Bianchi says on his profile page for the American Made website, Pittsburgh’s identities as the City of Bridges and the Steel City influenced his artistic development.

“I love imagining the journey of every small piece of rusty metal that I find on the ground,” the reclamation artist says.

Vote for Bianchi here.

Chicago blogger rallies in support of a bikeable Pittsburgh

Despite the negativity coming from Pittsburgh cab drivers, blogger Matt Carmichael says Pittsburgh's efforts at bikeability give him hope. 

During a recent visit to Pittsburgh for the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place Conference, Carmichael noted the protected bike lanes installed outside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and started asking around.

While Mayor Bill Peduto told conference attendees he wants his city to be among the most bike-friendly in the nation, Carmichael argued with the cabbies who see cyclists as a traffic nuisance.

In the end, Carmichael vouched his support for the placemaking movement represented by Pittsburgh’s latest protected bike lanes running along Penn Avenue from Sixth Street to 16th Street.

Read Carmichael’s full post here.

Mayor Peduto visits 'Meet the Press'

Mayor Bil Peduto joined Mayors Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma, Wash. and Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City on Chuck Todd's inaugural issue of Sunday morning news talk show, Meet the Press to discuss what the national government can learn from local politics.

"Well, I mean, the ultimate goal is what is the vision," Peduto said. "And it has to be a shared vision, just as we have to work with our councils, the president needs to work with the Congress. But at the end of the day, you have to move forward."

The Mayor also discussed Pittsburgh's success and the need for creating a universal early childhood education program in the city.

Watch the full episode here.

Pittsburgh International Airport tries fracking

In the early 90s, the Pittsburgh International Airport was rebuilt with US Airways in mind. At that time, they were using Pittsburgh as a hub and Allegheny County envisioned 30 million passengers taking off and landing in the Steel City every year.

"They basically designed the airport. We built it for them. And we built it for them and entered into a long-term lease that they were going to use it as their hub," Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County executive, told NPR.

However, after Sept. 11, the commercial flight industry changed drastically and US Airways stopped using Pittsburgh as hub three years later.

Now, as many other airports across the country, the Pittsburgh International Airport is looking to generate revenue from more than just air travel. Consol Energy recently broke ground on the airport's 9,000 acres to extract gas from the Marcellus Shale that lies beneath.

Read the full story here.

'The Economist' ranks Pittsburgh among most livable cities in the world, AGAIN!

In The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2014 livability survey, Pittsburgh ranked 30th worldwide and second only to Honolulu in the US, which makes the Steel City the most livable metropolis in the continental United States.
“It’s great to celebrate the accolades that were made possible through the spirit of innovation here, fueled by the passion of Pittsburgh residents and decision makers,” said Craig Davis, president and CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH. “This city has come far because of the determination of collaboration and of perseverance. There’s been a conscious effort to invest in arts, culture and the environment as an economic development strategy. And, that has paid off nicely.”

NPR covers competition on the local health care scene

Break ups always seem to linger a little longer than one would expect and that of UPMC and Highmark is no different, never mind the regular media coverage that keeps rubbing salt in the wounds of both providers.
Last week NPR covered Pittsburgh’s shift from being one of the least competitive health care environments to its new identity with a healthy amount of competition. The city is no longer a two insurance brand town since Cigna, Aetna and United Healthcare have also entered the market.
"Competition is good," says Jeffrey Romoff, UPMC President and CEO. "It keeps us all on top of our game. It gives us incentive to not be fat and sloppy."

The 'Pittsburgh left' isn't working

Pittsburgh transplants won’t be surprised that Allstate Insurance Company ranked Steel City motorists among the worst in the country.

In fact, Pittsburgh residents are 51.3 percent more likely to be involved in a car accident than your average American.
Pittsburgh ranked 14th worst on the list of 200 cities and dead last in cities with a population of 250,000 to 499,000 residents.
From tunnel traffic to parking spaces reserved by folding chairs, Pittsburgh’s driving peccadilloes are the city’s most treacherous traits.

'Does the prospect of running for office discourage women?'

Research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh on women’s willingness to run for political offices recently made the New York Times’ analytical website, the Upshot

Political Science professors Kristin Kanthak and Jonathan Woon discovered that women may have an aversion to the electoral process that is separate from external factors traditionally blamed for the gender gap in elections. 

The study grouped participants (both men and women) and required one person to do a math problem on behalf of each team. The problem doers were either randomly selected from the volunteers or elected by the group. The researchers found that both men and women volunteered when they would be selected at random, but not when they would face election. 

“The fact that representatives are chosen by electoral means is enough to dissuade women from putting themselves forward as candidates,” the study says.

The New York Times honors Sophie Masloff

The New York Times honored beloved Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff after she died in hospice earlier this week at 96. 

Masloff, a Pittsburgher for her entire life, was the first female and first Jewish mayor of the steel city from 1988 to 1994. 

She was known for her unsophisticated public speaking style delivered in Pittsburghese, but she also helped to bring innovation to Pittsburgh during her mayorship. 

Mayor William Peduto released a statement and he calls Masloff “a trailblazer camouflaged in grace and humor” and says she “personified Pittsburgh -- She was kind and approachable, but you dared not underestimate her.”

Modcloth is the first clothing company to sign the Heroes of Advertising Pledge

According to Buzzfeed, Pittsburgh-based clothing company Modcloth is the first to sign a pledge created by the Brave Girls Alliance against photoshopping models. 

The pledge, entitled the Heroes of Advertising Pledge, asks signers to refrain from photoshopping the physical features of the people in their ads. It comes after a series of embarrassing photoshop mistakes revealing how drastically models are sometimes altered. 

Modcloth co-founder Susan Gregg Koger says the pledge is “perfectly aligned with what ModCloth is already committed to - celebrating the beauty of women as they truly are.”

Kennywood ranks as underdog theme park

In a list compiled by Theme Park Tourist, Kennywood Park recently ranked as an underdog theme park stuck in the shadow of Disney parks

Kennywood earned its number 12 spot on the countdown for its classic dark rides like the Old Mill and Noah’s Ark (now being used as Garfield’s Nightmare) and roller coasters like the Jackrabbit and Thunderbolt. 

Theme Park Tourist also commended Kennywood’s more modern marvels, the Phantom’s Revenge and the Skycoaster. 

Kennywood and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA were the only two American parks to make the cut.

'The doctor will Skype you now'

U.S. News & World Report showcased a new trend in telemedicine and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hosts one of two telemedicine programs that allow patients to consult doctors via phone or video chat. 

AnywhereCare, launched in 2005, connects patients to physicians for minor health issues and doctors can give guidance or even prescriptions to remedy the problem. If the doctor cannot assist the patient over video, he or she can recommend an in office visit. 

Telemedicine has received mixed reviews from other doctors, but Lawrence Wechsler, the vice president of telemedicine at UPMC, says that telemedicine is not trying to compete with traditional medical practices.

“Anytime you have new models there are going to be advantages and disadvantages,” he says. “Patients and doctors need to weigh the pros and cons to figure out what’s right for them.”

Pittsburgh gets high-tech water meters

A magazine called Government Technology noted Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority’s installation of high tech water meters this week.

The new meters will allow customers to track water usage online or through email or text message updates. PWSA will spend $9.4 million to bring these wireless meters to about 82,000 customers in Pittsburgh. 

Tracking water usage can allow customers to control water consumption or alert users of potential leaks. 

“We're saving $10,000 a month, or $120,000 a year, and providing customers a better service,” PWSA spokesperson Melissa Rubin says.

'In Pittsburgh, a refuge for endangered writers'

Aljazeera America reported on a refuge for foreign writers located in Pittsburgh’s Central North Side, City of Asylum. 

City of Asylum, founded by Henry Reese in 2004, is a haven for artists who were persecuted in their native countries for their writing. Other cities house similar refuges supplemented with state sponsorship, but City of Asylum is unique in that it was created by a single citizen and has via philanthropy. 

Yaghoub Yadali is the most recent addition to City of Asylum after his novel “The Rituals of Restlessness” brought him imprisonment and harassment in his native country of Iran.  

“I respect those that stand up against authority to keep them open and honest,” says Reese.

ABC News features Conflict Kitchen

Pittsburgh’s beloved Conflict Kitchen was recently featured in ABC News’ Lifestyle section. The restaurant serves only food from countries in conflict with the United States. 

The nonprofit takeout spot aims to make food a medium for political dialogue and is funded by grants as a part of the research center at Carnegie Mellon. The restaurant’s menu rotates through cuisine from countries like Cuba, North Korea, and Iran. 

Conflict Kitchen also hosts roundtables and events to promote political discussions. 

"In some ways, [it] was a response to what I felt wasn't in this city, which was a lot of cultural and ethnic diversity, and also a sense of being part of an international, global conversation," says Conflict Kitchen co-founder Jon Rubin.
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