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Award #36: Pittsburgh’s Smallest Jazz Club

15 Jan

Tiny Jazz ClubImagine hearing jazz outdoors. Not too difficult since Pittsburgh offers many jazz concerts that take place outdoors in nice weather. Take that image up a notch, and picture yourself listening to jazz on your headphones while waiting for the bus in January. Then take your imagination one step further:  your fellow bus patron presses a button attached to the bus shelter; a great swing band tune begins to play. People start tapping their feet. Hips sway. Everyone waiting in the shelter suddenly smiles. Selfies are snapped. It’s unlike any bus shelter experience ever. This could revolutionize the “bus wait.”

This is the idea brought forth by MCG Jazz, whose mission is to preserve, present and promote jazz. According to marketing manager Amy Kline:

“My job is to make a bunch of noise on behalf of MCG Jazz and raise our public profile. Hare-brained ideas are my current specialty. The intent is to promote jazz music as Pittsburgh’s greatest arts export, and to remind people that jazz music–and art–is fun, familiar and everywhere.”

Awesome Pittsburgh’s trustees smiled unanimously when they decided to choose the proposal for one of 2014’s $1000 grants, envisioning a bus patron who pushes a button, only to have an iPod play jazz music from one of MCG Jazz’s Grammy Award winning recordings. The interior walls of a bus shelter will feature images of Pittsburgh’s jazz legends, and a blank “Your Face Here!” space to take a picture of yourself at “Pittsburgh’s Smallest Jazz Club.” Lamar Outdoor, owner of the bus shelters in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, is already on board to help make the project happen.

MCG’s wish is that these recordings reach both a national and international audience. Dean of Awesome Pittsburgh Emily Keebler reports:

“Every Awesome Pittsburgh trustee enthusiastically agreed that this project will strengthen the long time Pittsburgh jazz community and contribute to the overall cultural and artistic diversity of the region.”

To learn more, visit Pittsburgh’s Smallest Jazz Club’s Facebook page. Pittsburgh’s Smallest Jazz Club is on Centre Avenue, less than a block from Consol Energy Center.

Come celebrate with us: Awesome Pittsburgh turns 3!

3 Nov

Celebrate Awesome Pittsburgh’s third anniversary at the Pittsburgh Public Market along with former and future grantwinners, partners, and friends!

Monday, November 10 at 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Pittsburgh Public Market, 2401 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222

Awesome Pittsburgh is honored to have given grants to 35 awesome projects in Pittsburgh over the past three years. Hear from some of our past winners and learn about our 36th and most recent awardee. In addition, you can get a taste for how hard it is to pick a winning project every month when four awesome projects will pitch their ideas to guest judges who will select a $1,000 grant winner at the party!

We are excited to hold our party at the awesome Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip District! The Market Kitchen at Pittsburgh Public Market will host tours of their new facility and vendors will be open for snacking and shopping. We hope you’ll join us to support these local businesses and celebrate our third anniversary!

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates about the event and let us know you are coming. Bring a friend or ten!

Introducing Awesome Asides: Jeb Feldman

5 Jun

Awesome Pittsburgh is only possible because of the people who make it happen – from the grantwinners and trustees to the volunteers and other patrons of awesome who keep this thing going month after month. We decided it was time to find out more about these folks in a new feature called Awesome Asides, where we find out what really makes awesome Pittsburghers tick.

Our first profile features Jeb Feldman, a trustee of Awesome Pittsburgh since its founding in 2011.

Who are you? What do you do for a living?
I’m a New Mexican desert kid who now lives in the shadow of a steel mill in Braddock PA. I live in an old schoolhouse which doubles as Braddock’s only gallery and artist studio spaces. I’ve spent the last 8 years in Braddock working to create or attract positive activities or investment. I’ve found that it’s terrifically satisfying to me to have the opportunity and space to work on creating a better hometown.

Do you have any Sunday morning rituals?
I’m almost always in Frick Park on Sunday morning with my dog. After grabbing some coffee I can wander around mostly foggy headed while the canine lopes around on the trails and in the trees. The woods are a great outdoor spot for waking up.
Jeb
What food or meal could you eat 7 days a week?
Without coffee I’m not sure that I’d even be awake to eat food. Not sure I’ve got a favorite food that completes a meal but I can snack on pistachios and carrots all day long.

What’s the last book you read/piece of music you listened to?
Music: Usually Pandora is playing whatever it wants but I’m still not over listening to Kendrick Lamar.
Book: I just finished a book called the Professor and the Madman. It’s a great book about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. I’m still amazed that English great writers in the 18th century didn’t have a dictionary to reference. I’m reading the latest Lapham’s Quarterly now. Revolution is a great theme to build a curated publication around.

Favorite time of year and why?
Spring is the best. Everything is coming out of the winter including people from their hibernations, days get longer, and it all comes with an awesome collective optimism. People all begin to start thinking about all the projects and things they want to do with long productive and happy warm days ahead.

Why are you glad you are a part of Awesome Pittsburgh?
I like the idea of being involved in micro-funding since macro-funding can be so unwieldy. Having a small group of people pitch in together to do this on a monthly basis is an ingenious way to make this happen. I like that we can affect and benefit greater Pittsburgh by providing this as a local resource for projects here. I also personally really like seeing all the projects that people in the area would like to see happen here.

Can you name a project (whether it be an applicant or grant winner) that you found to be most awesome?
Without specifying a project, I’ve always appreciated the projects that are a little more renegade and are intended to make Pittsburgh cooler through quirky or pleasing interventions or amenities that may not even be overtly attributable to someone.We’ve got a lot of room in Pittsburgh to do cool things if people are interested in using this space.

Announcing our 16th Winner: Knit the Bridge

26 Apr

We all know our bridges are pretty awesome. So, how do you make them even more awesome? Take color and fiber and an army of knitters and turn one of the “three sisters” into an enormous community-led public art installation: you Knit the Bridge.

KnittheBridge

Led by an idea sparked by Amanda Goss, a growing community of knitting enthusiasts plan to attempt one of the largest “yarn bombs” in the world. In recent years, yarn-bombing–a type of street art where everyday objects and fixtures in public spaces are covered with yarn–has become a popular movement that has drastically increased the popularity of what was once deemed a lost art form.

The group behind Knit the Bridge hopes to “literally and figuratively weave the region together,” by yarn-bombing one of the three sisters bridges in the summer/fall of 2013.  The installation will be made by over 400 volunteers from across the region in advance, and many segments have already been submitted.  When it is removed, sections will be distributed to local shelters and community living facilities to be reused as blankets and wall hangings.

“Knit the Bridge is a dynamic art project that brings together diverse groups from throughout our community and embraces one of Pittsburgh most distinct assets, our bridges,” said Mary Ellen Solomon, Awesome Pittsburgh Trustee. “It’s a colorful way to engage people and to celebrate the region’s thriving arts scene. Knit the Bridge is just one more cool idea that makes Pittsburgh awesome.”

Awesome Pittsburgh is excited that Knit the Bridge will be giving a demonstration at its upcoming quarterly award party on Tuesday, April 30th.  The Awesome Pittsburgh party is from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Union Project at 801 N. Negley Avenue in Highland Park.  The event is free and open to the public.

For more information on the Knit the Bridge project and to volunteer to knit a section, interested parties can visit knitthebridge.wordpress.com or facebook.com/knitthebridge.  

Announcing our 14th Winner: Juice Up 412!

17 Mar
Juice_Up_412_Staff_and_Customers
More than just an awesome way to quench your thirst, Juice Up 412 is a social enterprise that uses their products – delicious and unique fruit and vegetable juices – to educate underserved communities about health, wellness and nutrition as well as food justice.

Juice Up has already generated buzz with their pop-up juice bars around the city -including a featured appearance at Awesome Pittsburgh’s 1st Birthday Party – but they have even bigger plans to engage the community and find ways to remedy health disparities in low-investment communities. Juice Up 412’s Majestic Lane explains:
Our vision is to bring innovative juices to the area through diverse, creative media and inspire a broader conversation about access & behavioral norms in order to educate and empower traditionally underserved demographics regarding health & wellness.

The grant money will help to fund their first effort: the “I Juice” Campaign, a short video that highlights local thought leaders and changemakers to explain the importance of ‘juicing’ as well as the benefits a healthy diet can provide.  This short grassroots video will be shared throughout social media to raise awareness of the Juice Up 412 project as well as introduce general health and nutritional concepts to the community. In addition, the Juice Up crew will host a three-part film series, showing topical films in open neighborhood spaces. These Movie Nights will also feature juicing demonstrations, presentations from local food and health industry experts, and a forum for conversation and community action.

Find out more about Juice Up 412 by following them on Twitter or liking them on Facebook and try some of their juice today!

Awesome Pittsburgh awards $1,000 grants on a monthly basis to individuals or groups who propose ways of making Pittsburgh stand out in the global economy, connect our communities, or celebrate art or technology and make the city a better place to live, work and play. Submit your short proposal here.

Join us for Awesome Pittsburgh’s 1st Birthday

15 Jan

Awesome 1st Birthday PartyWe grow up so fast.  On Thursday, January 31, 2013, please  join Awesome Pittsburgh Trustees, awardees, and friends to celebrate Awesome Pittsburgh’s first birthday!

When: Thursday, January 31st from 7 – 9 pm

Where: AVA Lounge, 126 S. Highland Avenue, East Liberty (map)

Visit our Facebook page to let us know you are coming, or just show up and surprise us!

Sew Awesome: Announcing our November winner, Urban Stitches

12 Jan

With all the buzz around the “maker” movement, it’s easy to forget that for generations, sewing machines allowed people to dream up and make new creations in their own homes everyday. Our November winner, Urban Stitches, has a mission to reintroduce sewing to the young people of Pittsburgh. “The goal of Urban Stitches is for young people throughout the city to have the opportunity to learn to sew irrespective of their family’s financial status. Our instructors are eager to pass the love of sewing and the enjoyment of imagining, discovering, and creating on to the next generation,” says Tameka Reed, the leader of the Urban Stitches program.

Sewing instruction has become increasingly rare for students in a lot of schools. In fact, the idea for Urban Stitches came to Ms. Reed when she discovered that the local schools no longer offered sewing classes. That’s when she decided to develop and offer a course at no cost to students. Urban Stitches will provide an opportunity for teens ages 13-18 to learn outside of the classroom in a less intimidating setting. Reed, a Pittsburgh native and former Clarissa School of Fashion Design student, plans to use Awesome Pittsburgh’s $1,000 grant  to purchase several sewing machines for the program and offer classes as part of an 8-week program.

Congrats to Urban Stitches!

Awesome Pittsburgh awards $1000 grants every month to great ideas like Tameka’s. Any idea that you believe is awesome is eligible, and submissions are due on the first of each month. Apply today!

Update 2/5/13: Tameka is launching the classes for 10 young women ages 12-18 at George Westinghouse High School in collaboration with the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh. She’s looking for donations of sewing machines, notions, patterns, fabrics, zippers, buttons, etc. If you’ve got anything to donate, please contact Tameka (sew_1 [at] msn.com) – your generosity will help introduce a new generation to sewing!

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