Come celebrate with us: Awesome Pittsburgh turns 3!

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!

Award #33: Diverse Mothering Initiative

goodmama picture

Cindy Mendoza is a mother of three boys whose passion is motherhood.  She grew up in both Wilkinsburg and the Hill District and her grant winning project, Diverse Mothering Initiative, is a reflection of that urban childhood. The things she most values in life–writing, reading, exploration, and conversation–revolve around children or ideas and experiences she gained as a child, and she hopes to help the broader mothers-of-color community with what she has learned about effective parenting.

Diverse Mothering Initiative’s objective is to assist Pittsburgh’s minority mothers in developing their own personal templates for effective parenting in the confines of a socially supportive community. Mothers are the backbone of minority families, and when given the tools they need to develop effective parenting strategies, along with the social support necessary to apply those strategies to everyday lives, they have a real opportunity to change the way minority families function.

Newest Awesome Pittsburgh trustee Melonie Nance reports,

“We trustees were really impressed by the professional presentation of this group via their website, in addition to their great cause! We hope that our grant will help spread the word to others who may benefit from joining their supportive network.”

Low-income, minority mothers have long been the targets of some cultural hostility which implies that this particular group of mothers is not equipped to be effective parents. The stereotyping continues to exist, i.e. that black mothers are financially, emotionally and intellectually unable to raise healthy, college-bound, responsible children. Mendoza’s efforts hope to eradicate this false notion. She says,

“Effective mothering has the potential to tremendously impact minority communities. Bottom-line: moms who become better mothers make fathers better fathers, children better adults, and communities better communities.”

The grant will assist Cindy’s project in hosting seven events which enable mothers-of-color to tackle issues such as family planning, co-parenting, literacy and diversity. The events will run from September 2014 to June 2015.

You can Register here for the upcoming kick-off pampering event for women on Saturday, September 13, which takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Alloy Studios on Penn Avenue in East Liberty. And you can follow Cindy’s Brown Mamas venture on the web, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Award #32: Mobile Sculpture Workshop

Mobile Sculpture WorkshopAndy Prisbylla serves as the project administrator for the Mobile Sculpture Workshop (MSW), a pilot program of the Industrial Arts Cooperative (IAC), whose mission is to inspire artistic literacy in the Pittsburgh region by offering enrichment opportunities that advance the understanding and process of sculpture-making artists and their work.

MSW is a Pennsylvania-based summer workshop aimed at demonstrating the techniques of safe and proper welding and metal fabrication while producing large-scale sculpture for public display. The Awesome Pittsburgh $1,000 grant will help buy safety gear and welding supplies.

Prisbylla is thrilled that the Awesome Pittsburgh grant will contribute heavily to…

“our effort to inspire the youth of Hazelwood and its neighbors with an opportunity of design, conception and completion of public art.  Upon completion of the workshop, student apprentices will understand the basic fundamentals and terminology of welding and metal fabrication, including safety procedures, and learn to efficiently work within a team to recognize the importance of organizational cohesion.”

Adds new Awesome Pittsburgh trustee Robert Young, “I don’t think there is any better way to foster the learning and creativity of children than to guide them in the process of making something. Not only do they gain a true sense of accomplishment but their skills in science, technology, engineering, and math are enhanced through the process.”

The 2014 summer workshop concludes on September 6.  This summer, MSW project representatives have appeared at the Polish Hill Festival, in Braddock at Chef Kevin Sousa’s Superior Motors community cookout, in Munhall at the Rivers of Steel Sunday Heritage Market at the Pump House, and will be in Rankin on August 16 at the Save the Deer Fundraiser at the Carrie Furnace.

To read more, the Mobile Sculpture Workshop keeps up-to-date posts and news at www.facebook.com/mobilesculptureworkshop.

msw logo

Awesome Aside: Carla Garfield

Carla's killer City view

Carla’s awesome view

Awesome Pittsburgh is only possible because of the grant winners, trustees, volunteers, and other patrons of awesome who keep this thing going month after month. In our Awesome Asides, we find out what really makes awesome Pittsburghers tick. Our third profile features Carla Garfield. Her application earned the Bandi Schaum Art in the Garden project our 30th $1,000 award.

1) Who are you?  What do you do for a living?

I’m an empty-nester and grandmother living with my husband in a converted loft in the Southside flats.  I teach history to eighth graders at Sewickley Academy, and before that taught 4th and 8th graders in Fairfax County, Virginia.  Like so many Pittsburghers, I returned after living elsewhere for 30 years.  Gardening is my biggest hobby, and I’m currently helping to create and tend seven different gardens!  I’ve played the viola since fourth grade, but I’m not playing in a group right now, so I’m trying to drum up a quartet or chamber group in the Southside.

2) Do you have any Sunday morning rituals?

My Sunday morning ritual is longstanding: listening to bluegrass music while treating myself to pastries from the Strip or La Gourmandine and reading first the local paper and then the New York Times.  During the winter, we often spend part of the afternoon at the library.

3) What food or meal could you eat 7 days a week?

I’m lucky that my husband, Allen, does almost all the food shopping and cooking.  He has favorite stops on the Strip and different farmers’ markets.  So, I gratefully eat whatever he makes.  If I had to pick one meal every day, right now I’d pick the meatloaf at Grit & Grace.

4) What’s the last book you read/piece of music you listened to?

The last book I read was Unbroken, which cost me a lot of sleep because I stayed up so late every night reading – couldn’t put it down.  I love everything Laura Hillenbrand writes.  I’m also a big fan of Erik Larson and David McCullough.  Even when I do read fiction, it’s usually historical fiction.

We have a rooftop deck and spend many summer evenings up there listening to music.  We love nearly every genre of music and tend to go through phases, except on Sunday mornings.  Right now we’re listening to a lot of Django Reinhardt and Regina Carter.  Before that, it was Nina Simone and Mose Allison.  On my own, I listen to a lot of classical music, especially Rachmaninoff and Bach.

5) Why are you glad you are affiliated with Awesome Pittsburgh?

I love that Awesome Pittsburgh has created a new path for embracing the minds, hearts, and dreams of fellow Pittsburghers, and that the members feel personal and collective joy in in making those dreams come true.

Awesome Aside: Tina Tuminella

Awesome Pittsburgh is only possible because of the grant winners, trustees, volunteers, and other patrons of awesome who keep this thing going month after month. In our Awesome Asides, we find out what really makes awesome Pittsburghers tick. Our second profile features Tina Tuminella, our Awesome Ambassador and queen of PR.

tuminella pancakes

1)     Who are you?  What do you do for a living?

I am a part time stay-at-home mom who likes to write.  I do volunteer PR writing for Awesome Pittsburgh and I work part-time in the Communications Department at Duquesne University. My friends would identify me as someone who loves to eat, cook, converse, write and send letters via snail mail, sing, read, and explore new places (I’m not a homebody).

2)     Do you have any Sunday morning rituals?  

Lately, our Sundays involve blueberry buttermilk pancakes and bacon.  I also watch Charles Osgood on “CBS News Sunday Morning” with my husband.  No toddler TV on Sundays.  Woo hoo.

3)     What food or meal could you eat 7 days a week?

Medium rare steak, my mom’s tomato salad, homemade French fries and fresh bread with butter (to dunk in the salad. Duh.)

4)     What’s the last book you read/piece of music you listened to?

Music: It is Ray Charles week at our house (my attempt at music education for a 2.5 year old) so I’d have to say “Hit the Road Jack.”

Book: Usually I stick to fiction, but I just started “Five Days at Memorial” which is about a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. It won a Pulitzer Prize, so I want to know what all the buzz is about.

5)     Favorite time of year and why?

Autumn.  I don’t like to be hot, so I love the crisp air of a fall day.  I love the sound of walking through crunchy leaves.  I also like turtlenecks and boots.  And since I always loved school, autumn reminds of all my past beginnings of school years/semesters where classes were new and exciting.

6)     Why are you glad you are a part of Awesome Pittsburgh?

I lived in Boston for almost a decade and everyone takes for granted that Boston is so hip and cool, and it’s reassuring to know that I’m raising a family in a [much friendlier] city that’s also hip and cool where new, creative ideas are put into practice all the time.  Awesome Pittsburgh allows me to feel connected to the city that I chose to be “home.”

7)     Can you name a project (whether it be an applicant or grant winner) that you found to be most awesome?

I was really impressed and inspired by “Bespoke Poetry” that won in June 2013.  Artist Alexi Morrissey’s project allowed regular, ol’ people to become instant art patrons after walking into a downtown gallery.  Patrons basically commissioned a poem after sitting with the poet in a private, one-on-one session; the poem was based on whatever thoughts/concepts/images were on that person’s mind that particular day.  I appreciated the spontaneous aspect of this idea, and I believe we would all benefit with more poetry in our lives.

8)     In reading about other cities’ awesome ideas, what types of ideas would you like to see happen in Pittsburgh?

I would like to see more street art happening here.  I think inhabitants of places like London and San Francisco are so used to being surrounded by public art, they just walk by and take for granted that this sort of thing is done.  But in Pittsburgh, street art is not a daily occurrence.  I read about a project funded by Awesome Boston called “Chasing the Shadows,” which was based on the simple premise of chalking the shadows cast on the sidewalks of people, parking meters, signs, fire hydrants, telephone poles, and bicycles.  The artist talked about how even the most reticent people would become excited about the idea when she got them to pose in the middle of Mass Ave. Street art breaks the monotony of the day, encourages interaction between strangers, and brings a smile to most people’s faces.  It also forces people to think about the role of an artist in everyday life.

Award #31: The Global Switchboard

As The Global Switchboard’s short video will point out, “In Pittsburgh, globally focused individuals and organizations are often too isolated; they lack a platform for collaboration, so we’re building one. The Global Switchboard will be a shared working space for members committed to international development, global education in Pittsburgh and abroad, and community empowerment.”

Brandon Blache-Cohen is the Executive Director of Amizade Global Service-Learning, a small non-profit responsible for The Global Switchboard initiative.  Since 1994, Amizade has been connecting individuals and communities through worldwide service and learning. Says Blache-Cohen:

“The Global Switchboard is honored to have Awesome Pittsburgh as a vital partner in building Pittsburgh’s home for global engagement. Thanks to Awesome Pittsburgh, the outdoor event and reflection space of the Switchboard will be better equipped to inspire a new era of global citizens.”

The physical office and event space will serve as a home for globally-engaged, social-profit organizations; currently, there are ten organizations slated to be housed at the corner of 34th and Ligonier Street in Lawrenceville. Awesome Pittsburgh’s grant provided partial funding to clean up this empty lot. The interior build-out of the project was completed on May 1, and completion of the exterior is planned for June.

The Global Switchboard’s goals in creating a co-working and event space are threefold:

  1. To increase global engagement and accessibility in the Pittsburgh area
  2. To cultivate young Pittsburgh-based global organizations
  3. To attract new resources to our city for internationally collaborative projects

Awesome Pittsburgh trustee Melanie Harrington adds,

“We are thrilled to support The Global Switchboard.  It is an exciting opportunity to bring together the region’s Pittsburghers and global communities in a shared space designed for social engagement and conversation.  The promise of this cross-cultural friendship building and learning is critical to promoting the numerous efforts underway to grow the diversity of the Pittsburgh region.”

You can follow the Switchboard’s progress and inquire about joining via Facebook and its website.

Introducing Awesome Asides: Jeb Feldman

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.