Visible Hands creates a cohort of community mental health workers who are
certified to perform ICT, a unique form of community therapy that requires only short-term training, can accommodate groups from 15-200 people, and can be performed successfully in an online format.
Visible Hands creates a cohort of community mental health workers who are
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Note on Commercial Theater by Langston Hughes
You’ve taken my blues and gone
You sing ’em on Broadway
And you sing ’em in Hollywood Bowl,
And you mix them up with symphonies
And you fix ’em
So they don’t sound like me.
Yep, you done taken my blues and gone.
You also took spirituals and gone.
You put me in Macbeth and Carmen Jones
And all kinds of Swing Mikados
And in everything but what’s about me
But someday somebody’ll
Stand up and talk about me,
And write about me
Black and beautiful
And sing about me,
And put on plays about me!
I reckon it’ll be
Yes, it’ll be me.
DEMASKUS is a national service-oriented collective of artists and administrators seeking to make known the messages of the marginalized. We achieve this through the production and presentation of quality, compassionate, and inclusive artistic events. Everything around us is changing, but our purpose has not. Now more than ever, we must share profound truths from formally marginalized voices that refuse to go unheard and may even offer solutions and solace in a world in dire need of uncompromising reminders of what makes us most humane.
Most Christians will immediately associate DEMASKUS with Damascus–the Syrian capital that is home to the road where Saul of Tarsus had his transformative encounter with God. God struck Saul blind and confronted him about his past. High-born and scholarly, Saul was prone to violence toward early adopters of Christianity. The Collective’s name embodies the idea of revealing the truths that lie beneath the mask(s) of our own blind behavior and beliefs. Art, at its best, helps us to rethink and reimagine that which we think we know. Consciously removing a metaphorical mask certainly requires self-examination. (Based on an exchange with DTC member the Rev. Dr. Leah Lewis, J.D., alluding to Acts 9:1-8). Another source of inspiration for our work is the historic and notable poem, We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Whatever the masks you wear, we invite you to lay them down and join us on a journey filled with crossroads, but free from the expectations and oppressive standards of others. Our art is about us, made by us at times and is always for us. There is freedom here. Welcome home.
Images: You Wouldn’t Expect Production Photos © Martha Rial
Images: WINE IN THE WILDERNESS- Production Photos © Sager McDill
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The Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books (GPFB) will celebrate Pittsburgh’s vibrant literary history & showcase this modern city’s vital role on the national & international literary stage. With free, diverse programming showcasing both national & local acclaimed authors across age groups & genres, the festival will offer opportunities for readers, writers, booksellers, publishers, critics & others to connect with, learn from & support each other.
Pittsburgh is a city filled with both national best-selling authors and budding writers, as well as established literary organizations; university presses; publishers of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction; independent and used bookstores; an active literary and arts community; and readers of all ages.
An annual Pittsburgh book festival will tie all these assets together in one celebration. What’s more, book fairs and festivals create and support a community of readers, attract all ages, introduce and enhance a lifelong love of literature in young readers.
Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Aid provides resources and community support to low-wage restaurant and hospitality workers who have lost financial, housing, food, and healthcare security. Built as a coalition of service industry workers in response to the economic distress caused by COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, our goal is to create a mutual aid network that can address immediate needs, through this crisis and beyond, by distributing food, baby necessities, pet care items, cleaning and hygiene products, and small emergency cash grants.
In response to the closure of dine-in facilities in Allegheny County on March 15th, we partnered with the Irma Freeman Center in Garfield to set up the Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Aid Food Distribution Center. Since then, we have delivered close to 400 care packages to the front doors of low-wage restaurant workers in the region, from our next door neighbors to folks in neighboring counties. Our Food Distribution Center acts as a hub to collect donations from community members and partner organizations, assemble care packages, serve meals, allow neighbors to pick up groceries, and send out volunteer drivers with deliveries. These resources will aid low-wage neighbors to maintain food security for themselves and their families during times of need.
Through reaching out to our greater community for support, the folks who eat at our tables and celebrate at our bars, the communities around us that benefit from the vibrant culture created in our dining rooms and on our stages, we will be able to better recover from these hard times and welcome our guests back with open arms.
Make Music Pittsburgh’s mission is to connect all Pittsburgh community members, regardless of age, musical experience, or ability, to make and enjoy music every summer solstice, while also encouraging further participation in music-making.
Every year on June 21st, Pittsburgh neighborhoods are filled with music making opportunities. Make Music Pittsburgh aims to enhance the cultural vibrancy of every neighborhood in Pittsburgh by supporting the existing musical events, music friendly venues, and citizens interested in participatory music making opportunities. They facilitate events to play music outdoors and celebrate the joy and curiosity music can bring a community.
Make Music Pittsburgh aims to build a city where all community members are enabled to make music and feel connected and supported in their musical engagement.
The Brown Mama Monologues is an annual showcase of 10 African-American mothers telling their unique stories around being a black mother in America with the purpose of redefining the American motherhood narrative to be more inclusive of the black mothering experience.
After six months of rehearsals and speaking and writing coaching our moms take the stage to vocalize their trials and triumps around topics ranging from co-parenting to adoption and mommy-guilt. Since its inception, the Brown Mama Monologues has boasted over 300 attendees per show. Audience members leave our theaters using words like “unifying”, “relatable” and “long overdue” to describe the experience of hearing a mom, like them, give voice to her most vulnerable moments.
In 2020, for the first time in three years, our show will debut outside of the Pittsburgh region as 10 moms from the DC Metro area take the stage at the Bowie Center for Performing arts to become storytellers under the Brown Mama Monologues banner.
RiverWise is a newly launched initiative in Beaver County focused on using our rivers and their surrounding communities as wisely as possible. At the heart of this work is a concerted effort to organize stakeholders to dream, learn, and collaborate about the future of our rivers. We are encouraging this process in two ways. First, we are forming ecodistricts in three communities (Aliquippa, Monaca, and Beaver Falls). Second, we are conducting community assessments in a handful of river facing communities (to be determined) aimed at growing the infrastructure on the rivers, creating access to the rivers, and generating meaningful connections between the rivers and the communities through which they flow.
It’s been an exciting first year for RiverWise and its growing list of partners. We’ve learned, dreamed, and collaborated together about the future of our region. We’ve set in place some very exciting projects. And we’ve bolstered relationships born out of shared vision and purpose. Take a look at this year-end retrospective of the work of our partners.
The Future of Petrochemicals in Western Pennsylvania – A Community Perspective
Three weeks ago, on October 30, 2019, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto publicly announced his opposition to additional petrochemical development in Western Pennsylvania. Responses to the Mayor’s comments were substantial and swift, quickly generating the kind of polarization that has become all too familiar in public discourse about important and contentious topics.
To date, the vast majority of voices speaking into this matter have come from outside of Beaver County, home to the most substantial petrochemical buildout in Western Pennsylvania. When Beaver County voices have been present in this conversation, little attention has been paid to the complex issues faced by community members who are most affected by regional decision making. This document seeks to widen the terms of the ongoing conversation, bringing to bear insight gained from working alongside more than fifty community organizations and several hundred residents who are seeking wisely to navigate the quickly changing landscape that is Beaver County.
Make no mistake: Beaver County is forging a new path for our future. We are embracing competence and vision, moving toward wisdom, and enacting principled change. Continue reading…
“Through science, we shall know it to be correct; through art, we shall know it to be beautiful”
The South Hilltop Men’s Group is a non-profit project of New Sun Rising, directed by Beltzhoover native, Jmar Bey. Their mission is to promote environmental protection through community training programs that use sustainable practices. With a broader goal to create hope and opportunity for those who have none. Since 2015, the South Hilltop Men’s Group has been working to support the responsible and inclusive revitalization of Beltzhoover.
In order to address widespread problems like blight and abandonment, lack of resources, and excessive unemployment while preserving and developing assets within the community, New Sun Rising and the South Hilltop Men’s Group acquired 600 Beltzhoover Ave on November 1, 2019 to become the eventual Beltzhoover Institute of Arts & Sciences. The proposed renovation will be led by the South Hilltop Men’s Group, creating a hub for revitalization and local jobs while addressing environmental issues. Allegheny County Economic Development has also approved a $250,000 CITF grant to support the initial phase of work.
The building is strategically located along Beltzhoover Avenue, a major artery that connects McKinley Park and Emerald View Park, serving as a hub for learning, training, and creativity and connecting related projects along an eco-corridor. To support work in combating blight the project will be anchored by two departments: the Wangari Maathai Environmental Laboratory and an Art Studio. Together, these departments will provide space and opportunities for residents to become engaged in the revitalization of the community.
The Wangari Maathai Environmental Laboratory will provide space for equipment, research, and education on urban environmental topics, focusing on green space management. The Laboratory is named after Wangari Maathai, who became the first African woman and first environmentalist to receive a Nobel Peace prize. Maathai studied at the University of Pittsburgh and later founded the Green Belt Movement, which creates employment to combat deforestation through sustainable practices. The Laboratory will be located on the same block as the Lots of Pride experimental research garden. This project is actively testing various methods for soil remediation using sustainable, low-cost techniques. The strategically located site provides outdoor practical research space that will be supported by the Laboratory.
In addition to the laboratory and art studio, this building will feature green infrastructure and sustainable technologies which will also serve as educational tools, as the building itself will be transformed into a living classroom. For example, a rooftop greenhouse will be used to incubate plants for the various neighborhood community gardens. Stormwater will be captured for irrigation and cleaning on the property. A 2,000 gallon fish tank will display Pennsylvania’s native fish species and spread awareness about the importance of wildlife management. Solar energy will be used to power any lighting or other equipment. Mesh networking will be used to provide free internet access to project participants and local residents. All of these various components serve multiple purposes with education and awareness at the heart of it all.
The importance of this project isn’t just about rehabbing a building. The importance of this project is about resurrecting a neighborhood and bringing hope to a broken community. This building serves as a metaphoric symbol of our neighborhood. Battered and blighted it stands as one of the last commercial buildings left, in a once beautiful and proud area. A once happy community full of friendly people and thriving businesses. A safe place for children with a good school and good neighbors. The kind of place to raise a family in.
Vigilance is an immersive theater group dedicated to creating intimate, experiential productions. Drawing inspiration from high art and pop culture alike, Vigilance is determined to explore the boundaries and possibilities of the growing immersive theater movement.
Currently, Vigilance is preparing the second-play in a three-play series, “The Moon Phase,” about power and memory in a world overseen by guardian spirits. The first show, “Hollow Moon,” had a sold-out run in November of 2018; in it, twelve strangers gathered in a historic (and possibly haunted) house for a deadly game. In “Welcome to Moonside,” which will premiere in August, a group of chosen humans are called to the otherworldly place filled with conflicted spirits, to try and save the ghosts from a grim fate.
All of Vigilance’s productions put the audience at the center of the action, treating our patrons as characters in the show. Our audiences don’t merely observe the events around them; they have the chance to interact, explore and even change the outcome of each show. It’s our goal to provide an experience that’s equal parts theatrical and interactive.
PGH Map Lab is a social enterprise that empowers neighborhoods, non-profits, and municipalities to make data-driven decisions through the creation of maps, apps, and storytelling tools. We are motivated by healthy, equitable, resilient communities. It is our belief that a holistic approach to community development starts with good planning, which requires the best data possible. Our interest is to help organizations and municipalities find, use, and analyze this data to make better informed decisions.
PGH Map Lab is dedicated to enhancing the GIS capacity of individuals and organizations for the benefit of the greater good. Our vision of the Map Lab is an accessible, hand on learning space to test out innovative geospatial and data technologies. We will connect social justice, art, environment, and land use planning through the use of maps. It is our hope that these unique applications will provide clear communication and positively impacting local communities.
Melanin Mommies PGH is a program that provides mentors to organizations that serve ‘At Risk’ African American mothers age 14-21. Our mission is to provide pregnant or parenting mothers the tools they need to become the best women and best mothers they can be. Our program assist them in overcoming inter-generational trauma and combating negative family cycles through mentorship.