Klara and Steve Awodey
Eliza Bowman has wanted to have her own bakery since she and a friend dreamed up the idea in college. So after working for a while as an administrative assistant, she went back to school at CCAC to learn small business administration. She started up Eliza’s Oven in the now defunct Public Market in the Strip in order to learn the ropes of baking as a business. Later, when Jim’s Barber Shop on Reynolds Street closed and that space became available, she knew the time was right for a new bakery in Point Breeze. After lengthy renovations, the new shop finally opened last week. Just two blocks from her house, it’s right next door to the neighborhood’s anchor, the beloved Frick Park Market, assuring a steady stream of curious visitors in the first few days.
Prohibition Pastries uses only locally made alcohols like beer, wine, whiskey, etc., in its pastries and breads to enhance the flavors. “The alcohol burns off, but it acts as a vehicle for the flavors, like the vanilla in usual recipes,” says Eliza. Her favorites include the barleywine pretzels and olive and wine bread. She also loves pies, both sweet and savory, which will be added soon to the assortment of items already available.
The recipes are Eliza’s own, sometimes coming to mind when she tastes something new. “Half the joy of having your own bakery is coming up with new recipes,” she said. “You can use your own creativity to come up with new things, instead of having to make the same three or four things over and over, like I did when I worked for a caterer.” All of the delicious baked goods available at the bakery are made on site with just three KitchenAid mixers and two small ovens.
Eliza moved to Pittsburgh about six years ago from New York City, but she grew up in New Hampshire and Seattle, Washington. She’s been a Breezer for a little over a year, happily living on Card Lane, just a scone’s throw from the realization of her dream.
Prohibition Pastries is located at 7105 Reynolds Street and is open 7 am to 7 pm, Monday through Friday, and 10 am to 3 pm Saturday and Sunday; the bakery is also available for catering. Eliza can be reached at (412) 242-3300 or by email at email@example.com. Read more about Eliza, her bakery dreams, and the goodies she offers at her website, www.prohibitionpastries.com.
Klara and Steve Awodey are a father-daughter writing team living in Point Breeze. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two years ago I dragged my somewhat reluctant family out on the 2014 Pittsburgh Solar Tour. Spurred on by the Solarize Allegheny campaign, I figured we should look into this for ourselves. I was pleasantly surprised that there were several solar installations on houses around our neighbourhood.
I only managed to drag them to two or three different houses close to ours in Point Breeze, but even from that small number and a few chats and online exchanges I had with friends afterwards, it was clear that people install solar for different reasons and with different levels of technological grasp over exactly how it works.
There were the solar geeks who knew every data-point about their system, the expected production rates and who had the print outs of how much power they had produced each week, month and year since installation. There were those that were quite proud of the fact that they had no idea how it worked but were glad that it did. There were those whose main motivation was to do the right thing by the environment—replacing dirty power with clean and reducing their carbon footprint. There were also the sceptics, influenced only by the economics, that tried to persuade me it wasn’t worth the outlay.
But when the tour rolled around a year later, I didn’t need to drag my family out of the house for the solar tour—we were on the solar tour. In May 2015, we had a solar system installed—it took less than a week—and ever since it was switched on a week or so later it has been working away generating free clean energy.
So why did I decide to install solar? Probably a combination of reasons. Reducing our family’s impact on the environment was one the main one. Whilst the detailed specs of the system are fading a bit from my memory now, I still frequently look on my cell phone and monitor the electricity production.
I like that my kids are growing up knowing that changes can be made to help the environment. I like the fact that they notice solar panels wherever we come across them.
The system will take a long while to pay off (in our case 13 years), but I see this the same way as other investments in a house—you invest in the way that works for you. How many new kitchens are expected to pay for themselves? Right from the first month, we have not paid for any electricity from the grid!
I like the way it has made our family so energy conscious that we actually made more energy than we used over the first year, better than was predicted from our previous consumption.
Point Breeze turned out to be the leading neighbourhood in the Solarize Allegheny campaign and the only one to reach the goal of doubling solar installations. I am proud of being a part of that, and I love seeing more signs going up all over the neighbourhood showing that this trend is increasing.
I am truly a supporter of solar power. But you don’t need to believe me—get out on the 2016 Pittsburgh Solar Tour this Saturday, 1st October, ask your own questions, and find out for yourself.
Louise Taylor's home will be on the Pittsburgh Solar Tour again this year along with several other Point Breeze and Point Breeze North residences. Homes and businesses in Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, and East Liberty are also on the tour. Included on the tour map for the first time are four green roofs that have been created in Pittsburgh. Visit the Pittsburgh Solar Tour website for more information and to see a map with the location of homes and businesses within Pittsburgh and in surrounding communities. Three mapped bike loops are included, along with a list of sustainable restaurants. You can download a free Pittsburgh Solar Tour Mobile App at the website.
The current edition of Print: Pittsburgh's East End Newspaper has an article about Point Breeze North resident Fred Kraybill's outlook on the future of solar power and green energy generally. Only the beginning of the article is available online. Subscriptions can be purchased at Print or look for for the publication at various locations throughout the East End.
Fall in Point Breeze Can't Be Beat!
Crisp, cool air fills the sky under the 6 p.m. sun’s pink and peach hues over Homewood Cemetery. Brittle orange, red, and yellow leaves crunch underfoot in Frick Park. Coaches in standard fall gear—a hooded sweatshirt and baseball cap—bark out drills to the youth football team practicing at Sterrett field. Plump bright pumpkins line the sidewalk like bowling balls at the Frick Park Market. Milestones preschoolers wearing one heart-melting costume after another, cling to their walking rope with one hand and paper bag in another—in search of the ultimate October prize: candy! Diners at Pino’s and Point Brugge restaurants enjoy al fresco dining in the waning degrees of outdoor warmth. Many jaunt to upstate New York or New England to experience this classic autumn Americana. We have fall in Point Breeze—one of Pittsburgh’s best kept secrets!
Breezers take fun in the foliage seriously. The Point Breeze Organization (PBO) brings the community together as we transition into fall with two of our most popular events—the Neighborhood Yard Sale and the annual Bonfire and Hayride. Last year, over 100 houses had something to sell along the streets of Point Breeze. Whether you’re in the market for kid’s toys, housewares, furniture, or antiques, the 6th Annual Point Breeze Yard Sale takes the flea market to the next level. In addition, food trucks will be satiating stomachs at St. Bede’s school, along with their annual book sale. This year’s sale takes place Saturday, September 17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Point Breeze Bonfire—this year on Saturday, October 1—is arguably the most revered annual neighborhood event of the year. The bonfire is lit in the center of Sterrett field on Reynolds Street and surrounded with food and entertainment, including kid’s activity tables, demonstrations, and live music, that keep the fun, along with the fire, roaring into the evening. My two-year-old daughter’s favorite bonfire experience last year was seeing wild turkeys in Homewood cemetery on the Hayride. We can’t wait to take her and our nearly year old son again this year.
This year, the PBO is also offering a Scavenger Hunt to entice children and adults alike outside to enjoy crisp fall days. First posted at the beginning of the summer, downloadable item photos and maps are still available the the Point Breeze website.
Each year we close October in Point Breeze with one of the most festive holidays: Halloween! Breezers embrace the fall holiday with more flare and gusto than a Hollywood set could envision. Jack-o’-lanterns line the stoops, ghoulish decorations adorn the houses, and ominous music floods the air. Hundreds of children—in costumes that are super cute, uber scary, and extremely innovative—convene on our streets to pack their pillowcases with candy. With many houses offering treats and refreshments for children and adults alike, Halloween is a can’t miss event! Our favorite is the cotton candy station on South Lang Avenue—just another reason fall in Point Breeze can’t be beat!
For more information about PBO events, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter @PointBreezePGH, and our website. We look forward to seeing you at our events!
We wish everyone a safe and happy autumn!
Vivek Subramany is a member of the Point Breeze Organization board of directors and is a regular contributor to the Neighborhood Report section of Shady Avenue magazine. This article is a slightly updated version of the Point Breeze Neighborhood Report that appears in the Fall 2016 edition of Shady Avenue magazine. Reprinted by permission.
Fall in Point Breeze
1. Purge your stuff! In the land of abundance where we all live, it is much too easy to accumulate stuff. Cheap stuff. Expensive stuff. Sentimental stuff. Doesn’t really matter how you define it—we’ve got it all. We don’t even really know how it happens so easily, but it does. We have the tendency to acquire and hoard things for ourselves, our house, our kids, our yard. Little by little our houses become mini storage facilities for things we only use once or perhaps never use at all. I don’t know if you have this phenomenon in your house, but in mine, stuff seems to multiply and repopulate on its own while we sleep. Closets. Basements. Attics. Underneath beds. Everywhere. Whether it’s our 6-year-old’s collection of paperclips, rocks, and rubber bands or my husband’s hat collection or my drawer of 86 handbags for various occasions, there they are. So, a yard sale makes a great rescue option. It’s an opportunity to go forth and purge and get rid of some of that ever-increasing stuff.
2. Yard sales promote recycling, reusing, and reducing waste. Why do some people only want shiny and new things when perfectly wonderful second and third hand items are just fine? Our society continues to be fooled by fancy marketing and advertising that only promotes fleeting trends and chronic consumerism. By hosting or shopping at a yard sale, we are recycling in its simplest form. We are reusing. We are reducing waste. Let’s all do more of this. Yes, please and thank you for being part of the three Rs!
3. Your junk is someone else’s treasure. It may be cliché but it’s true. Looking for those candelabra for a special occasion or a special tool to fix the leaky sink? Or a wheelbarrow for the garden? Chances are you’ll find it all at a yard sale. I once found a great wheelbarrow that only needed the wooden handle replaced. Once we replaced it, the wheelbarrow was as good as new! Set out your treasures for someone to find….and go find some new ones for yourself! The Point Breeze Yard Sale map (available online a few days before the sale and in limited quantities at various locations the day of) includes a listing of “hot items” and where they can be found. In the meantime, get a preview of the map here. (Click here for 2018 map. Detailed 2018 map available a few days before the sale.)
4. And, after the sale: Donate unsold items! Good news! What doesn’t sell can be easily donated afterwards. Your stuff is already out of the house, and you’ve released it both mentally and physically, so please don’t bring it back inside the home. Make that a rule. Stand your ground. Be strong, donate, and pass it on. There are so many who could use shoes, clothes, jackets, furniture, and housewares. Throw away anything that’s junk. Then put your good unsold items right in your car to take to a person in need or go to one of the donation drop off locations. Check out organizations that will take your donations here.
5. Show off our neighborhood and gather with your neighbors! The Point Breeze Yard Sale brings hundreds of people from all over the city and beyond. It’s a wonderful opportunity to show off our neighborhood and the amazing people who call it home. Mix and mingle with your neighbors as you set up and enjoy buying and selling. Meet someone new. Catch up with an old friend or neighbor you haven’t seen in a while. Laugh together in good fun about the apparent hoarding issues you have and be one another’s cheerleader for finally cleaning out that garage or basement. One of the top reasons people have enjoyed previous Point Breeze Yard Sales is exactly for this Reason #5 – gathering with neighbors and showing off our amazing neighborhood.
6. Make some cash! Yard sales can help generate some quick cash for your pocket. Multifamily yard sales are especially successful because the critical mass of participants helps draw loads of shoppers and bargain buyers. If your prices are set right – and you engage your visitors – you really can have a successful yard sale. Give yourself a little extra time to thoughtfully display your items in an organized and appealing way. Consider reducing prices in half or setting up a “buy one get one free” table for the last hour of the yard sale. You’ll have fun and make some extra cash by the end of the day.
7. It’s fun! Play music. Offer treats or coffee. Have your kids set up a hot cocoa or lemonade stand. Engage in conversation. Ask browsers if there’s anything they’re looking for or need. Have grocery bags ready for shoppers to take home their wares if they buy several things. Get creative and most of all have fun!
8.Refine your yard sale skills at www.yardsalequeen.com.
Register and pay online for the Point Breeze Neighborhood Yard Sale here or find a printable registration form here. To be included on the yard sale map, please register by September 9.
Shaun Yurcaba is one of the founders of the Point Breeze Neighborhood Yard Sale. Although she now lives in Atlanta, she remains a Breezer at heart and a dedicated supporter of our neighborhood's annual yard sale.
Lawrence Gerson, V.M.D.
For community organizations and local politicians, pets, traffic and crime are frequently the top neighborhood complaints.
Pet owners need to be sensitive to the non-pet-owning public. Lawns can be ruined when dogs on long leashes or unleashed dogs urinate in the middle. The high nitrogen content of urine will burn a round spot on the lawn, and once an area has a urine odor, other dogs will claim the spot. I use hedges to limit access by pets that would use my lawn as a toilet.
Every dog owner should carry bags on every walk to clean up solid waste. Not only is leaving pet waste behind rude, but also there is a public health issue with fecal parasites.
Long and retractable leashes can give dogs the freedom to harass people on the street. When passing others, always walk your dog to the outside, putting yourself between a stranger and your dog.
Dogs running free in parks can be a real nuisance, too. “Don’t worry, he’s friendly,” is not reassuring to fearful people or parents with young children. They want to see an owner in complete control of his or her pet. Elderly people or anyone with back or knee problems can easily be pushed down or tripped. They should not have to deal with off-leash dogs. Joggers also sometimes attract unwanted attention from pets. Some dogs lose interest when a runner stops, but a dominant dog may not.
Owners of known aggressive dogs must take precautions to prevent attacks on mail carriers, delivery people and children on their way to school. Neutering reduces aggression, but training is also required to minimize the risk. Low-cost neuter programs are available for people in need, and some focus on aggressive breeds. Hello Bully’s Pit Fix Plus program has spayed and neutered more than 2,500 local pit bulls.
About half of all dog bite injuries happen in the home. Of the more than 4 million bites reported per year in the U.S., approximately 2 million occur outside of the home. Children and men are more likely to be bitten. The Centers for Disease Control has information on preventing dog bites:
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog, run or make loud noises near one.
- Do not reach for a dog without letting it smell you first.
- Never play aggressively with a dog or let children play unsupervised with a dog.
- Stay calm if threatened by a dog. It is important to not make sudden moves. Avoid direct eye contact and position yourself at an angle to the dog.
Please remember that the need for pets to exercise has to be balanced with the right of the public to not be harassed by dogs.
Lawrence Gerson V.M.D. is president of the Point Breeze Organization and a veterinarian at Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic. His biweekly Post-Gazette column is intended to educate pet owners on general topics of interest. Consultation with a veterinarian is necessary to diagnose and treat individual pets. If you have a question you’d like addressed in Pet Points, email email@example.com. Please include your name and municipality or neighborhood.
This column first appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in April 2016. Reprinted by permission of the author.
Sarah L. Law
Author, Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze
One of the first questions I get when I talk about my book is “How did Point Breeze get its name?”
One of the earliest accounts of the Point Breeze name comes from a famous early nineteenth century tavern named the Point Breeze Hotel. Owned by Thomas McKeown, it was located at the crossroads of a country lane (Fifth Avenue) and the Greensburg Turnpike (Penn Avenue). A natural intersection, the two roads brought countless travelers from Pittsburgh and beyond to enjoy dining at the Hotel or to stay overnight. Many day travelers from Pittsburgh would travel to the Point Breeze Hotel, have lunch and then return to (now) downtown by evening. The Turnpike followed an old Indian trail. It later became known as Penn Avenue. Surveyed by General George Washington, Penn Avenue served as a main travel artery and earned many nicknames including Greensburg Pike, Forbes Road and my personal favorite, the Great Road to the West.
With a large watering trough for horses, the Point Breeze Hotel (right corner on map) sat on a natural intersection of the Greensburg Pike (now Penn Avenue) and the Fourth Street continuation from downtown Pittsburgh (now Fifth Avenue). First proprietor, Thomas McKeown built the establishment sometime after 1800. In his 1901 autobiography, Life and Reminiscences, William G. Johnston left this account of the tavern, “In the following summer (1839), I spent about two months at the Point Breeze tavern kept by a Mrs. Parker.” Johnston goes on to write, “- The suppers served were.... truly delicious. Even yet I recall the frogs so daintily cooked and the savory smell which filled the long low dining room where a table groaning with every sort of delicacy was surrounded by guests... I usually spent the afternoons watching the gentlemen play at tenpins; I knew them all and all knew me.”
The first migration to Point Breeze occurred in the first half of the nineteenth century. James Kelly, the Biddle Family and John Murtland were some of the first landowners in today’s North Point Breeze and Wilkinsburg. In 1835, Judge William Wilkins built his enormous, Greek-revival mansion, “Homewood” near the present day intersection of Reynolds and South Murtland Streets (see photo). Wilkins' private road from his estate into Oakland was later to become what we now know as Wilkins Avenue. Later, Point Breeze became home to many influential families such as Carnegie, Frick, Card, Westinghouse and Heinz. Clean air and the social standing of our neighborhood attracted these wealthy families. By the second half of the century, the city of Pittsburgh was expanding, and Point Breeze was a desirable location for residences.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, questions. Feel free to email me at PittsburghsPointBreeze@gmail.com. Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze is dedicated to all Point Breeze families – past, present and future.
Pittsburgh's Point Breeze is available online from Arcadia Publishing and amazon.com. It can also be purchased at the gift shop at the Frick Art and Historical Center.
Linden Avenue School
Linden K-5, Pittsburgh Magnet School
Although I'm not a Point Breeze resident, I am a proud Linden School parent. I'm Kathy Newmen and I live about one mile away, on Beeler Street, close to Carnegie Mellon University where I am an English professor. I chose Linden for my daughter because her older brother received a great education there, and because I wanted everyone in the family to learn German so we could spend sabbatical year in Germany.
Have you ever wondered what is new with Linden? Some of you might have gone there 30 or 40 years ago, when you could run home for lunch in the middle of the school day. Maybe some of you were even classmates of David McCullough, the famed historian who grew up in Point Breeze and who remembers his Linden days fondly.
Linden Avenue School, also known as Linden K-5, is currently a Pittsburgh Public Schools German/Mandarin language magnet, with school wide festivals throughout the year that celebrate both languages. Last year the kids enjoyed hand-made Mooncakes for the Chinese autumn festival, and they constructed their own paper lanterns to celebrate Martinstag, a German festival that honors St. Martin, a third century Roman who became the patron saint of the poor.
Linden is the only Pittsburgh Public elementary school that has an annual science fair. Every year, local scientists from Pitt and CMU who volunteer as judges say that they are impressed with the quality and originality of our students’ work. We also have a chess club, an art club, a drama club, a Royal Leaders club that focuses on African heritage, and this year we brought the art and science group Assemble to the school to run a “makers” program for our second graders.
Our fifth graders participate in the district’s fantastic Dancing Classrooms program which teaches ballroom dance skills and etiquette. We have excellent teachers and a very involved PTA that organizes an annual Art Night, a Talent Show, a Spelling Bee, two annual Book Fairs, a Book Battle competition, and a night that celebrates reading and world languages called Passport to Reading.
Linden Fun Fair this Friday, June 3, 6-8 p.m.
This year the PTA would like to invite you, our neighbors, to another annual event, the Linden Fun Fair, taking place on Friday, June 3, from 6-8 p.m. Our event is designed to include smaller children this year, with a bounce house and an inflatable obstacle course that are each sized for kids 3-7 years old. We will have some carnival games suitable for older kids, too, as well as two food trucks, Las Chicas Mexican food from Wexford and Franktuary. We will have face painting, a photo booth, and a dunk tank. We’ll have some free activities too---bubbles, chalk, and hula hoops.
Come see what’s new at Linden!
We have held the Card Lane Annual Block Party for the last twenty-two years, always in September or October. Neighbors start asking each other toward the end of summer, “When are we having the block party?” Everyone really looks forward to this event!
If you’ve never planned a block party, I will tell you how we do it. Note that this is our way; other streets may do it differently and achieve equally good results.
We have many good cooks not to mention a professional brewer, so we always have lots of good food and East End Brewing beer for the adults and Barmy Soda Company sodas for the kids! In years gone by, we’ve had organized games for adults and kids, e.g., volleyball, bike races, even a ping pong table one year. Someone generally brings out a boom box for music. Some years, someone has brought out their firepit and we’ve roasted marshmallows.
As one of the organizers, I can say that it’s always worth the relatively small effort it takes to put it together because everyone is so appreciative of the chance to get together to chat, have a beer, and eat good food together.
I’m happy to answer questions, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to obtain a Block Party Permit:
Example invitation copy:
WHAT: Card Lane Annual Block Party - Meet your neighbors, have some fun, eat some food
WHEN: Saturday, September 5, 2015
Street closes: 3 pm; Cocktail Hour: 4 pm – BYOB and apps to share; Potluck supper: 5:30 pm – Bring a chair and a dish to share—mains, sides, veg, salad, etc. Picnicware supplied.
WHERE: on the Lane (please move your cars off the street!)
Contributions accepted at the party towards picnicware and a celebratory cake for dessert.
Visit the PBO Block Party webpage to find out how to enter our raffle to win $25 to cover the block party permit fee (deadline May 31). You'll also find more block party tips and a downloadable invitation template.
THE LINDEN BACKPACK INITIATIVE
It’s an early spring Friday morning and still chilly outside. Inside, a crew of good-natured parents at Pittsburgh Linden, a Pittsburgh Public School in Point Breeze, is crammed into the school’s entry way, filling grocery bags with bakery bread, a few servings of boxed/canned meals, fresh fruit, and some snacks.
These parents are volunteering for the Linden Backpack Initiative to Fight Hunger, and this day they are packing a weekend’s supply of food for 88 children—88 out of a total 363 students who attend Linden. In other words, one quarter of the students at Linden receive weekend food assistance.
The packing crew is led by Tara McElfresh, the parent who started the Linden Backpack Initiative to Fight Hunger. She was inspired to do so three years ago after she watched a teacher discreetly hand-off some dry goods to a student. Curious, Ms. McElfresh asked the teacher what she was doing. “This child often does not get to eat again until she comes back to school the next day,” explained the teacher. “I know she gets hungry when she leaves school, and so I am doing whatever I can to get her through this difficult time.”
Ms. McElfresh was deeply moved by the teacher’s actions, in part because she, too, had been food insecure as a child. A few weeks later she started the Linden Backpack Initiative. In the first year Ms. McElfresh raised enough money and recruited enough volunteers to pack bags for 17 students every Friday. The second year the total was in the 40s. This year the total is 88 and still climbing.
The Linden Backpack Initiative responds to the problem of growing economic inequality, and the many consequences that poverty inflicts on children. A recent study shows that nearly 2 million people in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – including more than a half a million children – do not always know where they will find their next meal.
Research shows that when kids are hungry, they can’t learn. Hungry kids are more likely to be sick and miss schools days, they can’t concentrate, they complain of headaches and stomach aches, and, quite often, as a result, they don’t do well academically.
To make sure that Linden students get the food they need, Ms. McElfresh counts on help from the community. The Linden Backpack Initiative is always looking for both donations and volunteers. For next year, Ms. McElfresh must raise $25,000 to feed what she anticipates will be 100 Linden students who will be part of the program. Anyone who is interested in supporting the Backpack Initiative with a financial donation can visit the their GoFundMe page. If you're able to volunteer 30 minutes of your time on a few Friday mornings each month, please send me an email at email@example.com.
Last spring, I was selected as one of 30 people to take part in the city's Civic Leadership Academy. In this free 10-week program, participants meet once a week from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to learn about various city departments and authorities. The intent is to help residents better understand how the city functions, what various city departments or authorities do, and to foster "neighborhood leaders" (isn't that a cool title?!) who are more informed, effective, and inspired when interacting with city government.
I found my experience last spring to be very helpful in demystifying some of the complexities in city government and in making connections with city leaders. After the ten weeks I returned to my neighborhood equipped with the knowledge of how the city operates, as well as which city departments or authorities do what and whom to contact at the various departments and authorities. I found it time well spent and highly encourage other Point Breezers to apply! Applications are due by Friday, March 4, and classes begin Wednesday, March 30.
Each week features a new city department or authority, with department heads or other staff leading the presentation and discussion. My class heard from the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, Department of Public Safety, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Finance Department, and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewage Authority, among many others. Most of the ten classes met Downtown at the City-County Building, but there were a few nights when we met elsewhere, such as at Police Headquarters on the North Side. The specific department director and their staff would present during the first portion of class, and then the floor would be opened up for Q&A. This was a great opportunity to ask any questions I had to department directors and top staff themselves directly and in a casual format.
Just some of the things I learned or experienced over the 10 week Civic Leadership Academy course when we "went behind the scenes" in city government included:
The Civic Leadership Academy culminates with a graduation ceremony during the final week. Graduation takes place in the City Council Chambers, and usually Mayor Bill Peduto speaks and presents your certificate. (In my case, the mayor was unavailable so Council President Bruce Kraus awarded us our certificates and thanked us for participating in the program.) A few weeks prior, you and your classmates will work together to devise a community service opportunity for you all to complete as a group upon graduation. My classmates and I spent a Saturday morning in Homewood last June assisting the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank with their weekly Produce to People distribution. We pushed carts, sorted and passed out produce and other staples, and loaded up cars for the neighbors who attended.
Overall, the Civic Leadership Academy is a great opportunity, and personally I encourage you to apply! The more Point Breeze residents know about the city, the better we will be in interacting with the departments, authorities, and city leaders.
More info: http://pittsburghpa.gov/servepgh/cla/
Participation details: http://pittsburghpa.gov/servepgh/cla/participate
Application: http://pittsburghpa.gov/servepgh/cla/application (due Friday, March 4)
Look to the Breeze Blog for a more in-depth look at the neighborhood.