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A Publication of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition


Sustainable Gardening Tips



With heartfelt thanks to these donors for their recent support! $3,000 Erie Insurance $1000-$299 Brandywine Agency OCA Advocates for Asian and Pacific Americans $500-$999 Dave and Barbara Grover Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Ben Spesier and Valentina Vavasis William and Sissy Lieberman Raymond and Harriet Baum Mike and Grace Chen $300-$499 Donald and Sylvia Robinson Family Foundation $200-299 University of Pittsburgh Mary Shaw and Roy Weil Richard and Patricia Cutkosky Stephen and Janet Cohen Eugene O’Sullivan Everyday Noodles Restaurant Gary Fischer Gary Frink Ten Thousand Villages $100-199 James and Louisa Lee and Myrna Silverman Constance Rapp Todd Derr G L Kusic Estelle Comay and Bruce Rabin, MD David Miles Barbara Carpenter & Michael Miller Max and Peggy King Wayne Gerhold

Farrell Rubenstein Nick Didomenico Arthur “Jack” Kerr Edwin and Mona Strassburger Peter Davis Sheldon and Elinor Levine Bill and Mardi Isler Rick and Lisa Murphy Martin Lubetsky Peter Leo Daniel and Karon Siewiorek Louis and Marcia Swartz Saundra Snyder Kenny Steinberg Janet Simon Carolyn Russ Suella Pipal Kenneth and Harriet Franklin Marian Lien and James Cook Ceci Sommers $50-99 Michael Henderson Peter Leo Lori and Scott Fitzgerald Alex Musicante Christopher Mark Alan Bress Barbara Anderson Steven Irwin Laura Ellman Mark Horvitz Adam Shear Ira Frank Arthur Westerberg Lloyd Myers Gilbert Debenedetti Nathan Firestone Bernard Bloch Zelda Curtiss Clark Lloyd Albert Treger Peter Koehler

Zarky Rudavsky Harvey Nathanson Alan Bramowitz Bernard Pinsker Stephen Robinson David Owen Oscar Swan Reva Rossman Alice Buchdahl Michael Reilly Mary and Chris Rawson Marvin Dash David Fall, DMD Van Hall Alan Van Dine Joan Markert Lea Simonds Gary Dubin Lila Horowitz Richard Cohen Alvin Rosenfeld Michael & Andrea Lowenstein Karen Greb Bert Rockman Ronald Hartman Alan Lawsky Srinivasan Sukanya Duane & Chris Seppi Mark Friedman Up to $49 Richard and Helen Feder Constance Rapp Rachel Krasnow and Ed Fine Albert Treger Steven Ritter ANA’s Vietnamese Cuisine, LLC Ceinwen King-Smith Pink Box Bakery Café Helen Wilson Lee Weinberg Phyliss Caplan Janet Durick

Mary Castelli Ivan Engel Ann Giorgi Nancy Johnson Susan Fineman Sorley Sheinberg Lawrence Dunn Stuart Beckerman Norman Abramson Karen Levin Ann Rose Mark Freed Theodore Tabachnick Gloria Gottlieb Lawrence and Eileen Paper Sheri Sable Jennifer Ganger Marvin Lalli Steven Belle Alan Green Joan Isenberg Klaus Bron Allan Cohen Stanley and Colette Swartz Cheryl Teplitz Leonard Plotnicov Joan Friedberg Barbara Lindner Phyliss Caplan Daniel Askin Barbara Moore Natalie Kovacic Leonard Weitzman Frank Gottlieb Suzanne Staggenborg Michael Schwartz and Emily Medine Bob Schachter Joseph Greenberg Carol Berger John Soboslay Hong Rock Leong


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SQUIRREL HILL URBAN COALITION OFFICERS PRESIDENT Richard Feder CO-VICE PRESIDENT Marshall Hershberg CO-VICE PRESIDENT Erika Strassburger CO-VICE PRESIDENT Chris Zurawsky SECRETARY Barbara Grover ASST. SECRETARY Cynthia Morelock TREASURER Gina Levine ASST. TREASURER James Burnham IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT Raymond Baum BOARD OF DIRECTORS Rita Botts, Vivian Didomenico, Andy Dlinn, Lori Fitzgerald, Steve Hawkins, Michael D. Henderson, Martha Isler, Steven Ari Letwin, Lois Liberman, Lisa Crooks Murphy, Joshua Sayles, Mary Shaw, Ceci Sommers (Director Emerita), Sidney Stark, (Director Emeritus), Erik Wagner EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Marian Lien MAGAZINE EDITOR Britt Reints CONTRIBUTORS Raymond Baum, Kimberly Saunders, Beth Dolinar, Michael Jehn, Camile Chidsey, Jodie Free, Shayna Ross, Helen Wilson, Emad Mirmotahari, Britt Reints, Jody Handley, Rosemary Bernth Squirrel Hill Magazine, Vol. 15, Issue 1, is published by the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition, 5604 Solway Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Four issues per year are delivered free to the residents of Squirrel Hill. If you don’t receive a copy, please inform your mail carrier. Non-resident subscriptions are available for $25/year. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without permission. Printed by Knepper Press. For advertising inquiries, contact All other communications can be directed to or (412)422-7666. The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community organization dedicated to preserving, improving, and celebrating the quality of life in the 14th Ward of the City of Pittsburgh.

Editor’s Note Britt Reints


hen my family moved to Squirrel Hill in the summer of 2012, one of the first pieces of mail I received was Squirrel Hill Magazine. Flipping through the pages, I felt connected with our new home as I read about the people, places and events in the neighborhood. I made a mental note of the stores and restaurants advertised, eager to take advantage of all that this new community had to offer. As I begin my tenure as editor of this publication, I remember that feeling of connection and welcoming. Whether you’ve lived here for years, or you’re new to the neighborhood, I hope these pages deepen your connection to the people and places that make up Squirrel Hill. The theme for this edition is renewal; you’ll find resources to help you refresh your home (“In Your Own Backyard”, pg. 20) and recommit to your community (“Volunteering 101”, pg. 14.) May you be inspired to make the world—starting with your corner of it—a better place!

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Inside squirrelhillmagazine squirrelhillurbancoalition squirrelhillmag


In Every Issue

10 Lunar New Year PGH Photos by Katie Funaki


14 Volunteering 101 By Kimberly Saunders 18 Summer Learning in Squirrel Hill Pittsburgh Non-Profit Offers Unique Camps for Local Teens By Beth Dolinar 20 In Your Own Backyard Sustainable Gardening Tips By Michael Jehn 24 What’s Soul Got to Do With It? Squirrel Hill Resident Shines as Host of Popular Radio Show By Camile Chidsey 28 Plug In to Pittsburgh Connect to Your Community with Apps and Social Media By Jodie Free

President’s Message New Schenley Park Golf Clubhouse

12 Familiar Faces Norm Childs & Lisa Crooks Murphy By Raymond Baum 16 SHUC Snapshots 22 Neighborhood Notes 27 What’s New From Our Advertisers 32 Good News from Our Schools 34 Squirrel Hill History A Tour of Squirrel Hill’s Philanthropic Past By Helen Wilson 37 Events & Happenings

30 Book Review: Doing Good Better By Shayna Ross 38 Reflections on Neighborhood By Emad Mirmotahari

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spring 2017 | 7

shuc president’s message

New Schenley Park Golf Clubhouse By Richard Feder President Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition

On January 5, 2017, the Coalition, along with Mayor Bill Peduto’s and Councilman Corey O’Connor’s offices, organized and led a public meeting to discuss First Tee of Pittsburgh’s proposed new clubhouse at Bob O’Connor Golf Course in Schenley Park. According to First Tee, the new clubhouse will be on the same footprint and be about the same square footage as the existing structure, a building that has become functionally and physically obsolete. Project leaders are hopeful a more modern building will attract golf-related tenants, including the Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame, providing a revenue stream to help address operating costs. First Tee has a long-term lease for the clubhouse and golf course from the City, a copy of which can be found at While this lease provides for financial assistance from the City to support the new construction plan, First Tee will still need to raise considerable funds to complete it. At the public meeting, some attendees shared concerns relating to traffic, parking and long-term plans for ongoing operating costs. Some also shared a desire to retain the character of the park and golf course in the future. Others had questions about how the historic aspects of Schenley Park would influence a new building’s design. This was the first in a series of public forums that will be held over the next two to three years as the project progresses. As is typical with projects of this scope, public dialogue will happen in phases, consistent with 8 |

the amount of information that is produced about the project and the feedback that is needed. The Coalition’s 1990 Master Plan, which has been the impetus for the last 19 neighborhood projects, notes the importance of open spaces to life in Squirrel Hill, a community that is defined geographically by two of Pittsburgh’s largest urban parks. To “save the park from irreparable damage,” the Plan recommends a long-term capital plan to provide a framework for city investment and private fund raising, a focus on the expansion of park producing revenue, and the establishment of a recreational facility revenues program with particular emphasis on the golf course and skating rink. In light of these suggestions, I believe that it is important to address the deteriorated condition of the golf clubhouse. I’d also recommend that the issues and items identified in the Master Plan be considered as plans for a new building develop. The First Tee of Pittsburgh and the City of Pittsburgh plan to use public input to help guide the design of the golf clubhouse. If you missed this first meeting, you can give your feedback online at or call the office of Councilman O’Connor at 412-255-8965. Photo of current clubhouse provided by First Tee.

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2017 Lunar New Year in PGH kicked off in Squirrel Hill on January 28 with four hours of live performances in the JCC. On February 12, Grand Marshals Mike and Grace Chen and Honorary Marshal Dr. Freddie Fu led a parade of more than 30 community groups up Murray Avenue.

Organizing partners for this year’s event were Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition, Uncover Squirrel Hill, the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh, Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Pittsburgh and OCA Advocates for Asian Pacific Americans. Special thanks to our presenting sponsors Erie Insurance, Tsingtao, and OCA Advocates for APA. Photos by Katie Funaki

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lunar new year 2017

spring 2017 | 11

Your Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition Board Members By Raymond Baum

Norman Childs is a Squirrel Hill institution. He is a successful entrepreneur and a deeply involved member our community. Norm is now completing his third separate stint as a Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition board member, having first served in the early 1980s. He is an active member of the Coalition’s Gateway Committee, where he has helped guide efforts in reshaping and redeveloping lower Murray and Forbes Avenues. He was key in the committee’s successful efforts to obtain new decorative street lights in the business district, and instrumental in the completion of the Welcome to Squirrel Hill sign and Post Office Parklet renovations. Norm is a vice president and co-founder of Uncover Squirrel hill, our business community’s chamber of commerce. He also serves on the Jewish Association on Aging’s board of directors and S&T Bank’s advisory board

“My heart has always been where I started, in Squirrel Hill.”

In 1979, Norm founded Eyetique in a lower Murray Avenue storefront. The business has since expanded to include 22 locations operating under the Eyetique, 3 Guys Optical, Chromos Eyewear & Norman Childs Eyewear banners. While his businesses now span the entire Pittsburgh area and beyond, Norm maintains that, “my heart has always been where I started, in Squirrel Hill.”

Norm and his wife Gail have lived in Squirrel Hill for over thirty years. Their two sons, Jeremy and Daniel, grew up in the neighborhood and are now working in the family business. After decades of hard work and success, Norm is looking forward to having more time for golfing, photography and collecting vintage cars.

-Norm Childs

Squirrel Hill and the Coalition are very fortunate to have Norm, Gail, their family and their community spirit residing here.

Lisa Crooks Murphy joined the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition Board in June 2016 and has been an active volunteer since 2010. She recently joined the Commercial Development and Residential Quality Committee, and has been a key member of the Squirrel Hill Master Plan Committee since 2010. Lisa is a certified urban planner with a B.A. in Economics and a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning, specializing in transportation and land use. Her expertise and thoughtfulness have proven invaluable to SHUC. Lisa’s volunteer efforts are not limited to Squirrel Hill. In 2011 and 2012, Lisa served as a member of the Green 12 |

SH Oliver Peoples_Eyetique 2/21/17 10:36 PM Page 1

familiar faces Ribbon Stakeholder Committee for the City of Pittsburgh’s Open Space, Parks and Recreation Plan, and as a Community Conversation Facilitator for the Power of 32 Regional Visioning Project. Lisa grew up in Houston, Texas. She and her husband Rick met in Maryland and moved around the East Coast several times before settling in Pittsburgh when Rick accepted a position at a local law firm. Before moving here, Lisa and Rick explored many of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods and made a decision to live in Squirrel Hill. In Lisa’s words, “As an urban planner, I was really looking for an established neighborhood in the city itself, with beautiful older houses and parks and shops we could walk to. Squirrel Hill fit the bill perfectly.”

“I was really looking for an established neighborhood in the city itself, with beautiful older houses and parks and shops we could walk to. Squirrel Hill fit the bill perfectly.” -Lisa Crooks Murphy Lisa works part-time for a consulting firm creating transportation plans for cities, counties and regional organizations. Her work includes analyzing spatial data and maps along with stakeholder input to help identify high-priority transportation projects. Lisa and Rick have one child at Colfax K-8 and one in preschool. In her spare time, you can find Lisa doing home renovations, gardening and baking. Squirrel Hill and the board benefit greatly from having young talent like Lisa who make the time for family, work and community.

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Volunteering 1 By Kimberly Saunders


ave you ever thought about volunteering? Service to others can take many forms—from small acts of kindness such as picking up a vacationing neighbor’s mail to joining a national disaster relief effort. Any time you willingly share your time, talent or treasure you are making a difference in the life of someone else. That’s the essence of volunteerism. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 25% of Americans engaged in volunteer activity in 2015. Pittsburgh residents exceeded this national average, with 29.4% providing service and support to religious, educational, healthcare, social service or other institutions. Still, more help is always needed. “In 2016, we paired 13,673 volunteers with more than 400 local nonprofits and schools,” says Deb Hopkins, executive director of Pittsburgh Cares, a local volunteer-matching agency and affiliate of the national Hands-On Network. “While we are extremely proud and appreciative of our volunteers, the feedback we are receiving from our partner agencies is that the need for volunteers continues to outweigh the supply.” According to Hopkins, there is a continuous need for volunteers across many areas. Hunger eradication, student mentoring, senior services and violence prevention are just a few examples of causes and initiatives that can always use additional support. These tips will help you sort through the numerous options.

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squirrel hill feature

101 Start with Your Heart—and Mind

Think about your personal interests. Whether your passion is education or the environment, animal rights or the political left, you’re sure to find an organization that will share your values and appreciate your support. Working together with like-minded people not only helps advance your cause, but can broaden your own social and professional networks. Volunteering is also a great way to explore different interests and develop new skills. You can learn a new culture by hosting an exchange student, help maintain a community garden and grow a green thumb, or work as a museum docent and become a student of history. What topics have always sparked your curiosity? They may be the impetus of a rewarding volunteer experience.

Ask About Time

It’s important to be aware of any time commitment an organization asks of volunteers. Quantity isn’t the only factor to consider; nonprofits that depend on a volunteer workforce to stretch human or financial resources or meet demands during peak times (think summer camps or winter clothing drives) may require you to commit to regularly scheduled days or hours. Other groups require mandatory training or orientation before you begin. “Opportunities that are the most difficult to fill are the ones where specific skills or clearances are required—or where there is limited scheduling flexibility,” confirms Hopkins.

Get the Necessary Clearance

If you want to work with children under age 18, you

must first complete a criminal background check and child abuse clearance. Clearances are also required to work with vulnerable populations such as homebound seniors and people with disabilities. In 2015, Governor Tom Wolf waived the fees for volunteers to obtain these clearances; however, that doesn’t necessarily remove all costs. The state law waives fees every three years, but some organizations require new clearances annually or bi-annually. Whether the organization or volunteer assumes the cost of securing clearance varies from agency to agency. Don’t let the paperwork discourage you. “Most of the nonprofits serving these populations will work directly with volunteers to assist them in securing the necessary clearances,” says Hopkins. There is no doubt that volunteers fill a critical need in society, and the volunteers themselves reap many benefits. In addition to making an impact on a personal cause and contributing to the greater good, volunteers report feeling happier and healthier. Studies even suggest that Visit for those who volunteer regularly may live opportunities to longer! Start volunteering now and volunteer with SHUC! you can be making a positive impact for many years to come.

FIND YOUR FIT April 23-29 is National Volunteer Week. This is a perfect time to check out these websites designed to match your interests with a community need: Pittsburgh Cares: Volunteer Match: Points of Light: Corporation for National and Community Service:

spring 2017 | 15

shuc snapshots

News from your Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition committees

Ped-Bike Committee

Litter Patrol Committee

By Marshall Hershberg

By Rita Botts

The Ped-Bike Committee is developing a Bicycling Master Plan for Squirrel Hill, which includes an interactive map to highlight areas of need. A link to the plan can be found on We look forward to your comments and input!

If you appreciate litter-free streets, there are several opportunities to join your neighbors in ensuring a clean and welcoming Squirrel Hill.

You’re Invited to SHUC Night Out! Thursday, March 30, 5:30-8:00pm Northwood Realty, 1935 Murray Ave Join us for a night out with neighbors and friends at Northwood Realty’s newly renovated office. While you enjoy complimentary appetizers and good conversation, check out the 40-inch touchscreens throughout the beautiful new space and learn how these interactive features can expand your home selling or buying experience. Northwood agents will be on hand to discuss your real estate needs. You’ll also have a chance to meet the board members of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition and find out how you can get more involved with the neighborhood we all love. Beer and special Wigle Whiskey SHUC cocktails will be available for purchase with all proceeds benefiting your SHUC neighborhood projects and programs. 16 |

Squirrel Hill Spring Cleanup April 23, 9am-1pm

Join your neighbors in front of the Squirrel Hill library, where the Litter Patrol will provide volunteers with grabbers, vests, and other tools for beautifying our streets. Murray the Squirrel will be on hand for photo opportunities, and refreshments will be provided. Volunteers of all ages, including those with scout troops, school groups, or other organizations are welcome. In an effort to reduce waste and plastic consumption, the Litter Patrol encourages volunteers to bring their reusable water bottles to the cleanup. While the Litter Patrol provides plastic bags for collecting litter, please consider bringing grocery or shopping bags from home. In addition to volunteers for street cleanup, the Litter Patrol is in need of people to help set up, staff tables during the event and break down at the end of the day. Contact Barb Grover at or (412)521-9526 if you’d like to pitch in!

Squirrel Hill Night Markets June 17, Aug 26, Sept 23

Volunteers are needed to help remove litter before and after each night market. Bags, gloves, and safety vests will be provided. The Litter Patrol is also looking for volunteers to sell “I’m Nuts about Squirrel Hill” t-shirts at the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition booth

from 6-10 pm. Contact Barb Grover at (412)521-9526 or to volunteer at one of the night markets.

Adopt-a-Block Program

If you’re eager to start cleaning your streets now, please join the Litter Patrol’s Adopt-a-Block program. You can make a huge difference just by cleaning the area around your home or business. Contact Dave Grover at or (412)521-9526.

Anti-Litter Video Competition

The Coalition has received a $1500 Love Your [resilient] Block grant from the City, which will be used to buy more trash and recycling bins for the neighborhood. SHUC will also be sponsoring an anti-litter video competition. Winning videos will earn cash prizes and be shown at the night markets this summer. Check for details.

squirrel hill feature

Summer Learning in Squirrel Hill Pittsburgh Non-Profit Offers Unique Camps for Local Teens

and strengthen plots. Rodef Shalom’s active kitchen houses “Camp Delicious”, a five-day itinerary focused on preparing, serving, and enjoying food.

Local teens practice public speaking at Luminari “Speak and Tell” summer camp in Squirrel Hill.

By Beth Dolinar


he Rodef Shalom Biblical Botanical Garden on Fifth Avenue is known as a place where quiet paths meander past lush greenery and gently rushing water. The word tranquil comes to mind. However, as an eager group of local teens learned last July, that gentle waterfall can also be a perfect stand-in for a noisy crowd. It was the first day of “Speak and Tell” Camp, a fourday adventure into the joys and challenges of speaking to an audience. The campers were in the garden’s stage area, preparing to deliver notable speeches, like Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. One by one the students rose to speak and quickly found they had to work to project their voices over the sounds of the garden. The well-known destination close to home proved to be a perfect location for a lesson in conquering crowd noise without a microphone. “Speak and Tell” is one of three unique summer camps hosted in Squirrel Hill by Luminari, a Pittsburgh non-profit founded to broaden minds and encourage innovation among local teens. Budding authors attend “Teen Writer” in the Temple, where they learn to conquer writer’s block, develop characters 18 |

Not far from Squirrel Hill, Luminari takes over a few rooms of the Heinz History Center each June for the “I Want to be an Ambassador!” program, designed to teach teens the skills of everyday diplomacy. During their four days in town, campers meet with civic and business leaders, learn the manners and customs of other cultures and eat really well. Then it’s off to Washington, D.C. to meet face to face with diplomats at embassies and the State Department. Last summer Pittsburgh students visited the German and Royal Thai embassies. Today’s teens and their parents have a plethora of summer activities to choose from, many of which require out-of-state travel and thousands of dollars in tuition. It’s exciting to see unique programs like the Luminari camps are available right here in Squirrel Hill. Registration for the 2017 camps is open now for rising 8th to 12th graders in the Pittsburgh area. Need-based scholarships are available. For more information visit or call (412)877-1888. Students flexing their culinary muscles at “Camp Delicious.”

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In Your Own Backyard: Sustainable Gardening Tips from a Seasoned Amateur

By Michael Jehn

Spring is a season of renewal and freshness, surprises and newly emerging forms, the return of hibernating and migratory wildlife. It can also be a time of uncertainty and intimidation to the inexperienced gardener. The yearly evolution of a bare, colorless yard into a lush space bursting with color and texture can seem like nothing short of magic. But, with the right blend of determination and passion—and these home-tested tips—anyone can become a skilled nurturer of thriving plant life.

What to plant

Are you just beginning to explore an interest in gardening and are unsure what to grow? Don’t be afraid to experiment as you learn what works well under different sets of habitat conditions. You’ll discover which plants thrive in sunshine or shade, dry soil or saturated. Try not to be discouraged if your early efforts fail. Consider combining reliable, hardy species like azalea, rhododendron, roses, creeping juniper, false cypress (chamaecyparis), japonica shrubs, lilac, Japanese barberry and yews with perennials like hostas, Asiatic lilies, northern sea oats, gladioli and astilbe. This variety of plants, paired with rocks, pea

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gravel, and mulch, creates depth and visual interest. Adding evergreens can anchor a yard and provide color through the winter. The proliferation of urban farming in Pittsburgh is a reminder of the values and practices associated with agriculture—and of our ability to grow our own food! Tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers and wild onions are popular local choices. Mint and other herbs also grow well here—so well, in fact, you’ll want to use a container to prevent them overtaking the rest of your gardening efforts. Think of yourself as being in a partnership with nature: molding spaces with allowance for nature’s own purpose rather than coercing order.

How to plant

Always follow recommended instructions for seeds or potted plants that you purchase. Be mindful of frost conditions, especially with vulnerable seeds or seedlings. With shrubs and trees, one of the most important— and easily ignored—steps is proper preparation of the hole. Dig deep enough to allow the roots to spread

squirrel hill feature as they grow. Refill the hole with amended soil, a combination of soil taken from the original hole and organic compost, potting soil or fertilizer.

Collect Water in Style.


Diverting organic trash to your garden is a satisfying and sustainable practice. It’s also one of the easiest ways to recycle! Composted material makes for a remarkably rich soil for gardening, and you’ll save money buying fewer bags of potting soil. There are many composting methods that can be bought or built on your own, from a simple open pile or specially designed bin to utilizing suspended barrel-shaped tumbler models with handles designed for regular churning of the contents.

Water collection

Rain barrels are storm water management tools that can also provide the water you need for gardening. These plastic bins collect and store water from your roof, reducing the rainwater that enters the waterways and helping to mitigate flooding.


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neighborhood notes

Street Tacos Coming to Murray As this magazine was headed to print, Mark Frankovitch and his crew were hurrying to transform the old Waffalonia location at 1707 Murray Avenue into a secnd home for the Bull River Taco Compay. Accoding to Frankovitch, Squirre Hill diners can look forward to Mexican street style tacos as early as mid-March. With limited indoor seating planned, expect to take your guac to go.

Squirrel Hill Chef Named James Beard Semifinalist In February, Wei Zhu of Squirrel Hill’s Chengdu Gourmet was named a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s 2017 Restaurant and Chef Awards. Wei Zhu is joined in the Mid-Atlantic Chef category by Cure’s Justin Severino. Casey Renee of Ace Hotel’s Whitfield was recognized as an Outstanding Pastry Chef, and The Café Carnegie’s Becca Hegarty was named among the year’s Rising Star Chef of the Year semifinalists. Finalists will be announced March 15, and the winners will be released May 1. Chengdu Gourmet, located on Forward Avenue, is touted as a favorite among those craving an authentic Chinese meal.

Congregation Beth Shalom Celebrates 100th Anniversary In September 1917, 35 families gathered for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services in a small room on the second floor above the Orpheum Theatre on Forbes Street. A month later, the gathering for Simchat Torah included 60 families, and discussions about becoming an official organization began. The group called themselves the Squirrel Hill Congregation until July 1919, when the name “Beth Shalom” was officially adopted. On March 18, 1922, construction began at the corner of Shady Avenue and Beacon Street on the congregation’s permanent home, a building that would become a Squirrel Hill icon over the next century. This year, Congregation Beth Shalom marks its 100th anniversary with a year-long celebration themed “Celebrating the Warmth of the Past and the Light of the Future.” A Centennial Luncheon on April 23 will be the first of two key events planned 22 |

for the special year. The second is a gala that will be held at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center on November 11.

A Neighborhood Trattoria

Pilates on Forbes Lifelong Squirrel Hill resident Gabriella Corcos has been operating a pilates studio since 2013, first in her home and then in a 150-square-foot space on Murray Avenue. In October, she moved to a bright loft space above Ehua Fashion on Forbes.

Regent Square

Owner Corcos assists Lindsey Smith on a pilates machine.

You may have overlooked the relocation; the studio’s new sign just went up in January. “All the businesses on Forbes are so nice,” said Corcos. “I had to get something new to fit in!” Corcos and two other instructors give private and semi-private lessons, which can be scheduled at

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What’s Soul Got to Do With It? Squirrel Hill Resident Shines as Host of Popular Radio Show By Camille Chidsey

Mike Canton—longtime Squirrel Hill resident and retired mechanical engineer—has a warm voice full of good humor and an eagerness to speak about music, his greatest passion. For the last 11 years, Canton has shared that passion with a national radio audience as host and producer of WYEP’s The Soul Show. His path to the studio was unconventional and is part of what makes the current incarnation of the 22-year-old R&B show so unique.

Show would be Canton’s first radio gig.

Today, the show works like this: Early Saturday morning, Canton goes through his notes in his Squirrel Hill basement before heading out to WYEP’s South Side studio. By the time he hits the airwaves, he’s put together a theme for the show. The scope can vary and may include introducing listeners to a new artist or discussing a current event; a recent show revolved around the January Mike Canton was born in the US 2017 death of Butch Trucks, the Virgin Islands, a melting pot of drummer and founding member Mike Canton/Photo by Larry Rippel races, ethnicities and cultures. He of The Allman Brothers Band. says he loved soul music as a child, but there weren’t Heavily influenced by advice from Step Chatman, a lot of radio shows or concerts to attend living on a his mentor and predecessor, Canton actively strives small island. It wasn’t until he took a workshop on to “not make The Soul Show a Time Life Collection broadcasting while attending high school in New of Greatest Hits.” Instead, he weaves a “thread of York City that he became interested in radio. His history” through the show, incorporating four decades immediate future, however, would swerve towards of music in each program. the practical. Canton attended Brown University for mechanical engineering and wouldn’t return to radio The Soul Show is broadcast live on WYEP every until after a long career at Westinghouse. The Soul Saturday 2-5pm. Canton operates generally on a 20/2 24 |

Canton in the W YEP Studio

minute model—playing music for twenty minutes, then talking for two—for the full three hours. This leaves him time to play only 35 songs a week, which he credits with pushing him to represent a wide variety of music. While there is very little time for repetition (unlike commercial radio), he does admit that he plays the same four artists every week: Booker T. and the M.J.’s (the theme show music), Jimi Hendrix, Gil Scott-Heron and War. Canton’s ties to the local music scene are impossible to miss. He regularly incorporates interviews with area musicians and utilizes the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for source material. He also scopes out artists at New Hazlett Theater, Kelly Strayhorn Theater, The Thunderbird Café and The Rex Theater. The Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival and Feastival, a yearly food, music, and art festival in McKees Rocks, have also inspired past episodes. Canton calls radio the “true democracy of communication,” but he recognizes that the survival of radio depends on the “conversation element” and on-demand services. That’s why he’s cultivated an active social media presence—you can find him on virtually every platform as soulshowmike—and uploads shows to Mixcloud. Canton’s favorite musicians and radio memories

are numerous and varied: interviewing one of his favorite bands, Third World, on his show; discussing favorite songs with the Lowrider Band (formerly the band, War); producing Water Seed’s first in-studio session after they headlined the 2015 20th Anniversary event for The Soul Show; and interviewing Fred Wesley, the trombonist for James Brown, both musicians he greatly admires. Canton also cites introducing Mavis Staples at the Pittsburgh Blues Festival in 2012 as one of his professional highlights because of the artist’s musical career and her commitment to Civil Rights. Canton is currently working on a full-circle project: his second radio show. He recently finished the 15th episode of a new R&B and Soul show broadcasting in St Croix, providing the music he craved as a child to a locale that’s still lacking in radio options. The new program is produced in his home in Squirrel Hill, where he’s lived for over a decade. Canton says Squirrel Hill is “the most awesome children’s neighborhood.” While family life may have played a role in bringing him to the neighborhood, Canton admits having Jerry’s Record Shop nearby doesn’t hurt. Tune in to The Soul Show on 91.3 WYEP Saturday 2-5pm. spring 2017 | 25

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Pittsburgh Marathon Route Celebrates City of Champions By Rosemary Bernth

Runners of Steel will see a big change to this year’s marathon and half-marathon courses, one that embraces Pittsburgh’s pride in its sports teams. The start and finish lines will remain the same—and runners still cross all three rivers—but this year’s marathoners will now get a view of PNC Park and Heinz Field. Half-marathoners will run down Fifth Avenue on their way to the finish, taking them past PPG Paints Arena. “I think it’s going to be a really nice change to run the hill on Fifth and come into the city that way,” says Patrice Matamoros, CEO of Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. “It will be a beautiful descent with the cityscape. If you’re doing the half marathon, you’ll get to see all three stadiums.” Course changes aren’t new to the Pittsburgh Marathon. “In this city, we’re constantly dealing with construction plans like every major metropolitan

city in the United States. So we’ll anticipate changes going forward,” says Matamoros. “It takes a long time coordinating with the city and all the different agencies to make sure we’re taking into consideration our impact, but our goal is to have the best runner experience possible.” Over 60 bands and 15 groups have registered to cheer runners along the new route. As part of the City of Champions theme, these supporters will sport black and gold, and spectators are encouraged to wear their sports jerseys. The sideline cheering is one of the things, “our runners love about Pittsburgh. People love to get out and cheer for them on race day. They have the opportunity to feel like superstars,” Matamoros says. “The people of Pittsburgh are the very best sporting spectators in the world. We want to thank them and encourage them to come out on race day and do what they do best, which is being great sports fans.”

Party like it’s 1972: CDS is 45! By Jennifer Bails

It was “Saturday Night Fever” as Community Day School celebrated its 45th anniversary at the “Nosh and Groove Like It’s 1972” CDS 2017 Winter Gala on February 4. More than 400 party-goers, many dressed in the shag-a-delic fashions of the 1970s, got their groove on at the 7th annual fundraiser at the August Wilson Center. Honorees of the evening included Community Leadership Award winners Scott and Ruth Apter, who were recognized for their tireless work on behalf of CDS as Grandparent Association co-chairs. City Councilman Corey O’Connor was also honored with a Community Leadership Award

in recognition of his © Joe Appe l Photogra phy outstanding civic leadership. CDS Volunteer of the Year Eva Gelman was recognized for her service to CDS through her transformational term as president of the school’s Parent Association. The school also honored Head of Lower School and Hebrew and Jewish Studies Tzippy Mazer for her 40 years of teaching and leadership excellence at CDS. All money raised at the gala will go directly to support educational programs at Community Day School and to provide tuition assistance for families in need. spring 2017 | 27

Plug in to Pittsburgh Connect to Your Community with Apps and Social Media

By Jodie Free

Many of us use apps and social media platforms to keep in touch with friends and family living far away. However, these tools also provide an easy way to stay engaged with your local community. Whether you want to find out about local restaurants, follow news and politics or get to know your neighbors, these sites and apps are an excellent way to get plugged in!

Pittsburgh Hashtags:

#Pittsburgh, #SquirrelHill or #PGH.

Local Government @PGHPolice @CityPGH @billpeduto

Arts & Culture Twitter

Twitter is more than just trending hashtags and hilarious GIFs—it’s also a simple way to receive succinct and immediate updates on what’s happening in town. Your favorite local news station, for example, likely provides up-to-the-minute weather and traffic updates on Twitter. The key to making Twitter work for you on a local level is to follow accounts and conversations focused on the ‘Burgh. Search for these hashtags and users to get started

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@CulturalTrust @carnegielibrary @ShowsPittsburgh

Squirrel Hill News @squirrelhillmag @uncoversqhill

squirrel hill feature Facebook

If you want more from your newsfeed than your friends’ pet and baby photos or your extended family’s political musings, follow some locals for recommendations within the city. Discover the Burgh is an amazing resource for deciding what to do with your weekend or where to take your out-of-town visitors. If you need recommendations on delicious local eats, check out eatPGH. And to balance out all that delicious food, follow Fittsburgh for information on local health and fitness opportunities. To find local Facebook groups, use the search bar at the top of the site’s homepage and type in “Pittsburgh”. You can also type in a keyword for a hobby or specific interest, and then narrow the results by location—this is a great way to meet like-minded neighbors.

412 Area

Local website helps you find what you’re looking for in Pittsburgh: bar and restaurant recommendations, real estate postings, job listings, things to do and upcoming events. But 412 Area is more than just a source of information; you can make an account and connect to other Pittsburghers at the same time—perfect if you want to get in touch with someone attending the same local event.


Whether you’re looking to find people who share your faith, profession, age, hobbies, or passion for pizza, chances are you’ll find a relevant group on Can’t find exactly what you’re looking for? Create your own MeetUp group and invite your neighbors! MeetUp is accessible through their website and app.


NextDoor is like an online community center. You and your neighbors can swap recommendations, share information, and post classifieds. Unlike other platforms, NextDoor verifies your address and only connects you to your immediate neighborhood (e.g. Squirrel Hill South), giving the website and mobile app a hyper-local feel.

412 Food Rescue

The 412 Food Rescue is devoted to ending hunger and reducing waste right here in Pittsburgh. The organization collects unwanted food from retailers, wholesalers, restaurants and caterers and delivers to soup kitchens, pantries, shelters and other community programs. Their new app makes the process even easier for volunteers: similar to Uber, the app alerts users to immediate opportunities for pick-ups and has a built-in navigation system.

spring 2017 | 29

book review

A Book to Help You Get Better at Doing Good

By Shayna Ross

When the new year rolls around, everyone starts thinking about positive changes they wish to pursue. For many, the act of making a difference will be monetary donations towards a charity or non-profit organization. However, with all of the causes and efforts to make the world a better place, how does one determine where their money should go to? In his book Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference, William MacAskill performed intensive research to determine how you can be sure that your best intentions will lead to valuable, effective outcomes in the world. MacAskill and his colleagues developed effective altruism, an approach driven by data to allow any individual to make a difference, regardless of what resources they have. If you give to a charity already, Doing Good Better may entice you to consider other possibilities in how and why you donate. In an example he provided about the charity Books for Africa, an organization that distributes educational materials to children, the result of the study showed that there

was no difference in educational performance because there were not enough teachers to make use of the books. However, in contrast, donating money to a deworming charity that offers cheap and effective medication to children, allows them to attend school and acquire a better, more effective education. In a world of extreme inequalities, MacAskill reviewed how income differs across nations and provides a way to rethink how to give in order to produce maximum benefits to those receiving aid. Additionally, he provided surprising examples about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of changing the way you eat, the way you shop, and the mindset taken to abandon your charity biases. It is clear that MacAskill is passionate about the ideas set forth in Doing Good Better, and he provides a valuable guide for others looking to make the most difference with their giving.

Join us for our Summer Spanish Immersion Camp, where students will enjoy a summer of outdoor fun & exploration, as well as classroom activities, games and cooking. Pre-K-3rd Welcomed!

La Escuelita Arcoiris

spring 2017 | 31

This spring also saw the return of the ever-popular Talent Show in February. Family Fun Night, an annual community-wide carnival featuring games, food and gift basket giveaways, is scheduled for mid-May; and students are looking forward to reaping the benefits of the new school garden, courtesy of Grow Pittsburgh.

Students Minnie Lett and Kaylee Howard shop the school store.

School Store a Success at Minadeo By Jody Handley


he 2016-17 school year has seen exciting developments and the continuation of successes for Minadeo’s diverse student body. Enrichment classes added to the curriculum in winter of 2016 allow students to take classes in yoga, philosophy, piano and art. Teachers are seeing results as these new offerings have continued. “One of the kindergarteners suggested another student meditate,” said kindergarten teacher Hope Seymour. “It’s really making a difference.”

The school store is another positive addition this year. Students get a “paycheck” once a week, with a baseline for attendance and good behavior in the classroom, and can earn extra “dollars” for exceeding basic expectations. They can then spend their money on experiences or items in the store. Experiences have included field trips to the zoo and playing basketball. Items for sale include a variety of donated items, ranging from a bouncy ball priced at 5 school bucks to a skateboard for 5,000 school dollars. In addition to rewarding all students for good behavior, the system teaches the basics of money management. “Students are very motivated by the store,” said Michele Scott-Blum, a teacher at Minadeo. Donations to the school store can be dropped off at the main office.

Save the Date for Allderdice Celebrations By Melanie Weisbord

There will be two exciting events celebrating Allderdice this spring. First, the Allderdice PTO invites alumni, current families, teachers, and friends to their second annual Dragon Spirit Party on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at the Pittsburgh Golf Club. Event proceeds will enable the PTO to enrich the learning experience for students and support improvements at the high school. Tickets will go on sale in March. For more information contact The newly re-formed alumni organization, the Alumni and Friends of Allderdice (AFA), will host the Allderdice Hall of Fame awards night on April 27, 2017. Hall of Fame honors will be given to individuals who have made significant accomplishments in their respective fields. This free event will be held at Allderdice and is open to the public. For more information contact

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good news from our schools

Happy Spring from Colfax By Carolyn Ludwig

Winter was a whirlwind of student and fundraising activities for Colfax. Families enjoyed the annual ice skating event at Schenley Ice Rink, the K-2 play date and game night. Students participated in Ski Club, Girls on the Run and the Kids of Steel activity and nutrition program. Upcoming events include spring movie night, the annual talent show, the spring plant sale, this year’s middle-level musical— Madagascar—May 13 and 14 and the end-of-year carnival celebration on June 8. Middle-level students are also looking forward to an end-of-year trip to Cincinnati. Congratulations to the swim team, which was recognized by the Pittsburgh City Council on February 14. The middle school boys swim squad went undefeated and won the City Championship, and the girls swam to a 6-1 record and 2nd place in the city. The fifth-grade Dancing Classrooms Team earned a silver finish at the Color of the Rainbow Championship, and 53 seventh and eighth graders gave stellar performances at the Shakespeare Monologue and Scene Contest. In addition, the chess club has earned team and individual recognition, and the girls basketball team finished the season with a 6-3 record this season. The PTO once again raised money with the Ask Drive and the adults-only Party4Play. These initiatives generate the majority of PTO revenue, which supplements Colfax’s enrichment throughout the year. PTO-funded programs touch every grade level and student, and are only possible with the hard work of many volunteers and contributors.

Musical Teaches Character at Hillel Academy By Sonja Wimer, Musical Director & Teacher

This spring, students from Fayth Aronson Berkowitz Girls High School performed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a classic tale from Roald Dahl that focuses on the value of family and good morals. Strong character development is an important aspect in a student’s education and was incorporated in the message of the production. Every single high school girl participated in the musical—as well as some of Hillel Academy’s middle school girls—whether as an actor, member of the set design team or backstage crew. “It is a good opportunity to develop and use our talents that we don’t usually use during the typical school day,” said tenth grader Chana Kaminsky, who played Charlie. She adds, “the rush of a live performance with every member of the high school brings us together like nothing else can.”

spring 2017 | 33

A Tour of Squirrel Hill’s Philanthropic Past By Helen Wilson

Good works have been embedded in the history of Squirrel Hill from its start in the late 1700s, and many of the places where they took place still exist. One of its first settlers, John Turner (1755-1840), came to Squirrel Hill as a ten-year-old boy. He would become known as the “Benefactor of Squirrel Hill,” donating land for a school and a church. Turner also bequeathed the burial plot on his farm to the people of his community to use as a graveyard. Turner Cemetery still exists at 3424 Beechwood Boulevard, where you can visit John Turner’s grave. The land for the church, which Mr. Turner didn’t live to see, was adjacent to the cemetery and was the forerunner of the present Mary S. Brown MemorialAmes United Methodist Church. Mary’s husband, William Hughey Brown (1815-1875), owned coal mines in Squirrel Hill and elsewhere, a number of coke ovens and a fleet of steamboats. He donated land

for a school for his miners and others who lived in the southern part of Squirrel Hill. The first Brown School was replaced by another in 1888. It closed in 1932, but the building still exists on Desdemona Avenue as an apartment building. Not far from Mary S. Brown-Ames Church, on the Belgian block tail end of Hazelwood Avenue at Saline Street, is a small church-like building identified today only by a sign saying “Meeting Room.” A map from around 1920 identifies it as the English Lutheran Church, but in 1935 it became the Squirrel Hill Community Club. The women’s club was active in philanthropic and educational endeavors for years. It hosted an annual party for the Tuberculosis Hospital, held sewing events for the Industrial Home for Crippled Children, awarded prizes to outstanding sixth-grade pupils at Roosevelt Elementary School, hosted Red Cross meetings during World War II and presented talks on such subjects as “Dirt, Smoke and Smog Problems.” People in the neighborhood around the club still remember going to children’s parties there. In the first quarter of the 20th century, the predominately Scots-Irish population of Squirrel Hill was joined by Jews moving to the neighborhood en masse, first from Allegheny City and later from the Hill District and Oakland. The expanding population put pressure on schools and social organizations, and the community responded. An article in The Pittsburgh Press dated June 17, 1942, stated that “A Squirrel Hill Boys’ Club has been formed by nearly 50 boys to conduct recreational and social activity for youths. … They announced their organization will be non-sectarian and open to any boys from Squirrel Hill.”

Discover St. Edmund’S AcAdEmy PreSchool through 8th grade coeducational indePendent School 5705 darlington road, Pittsburgh, Pa 15217 | 412.521.1907 |

The Boys’ Club first met in a vacant storeroom on Murray Avenue. Six months later, it moved to 5832 Forward Avenue and sought a charter. Among the 34 |

squirrel hill history incorporators and directors were the Reverend John P. O’Connor of St. Philomena’s Catholic Church and Rabbi Goodman A. Rose of Beth Shalom Synagogue. The Boys’ Club didn’t last long. A little more than a year later, the board of the Boys’ Club requested that the Irene Kaufmann Settlement, then located in the Hill District, consider merging with the Boys’ Club. The formation of the Irene Kaufmann Center in the building on Forward Avenue ultimately led to the creation of the jewel of Squirrel Hill’s community organizations: the Jewish Community Center at Forbes and Murray. Meanwhile, the building where the original Irene Kaufmann Center was located on Forward Avenue still exists. It houses the last bowling alley in Squirrel Hill, Forward Lanes, and several businesses. These are just a few of the places in Squirrel Hill that bear testimony to the generosity and altruism of the people who have lived, worked or owned property here. From the beautiful parks donated by Mary Schenley and Henry Clay Frick to the street corners

where dedicated crossing guards watch over children in all kinds of weather, Squirrel Hill always was, and always will be, a place where altruism and dedication are more than mere words. Anyone interested in learning more about Squirrel Hill history is invited to attend the meetings of the Squirrel Hill Historical Home of Irene Kaumann Center in 1940s Society, held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Church of the Redeemer, 5700 Forbes Ave. Go to to view upcoming lectures and events. Events are also posted in the calendar in this magazine. Please consider joining the SHHS. Membership is only $15 per year ($25 for families). There is no charge for attending the meetings.



spring 2017 | 35

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events & happenings SHUC Night Out March 30, 5:30-8pm Northwood Realty, 1935 Murray Ave

Mingle with neighbors and your Coalition board members over free appetizers at Northwood Realty’s newly remodeled office. Beer and Wigle Whiskey cocktails will be available for purchase.

St. Edmund’s Academy Great Event April 21, 7pm Ace Hotel

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Squirrel Hill Branch, 5801 Forbes Ave

March 15, 6:30pm: The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan March 23, 1:30pm: Read My Pins by Madeleine Albright May 2, 6:30pm: “The Case for Reparations”, longform article in The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Celebrate 70 great years of St. Edmund’s Academy! Parents, friends, faculty and alumni are invited to the 2017 Great Event, a silent auction with dancing, celebration and some of the Whitfield’s tastiest foods and cocktails.

Squirrel Hill Historical Society The Church of the Redeemer 5700 Forbes Avenue Events are FREE and at 7:30pm

Acorn Hunt April 22

April 4: “Congregation Beth Shalom, 100 Years” Speaker: Honey Forman, Centennial Coordinator, Beth Shalom

Bring the kids for a family-friendly, spring treasure hunt through the neighborhood! Details available at

Allderdice Hall of Fame Awards April 27 Allderdice High School

Honors will be given to alumni who’ve made significant accomplishments in their respective fields. Event is free and open to the public.

March 14: “The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh” Speaker: Jo Ellen Parker, President of the Carnegie Museums

April 25: “Pittsburgh Holocaust Center” Speaker: Lauren Bairnsfather, PhD., Director May 9: “Community Day School: Preserving Tradition, Securing the Future” Speaker: Avi Baran Munro, Head of the School

Dragon Spirit Party May 13 Pittsburgh Golf Club

Allderdice PTO invites the community to a fun evening of fundraising. Silent auctions and raffle baskets give everyone a chance to win for a good cause!

Mother’s Day Wine Walk May 13, 4-8pm

Sip and stroll through the business district with Uncover Squirrel Hill and your local merchants. Tickets will be available at spring 2017 | 37

squirrel hill stories

Reflections on Neighborhood By Emad Mirmotahari

After living in LA and New Orleans for years, Iranian native Emad Mirmotahari now calls Squirrel Hill home. He admits it wasn’t easy at first to embrace the intimacy that living in a “real neighborhood” demands. But now, he can’t imagine another way of life. Emad contacted SHUC to ask about sharing an editorial on the diversity of Squirrel Hill and Pittsburgh. We believe that it is precisely this variety of histories and perspectives that makes Squirrel Hill such a special place to live and work. We are pleased to share his story. One day, I was grumbling to my wife about the awkwardness of having just bumped into a student to whom I’d given a low grade the previous semester. “Well, yes,” she replied, “this is a real neighborhood!” She added that Squirrel Hill reminded her greatly of the mood and feel of her hometown, a small town of about 75,000 in Jalisco, Mexico—an unexpected comparison that I have not heard her make about places in California with larger Mexican communities and influences. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t given much thought to the term “neighborhood.” One of the most attractive things about Squirrel Hill is that its small size and cozy feel do not conflict with its conscientious and culturally extroverted and curious human make-up. Our neighborhood is filled with people who at once love where they are and embrace what is outside and beyond it. Though I appreciate Pittsburgh’s reputation as the neighborly city memorialized by Mr Rogers, I still feel like a visitor in some other parts of Pittsburgh. However, I—an Iranian Muslim married to a Mexican Catholic woman—have never felt that way in Squirrel Hill itself. I have been thinking about how I first met people on my street, and I have trouble recalling the exact

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circumstances. It happened so organically and so comfortably, through conversations about the odd daffodil that makes a timid appearance in the early– March snow, about the macaroons on Forbes, about meeting friends for coffee after voting at the JCC and over when and how low to cut roses for their winter sleep. Of course, making individual human connections in a diverse and culturally vibrant neighborhood like Squirrel Hill means that at some point friends and neighbors are likely to commiserate on larger social issues. Disagreements are inevitable. And while I have had some difficult conversations, most people I have met and interacted with in Squirrel Hill recognize the importance of preserving, celebrating and encouraging plurality in all its forms. Even when we don’t share the same exact opinions on individual issues, we do share the same values and sensibilities, and we recognize that there are other stories. I think the neighborly bonds in Squirrel Hill are particularly special because they cross all sorts of lines—of race, religion, national origin, etc. I have been struck by the fact that what I see in Squirrel Hill is not mere tolerance, co-existence, or some perfunctory sense of “diversity,” but engagement and dialogue. Neighbors, even if they’re not talking about politics and society, live a certain creed that’s characterized by trust, respect and seeing the person and the neighbor first, before they see a member of a group or a category. It’s undeniable that our neighborhood is, as my wife once said, a “real neighborhood”—and not just a place on a map with a name. Would you like to share your Squirrel Hill story? Email your submission to for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue.

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Squirrel Hill Magazine Spring 2017  

Feature articles include: Volunteering 101, Sustainable Gardening, Plug In to Pittsburgh, Profile of Mike Canton, Reflections on Diversity i...

Squirrel Hill Magazine Spring 2017  

Feature articles include: Volunteering 101, Sustainable Gardening, Plug In to Pittsburgh, Profile of Mike Canton, Reflections on Diversity i...