On a recent day in Sheraden, more than 350 volunteers from Deloitte, a international financial services company with a subsidiary in the ‘burgh, blitzed blight for eight hours.
I will be writing a story about that, scheduled to run in the West Xtra section June 23.
One of the volunteers was Nathan Mallory, co-owner of Cannon Coffee in Brookline, photographed here perched on the skeleton of a deck that the volunteers -- he among them -- built around a blighted, vacant house on Adon Street.
Inside this house, which volunteer crews gutted, were bags and boxes of household items that were left behind when the last occupants left.
"We found a picture of a kid on Santa's lap, church papers, a Boy Scout uniform and a bunch of toys on the floor," Nathan said.
The current property owner has approved its use for a coffeehouse, Sheraden’s first in the modern coffeehouse era, which means more than two decades.
Nathan and Kevin Acklin, who directs the non-profit Renew Pittsburgh, are the minds behind Project Coffeehouse, which will begin in Sheraden based on a more imminent model, a coffeehouse set to open within a few weeks on Broadway Avenue in Beechview.
If everything goes according to plan, Project Coffeehouse will team with non-profit neighborhood advocacy groups throughout the city to establish non-profit coffeehouses as social enterprise engines for neighborhood revival.
Net proceeds from the shops will fund neighborhood needs, from flower boxes to other start-ups, whatever community consensus decides. Each coffeehouse will have a board of directors to channel the funds, with oversight from Project Coffeehouse.
Nathan will manage Brew on Broadway until it is ready to be handed off to an entrepreneur, and his staff will round-robin between Beechview and Brookline.
Kudos to Kiva Han, for donating almost $20,000 worth of equipment.
Stay tuned for a story about Project Coffeehouse. And visit Cannon Coffee in Brookline. A former discout store, it has become a music destination, with open mike nights every Wednesday at 8p.
The space is beautiful, with its original tile floor, stamped tin panel ceilings and a deck in back where you can — gasp! drink your coffee and smoke at the same time!