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Best Neighborhoods nominations open

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

fountainPittsburghers, here’s your chance to get some recognition for your neighborhood.
 
Northwood Realty Services is holding a first-ever process for people to nominate their neighborhoods on points such as best view, best yard sale, architectural features, best holiday decorations, etc. The winners will be featured in regional editions of InCommunity Magazines and receive special recognition and bragging rights.
 
Residents of Allegheny, Butler, Westmoreland and Washington Counties can nominate their neighborhoods across a range of categories, which you can get more information about here.
 
The nomination deadline is April 30.
 
Here is the nomination form.
 
Winners will be notified and announced on June 15.
 
Here at Walkabout, we don’t value neighborhoods based on property values, although this contest’s “best all-around neighborhood” qualifications are based on these, the most prestigious of three being the legendary division, which has property values above $350,000.
 
I will refrain from nominating my neighborhood, but the Mexican War Streets would be a contender in the “best spirit” category, i.e., “most stoop parties,” i.e., “most empty wine bottles.”
 
Best view? Must we see the same Mount Washington hands? How about Fineview? Best yard sales? Anyone?
 
I have some categories that Northwood isn’t considering, with Walkabout winners already decided:
 
Best dried fish, Andean knitted goods and biscotti? The Strip.
Best metal awnings? Tie: Lawrenceville and Bloomfield.
Best bird watching? Duh. Hays.
Best pot holes? Squirrel Hill.
Best fountain? Downtown.
Most rentals? Shadyside.
Best kept secret? Brookline.
Most slender? Esplen.
Most quiet? Ridgemont.
Most potential: Homewood.
 
Go!

 

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Few can walk 5 minutes for fresh food

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

market produce
The small neighborhood market has been much on my mind of late, specifically the one I am supporting but more generally because of how important an asset it is in a neighborhood, and how uncommon it is.
 
Giant Eagle, Foodland, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, IGA and all the larger retailers are necessary, and the plethora of options in the Strip make that a regular must-do. But if everyone had the option of a short walk to get some essential groceries, then every neighborhood would have a little store with enough variety to be more than the emergency milk and bread stop. 
 
Sarah Goodyear writes in The Atlantic Cities about a recent analysis of cities that looked at walking distance to fresh food sources. In her article, “In the U.S., a Quick Walk to the Store is a Rare Thing Indeed,” she sets up a scenario familiar to many of us: We are into a recipe when we realize we need a crucial ingredient.
 
The last time that happened to me, I thought I had an egg or two left in the carton. Lucky for me, my neighbor raises hens so I popped next door and got an egg.
 
In the article, Ms. Goodyear poses the question: How long would it take you to walk to get a fresh ingredient? An analysis by Walk Score of 50 of the largest American cities shows a yawning gap between the nine cities that have five-minute access for more than 40 percent of its population and those that don't even serve 30 percent.
 
Pittsburgh's snapshot is reproduced below. The green blobs represent where people have a fresh food source within a five-minute walk:
5min
 
The five-minute standard set by Walk Score is based on a goal that Washington, D.C. has set in its 20-year master plan.
 
I am very lucky to have neighbors who can supply any number of emergency items, but the whole neighborhood is lucky that the Allegheny City Market is about a five minute walk. In the former Doug’s Market, owner Rob Collins has upgraded the inventory enough that his market is my first-option grocery, providing 75 percent of the items on my list.
 
There are too few markets like this in Pittsburgh and throughout the cities studied.
 
The article states:
 
“For 72 percent of New Yorkers, the answer is less than five minutes. But in Indianapolis – or Oklahoma City or Wichita – only 5 percent of residents have a store selling fresh produce within that distance.
 
“Using data from its extensive database, Walk Score ranked the 50 largest U.S. cities to see how they did on access to decent food, using stores that sell fresh produce as a benchmark.
 
“The numbers paint a picture of a dramatically divided nation.”
 
The article reports that Washington, D.C.'s goal is to have 75 percent of its population living within a quarter mile of a healthy food source within 20 years. 
 
Washington is one of the nine cities with top access now but barely cracks 40 percent. New York is #1, of course, with 72 percent of people who have five-minute pedestrian access to fresh food. San Francisco and Philadelphia are the only others in which more than 50 percent of people can walk to buy that crucial egg, or lime or endive, in five minutes.
 
A city's planning goal for greater access comes down to land use and requirements for development, topics that present choppy waters for politicians. It would be interesting to see how Pittsburgh might decide to address this issue, given the sweeping amount of land vacancy in its most food-challenged neighborhoods.
 
Top photo taken at the Allegheny City Market
 
 

 

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People can be trained, at a price

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

In a recent article in Atlantic Cities, “3 Enormous Benefits to Charging the Right Price for Parking, Eric Jaffe makes a case for rethinking how cities can get the most out of their transit investments.
 
 carsHe writes:
 
“Most U.S. cities do everything they can to abide the theory. They undervalue the price of street spaces. They keep parking so cheap it encourages driving (and thus undermines their own transit investments, leading to more driving). And they require a minimum number of parking spaces for new developments whether residents need them or not.
 
“Three recent studies highlight big benefits to setting the right price for city parking: less traffic, more transit use, and greater tax revenue.”
 
The article includes links to the studies.
 
It makes the point that cheap parking is a motivation for people to drive into a city and that higher fees to park provide the incentive for them to use transit. 

 

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Time for some spring cleaning

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 
The first of Citizens Against Litter’s spring clean-ups is April 12, when hundreds of students from Duquesne University will join volunteers in Uptown, the Hill District the South Side and South Side Slopes.
 
Boris Weinstein, the group’s leader and founder, estimates that more than 15,000 volunteers in 300 areas of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties will participate in ridding their neighborhoods of litter.
 
He said he expects the haul to weigh 300 tons in all.
 

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Bloomfield planning Saturday market

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

 
As part of its rebirth with funding from the state Neighborhood Partnership Program, the Bloomfield Development Corp. will be adding a seasonal amenity to the neighborhood in the form of a Saturday market starting May 31.
 
It will be held weekly until Nov. 1 in a parking lot at 5050 Liberty Ave. The scene will include locally grown and made produce and products and entertainment. The BDC is sponsoring this event with West Penn Hospital, which owns the parking lot.
 
The market will open at 8 a.m. and close at 1 p.m.
 
“The Bloomfield Saturday Market will be a great social event, while also providing residents with the opportunity to purchase good, healthy food,” said BDC board chairman Joey Vallarian. “Community health, both the health of the brick and mortar neighborhood, as well as the health of it’s residents, is very important to the BDC, and we think the Bloomfield Saturday Market will help accomplish these goals.”
 
The BDC hired Christina Howell to be the market program manager. She moved her focus to Bloomfield from Mount Washington, where she was involved in planning and outreach for the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation. She was previously a manager of Pedal Pittsburgh and served as president of the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library’s board.
 
“Christina’s experience managing a variety of events coupled with her passions for Bloomfield and community building make her a natural partner for the BDC as we launch the first year of the Bloomfield Saturday Market,” said Shelly Majcen, executive director of the BDC.
 
Farmers and vendors can apply to participate in the Bloomfield Saturday Market by visiting www.bloomfieldsaturdaymarket.org or contacting Christina Howell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 412-708-1277.
 

 

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