Pay Off

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Women's pay is definitely "off" when compared to the earnings of men doing the same job. Sadder still, African American and Latino women make even less. 

041014 Pay Off

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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:
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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#SEENMoneyWellSpent: Pittsburgh Opera

Written by Natalie Bencivenga on .

Walking into the PittPittsburgh Opera sign 25th eveningsburgh Opera’s home in the Strip District is like being transported back in time. Built in 1869, the space was originally utilized as George Westinghouse’s original air brake factory. Hanging on one of the walls is a quote from Westinghouse himself:

“If someday they say of me that I have benefited my fellow man, then I shall be satisfied.”

At 45,000 square feet, the industrial space (with cool, modern touches like exposed brick walls and wood beams throughout) has plenty of  room to house Opera rehearsals, a space for Attack Theater to practice their productions, and even a place for wigs, make-up, and costume production. (The space can be rented out for weddings and other events on its off-hours). opera-6948 conf room Elena Dee

I met with the Pittsburgh Opera’s general director
Christopher Hahn, a native of South Africa, (who has the most amazing accent), and took a tour through the facility. Many people have a misperception of opera and its audience as being old fashioned -- an image that Mr. Hahn wants to change:

“People think [the opera] is so serious; but it is fun and uplifting. It touches on so many areas of our knowledge, and may be the most complex and invigorating art form available to us.”

Not only does the Pittsburgh Opera showcase a wide array of performances (from the classics to more contemporary pieces) but they also travel to schools to teach children and teenagers about this amazing art form through their art trunk program.

Opera Trunk Madama Butterfly Elena DeeDuring the tour I was reminded of my first exposure to opera, in high school, when my chorus class sang songs from Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly.”  This memory still resonates with me today as I fell in love with so many of the melodies.

Later on the tour, Michele Fabrizi, board chair, met us as we meandered through the costume and wig department. She echoed Mr. Hahn’s thoughts about the mission of the Pittsburgh Opera.


“It’s important for people to try new things,” she said. “We need to get out of our comfort zones, have new experiences, expand our minds, enrich our lives. That’s what the arts can do for us.” Michelle and Christopher OPERA

It’s hard not to get excited about opera when seeing this beautiful building and hearing from two of its staunchest supporters. I became even more enthusiastic when I heard about their monthly Brown Bag Lunch program. This is FREE (yes you read that correctly!) to the public and usually happens on the second Saturday of each month (October through April). Bring your lunch and enjoy a free cool is that?

Opera is accessible, it is uplifting, and it can even be transformative!

I am looking forward to their upcoming fundraising event, Maecenas XXX (voted one of the best parties of the year by the Post Gazette).

Pictured above in the costume department: Michele Fabrizi & Christopher Hahn

For more information on this gala, CLICK HERE. Clearly, it will be #MoneyWellSpent.

Follow the Pittsburgh Opera on Twitter: @PittsburghOpera



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This crocus conjures childhood memories

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog yellow crocus 040814I wouldn't want to garden without these flowers. Photo by Doug Oster

Each spring when the 'Yellow Mammoth' crocus bloom I think of my mother.

She didn't love gardening like I do, but put up with my fascination, letting me have a small vegetable garden in the back yard.

It was the yellow crocus flowers she planted in the late 60's which would great me at the front door after school. When I saw those flowers, I knew winter was officially over.

When they bloom in my garden today, I call my mother to talk about the blossoms. We laugh at my nostalgic take on life, something she has seen in me forever.

Those flowers were the last thing I saw at the house I grew up in. After cleaning it out, I looked behind me, and there they were. Blooming strong as ever.

I wrote about the experience for the Post-Gazette here.

There are endless reasons to choose certain plants for your garden. Every fall I put in more of these bulbs, even though the chipmunks love them as much as I do.

The luminescent orange blossoms remind me of growing up in a simpler, happier time. I can't help but smile when I see the tender blooms and think of my mother.


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Empty Netter Assists - 04-09-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Tomas Vokoun (above) will be assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on a conditioning assignment.

-Welcome back Evgeni Malkin ... to light skating.

-How will the Penguins approach tonight's game against the Red Wings, a potential playoff opponent?

-Don't be embarrassed if you don't understand the NHL's new playoff format. Some of the Penguins' players don't either.

-How much of a chance does Robert Bortuzzo have at appearing in a postseason game?

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Paul Martin speaks:

-The Wilkes-Bare/Scranton Penguins signed forward prospect Scott Wilson to an amateur tryout agreement.

-Happy 77th birthday to former Penguins forward Wayne Hicks. Acquired midway through the 1967-68 season in a deal which sent Art Stratton to the Flyers, Hicks appeared in 15 games for the Penguins and scored 11 points. After that season, Hicks, one of 10 NHL players born in the state of Washington, spent the rest of his professional career in the AHL and WHL. He is the father of former Penguins forward Alex Hicks.

-Happy 50th birthday to former all-star Penguins forward Rick Tocchet (right). Acquired midway through the 1991-92 season along with Kjell Samuelsson, Ken Wregget and a draft pick in exchange for Mark Recchi, Brian Benning and a draft pick, Tocchet became one of the most popular players in franchise history despite only spending parts of three seasons in Pittsburgh. Tocchet finished 1991-92 by appearing in 19 games and scoring 30 points. Tocchet saw action in 14 postseason games that spring and scored 19 points while helping the franchise win its second Stanley Cup championship. In 1992-93, Tocchet played in 80 games and scored 109 points - one of four 100-point scorers for the team that season - and led the team with 252 penalty minutes while helping the franchise earn its only Presidents' Trophy. He was also selected to the final all-star game of his career. Tocchet saw action in 12 postseason games that spring and scored 13 points. During 1993-94, Tocchet was limited to 51 games and 40 points. He played in six postseason games that spring and scored five points. In the 1994 offseason, Tocchet and a draft pick were traded to the Kings in exchange for Luc Robitaille. In 150 regular season games with the Penguins, Tocchet, the first player in franchise history to wear No. 92, scored 179 points, 43rd-most in franchise history. In 32 postseason games, Tocchet scored 37 points.

-Happy 34th birthday to former Penguins forward Alexei Ponikarovsky. Acquired at the 2010 trade deadline in a deal which sent Luca Caputi and Martin Skoula to the Maple Leafs, Ponikarovsky's Penguins career amounted to 16 games and nine points in 2010-11. In 11 postseason games, he scored five points. During the 2010 offseason, Ponikarovsky joined the Kings as a free agent. He is currently a member SKA St. Petersburg in Russia's KHL.

-After the Jump: The Canucks fire general manager Mike Gillis.

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