Just Askin’… Gretchen Baker

Q: What’s the most interesting thing about your job? A: Within a single day, I can spend time with dinosaur experts looking at fossils, review plans with talented exhibit designers, watch an energetic educator engage a group of kids in our galleries, meet with community partners, and work on a budget. My job activates almost …

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Pittsburgh Gets High Marks as a Place for Innovation

Pittsburgh has one of the world’s top emerging startup ecosystems from which companies are born from new ideas, talented innovators and investment in their development, according to a new report. California’s Silicon Valley is still far and away the best ecosystem for startups, followed by London, New York City, Beijing and Boston. But Pittsburgh is …

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Christopher Howard: Living Life in the Moment

I come from a family of proud people who didn’t have a lot. My great-great-grandfather started out as an “enslaved human being” in Texas. Later, he and my grandfather were sharecroppers until my grandfather got a job in a factory. It’s kind of a Pittsburgh story: Man becomes “blue collar” because of factory work. My …

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The Fall 2021 issue:

Job Growth Declines Again

The number of jobs in southwestern Pennsylvania fell slightly in August, further slowing the regional recovery to pre-pandemic levels. Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area had 3,100 fewer jobs on their payrolls in August than one month earlier, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the second …

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You Meet the Strangest People…

I arrived at the Mayor’s office a bit early, announced myself and took a seat in the waiting room. I had only been there a minute or two when a lady came out, told me the Mayor would be with me soon, and asked me to fill out a form while I was waiting. Previously …

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A Lifelong Friend

I’ve been lucky to have many close friends. But as I look back, it’s clear to me that, of all of them, my life has been most closely intertwined with that of my friend Chris Bentley. Chris and I were born less than two months apart, in early 1962, and we met before either of …

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Pittsburgh’s Huge Flathead Catfish Rule the Rivers

Late one August night last year, Dusty Learn, an Indiana County farmer and factory worker, caught what is, perhaps, the most spectacular catfish Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers have been known to ever yield. Although not the VW Beetle-sized beast of urban legend, Learn’s flathead — nabbed on a piece of cut bluegill — might have beaten …

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Norris Beach: “Swim Where You Will Be Welcomed”

Ninety years ago, on August 14, 1931, the city of Pittsburgh opened its largest and most luxurious public swimming pool in Highland Park. Opening day was one of great fanfare and pride. However, it was also a day that saw African Americans who tried to enter the pool turned away. When Black citizens returned the …

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Your 8th Birthday

To Lucas I forget the comet’s name I looked for all night but never found. You slept in the tent while I kept the fire going, hoping an arrow of light and dust might pierce the air so I could stir you from your coma and show you. We could’ve seen crumbs of ice dissolving …

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Surprising the Mayor

In those days, the mayor of Indianapolis was a guy named Richard Lugar. Lugar was an unusual mayor, to say the least. He’d been first in his class in high school and college, had been a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and was an Eagle Scout. He was as straight-laced and honest as a country parson. …

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Flight 93 National Memorial

“Are you guys ready? Okay! Let’s roll!” This is what telephone operator Lisa Jefferson, who’d been on the phone with United Air Lines Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer, says she heard at 9:55 a.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Four minutes later, as unarmed passengers and crew charged with a food cart and broke into …

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Remembering 9/11: A Portrait of Shanksville

On Sept. 11, 2001, Judi Baeckel was working at the Shanksville Post Office and talking with a customer about news reports that hijackers had flown jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. “At least we know we’re safe in Shanksville,” Baeckel recalls the customer saying. Within minutes, the roof and windows of the …

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Must We Gain Weight as We Grow Older?

Question: “My middle-aged friends and I watch what we eat and try to stay active, but all of us seem to be gaining weight as we get older. Is getting fatter simply an unavoidable consequence of aging?” Although weight gain is generally considered part of the aging process, there are no legitimate reasons why a …

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Joining the Force

One day I arrived at the MP station and saw a new announcement tacked up on the bulletin board. It was notifying everyone that, with the War in Vietnam winding down, nonessential personnel with only a few months left in the Army would be mustered out early. The Army needed to save money. Previously in …

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