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Opinion

Civility and the Algorithm

Polarity runs deep. Conversations are strained. Friendships are on edge. Might free speech and professional journalism rescue civility? It happened before. Human spirits were liberated when speech was freed. The town square became a metaphor for free speech. Free speech principles were not easily adopted. Dissension threatened feudal order. Kings were not amused. More than …

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On a Pedestal: Festival of Books, Contemporary Craft, Pitt’s Homewood Project

For the past couple of years, pandemic or not, Marshall Cohen has been meeting people and gathering support for his idea: the creation of a Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books. A literate city with the history of erudition that Pittsburgh has should have such an event, he reasoned. And after gaining some key support—from sponsors …

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Civil Discourse

As I consider the divided state of our country, I imagine my father’s voice repeating an old adage to me. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” We can all agree that America has problems, though we’ll likely differ on what they are. Some will say the mob that former …

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Letting Go

It was bound to happen sooner or later—Joe’s going off to college. I got a stay of execution for five months, given that his university didn’t open up campus for the first semester. You’d think I would have been ready. He was chomping at the bit to leave and kept himself busy for the past …

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Silver Linings, Part IV

We asked a broad array of Pittsburghers—the pandemic has certainly brought hardships, but what “silver linings” have accompanied it that have affected your life in a positive way? At least three important positives are evident in this time of challenge. First, professional silos are coming down, and we are making great strides in organizational collaboration. …

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Silver Linings, Part III

We asked a broad array of Pittsburghers—the pandemic has certainly brought hardships, but what “silver linings” have accompanied it that have affected your life in a positive way? The pandemic has strengthened my faith in people. I’ve been humbled and inspired by our team members who courageously stepped up to meet the needs of our …

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Finishing the Cabin

In the Fall issue, I wrote about how five friends and I escaped the hunker-down COVID malaise last summer by building a 16-by-20-foot cabin on a remote island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.). None of us had done it before, and by the time they left July 25, the footers, subfloor and four walls were …

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Silver Linings, Part II

We asked a broad array of Pittsburghers—the pandemic has certainly brought hardships, but what “silver linings” have accompanied it that have affected your life in a positive way? I feel richer for the depth of humanity I see every day working in senior living. Families and staff have worked so hard to keep our residents …

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Silver Linings, Part I

We asked a broad array of Pittsburghers—the pandemic has certainly brought hardships, but what “silver linings” have accompanied it that have affected your life in a positive way? Years ago, I was given the sage advice to always “listen to learn.” This pandemic delivered a whopper of learnings. Celebrate the good in our life—family, friends, …

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On a Pedestal: Good Examples, Port Authority, Robert Levin, Executive Leadership Academy

It’s been an extremely trying time in our country these past six months, with the virus, the fear and uncertainty, the recession, George Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests and riots, the increasing orthodoxy of public discourse, and the pre-election anxiety. Many wonder what has happened to America as waves of fear and cancellation have …

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My Summer Vacation

It all started back in April, when the virus was young… I had big plans for making this the summer of exploration, intent on getting away from the quarantine/hunker down mentality and surrounding myself with the beauty of nature. The first plan was renting an RV in June and driving to Alaska via the Alaska …

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Colleges and Schools Can and Should Open in a Way That Does the Least Harm

Any untimely death is a tragedy. Our youth die in transit to and from schools and universities every year, but these institutions are not shut down as a result. Engaging in life involves some risk of death. COVID-19 deaths in youth are rare. Rational policies should aim to minimize such risks with no expectation of …

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Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste

By chance, in early January, I watched a Netflix series called “Pandemic,” so my sensors were attuned early for the virus news from China. I was initially surprised that people were slow to give it credence and that financial markets blithely reached all-time highs Feb. 19. Soon enough though, as virus news swept the globe …

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On a Pedestal: Moe Coleman Awards, Kiski School, Women in Leadership

Finding someone able to debate politics with civility and respect is difficult today, when public discourse all too often turns coarse and divisive. Former Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey and his “across the aisle” friend, Duquesne University law professor and former Pittsburgh deputy mayor Joseph Sabino Mistick, are trying to cultivate more people who are …

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The Migrations of Hunting

“Nature is a wet place where large numbers of ducks fly around uncooked.” —Oscar Wilde I didn’t grow up in a hunting family. When it came to wild animals, we enjoyed simply seeing them, not killing them. And the least likely kind of hunting for me might have been ducks. I liked the book “Make …

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Holiday Thoughts from the Dalai Lama’s Physician

Dr. Barry Kerzin, Buddhist Monk and physician to the Dalai Lama, is back in Pittsburgh, continuing his work with UPMC nurses, building compassion, resilience and mindfulness into their daily activities, with the goal of decreasing stress and increasing fulfillment. (See a longer PQ story on Kerzin here). He is in discussions to possibly begin similar …

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My Flawed Church: A Treasure in an Earthen Vessel

Pittsburgh Catholics have had a really tough year. Changing the parish configurations of churches around the city at the same time we Catholics were dealing with the painful grand jury report was one crisis too many. Our home parishes were shuffled, our beloved priests reassigned, Sunday Mass schedules upended. Meetings and activities took place to …

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On a Pedestal: Fallingwater, Allegheny Conference, Natural Areas Association, Healthcare Truce

Now, a world treasure: Fallingwater has gone global. Thanks to efforts from the Western Pa. Conservancy, Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece of modern architecture nestled in the verdant Laurel Highlands has been added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage List. It’s recognition that in our backyard is a treasure considered in …

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Lost and Found

Some days are memorable for obvious reasons: births, deaths, weddings and funerals. Occasionally, however, a day is noteworthy not for any dramatic event but for what you suddenly understand. For 58 summers in a row, I’ve gone to a little town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula called Cedarville. What has turned out, in retrospect, to be …

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Famous Last Words…

Editor’s note: Oil and gas man Michael L. Benedum and his wife Sarah created the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation in memory of their only child who died in 1918 at the age of 20. On the anniversary of the Foundation, which has distributed more than $500 million in philanthropy to Pittsburgh and West Virginia, we …

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The Seeming Vastness of Summer

During a 15-minute break from a recent Friday night poker game, a friend and I were discussing medical things when the question arose: What would you do if you found out you had two years to live and would be in basically good health until the end? The conversation soon attracted a wider group, and …

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When Clocks Have No Hands

I am a returnee by nature. Over the years I have returned to neighborhoods where I once lived, to rooms in dormitories that were mine, to Mirror Lake in the Adirondacks where I caught my first trout and to a grade school playground where I competed in kickball (soccer), softball and football. Although I enjoyed …

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