Fall 2015

Building a stronger region

Creating a diversity survey for the Pittsburgh region is a tricky business. First, in this day and age, how should we define diversity? There’s racial and ethnic diversity as well as diversity of religion and of sexual preference, which has grown from “LGBT” to “LGBTQIA” (you can look it up). Should women fall under the …

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Dorfman, Ranjan, Schaffner, LeBlanc, Barnes, Tourangeau, Salgado

Eric Dorfman is director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. He comes to Pittsburgh from Whanganui, New Zealand, where he was director of the Whanganui Regional Museum and Ward Observatory. Previously, he was executive director of Eklektus Inc., a company that developed and implemented major exhibitions for clients such as The Australian Museum and …

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Beautiful and bold

It is often the voice of the Blue Jay that initially attracts our notice. With a vocal range like its cousins the crows and ravens, the Blue Jay produces loud, strident calls, bounding whistling notes, as well as imitations of the scratchy shrieks of hawks and other birds. More than once, I’ve heard calls at …

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The Miller Esker

About 23,000 years ago, a massive sheet of ice, likely a mile high, extended down from the Arctic. It travelled as far south as present-day Moraine State Park in Butler County before melting and shrinking back to the north. It left behind a rare and subtle geological formation known as an esker. As the glacier …

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Breaking the chain

With the approach of autumn, we come to yet another era in Pitt football. Meaning another new coach. Over recent decades, this means that you barely get to your seat with your beer and pompon before there’s another one. It may be a strain, but coaching at Pitt seems something like Sisyphus, of Greek mythology, …

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The long way home

Lori Jakiela has the essential quality for a memoirist with a tale of trauma to tell: empathy for the reader. She makes her anguish entertaining. But based on the engaging voice, underlying humor and clarity of her adoption memoir “Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe,” I bet she would do the same for …

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Maxwell King, Philanthropy Executive

I am Maxwell Evarts Perkins King, named after Maxwell Evarts Perkins, my grandfather, who was the editor at Scribner’s for Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, among other authors. Even though my mother always told me, “Go to law school, Max” (many of her family members were lawyers), all she ever talked about …

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Changing times at Frick?

The Frick Art and Historical Center is the creature of Miss Frick (Helen Clay Frick was always called that), the daughter of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, and it sprang into existence after the reclusive 96-year-old grand dame died at Clayton, her childhood home in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze in 1984. Since 1970, there had been an …

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New life in an old neighborhood

Polish Hill is one of Pittsburgh’s more eccentric and paradoxical neighborhoods. Its showcase church, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is especially stately and conspicuous, while the angular streets that weave it to the hillside are suitably European. But the neighborhood suffered acutely in Pittsburgh’s post-war population decline and persisted more as an under-maintained vehicular pass-through. …

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Someone Else’s Bar

When Else Franzmann is asked where she is from, she is quick to say, “I’m from everywhere and nowhere. I never really had a hometown.” Else lived in five different places before she was 10, her family never sinking roots. After her first job, she moved seven times in 10 years. Later, she started tending …

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The Greening of Hazelwood

Like a Polaroid picture never quite developed, a snapshot of the entire urban farming movement in Pittsburgh is fuzzy at best. But move in for a closeup and it’s clear that urban farming is on the rise, especially in Hazelwood, where a new breed of farmers is restoring the connection between our food, health and …

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The business of art

It seems as if it should be relatively simple. If you’re an artist, you spend time in your studio, blending inspiration and long hours to create compelling works. When you have a reasonable body of work and the confidence to show it, you contact an art gallery, and voilà—your art hangs on the wall where …

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Nature’s Comeback

Every year, while spring was busy prying away the season from winter’s grasp, my family would make the trek down to Deep Creek, Maryland, to visit my grandparents’ cottage. The drive from our Long Island home was just over seven hours, which, to a kid with very little concept of or care for time, was …

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Imagination Motel: Pomes With Many Bags of Buttered Popcorn and Big Pepsis

The word “legendary” was built for Chuck Kinder. The heart and soul of the University of Pittsburgh writing program for years, he entered legend as the inspiration for the main character of “Wonder Boys,” the hit novel by his former student Michael Chabon. He fulfills the legend of the novelist with the story so big …

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Having a great time in Beaver, Pa.

Rudyard Kipling visited Beaver, Pa, during the summer of 1889 and referred to it fondly in “Sea to Sea: Letters of Travel.” Spend a day or two there, and you’ll understand why. Established at the confluence of the Ohio and Beaver rivers in 1802, Beaver is the Beaver County seat with an historic district built …

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Kentuck Knob

In London, he is Baron Peter Palumbo, a property developer, art and architecture collector, former chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain and a member of the House of Lords. His wife, Hayat, comes from a Lebanese newspaper family and exudes the graciousness of a woman used to navigating in tony circles. But in …

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Living with Amnesia

When I pulled up to Diana Staab’s house in May, it would mark my third interview with her and the second time that month that I would spend a few hours at her home in Level Green near Murrysville. When she opened the door and said hello, she was wearing a white T-shirt, black sweatpants …

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Ireland: Mind Your Manors

Whether you spend the day on Dublin’s bustling Grafton Street or peering over the Cliffs of Moher, odds are good you will encounter some sort of precipitation accompanied by a chill wind and gray sky. It’s what makes stopping by the pub at the end of the day such an appealing Irish tradition. A welcoming …

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Of Irish Roads and Distant Kin

So I’m hauling eight of us—my wife Kay, her brother and his wife, her sister and her husband, and their two Irish cousins Ann and Peggy—down this dinky road in the farmland outside Galway, Ireland, in a blue beast the rental agency calls a “mini-bus.” Peggy is riding shotgun (“Careful of this turn now!”) and …

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The ease and élan of Ireland

I can’t really recall why we chose Ireland for our honeymoon 27 years ago. Neither of us is Irish. Maybe it was the writers—Yeats, Wilde and Joyce. Maybe the fishing (not for my wife). It certainly wasn’t the weather or, back then, the food. My wife noted that the same boiled potato and chicken meal …

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Hiking Boots & Shamrocks

While most travelers to the west of Ireland enjoy golfing, visiting castles or fishing, my wife and I hit the hiking trails. We rewarded ourselves for all the hoofing by staying in two quaint Irish hotels with great food and above average hospitality. Before leaving, we invested in L.L. Bean hiking gear—boots, pants, socks, rain …

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Heroin Hits Home

By the time he was 35, James (a pseudonym) was living in a Shadyside home worth $500,000, driving an Audi A4 and earning six figures. He was seven years into his job as a recruiter for a technology company. His wife was from a wealthy family, and they traveled often. “Every six weeks, we were …

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Arts Aligned

They’re situated on either side of Forbes Avenue in Oakland, almost appreciatively staring at each other in a figurative manner: A world-class university and a world-class art collection. On a daily basis, backpack-sporting college students and briefcase-toting college professors weave in and out of these historic institutions, along with the general public. But not until …

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Home Library Group

Coke oven smokestacks loom as members of a boys’ reading club pose in an what is likely a factory slum along the Monongahela where workers lived to be near their jobs at the Jones & Laughlin Steel Mill in Hazelwood. Six years earlier, steel titan Andrew Carnegie, himself a self-educated working boy who found inspiration …

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3-D Mammograms Premier in Pittsburgh

When Diana Napper gets a compliment on her crystal bracelet, she can’t help but make a life-saving sales pitch. “This bracelet is funding some of the best technology in the world,” says Napper, 58, of McCandless. The technology is digital breast tomosynthesis—more commonly known as 3-D mammography. This breakthrough in breast cancer screening can detect …

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Jeff Broadhurst

Eat’n Park started out back in 1949 as a very small restaurant on Saw Mill Run Boulevard. Larry Hatch started it, and believe it or not, on the first day, he opened at breakfast and closed before dinner because he was too busy. He couldn’t keep up. Those of us in the restaurant business wish …

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Getting away from it all

“You need a vacation.” It’s bad enough when we hear it from our family members, worse when our employees feel compelled to tell us, and downright embarrassing when a regular client or customer points it out. Despite our best efforts, the physical and mental wear and tear of business ownership can take an obvious toll. …

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A Lasting Impact

We asked regional colleges and universities to each choose a graduate who would give his or her thoughts on how the school made an impact on their lives. Allegheny College Chris Allison ’83 Former CEO, Tollgrade Communication, Inc.; Member, Allegheny College Board of Trustees; Entrepreneur in Residence, Allegheny College I vividly remember the late-night phone …

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Moneyball?

The morning after flying in from Texas in March, Greg Harris and his mother downed an oatmeal breakfast and coffee before heading to the basketball game they’d traveled more than 1,000 miles to see. They came to Pittsburgh to watch their favorite team, the University of Texas, play Butler University in the opening round of …

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Wanted: More Workers (Part III)

With baby boomers poised to retire and far fewer younger, skilled people available to replace them, the region faces a potentially crippling workforce gap that could be especially damaging in sectors that require STEM (science, technology, engineering math) skills. The Allegheny Conference on Community Development estimates that the gap could reach 144,000 workers, although that’s …

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Hillman, Lenchner, Spruill, Peters, Faison, Danforth, Hoffstat

Elsie Hillman, 89 The irreplaceable and irrepressible first lady of Pittsburgh, “Elsie” combined vision, commitment, enthusiasm and means with a common touch. Those qualities and a sense of humor and fun helped her spearhead and support political, civic, cultural and philanthropic initiatives for more than 60 years. She headed both the Allegheny County and Pennsylvania …

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