Zersha Munir

Consider yourself an innovator? BNY Mellon wants to hear your ideas! In collaboration with The Forbes Fund, BNY Mellon presents the UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge to support entrepreneurs dedicated to solving Pittsburgh’s problems. Entrepreneurs — from students to startups to established firms — are welcome to submit their products or product ideas in solution to any of the three UpPrize challenges for prizes of grant and investment money. The challenges include:

Independence: What products might better equip people to be caretakers of themselves and their neighbors?

Access: What products might reduce physical barriers to accessing services and opportunity?

Coordination: What products might help multiple organizations better coordinate how they distribute goods and services to those in need?

UpPrize encourages purpose-driven innovation and offers $800,000 in grants and investments, as well as additional benefits and supports for a total prize value in excess of $1 million. Community partners and advisers include Google, Carnegie Mellon University and the Idea Foundry. Submissions simply require a  two-minute video discussing your team, product and vision, and should be submitted using YouTube or Vimeo. Submission deadline is Wednesday, April 15 at 5 p.m EST. 

Have some ideas? Then visit the UpPrize site for more information and to enter the challenge.

Next, register to attend NEXTpittsburgh’s UpPrize networking event, Mix It Up, on March 24 at 5:30 p.m. at Alpha Lab Gear to spend an evening with Pittsburgh’s local leaders and innovators. Event partners include Mayor Peduto, Fygment, Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partners and several local establishments, all who came together to plan a night of networking exercises and fun.

UpPrize competition eligibility guidelines and FAQ’s can be found here. Further questions can be tweeted at “@UpPrize” on Twitter or emailed in.


Powered by NEXTpittsburgh
Written by Gina Mazza

“Love is the only shocking act left on the planet,” proclaims Ashton Kutcher’s character in the movie Valentine’s Day. While the romantic comedy pokes fun at the pressures and expectations of Valentine’s Day, showing you care shouldn’t be stressful. Here are 10 simple and fun ways to say “I love you”—from classic to a bit unconventional.

NEXT VALENTINES PHOTOS on-the-gateway-clipper-750x4001. The Dinner Date

The dinner date is always a lovely and delicious choice for Valentine’s Day. Snuggle up someplace extra cozy like The Oak Room in the Mansions on Fifth. The rich paneling, stained glass windows and roaring fireplace all encourage passion—and that’s before savoring the Mansion’s extensive collection of wine and spirits. Share plates of artisanal cheese and charcuterie, and let the magic happen.

Quiet, intimate seating can also be found in The Wine Bar at Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon. The elegantly casual ambiance at Eleven in The Strip is also a Valentine’s Day sure bet; reserve a booth in one of the private dining rooms. Legume in Oakland and its bar, Butterjoint, is a quaint and casual date haven; they keep it fresh and surprising with a constantly changing menu. A newcomer downtown is The Commoner tavern in Hotel Monaco. The boutique hotel’s playfully appointed rooms—which are “inspired by the passion of Pittsburgh”—might tempt you to spend the night (as if you needed a reason, right?).

2. The Spa Date

Cupid’s big day is perfect for indulgence and pampering. Peace Love and Zen in East Liberty has that down. Choose from a palette of services all geared toward deep relaxation and healing. Not to be missed is the Himalayan salt cave, crafted from thousands of pounds of Himalayan salt. It’s the ticket for stress relief, and can also improve sleep, alleviate allergies, increase circulation and cure hangovers. Just sit back with your sweetheart in zero gravity chairs and melt into sounds of the ocean. Treat your significant other to the trifecta special: a salt cave session, massage of choice and sauna. Call for pricing. Peaceloveandzen.com.

The Oak Room at Mansions on Fifth.
The Oak Room at Mansions on Fifth.

3. The Movie Date

By now we all know that “50 Shades of Grey” refers not to Pittsburgh’s February skies but the Universal Pictures film of the same name, releasing on Valentine’s Day. Venture out to your local theater to see the highly anticipated erotic romance Fifty Shades of Grey, based on the sexy bestselling novel by E. L. James.

If your movie tastes are more classic than kinky, grab your honey and head over to Heinz Hall on Sunday, February 15 at 8 PM for Casablanca with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
 The 1942 American romantic film about a man torn between love and virtue is the ultimate chick flick. Max Steiner’s Oscar-nominated score makes it even more epic. Pittsburghsymphony.org.

4. The Pittsburgh Panorama Date

Nothing says “Pittsburgh romance” more than nestling inside the Duquesne or Monongahela Incline as it sidles up to Mt. Washington, then taking a hand-holding stroll along Grandview Avenue (about a 1.5 mile walk). Step inside one of the great watering holes along the avenue to warm up and enjoy a cocktail or a bite. Don’t leave the mountain without snapping a selfie with the city’s unobstructed skyline as backdrop. The West End Overlook is another panoramic option, arguably the best view of the Three Rivers converging at the Point. With the sun setting and the city lights aglow, it’s a perfect “first kiss” setting.

5. The Creative Abandon Date

Check out this happy hour with heart: the Trust Arts Education Center on Liberty Avenue downtown is hosting a Valentine Making Workshop and Art Experience on Friday, February 13 at 6 p.m. Choose your favorite libation and let it inspire your creative expression. Craft your own valentines or something more extravagant. $20.

6. The Wine-Tasting-With-Live-Music Date

The introspective lyrics of Bill Deasy’s The Gathering Field are sure to provide ample ambiance for a late night interlude. The Pittsburgh Winery on Penn Avenue will host the band at 9 p.m.on Saturday, February 14 (with a second show at 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 15). Their new release Wild Journey (the band’s first record in a dozen years) is said to embody new-found depth and wisdom. $15 in advance; $20 at door.

7. The Romantic Walk Date

Paris and Florence aren’t the only great cities that boast scenic walks across romantic rivers. With 446 Pittsburgh bridges, we have lots to choose from when it comes to taking a picturesque walk. Start in Schenley Park and make your away across Schenley Bridge. Affirm your love by placing a Lock of Love on the bridge, or just enjoy the terms of endearment on the locks dangling from the fence.

The North Shore is also a charming walk. From Rivers Casino, past the Carnegie Science Center, Clemente Memorial Park and PNC Park to the Rachel Carson Bridge, there are lots of sweet spots for great photos. From 2 to 3 p.m. on February 14, stop by the Mattress Factory while in the neighborhood for the ARTLab “Stories of Love and Circus.” Feel the love in stories of how amazing circus feats have been accomplished through love and trust. Take a photo while walking a tight rope or swinging from a trapeze. Free with museum admission .Since Valentine’s Day conveniently falls on a Saturday this year, make an entire day of your celebration by meandering through the Strip District. Begin your date with an early morning breakfast at Pamela’s or DeLuca’s, then leisurely make your way down Smallman and Penn to pick up goodies at the produce stands, ethnic grocers, fish and meat counters, and sidewalk vendors. For a special gift, think outside the big red heart-shaped box at Mon Aimee Chocolat.

The locks on the Schenley Park bridge. Photo by Brian Cohen.
The locks on the Schenley Park bridge. Photo by Brian Cohen.

8. The Waterways Date

The natural element of water symbolizes emotion, so what better time to take a dinner cruise than on Valentine’s Day? Celebrate a night of romance complete with a buffet dinner, live music and twinkling city lights all around. Grab a cashmere wrap and snuggle tight together on the deck. Your love boat sails on Friday, February 13 and 
Saturday, February 14, 
from 7 to 10 p.m. (board at 6 p.m.). $65.Gatewayclipper.com.

9. The Cultural District Date

Taking in a performance in the Cultural District is always an appropriate date. George Bernard Shaw’s musical Pygmalion will have you humming “I Could Have Danced All Night” long after the show. [O’Reilly Theater, 412-316-1600.] The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre illustrates the transformative power of love in its full-length production of Beauty and the Beast with the music of Peter I. Tchaikovsky. [The Benedum, 412-281-0360]. The Cabaret at Theater Square keeps it light with the 1960′s comedy  Boeing Boeing—about a wannabe-Casanova with Italian, German and American fiancées, each a beautiful airline hostess with frequent “layovers.”

10. The Head Banger Date

If you’re up for something more raucous, why not grab your love and get the Led out? Stage AE hosts Zoso, The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience. More than a tribute band, Zoso embodies Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones in both spirit and talent. Spot-on stage personas coupled with astounding visuals are so compelling that this band is known for converting young-generations rockers into die-hard Zeppelin fans. Hopefully you’ll be humming Whole Lotta Love and not Heartbreaker the morning after your date. February 14, 6 to 8 p.m. $20. Call (412) 229-5483.

As a sidenote, we also must mention a trip to the Mattress Factory to visit the one of a kind James Turrell light installations. Plunge into darkness–only two allowed at a time–and spend long minutes in a room you cannot see to detect… something together.  It’s quite romantic in an artsy and fun way and not to be missed.

Lou Corsaro
Point Park University students  Jaz McKibben, left, Jordan Durham and Blaise Kepple will travel to South Africa later this year to film a documentary about the process of shark finning and how it is endangering the species. Photo Credit: Victoria A. Mikula/The Globe
Point Park University students (from left) Jaz McKibben, Jordan Durham and Blaise Kepple will take their cameras to South Africa later this year.
Photo: Victoria A. Mikula/The Globe

Three Point Park University students are traveling to South Africa later this year to film a documentary about shark finning, a controversial practice that has caused some species of the animal to reach the brink of extinction.

Cinema production sophomores Jordan Durham and Jaz McKibben and global studies freshman Blaise Kepple are trying to raising $10,000 to pay for their travel and camera gear. They have created a Kickstarter page titled “Rock Bottom: The Truth Behind Shark Finning.” The campaign closes Feb. 9.

The students will travel to Cape Town via GoEco, an organization created by experienced volunteers for people who want to travel while contributing to the community, wildlife and environment they experience on the trip. All three Point Park students will do volunteer work with great white sharks during their two- to four-week trip, which could take place as soon as May. They will assist scientists with shark tagging, beach cleanup and ecotourism, while recording the process in an effort to reduce the stigma sharks face, great whites in particular.

“The lack of care for these animals has made the species decline in numbers,” said Durham, who will act as producer and co-director. “In reality, sharks only kill about four people a year and, out of 500 species of sharks, only 12 are dangerous to humans.”

More than 70 million sharks are killed for their fins each year. Fishermen bring the shark onto the boat, cut off all its fins while still alive, then kick it back into the water, where it eventually drowns.

Durham will be the producer and co-director of the documentary, while McKibben will act as co-director and editor. Kebble will be the production manager. Learn more about Point Park University here. and read more about the student’s project at The Globe, the university’s student-run newspaper.


Powered by Laurie Bailey for NEXTPittsburgh.

Pittsburgh innovation studio Deeplocal created a new twist to the balloons and birthdays theme. Call it an inflated sense of selfie.

Combining the pop culture selfie craze and a birthday party staple, the Selfiebration Machine was designed and constructed by Deeplocal for Old Navy to honor the retailer’s 20th birthday. In October it made stops in New York City’s Times Square and near Los Angeles’ TCL Chinese Theater for eight hours at each location.

Selfies, sent by well-wishers via Twitter and captured by Deeplocal-designed software, were transformed into digitized photos made up of nearly 1,000 customized latex balloons on a 15-by-15-foot structure.

The balloons, divided among 16 identical “balloon boxes,” inflated simultaneously with each capture, thanks to almost five miles of wiring and a pneumatic valving system built by Deeplocal engineers, explains CEO Nathan Martin.

The device is capable of showing two images a minute.

“Fun is intrinsic to Old Navy’s DNA, and the smiles from the wonder and amazement were so rewarding. That said, the reaction in social really blew us away,” says Taylor Bux, director of digital/social for Old Navy.

Displaying about 2,000 images, last week’s participation far exceeded Deeplocal’s goals, says Martin.

“We generated 640 million impressions on Twitter alone; #selfiebration was used over 17 thousand times,” says Bux.

Concept through creation to going live took just eight weeks.

A mix of about 20 artists and engineers, Deeplocal began in 2006 when Martin, then a research fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, led mapping software research work. Since then Deeplocal has crafted concepts and the technology to produce national campaigns for the likes of Nike, Gap, Toyota and others.

“We come up with the ideas to generate news coverage and attention without the client paying for it to help promote the brand for the company,” says Martin.

And most projects, he says, are typically done for less than the cost of a television commercial.

A 2013 campaign for Google grabbed the attention of the Today Show, ESPN and more when the company designed a telepathic robotic pitcher with a vision system. The project allowed Nick LaGrande, a 13-year-old whose rare blood disease prevented him from being in crowds, to virtually pitch a ball through Google’s Fiber network from a studio in Kansas City to an Oakland A’s home game in California.


UPDATE: Parking will be FREE OF CHARGE in Pittsburgh Parking Authority lots on Friday, Nov. 28, Saturday, Nov. 29 and all Saturdays through Christmas to encourage shopping at downtown merchants. Learn more here.

Powered by Jennifer Baron for NEXTPittsburgh.

Get switched on to the holidays at Pittsburgh’s 54th Annual Light Up Night.

Presented by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) on Fri., Nov. 21st, the highly anticipated kick-off to the 2014 holiday season will feature a vibrant mix of time honored traditions along with brand new components and expanded programming spanning the Golden Triangle.

Discover the more festive side of Downtown Pittsburgh, from dusk to dark, with an entire evening of activities and events for all ages designed to showcase the city’s world-class holiday attractions and shopping. One of the country’s largest holiday celebrations, Light Up Night also ushers in full month of Downtown programming presented by the PDP.

The Christmas tree and skating rink in PPG Plaza.
The Christmas tree and skating rink in PPG Plaza.

Highlights include new components, additional family activities and an expanded lineup of entertainment spanning the event’s four Downtown stages.

Party on the Roberto Clemente Bridge, where the BNY Mellon New Music Stage will welcome national headliner, Cobra Starship, a dance-pop band based in New York City. Rocking over the Allegheny with some of Pittsburgh’s top emerging bands, the Clemente Bridge will also feature performances by Grand Piano and Donora, and an array of tasty treats. The picturesque locale also boasts prime viewing for Zambelli Internationale’s dazzling fireworks finale by, being launched from the adjacent Andy Warhol Bridge.

Looking for a good party spot? Over at the Northwest Savings Bank Stage at Smithfield Street, the crowds will rock out with headliner and local legends Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers who will be joined by special guest sax player and E Street Band member Eddie Manion, for a sneak peek at their upcoming Asbury Park concerts. Also rocking the Northwest Savings Bank Stage will be soul singer Billy Price and country rockers NOMaD. All that rock making you hungry? An added attraction to the Smithfield Street festivities will be the event’s Food Truck Roundup offering an eclectic selection of local eats.

Head to the Holiday Market Stage in Market Square, where the traditions of the season will really come to life. Count down with a guy in a red suit named Santa as he flips that giant switch, illuminating the dazzling BNY Mellon Season of Lights. Featuring more than140,000 lights and a 33-foot tall sphere tree, the choreographed, glittering wonderland will be synchronized to a new high-energy holiday medley and mini-concerts by Jeff Jimerson and Airborne.

Jazz fans should not miss the special homecoming of renowned trumpeter Sean Jones at the EQT Jazzmasters Stage in Katz Plaza. Newly appointed as Chair of the Brass Department at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Jones will be joined by legendary drummer Roger Humphries and vocalists Michele Bensen, Spanky Wilson and Anqwenique Wingfield.

It’s not a holiday without some shopping, and there’s no better place to find those stocking stuffers and special gifts than at the Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Market Square. New for 2014, the charming European-style holiday market will swing open its doors on Light Up Night featuring 30-plus vendors selling international and handcrafted gifts. While in Market Square, visit Santa’s downtown digs and enjoy live entertainment by local bands and performing arts groups.

If tree lighting is your favorite ritual, you’re in the right place. A full lineup of eight official tree lightings and ceremonies begins at noon, with the lighting of the tree at the City-County Building and the dedication of the US Steel Tower crèche, and then concludes at 7 p.m. with the lighting of Highmark Unity Tree followed by rooftop fireworks.

christmas market
Beeswax and honey items for sale at the Holiday Market.

Looking for indoor family-friendly programs? Visit One Oxford Centre for free indoor activities for children, including face painting, balloon art, sand art and caricatures, an exhibition of historic photos celebrating Pittsburgh during the winter season and live holiday music by The Rick Gallagher Trio. Visit with Santa Claus, see the lighting of a 30-foot tree and even take a free horse drawn carriage rides around the block!

For a VIP party experience, check out Light Up Night’s Blast, a special reception hosted by the PDP. VIPers will start at the Union Trust Building with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and music from 7 to 9 p.m., and will then watch the fireworks from an exclusive viewing area on the Clemente Bridge at 9:38 p.m. Limited tickets are available. (NEXTpittsburgh is a proud media sponsor.)

Be sure to pop into Downtown’s signature buildings and businesses, including Macy’s, Fifth Avenue Place and PPG Place, which will all host Light Up Night merry making, music and family activities.

Leigh White, with the PDP says that between 200,000 and 400,000 revelers are expected to attend this year’s edition of Light Up Night.



Powered by Leah Lizarondo for NEXTPittsburgh.

Graffiti. Wheatpastes. Stencils. Murals. Once renegade and considered urban blight, street art is now a cultural movement showcased in sold-out museum exhibitions and co-opted by brands from Adidas to Dolce & Gabbana.

We’re not talking about the aimless tagging that litters public and private spaces. Think instead of the more famous urban street artists, from Banksy and Basquiat, to Blek Le Rat and Espo.

Or locally think of Tim Kaulen, one of the most recognized street artists-turned-legit. His works–the iconic Deerhead at Carrie Furnaces and his classic Amaco Bulls–were among the first urban art fixtures in the city. Today, his commissioned work appears throughout the city, including  The Workers, a 20-foot sculpture honoring Pittsburgh’s heritage located along the South Side riverfront.

John Rodella rides by The Workers by Tim Kaulen. Photo by Tracy Certo.
John Rodella rides by The Workers by Tim Kaulen. Photo by Tracy Certo.

Our city’s architecture provides a rich canvas for artists—both authorized and transient. And there are some areas where the art is  so concentrated that it’s like walking through an outdoor gallery.

We spoke with Shannon of PGH Murals, street artists Jeremy Raymer and Shane Pilster and visited many neighborhoods with great street art. Here are some of the best places we’ve found and a good start to your Pittsburgh street art tour.

At the Carrie Furnace. Photo by Shane Pilster.
NSF Crew graf at the Carrie Furnace. Photo by Shane Pilster.

1. Carrie Furnace

In 2012, Shane Pilster, a San Francisco Bay native who moved to Pittsburgh over a decade ago, took a tour of the Carrie Furnace.  Pilster, who has been painting graffiti, marveled at the rich “collection” in the historic site—pieces by artists like Hert, Prism, Mfone, Necksi, Onorok, and 21Rak, to name a few. He convinced Ron Baraff, who directs the furnace’s archives, not only to preserve a few of the works but also to designate a couple of spaces for street artists to produce new ones.

Local artist Ryan Keene did this for the Alloy Pittsburgh show in 2013. Photo by Tracy Certo.
Ryan Keene for the Alloy Pittsburgh Show 2013 at the Carrie Furnace. Photo by Tracy Certo.

In these new walls, Pilster and artists like Kaff-eine have created work that is a sight to behold. Pilster holds Urban Art Tours and Workshops at the Carrie Furnace, a great immersive experience to get a broader understanding of street art’s culture and wide-ranging style.

Art by Kaff-eine. Photo by Jeremy Raymer.
Art by Kaff-eine. Photo by Jeremy Raymer.
Art by Matt Gondek. Photo by Jeremy Raymer
Art by Matt Gondek. Photo by Jeremy Raymer

2. Lawrenceville

Of course, uber-hip Lawrenceville makes the list. Start at Doughboy Square to check out Kaff-eine’s work on a boarded-up building.  It reflects the street artist ethos, says street artist Jeremy Raymer. “Note how she preserved a Shepard Fairey ‘Obey’ wheat paste by incorporating it in the creature standing.” Raymer’s work, both commissioned and otherwise, can be seen around the city, including the street art gallery on the walls of houses on 35th St. and 42nd St.  Don’t miss the“Exploding Homer” by Matt Gondek on Dresden Way between 54th and 55th St. PGH Murals lists 23 works in this area alone.

Art by Swoon. Photo by PGH Murals.
Art by Swoon. Photo by PGH Murals.

3. Braddock and North Braddock

With 33 works listed on PGH Murals, a street art tour is just one more reason to check out Braddock. Works by James Simon, Anthony Purcell, Kaff-eine, Swoon, and the 30 artists collective enliven the one square-mile town. Make sure you veer off Braddock Ave. to check out Lady Pink’s Brick Woman under the bridge on Library St. along with Maya Hayuk’s pattern on 809 Talbot Ave., and portraits of local residents by Swoon under the railroad on 505 Verona St.

Since you’re in the area, head over to North Braddock for a short stop. Street art royalty Swoon and the Transformazium art collective have taken over an old church in North Braddock to launch theBraddock Tiles project.  You can see some of her work outside the church, on 798 Hawkins Ave. including a super adobe structure at 714 Jones Ave.

4. The East Busway

At 5880 Centre Avenue on the Busway is one of the most detailed murals in the East End (see top photo).  “This mural is only visible from the busway or from Tay Way or College Ave where it wraps behind the Tokyo Japanese Food Market off Ellsworth Ave in Shadyside. It’s worth the effort to find a vantage point to see it,” notes PGH Murals. Multiple artists contributed to the work but Ashley Hodder’s Mother Nature image on the left is especially noteworthy for its breathtaking detail. Bring binoculars or a telephoto lens to catch every element that makes up this beautiful work.

And not to miss: On the busway’s North Homewood Ave. end, Hodder and other artists have created “Peace Over Pittsburgh” an exceptional mural under the overpass.

Various artists. Photos by PGH Murals.
Various artists. Photos by PGH Murals.

5. Wilkinsburg

Wilkinsburg may not have the most concentration of street art but it does have a great mix of murals and graffiti. Start at 1105 Franklin Ave. to see Lucas Stock’s and Kyle Holbrook’s graffiti-style mural,Wilkinzburg. Trace the busway route and go off on the side streets to catch other great work. Don’t miss 701 Wood St. where multiple artists including Colleen Black have covered five large walls and a gazebo. There is so much detail in this dense collection that you can spend hours just taking it all in.

Artist James Simon. Photo by PGH Murals.
Artist James Simon. Photo by PGH Murals.

6. Uptown

It’s no surprise that artist James Simon’s neighborhood is on this list. Simon’s work can be seen throughout the county, but along Forbes and the short expanse of Gist St. is a concentration of his work and that of his colleagues. Don’t miss the the whimsical Base Man with Moon and the toweringUrban Rhythm along Forbes Avenue. Exploring the street art is a good way to get acquainted with this up and coming neighborhood.

7. Oakland

Start your Oakland tour by checking out the Locks of Love on Schenley Park Bridge, modeled after a project in Paris. Couples can write their names on a lock and fix it to the chain-link fence to commemorate their love for each other. Then go on a scavenger hunt of sorts to spot some pink dinosaurs, protractors and the Doors of Oakland project.

Artist Unknown. Photo by PGH Murals.
Artist Unknown. Photo by PGH Murals.

Bonus: The Garfield Gators Mascot

This work is the only noncommissioned work on the PGH Murals site. And rightly so because it is a beautiful, site-specific work—once discovered, the developers on the site decided not to paint over it. The work is located along N. Pacific Ave at Kincaid St in Garfield and it will take some climbing to find it.  The location is about 2/10 of a mile walk from Penn Ave. on N. Evaline. It’s very much worth the hunt.

One of the best sources for street art maps in this city is PGH Murals. Founded by two avid cyclists who go by the names Shannon and Vannaver, the site is the most comprehensive map of legal street art in the city, an eye-opening collection that showcases some of the city’s hidden gems. Growing from 150 locations three years ago to more than 500 today,  it includes every commissioned public art, from the Sprout Fund murals we know and love to Shepard Fairey’s 20 sites from 2010, once vivid but now worn and familiar.

Street Art Pittsburgh is another online resource that maps some specific work like riot robots and pink dinosaurs, a good source for “non-commissioned” street art.

Got a favorite we didn’t mention? Feel free to comment below or email us.