Events

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Omni William Penn Hotel will no longer regularly feature Joe Negri; Local jazz fans really pissed

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 4:45 PM

Joe Negri - PHOTO BY ALEX ZIMMERMAN
  • Photo by Alex Zimmerman
  • Joe Negri
This Friday, April 24, will mark the last time Joe Negri fans will get a chance to catch him play his regular set at the Omni William Penn Hotel — a decision made by management that has angered some in the local jazz community.

"When he announced the gig was ending and it wasn’t by his choice  — and he’s being replaced by a DJ-turned-amateur-singer ... it just [felt] like this isn’t the way to treat Joe Negri,” says Michelle Kienholz, a fan who has regularly attended his shows at the Omni Downtown. She's encouraging supporters to attend his last show in solidarity. He'll perform with pianist Daniel May from 5 to 7 p.m.

Negri, who has played at the hotel once a month for five years, is a renowned classical guitarist who co-starred as "Handyman Negri" on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

Negri says that hotel management approached him about two weeks ago and said they "wanted to change the music format, try some different things. It kind of came out of the blue."

"They treated me pretty well for a long time," the 88-year-old Negri adds, surmising they "might be looking to go for a younger crowd.”

Bob Page, the Omni's director of sales and marketing, says the decision to end Negri's residency was made to "freshen things up."

"We just needed to make a change in entertainment for a little bit of variety to stimulate some additional business," he says, adding Negri may still be invited to play special events. "Joe has always been very respected by this hotel. It’s a little frustrating that people are making this out to be a negative thing.”

Page would not say who the hotel planned to book as entertainment down the road, but Carlton Leeper, a local DJ and vocalist who performs jazz, R&B and pop, confirmed he will start performing at the Omni in May, two Fridays a month.

"We’re catching flak for this," Leeper says, noting he had no idea the hotel was ending Negri's residency when Leeper auditioned. People have approached him to encourage him not to take the job, Leeper says, but he's planning to honor the commitment, because "whether we do it or not, someone’s [doing] the gig."

The hotel's move puzzled Tania Grubbs, who is a vocalist and helps organize jazz concerts offered Wednesday through Saturday at Downtown's Fairmont Hotel. “There are people that are really pissed off, because they see it as a nice thing in our jazz community that’s gone," Grubbs says. "Joe is a national treasure. ... I think it might be a little shortsighted on their behalf to eliminate him from their lineup."

Regardless, she adds, “Friday, that lobby will be packed.”

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Pittsburgh's p4 Summit Touts Sustainability, Leaves Issues Unexplored

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 5:13 PM

Yesterday’s kickoff of the big p4 Pittsburgh summit got a lot of mileage out of this familiar Einstein quote: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.”

Andre Heinz speaks at the p4 Pittsburgh summit - PHOTO BY BILL O'DRISCOLL
  • Photo by Bill O'Driscoll
  • Andre Heinz speaks at the p4 Pittsburgh summit
This international symposium organized by the City of Pittsburgh and the Heinz Endowments was meant to herald “a major effort to forge a new model of urban growth and development that is innovative, inclusive and sustainable,” according to press materials. It drew about 200 civic leaders, designers and architects, construction types and more to the Energy Innovation Center to hear speakers from around the country and the world.

The p’s in the title referred to “planet, people, place and performance.” The Einstein quote showed up on the summit website and in at least a couple of yesterday’s talks. (The symposium continued today.) But just how different was the thinking there?

A bit — but only to a point.

I saw three of yesterday’s four sessions, including the first 20 of the day’s 28 speakers. The tone was upbeat, including boosterish welcomes from the Endowments’ Andre Heinz — a clean-tech investor as well as a philanthropist — and Mayor Bill Peduto. “Welcome to the next chapter of Pittsburgh,” said Peduto. “This is a stage for Pittsburgh to get back on the global scene.”

Speakers explored how cities — now home to most of the world’s population globally, and the source of almost all its greenhouse-gas production — can strive to become more livable and less energy-intensive. That’s a transition to which Pittsburgh is “incredibly suited,” said Hal Harvey, of San Francisco-based consultancy Energy Innovation. In the context of redesigning cities, his argument included the interesting thought that “society demands access, not mobility” — meaning, basically, that you can avoid road infrastructure and cars if you build stuff close enough together.

Christer Larsson, planning director for Malmo, Sweden, discussed that city’s newly built climate-neutral district, which claims to have no net effect on the greenhouse-gas emissions that drive climate change. The whole city plans to go climate-neutral by 2030, Larsson said. (Sweden was heavily repped at the summit thanks to Andre Heinz’ ties there.)


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Steel City Slam-Off Tonight at Union Project

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 10:22 AM

Tonight’s the night the top-ranked slam poets in town compete to rep Pittsburgh at the National Poetry Slam, this August in Oakland, Calif.

The Pittsburgh Poetry Collective's Grand Slam, at the Union Project, features 13 competitive poets including Victoria Shineman, Adriana Ramirez, Jesse Welch, Tera McIntosh, Mo Christ and many more.

Tickets are $10-15 ($8 for students) and are available here.

Doors open at 7 p.m. The event is BYOB with limited free drinks and food available.

The Union Project is located at 801 N. Negley Ave., in Highland Park.

Also of note: Next Tuesday, the Poetry Collective launches its Summer Slam Series, with cash prizes for poetry at Capri Pizzeria and Bar, at 6001 Penn Ave., in East Liberty. The series continues every Tuesday. The cover is $5. More info is here.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

“Great Debate” on gender-pay gap tonight

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 11:15 AM

Another one of those glaring social inequities nobody’s fixed is the pay gap between men and women — even at the upper echelons of nonprofit organizations, where women have long played key roles. Research shows that in that sector, as elsewhere, women make about 74 cents on the dollar of mens’ pay, CEO level included.

Tonight, Robert Morris University’s Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management hosts a fundraiser titled “The Great Debate,” with local business and opinion leaders contending over whether “nonprofits have more important priorities than addressing pay equity.”

Debaters include: Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation; RMU professor of management Daria C. Crawley; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ruth Ann Dailey; Dutch MacDonald, president and CEO of MAYA Design; and Erin Molchany, who is Southwest Pennsylvania director for Gov. Tom Wolf.

The emcee is Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and the moderator is Penina Leiber, a partner at law firm Dinsmore & Shohl.

Today is “Equal Pay Day” — the day until which the average woman must work in order to make the same pay that a man in the same job made the previous year. Raising awareness of this issue has been a mission of the Bayer Center in recent years.

The audience will vote on the proposition both before and after the debate.

The Great Debate event runs 5:30-8 p.m. at the Twentieth Century Club, 4201 Bigelow Blvd., in Oakland.

Tickets to this fundraiser are $74 and include two drink tickets and plentiful hors d’ouevres before the debate. 

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Audra McDonald Concert Rescheduled for May 11

Posted By on Fri, Apr 10, 2015 at 3:47 PM

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Due to an unexpected scheduling change, the Broadway star Audra McDonald's show originally slated for next Wednesday has been postponed until May 11.

The change was announced this past Tuesday, which was after press time for the City Paper issue that included a preview item on the show.

The six-time Tony-winning singer and actress's benefit concert for the Hill House will still take place at the Byham Theater.

Tickets are $62.75 to 133.75 and are available here.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Key Obama Campaign Consultant Speaks at Hill House Tomorrow

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 1:40 PM

Michael Slaby, who guided online and social-media strategies in both of Barack Obama’s presidential runs, speaks tomorrow night as part of the Green Building Alliance’s Inspire Speakers Series.

Michael Slaby
  • Michael Slaby
Joining him are Debra Lam, chief innovation & performance officer for the City of Pittsburgh, and emcee Andrew Butcher, co-founder and CEO of Pittsburgh’s G-TECH strategies.

Slaby is a consultant who uses technology and social media to address social challenges. In addition to Obama for America, Slaby has worked for organizations including F*ck Cancer, LiveStrong, and Bright Pink, and for the United Nations and the U.S. State Department. Currently, he is a managing partner of Timshel, a new company.

The GBA, which promotes more sustainable architecture and construction practices, says Slaby’s talk will address how to “inspire a diverse and inclusive movement to transform our region into a thriving place from the ground up.”

Also speaking is Lam, a Pittsburgh native with an international resume that 
Debra Lam
  • Debra Lam
includes stints in New York, China and the U.K. She has worked as a project manager and policy consultant at Arup, a global consulting and design firm, and has done strategy work with clients including the World Bank. In her current position, she works to make city government more efficient, open, transparent and responsive.

The event takes place from 5-8 p.m. tomorrow at the Hillman Auditorium. The Hill House is located at 1825 Centre Ave., in the Hill District.

Tickets are $20 and are available here. The evening includes beer, wine and food as well as networking opportunities.

Other Inspire Speakers Series co-sponsors include Chatham University and Sustainable Pittsburgh.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Anti-Death-Penalty Activist Henderson Hill Speaks Tomorrow at University of Pittsburgh

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM

The executive director of The 8th Amendment Project speaks on Pitt’s campus tomorrow night (March 26).

Henderson Hill’s talk is titled "Broken Beyond Repair: Pennsylvania Illuminates the Nation's Abandonment of the Death Penalty. It comes in the wake of Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent suspension of capital punishment here.

Hill, based in North Carolina, is a former public defender in Washington, D.C., and former executive director of the Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina. He also founded the Center for Death Penalty Litigation.

Hill's talk is sponsored by groups including Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, the National Lawyers’ Guild, the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Amnesty International Pittsburgh Group 39.

The talk, which is free, takes place at 7 p.m. in Room 109 of the Barco Law Building, 3900 Forbes Ave., in Oakland.

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Jeanne Theoharis speaks about Rosa Parks book today at Carnegie Mellon

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 10:13 AM

Jeanne Theoharis - PHOTO BY TOM MARTINEZ
  • Photo by Tom Martinez
  • Jeanne Theoharis
Often called the “first lady of civil rights,” the popular image of Rosa Parks is that of a quiet seamstress whose refusal to give up her seat on a bus helped end public segregation.

However, Jeanne Theoharis challenges this image of Parks in her new book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, which received a 2014 NAACP Image Award.

As part of Carnegie Mellon’s annual Margaret Morrison Distinguished Lecture in Women’s History, Theoharis recalls Parks’ political philosophy and six decades of social justice work, rebuking the image of a quiet one-off protestor.

Theoharis reveals a woman who had a history of being rebellious, and how this rebellious nature impacted years of unjust social practice. Gwen Ifill of PBS Newshour has praised Theoharis for “giving us a valuable framework for understanding the present and future.”

The New York Times describes Theoharis’ Rosa Parks, “as much Malcolm X as she is Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Theoharis, who is the author of several other books about the civil rights movement and contemporary race politics, will speak at 4:30 p.m. today following a short reception.

The free talk will be given in the Giant Eagle Auditorium, room A51 of Baker Hall at Carnegie Mellon, located at 1098 Morewood Ave., Oakland.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Memorial this Sunday for those who died homeless

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 11:47 AM




  • Wall of bronze plaques commemorating those who died while homeless - PHOTO BY CHUCK AUSTIN, COURTESY OF OPERATION SAFETY NET AND PITTSBURGH MERCY HEALTH SYSTEM
    • Photo by Chuck Austin, courtesy of Operation Safety Net and Pittsburgh Mercy Health System
    • Wall of bronze plaques commemorating those who died while homeless

Under a busy highway overpass, a wall of 138 bronze plaques is about to grow by six.

This Sunday evening, at Fort Pitt Boulevard and Grant Street, social service workers, members of the general public and homeless people will gather Downtown to mourn the six who died homeless on the county's streets this year.

The plaques, which bear the phrase "we remember", memorialize each homeless person who has died countywide since 1989.

The candlelight memorial service is organized by Operation Safety Net, an organization that helps provide medical care to the homeless through the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System.


  • PHOTO BY CHUCK AUSTIN, COURTESY OF OPERATION SAFETY NET AND PITTSBURGH MERCY HEALTH SYSTEM
    • Photo by Chuck Austin, courtesy of Operation Safety Net and Pittsburgh Mercy Health System

"We’ve been getting a better and better showing every year," says Stephanie Chiappini, a program manager at Operation Safety Net who organizes the service. "It always amazes me the people who show up — the people from the community who come just to pay homage."

The vigil has been an annual tradition since 1998 and coincides with National Homeless Persons Memorial Day on December 21, the longest night of the year. More than 150 other cities are expected to participate.

In the back of her mind, Chiappini is hoping for bad weather.

Being out in the elements without shelter, "You start to realize that’s every day, every moment for a lot of people. Just having a roof over your head is a major advantage in terms of staying healthy."

The memorial service, which will run from 7-7:30 p.m., will include brief remarks, a reading of the names, a musical selection and a prayer.

Members of the public are invited to attend and are encouraged to donate new men's and women's gloves, boots and thermal underwear, which will go to an emergency severe weather shelter. Donations to support the shelter and Operation Safety Net can be made here.

Stephanie Chiappini (left) and Dr. Jim Withers (right) - PHOTO BY CHUCK AUSTIN, COURTESY OF OPERATION SAFETY NET AND PITTSBURGH MERCY HEALTH SYSTEM
  • Photo by Chuck Austin, courtesy of Operation Safety Net and Pittsburgh Mercy Health System
  • Stephanie Chiappini (left) and Dr. Jim Withers (right)






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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oral-History Projects Marks Book Release Tonight

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 2:50 PM

The 2014 Crossing Fences Project holds a free event to mark the release of its multimedia booklets documenting a program that had 47 African-American boys and young men gathering the stories of 34 black men ages 21 to 78.

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The program, which engaged participants from Wilkinsburg, East Liberty and Sto-Rox, was run by SLB Radio Productions, with backing from the Heinz Endowments African American Men and Boys Initiative and other supporters.

The open-house-style event tonight, at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, is a chance to meet with and hear the stories of the participants.

The event is free and so are the booklets.

The City-Wide Celebration of Crossing Fences runs from 6-8 p.m. at the Children’s Museum. The Museum is located at 10 Children’s Way, on the North Side.

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