"We’re spoiled in Pittsburgh being so close to the rivers.”
When Julie Throckmorton was growing up in Beaver County just northeast of Pittsburgh, the rivers were places to be avoided, so completely were they associated with the region’s industrial past.
Fast-forward a few decades, and those rivers are shimmering destinations for tens of thousands of local and visiting outdoors enthusiasts, including Julie and her family. From her weekly crack-of-dawn paddles with Venture Outdoors along the Allegheny to walks with her daughter, Celia, at the confluence of the Ohio and Beaver rivers at Rochester Waterfront Park, outdoor offerings are among her favorite things about the region. “We love the parks and especially the waterfronts. We spend as much time there as we can. We’re spoiled in Pittsburgh being so close to the rivers.”
An ethno-musicologist by training, Julie wrote her master’s thesis on the music of the Italian and Greek communities of Ambridge. While not certain she would return to the Pittsburgh area after earning her master’s degree, she landed a consulting job with the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, located in Homestead. That eventually became permanent, and for nearly a decade Julie helped to preserve and celebrate the music and visual arts of the immigrants who flocked to jobs in the southwestern Pennsylvania’s storied mills during the 19th and 20th centuries.
For several years Julie and husband Dan Meunier, percussionist and music educator in Mount Lebanon, lived in Pittsburgh’s Stanton Heights. “It was a great location: lots of places to jog, close to Highland Park, convenient to our work. Once we had achild, though, I wanted to be closer to my family. “
Now in Baden, Julie’s family is within a five-mile radius and keen to help out. And she has the opportunity to watch Celia grow and learn in the same environment that she did. “It’s fun to take her to the Baden Memorial Library, to have her in the same place that I used to love – and have her sometimes check out the very same books I borrowed as a child.”
Dan added teaching in nearby New Brighton to his docket, while Julie’s day job now is at Washington & Jefferson College in the town of Washington, Washington County. Along with using the grant-writing skills she honed at the Rivers of Steel, she has helped to renew and strengthen ties between the college and the town of Washington. She recently has been part of the Strengthening Communities Partnership, a regional initiative to help small municipalities access capital for development. Julie assisted the town and other stakeholders to get started on a proposal to secure funding for several community improvement projects. “It’s great to be able to help not just the college but the community to succeed.”