I had the opportunity over the past nine months to participate in the Leadership Development Initiative (LDI), a program of Leadership Pittsburgh. Our class was asked to design and organize a PopUp! event – a temporary, low-cost initiative that has the ability to surprise, provoke and entertain in ways that change perceptions about the places where they occur. Ours was in the Mt. Washington neighborhood.
Early in the process, three core goals of the May 11 event were agreed upon: to introduce the city’s new Emerald View Park System; to engage Mt. Washington residents – particularly families – in the event; and to highlight the area’s vibrant business district. A consensus was reached to hold a 5K race and community day featuring a Wizard of Oz theme. I can’t say I entirely understand where the theme idea originated from, but it came to be, nonetheless.
Despite the less than perfect weather – actually, despite the terrible weather – the event was well received, well attended and the 5K course received glowing reviews for balancing some challenging stretches with flat sections. Quite a few runners expressed genuine surprise for how much the area’s roads had to offer for a race and for training runs.
An event like this doesn’t come together without the help of many individuals, groups and sponsors, far too many to list here, but the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation and the business community deserve special recognition for embracing the project; it could not have been successful without their support. And, of course, Aradhna Malhotra Oliphant, Kristen Freiss with Leadership Pittsburgh for making the experience possible and pushing for it to be meaningful.
Leadership Pittsburgh is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a diverse group of leaders to serve southwestern Pennsylvania, impact the community and act as catalysts for positive change in our region. It is now accepting applicants for the 2013-2014 Leadership Development Initiative class here.