Alison Treaster

For the first time in history, a team of athletes comprised entirely of refugees is competing in the Olympic games. Ten athletes from Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Ethiopia comprise the official Refugee Olympic Team. The International Olympic Committee formed the team to protect athletes who were forced to flee their home countries due to international crises. Displacement from their homes leaves them without a national Olympic committee to support them, without a flag to wear on their chests, without an anthem to play on the podium following their hoped-for victories. In 2016, these athletes reflect the unity represented by the Olympics rings as they compete in swimming, judo and various track and field events. Learn more about these incredible athletes here.

Once again, the Olympics has provided common ground for athletes to represent their countries and for fans to show their national pride by embracing the diversity while uniting through sports. Perhaps those of us watching can carry forward that notion of common ground and be mindful of the contributions of the individuals we encounter daily in our cities, our workplaces and among our neighbors.

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NEXTpittsburgh

Powered by NEXTpittsburgh / Brian Conway

From massive stadium shows to neighborhood-spanning festivals, August has something for everybody. Here’s a closer look at some of the more notable concerts in Pittsburgh in August:

August starts off slowly, with a pair of golden-voiced crooners, Josh Groban and Sarah McLachlan, headlining First NiagaraAugust 2. Former American Idol contestant Phillip Phillips visits Stage AE that same night, with support from singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson. Vancouver indie punk act White Lung headlines Club Cafe August 3. (Their new album, Paradise, earned Pitchfork‘s vaunted “Best New Music” designation.) Thursday, August 4, Coldplay comes to town to play Consol, their first Pittsburgh visit since 2009. Chris Martin and co. are touring in support of A Head Full of Dreams, their seventh studio album. A pair of female singer/songwriters, Alessia Cara and Foxes (Louisa Allen), open.

Pittsburgh regulars O.A.R. headline an outdoor show at Stage AE August 5, almost a year to the day they played PNC Park. That same night, country superstar Brad Paisley visits First Niagara. Opening for Paisley are Tyler Farr and Maddie & Tae, best known for their single “Girl in a Country Song,” which pokes fun at stereotypical portrayals of women in country music songs. Also, singer-songwriter Jasmine Tate returns home for an intimate show at the Pittsburgh Winery.

On Saturday, August 6, party like a Rox star at the free McKees Rocks Feastival. This year’s headliners include a pair of Brooklyn-based funk bands, Turkuaz and Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, as well as another funk band,Dumpstaphunk, from New Orleans. There will be nearly 20 food trucks on hand, plus the I Made It! Market and an arts and crafts area for the little ones. And be sure to check out the free after-party at the Rex Theater later that evening.

Otherwise, don’t miss Baltimore indie rock duo Wye Oak at Club Cafe, touring in support of their June release, Tween, which has been landing better reviews than their previous album, probably because they brought back their guitars for this one.

The weekend wraps up with Relapse Records artist Nothing at Cattivo August 7. The Philly shoegaze/post-rock outfit churns out wave after wave of atmospheric guitar fuzz, perfect for fans of Slowdive, Whirr, or MBV.

Things pick up the second week of August, beginning August 9 with the grit and boogie of Brooklyn’s Broncho at Club Cafe, bolstered by openers Nevada Color. For even more fuzzed-out guitars head to Spirit for The Ghost Wolves, a garage-rock duo from Austin. There’s also a sold out performance by Halsey at Stage AE that same night.

The next day, August 10, includes a performance by Kesha and The Creepies. According to Rolling Stone, the pop superstar will use the seven-date tour to premiere “dirty rock & roll and country music,” including, she says, “songs you’ve never heard me play before and I may never play again.” The show is sold-out except for VIP packages.

That same night, the Prince of the City, Wiz Khalifa, performs with hip-hop’s favorite OG uncle, Snoop Dogg. Also on the bill are Kevin Gates, Jhené Aiko, Casey Veggies, and DJ Drama. Snoop is scheduled for an appearance at Diesel after the First Niagara gig, but odds are it won’t be much more than a brief appearance, like when 50 Cent stopped by to promote his vodka.

On August 11, metalcore favorites Killswitch Engage open for Danish metal band Volbeat at Stage AE. It’s also day one of1Hood Day, Pittsburgh’s annual hip-hop festival, organized by 1Hood Media. Day one features a dozen up-and-coming musicians and rappers, while day two (hosted by David Banner!) features performances by some of 1Hood’s most well-known performers of conscious hip-hop, including, Idasa Tariq, Blak Rapp Madusa, and Jasiri X. The event takes place atAnthony Rivers Park in East Liberty.

Speaking of local festivals, August 12 is day one for RANT, the Rock All Night Tour. “It’s a true showcase of what this city has to offer in the world of live music,” says event organizer, Mary Jo Coll. Now in its fifth year, over 200(!) local acts will play at 30+ venues in and around Lawrenceville, all for free. August 12 is also the kick-off for the three-day Heritage Bluesfest in Wheeling, West Virginia, featuring Shemekia Copeland, Butch Trucks, and many more.

If you’re somehow up for more music that weekend, consider seeing America at Jergel’s August 13, or The Bronx at Club Cafe August 14. The Cali punk band moonlights as Mariachi El Bronx, and you can catch them at Club Cafe the very next night, with support from Homeless Gospel Choir.

Also August 14, head to Allentown’s RE360 Warehouse to celebrate Black Forge Coffee House’s first anniversary. The pay-what-you-can event includes the debut of a collaborative cold brew mead with Apis Mead & Winery, burlesque from Kat De Lac, comedy from Matt Light, and live music from Dethlehem, Homeless Gospel Choir, and a rare performance from Molasses Barge.

On August 15, in addition to Mariachi El Bronx, there is a performance by dreamy Cali pop outfit Best Coast at Mr. Smalls. This is the duo’s first ever headlining gig in Pittsburgh; their only other stop in town was opening for Green Day in 2013.Stargazer Lilies open. Kinks-inspired garage rock band The Mystery Lights also have a gig the 15th, at Lawrenceville’s Spirit.

Ted Nugent roars into town August 16 for a night at Stage AE, but the biggest concert of the month happens August 17, when two of the biggest hip-hop artists on the planet, Drake and Future, perform at Consol Energy Center. The tour kicked off July 20 in Austin, where the 6 God performed a staggering 50-song set (on top of another 25+ from Future). The Austin show, of course, included a six-song encore with Future and Drake trading off on tracks from their collaborative mixtape,What A Time to Be Alive. If you don’t like Drake (?!), you can instead catch prog-rock legends Yes perform their Drama and . . .Topographic Ocean albums in their entirety.

Gov’t Mule returns to town August 18 at Stage AE for their Smokin’ Mule Summer Tour, with support from Blackberry Smoke. August 19 marks the kickoff of the three-day Skullfest. In true punk fashion venues still haven’t been determined, but more than 50 local and national bands are already scheduled to perform, including Wolf Eyes, Belgrado (Spain), and EEL.

On August 20Blues Traveler headlines a rare quadruple bill at Stage AE, including performances by The Wallflowers, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Howie Day. Across town, at the Rex Theater, the “King of Surf Guitar,” Dick Dale, who continues to tour at age 79 to pay for thousands of dollars of monthly medical expenses.

Club Cafe welcomes The Delta Saints August 22. The Nashville band plays “Bourbon-fueled Bayou-Rock” that’s part-blues, part-Southern roots rock. For a true taste of the South, come back to Club Cafe August 23 for Buckwheat Zydeco. Or, venture down East Carson a few blocks to catch sludge metal legends the Melvins at the Rex Theater, their first stop in town in over three years. Their new album, Basses Loaded, is the band’s 21st studio album. It features contributions from six different bassists as well as a gnarly cover of The Beatles’ “I Want to Tell You.”

On August 25, the inimitable Brian Wilson performs at the Benedum. The Beach Boys leader is on tour (with Al Jardine!) to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Pet Sounds, which many critics regard as the greatest album . . . ever? Expect to hear Pet Sounds from start to finish alongside other Beach Boy classics.

For more classic rockers, catch David Crosby at the Palace in Greensburg August 26. That’s the same day alt-country/folk singer William Elliott Whitmore headlines at the Rex.

August ends on a strong note. First, Odd Future kingpin Tyler, the Creator visits Stage AE August 28, with an opening set from Taco. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Blink 182 (minus Tom DeLonge) headlines First Niagara the same evening, with support from A Day To Remember and All Time Low.

Finally, the face of modern blues rock and one of the best young guitar players today, Gary Clark Jr., headlines Stage AE August 30.

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Alison Treaster

For decades, the Pittsburgh region has been a haven for refugees fleeing violence and oppression in their home countries. Refugee families, children and individuals have put down roots in southwestern Pennsylvania with the help of local resettlement agencies, religious organizations and nondenominational groups. Today, our region is dotted with vibrant communities of hard-working Bhutanese, Bosnian, Burmese, Congolese, Iraqi, Somali, Sudanese and Syrian refugees, among others.

While adapting to a new home with different languages and customs is difficult even in the best of circumstances, refugees positively contribute to the Pittsburgh community in a variety of ways. On June 17, Pittsburgh’s World Refugee Day in Market Square celebrated those contributions with musical and dance performances, as well as “Refugee Voices” presentations and food and fares from the local communities.

WRD_Poster_2016Who are refugees? A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. While returning home is often a goal, many refugees spend years in temporary camps in third countries before either returning home or being approved for resettlement in an adopted country. Their plight has been brought to wider public attention over the past year as conflict in Syria and ongoing violence around the world has forced more than 15 million people to flee their country of origin. The United Nations’ Refugee Agency calls this the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Through it all, Pittsburgh has remained a welcoming city. Thanks to the tireless efforts of various organizations, our region continues to help more than 500 refugees create homes here each year. The U.S. refugee process is grueling and typically takes years. Refugees remain among the most highly vetted population to enter our country, undergoing screenings by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and one-on-one interviews abroad before they may be approved to enter the United States.

For more information or to help refugees in the Pittsburgh region, contact a local refugee resettlement agency such as  AJAPOCatholic CharitiesJewish Family & Children’s Services or the Northern Area Multi-Service Center.

little nav imageAre you new to Pittsburgh? Are you new to the United States? Are you looking for ways to succeed in the region as an immigrant or refugee? Are you trying to understand the new system and lifestyle? If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider attending the free, first-ever Navigating Pittsburgh Summit on from 9 a.m .to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8 at the Heinz History Center in the Strip District.

Those who have recently moved to the area, especially refugees and immigrants from medium to low-income, are invited to register and attend this event in order to acclimate themselves to their new home. In order to accommodate the language needs of refugees and immigrants, workshops will be interpreted into Nepali, Portuguese, and Spanish. Attendees are asked to pre-register on the Navigating Pittsburgh website. Transportation shuttles will be available from several neighborhoods. Free refreshments and child care will also be offered.

The day-long event will feature workshops on several topics focused on five main pillars: civic knowledge, education, financial capability, health and wellness, and community engagement. Local professionals from both the public and private sectors will present on the areas of their expertise and answer questions. Attendees will also be able to speak directly to representatives from several local resources, such as the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Consumer Health Coalition and agencies participating in the Immigrant Service and Connections (ISAC) program. “This event was created with the needs of immigrants and newcomers in mind. It also demonstrates the commitment of organizations and affinity groups in the region, to welcome immigrants and help them succeed,” said Jesabel Rivera-Guerra, chair of Navigating Pittsburgh.

After identifying the need for newcomers across the board, a collaborative, centralized event for new arrivals to the area to connect to a wide array of needs was born. Navigating Pittsburgh was created by board members of Casa San Jose, a social service agency that works with Latino immigrants. “Navigating Pittsburgh is a concrete expression of welcoming those who are new to our region and providing them with tools to promote their integration and self-sufficiency,” said Sister Janice Vanderneck, executive director of Casa San José. Donations will benefit the work of Casa San Jose.

This event at the Heinz History Center will be a unique opportunity to discover Pittsburgh while you connect with key people that will help you transform from a newcomer to a successful contributor to the community, and to achieve your goals – whatever they may be. Learn more at NavigatingPgh.com.

Thanks to our valued sponsors and collaborators, including: 

Vibrant Pittsburgh / Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh / Casa San José / Latin American Cultural Union / 

Highmark BCBS / Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project / PPG Paints

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Written by Janna Leyde

Pups wanna get out and about. Take our four-month-old Golden Retriever puppy, for example. She will tear up and down stairs. She will run circles after her tail. She would do Parkour in our living room if we let her. When we take her off her leash outside she goes crazy. Good crazy. But we live in the city of Pittsburgh and unlike my parents’ Golden Retriever who has nearly 40 acres to romp in, Mae Belle has a tightly controlled reign of the sidewalks.

So we went in search of off-leash places to play and we happily discovered that Pittsburgh is a pooch-friendly place. From green spaces to PNC Park, there are lots of things for dogs to do on or off leash.

jannas-dog-in-fountain
Author Janna Leyde with Mae at Point State Park. Oops!

Although dogs are welcome in most city parks and green spaces on a leash, there are several designated dog areas in city parks where you can take your pup for some fun off-leash playtime:

Frick Park was the first park in the city to have an off-leash exercise area (OLEA). Dogs run free in two fenced-in areas near Blue Slide Playground and pup and owner can meander the trails for a nature experience. Take Tranquil Trail, which winds through the valley and along the creek, crossing at a place where your dog can splash around. If a cool down in the shallow water isn’t enough, go for a dip at Hot Dog Damn—the swimming hole just for dogs—located near Lower Tranquil Trail.

Riverview Park has a fenced in OLEA that sits on the hill just below the Allegheny Observatory. Not only can your canine friend run free here, but there are hills for running up and down and trees for circling. It’s a great workout for both of you. You can also head off down one of the trails and follow it deep into the woods where the many birds, deer and squirrels will provide entertainment for your four-legged friend. You might even run into a horse and rider.

Located on 25 rolling acres of Franklin Park is Misty Pines Dog Park, and it’s well worth the $6 per dog to play for an hour or two. Playground areas abound—specific for big dogs, small dogs and even one for puppies. And for those canines itching to get wet, let them run off the dock and jump into the dog pond. Along with dog training, pet boarding, doggie daycare and grooming services, Misty Pines will rent out spaces if you want to throw your dog a party.

Venture up to Olympia Park on Mount Washington for some higher elevation exercise. Following a controversial decision on where to relocate the dog park, there is a newly re-opened and fenced-in dog run. If your dog has excess energy to burn, choose one of the trails nearby.

The Carnegie Dog Park recently underwent improvements thanks to an Eagle Scout project. This long, grassy fenced-in area is ideal for throwing and retrieving and you’ll find plenty of balls left behind for that purpose. Trees provide shade for owners who often congregate as they watch their dogs run around and the park beyond is good for walking your dog. Check out the very cool Pitcher Park, one of the best skateboarding parks around.

Readers weighed in to offer more suggestions: Bellevue DogsWoods Park in Bellevue Memorial Park is much loved by residents and others and they offer Small Dog Social on Sunday afternoons. According to their Facebook page, the park features open areas for dogs to run and play, as well as naturally wooded areas, a separate area for small dogs (under 25 lbs.), a small pond and a small agility course.

There’s an off leash, unfenced area in Allegheny Commons near the Aviary. In Monroeville there’s Heritage Dog Park, a “very large fully fenced area with shaded areas” located at 2364 Saunders Station Road, Monroeville. The park offers water, benches, chairs and picnic tables. In Bridgeville, check out Fairview Park for off-leash frolicking.

It should be noted that you cannot let your pup run free at Point State Park but for any creature who likes to people watch, there’s plenty to see such as boats, runners, boot-campers, Segway tours, and, of course, other dogs. On a hot day, sit near the fabulous fountain and catch a misty breeze to cool off. Dogs love it!

Ponds and hikes aside, if your pup needs some grass and all you need is a bench, there are plenty of places to go. Hartwood Acres is another county dog park, like South Park, that has a large area, pick-up bags, and in the warmer months, a water pump. The Bernard Dog Run in Lawrenceville, the result of a four-year community effort to open an off-leash area, has separate large and small dog spaces and can be accessed off the riverfront trail under the 40th Street Bridge.

South Park Dog Park is a popular spot with drinking water, pick up bags and benches. And you’ve got 200 acres throughout the park to roam with your dog on leash. If—ok, when—your dog gets dirty, stop in at nearby Woody’s Dog Wash & Boutique for a self-service dog bath.

Get to the doggie amusement park. The dog stop in the East End Dog Stop is the one with the water park. The 17,000-square-foot facility has a dog day care, a kennel, grooming services, a retail store and an outdoor space with a pond, water wall and special anti-microbial turf, or what we call grass. There are now six Dog Stops in the city. “We also pride ourselves on the sizes of our inside doggie daycare play yards,” says Jennifer Ferris-Glick, owner of one Pittsburgh location. “They are like a supervised, indoor, off-leash park.”

stephan bontrager with ginger
Stephan Bontrager of Riverlife with Ginger at the Hotel Monaco. Photo: Tracy Certo/NEXTpittsburgh

Stay at a swanky hotel. Yep, the new Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh is pet friendly. You and your four-legged companion can enjoy the luxury of this cool and chic hotel, from the funky furnishings in the upper lounge to the rooms with dog bowls (we want one!) and dog beds. There’s no restriction on pet size so your Bernese Mountain Dog is just as welcome as that tiny Yorkie. Fill out the required pet registration when you check in to help the hotel staff provide the proper accommodations for you and your dog. (Note: NEXTpittsburgh has tested it and they’re great with dogs. Ours can’t wait to return.)

Root for the home team. Every Tuesday night the Pirates play at home is Pup Night at PNC Park when dog lovers and Buccos fans take over a portion of the upper deck. A $30 Pup Night ticket (a portion of the proceeds go toward local animal shelters) gets you a seat and one for your pup, too, plus endless treats, bottomless water bowls, a clean-up crew and a paw-friendly kiddie pool. Dogs are actually permitted to sit next to their owner in the seats. Hey, some dogs really get into Pirate baseball.

Cool Off. Summer gets hot around here, so it’s no wonder that kids and dogs alike seek out ways to get wet. The verdict is out on whether kids and dogs are allowed to play in the Water Steps on the North Shore; however, pass by on a hot day and you’ll some splashing around. Another hot cool down spot is the South Shore Riverfront Park at SouthSide Works where you’ll find lots of smiling folks watching their dogs enjoy the misters embedded in the trails on the river side of Hofbrauhaus.

DINING OUT

There are quite a few restaurants with outdoor seating that happily welcome dogs, sometimes with treats. So sit down and have a meal or a drink or with your BFF (Best Furry Friend).

Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle — The Strip District
Grist House Brewing — Millvale
Redfin Blues — Washington’s Landing
Legends of the North Shore — North Side
Double Wide Grill — South Side
Diamond Market Bar & Grill — Downtown
Cappy’s Cafe — Shadyside

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Bonnie Pfister

Café Con Leche, an innovative nonprofit startup that celebrates and promotes Latino culture in Pittsburgh, is running at full tilt this month with un montón of events at Assemble Gallery on Penn Avenue in Garfield.

Free and open to the public Mondays through Saturdays is Aqui (“Here”) an exhibition of paintings, photographs, collages, screen prints and drawings curated by artist and educator Maritza Mosquera, an Ecuadorian native who has lived and worked in Pennsylvania since 1988.

Other highlights include classes in Afro-Caribbean dance, music and drawing, a Brazilian dance party, and several musical performances, including by Machete Kisumontao, a popular 10-year-old “salsa riot band” fronted by Geña Nieves, originally of Quebaradillas, Puerto Rico.

Various related community events continue through the summer in Garfield and beyond, including Dance Africa July 17-18 at the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre, the Latin American Cultural Union’s annual picnic at Schenley Park on Aug. 1 and a benefit for Café Con Leche itself on Aug. 16. 

Café Con Leche was founded by Tara Sherry-Torres, a Brooklyn native of Polish and Puerto Rican descent who fell in love with the region and decided to put down roots after earning a master’s degree here in 2010. Early last year she launched Café Con Leche to create a space in Pittsburgh where Latinos can connect with each other and their culture, share that culture with others and nurture dialogue and creative problem solving. Since then (with support from The Sprout Fund), the organization has hosted a dozen pop-up events around Pittsburgh attended by more than 1,000 people. The Pittsburgh Community Redevelopment Group recognized the organization with its 2015 Community Development Award, and Sherry-Torres has been recognized as one of Pittsburgh Magazine‘s 40-Under-40 and one of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Ten People to Meet in 2015.

Learn more about the organization and sign up for email updates at CafeConLechePgh.com. July’s events are at Assemble, which connects artists, technologists and makers with curious adults and kids of all ages through interactive gallery shows, community talkbacks, learning parties, and workshops focused on teaching STEAM principles (science, technology, engineering, art and math). 

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