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.
* * *
Pittsburgh has jobs: more than 20,000 across 10 counties. Tap into ImaginePittsburgh.com to explore southwestern PA’s trending careers and industries.
As our friends over at PittsburghTODAY point out, southwestern Pennsylvanians in general have much to be thankful for this year. (PittsburghTODAY compares the region with 14 other U.S. metropolitan areas and regions in 11 quality-of-life categories.) Here are a few reasons to appreciate the region in which we live that they’ve highlighted, with links for additional information.
1. Safer than most
If being safe from crime is important – and who doesn’t think it is – then be thankful you live in southwestern Pennsylvania. Crime rates vary by neighborhood. But, overall, our region’s rate of major crimes is the lowest of the 15 regions PittsburghTODAY benchmarks. And be thankful you don’t live in Indianapolis, where the overall crime rate is 85 percent higher than ours.
2. A home of our own
Nearly seven out of 10 homes in the Pittsburgh region are occupied by their owners, giving Pittsburgh the second highest homeownership rate among our benchmark regions. Only Minneapolis has a higher rate. High Homeownership rates indicate neighborhood stability and correlate with higher levels of educational attainment.
3. And it’s worth more
Homeowners in the region have even more reason to give thanks—the value of their homes has risen consistently in the past 10 years. Pittsburgh has the second highest housing appreciation rate among our benchmark regions over that period. Only home values in Denver have risen more.
4. Fewer are impoverished
Poverty in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area fell over a year’s time from 12.8 percent of the population to 12.4 percent. That’s fifth lowest among our benchmark regions. While the national rate stood at 11.3 percent in 2000, even a short-term decline in the number of people living in poverty is reason to give thanks.
5. Good sports
Yes, we are. According to our new Sports Town Index, we’re one of the best sports towns of our benchmark region, ranking fourth when total team winning percentage, championships, franchise support and other factors are considered. And we’re closing in on Philly for third.
6. More money in our pockets
In the past year, the Pittsburgh region has had the largest year-over-year percent increase in average weekly wages of all our benchmark regions — extra money in the bank to pay for the turkey on the table or on Black Friday sales.
7. Good vibes
Pittsburgh has been bathed in positive vibes on Twitter. We have the fourth-most positive tweets so far this year among the 15 cities ranked in our Positivity Index, which measures such things. Yes, the ranking owes a lot to happy talk about entertainment and our sports teams. But it also reflects a relative lack of ill will toward the city and its people. And for that, we’re thankful.
At last month’s 2015 kickoff OpenStreetPGH event, 15,000 Pittsburghers came ready to play on the 3.5-mile stretch of Penn Avenue and Butler Street that was closed to cars and open for fun. The city was jumping with people cycling, dancing, running, hula hooping and unicycling.
And this Sunday, June 28, OpenStreetsPGH returns from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.Time to play in the streets! Photo by Tracy Certo.“What separates Open Streets from other events is the choose-your-own- adventure aspect of it,” says Mike Carroll, event manager of BikePGH and co-chair of Open Streets.”You can go for a run, go to brunch, learn to salsa dance,” he says. “But we encourage people to try something new. If you do a lot of yoga, perhaps try a BootCamp class.”
At last month’s 2015 OpenStreetPGH kickoff, an estimated 15,000 people came out to play on the 3.5-mile stretch of Penn Avenue and Butler Street that was closed to cars and open for fun. The city was jumping with people cycling, dancing, running, hula-hooping and unicycling.
And this Sunday, June 28, OpenStreetsPGH returns from 8 a.m. until noon.
“What separates Open Streets from other events is the choose-your-own- adventure aspect of it,” says Mike Carroll, event manager of BikePGH and co-chair of Open Streets.”You can go for a run, go to brunch, learn to salsa dance,” he says. “But we encourage people to try something new. If you do a lot of yoga, perhaps try a BootCamp class.”
Check the program schedule for times on a walking tour with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks, a Bike the Burgh Cycling Tour, a Hike it Baby walk for parents and young kids and training runs with Steel City Road Runners. Four event hubs host ballroom dance, BootCamp, kung fu, yoga and Zumba classes. You can play tennis or soccer. There’s even snowboarding for kids and roller disco led by the Steel City Roller Derby.This month, the businesses along the route are getting in on the gig. Just a few of the offerings: Franktuary serves up an early brunch, Pittsburgh Winery gives away free samples, LUXE Creative hosts an open house with a DJ, plus there’s a food truck roundup and lots of sidewalk sales.“We encourage everyone to bring a bag with them,” says Carroll. “We don’t want people to forget to check out these local, independent businesses.”Steel City Roller Derby will lead a roller disco session. Photo courtesy OpenStreetsPGH.And if you ever wanted to wear a badge—or at least be deputized to ring a cowbell and wear a silly hat—organizers are looking for 35 volunteers to be Intersection Sheriffs. Along the route, 12 intersections remain open for cars to cross.
“We’ll have a policeman at every intersection, but volunteers are key to ensuring that all of our happy participants remain safe,” says Eve Picker, one of the co-chairs of OpenStreetsPGH.
“Each volunteer will need to report at 7 a.m. and stay until noon,” she says. “And each will receive two free tickets to a ball game for their help, a free OpenStreetsPGH t-shirt, snacks, water—and the promise of a great time.” To volunteer, sign up here.
A few seats still available here for the Pittsburgh premier of Clemente: The Legend of 21 at the Byham Theater Sept. 19-21. Tonight’s show includes a reception at 7 p.m. featuring live music by Geña y Peña.
It was the luck of the draw – a random, computer-generated draw – that made a young Puerto Rican engineering student and a devotee of Roberto Clemente the winner of the “Baseball & The ‘Burgh Weekend” sweepstakes. The sweepstakes was sponsored by Major League Baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates and ImaginePittsburgh.com – a partner of the ¡Hola Pittsburgh! initiative.
Zaideth Muñiz-Lugo’s name was randomly selected from among 3,000-plus entrants, making her and a guest the winners of a celebration of baseball, the Buccos and the Pirates’ legendary Roberto Clemente from Sept. 19-21. The weekend caps “Clemente Day” festivities in Pittsburgh, commemorating the late humanitarian and Hall of Famer who would have turned 80 this year.
Zaideth (pronounced SIGH-deth) is in her final semester of an electrical engineering degree at University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez on the island’s west coast. She was born in San Juan, but her family now lives in Toa Baja, about 18 miles west of the capital. A self-proclaimed baseball fan, she said she is thrilled to win a trip to the city that Clemente considered his second home. “I like baseball a lot,” Zaideth said. “My dad is huge baseball fan, and he introduced me to the sport.
“Roberto Clemente is an icon in our culture for what he accomplished as a professional baseball player and humanitarian. My parents have a portrait hanging in their living room.”
Gifted batter and right fielder Roberto Clemente was one of the first non-white Pittsburgh Pirates. A native of San Juan, he played for the team for 18 seasons and two World Series victories. He was the first Latino to win a World Series as a starter (1960), a World Series Most Valuable Player Award (1971) and to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (1973). He was a four-time National League batting champion, making his 3,000th hit in 1972.
In the off-season he was deeply involved in charitable work across Latin America. On Dec. 31, 1972, Clemente died after the aircraft he had chartered to deliver aid to earthquake survivors in Nicaragua crashed into the Caribbean Sea shortly after takeoff. He was 38 years old.
Even as the Pirates welcome Zaideth to town,¡Hola Pittsburgh!is working to create a welcome to the Pittsburgh region for Latino professionals seeking to advance their careers and build a great life. It is a partnership of local community organizations, government and businesses. The partnership is focusing on Puerto Rico right now because many of the island’s recent university graduates and professionals seek career opportunities in the states. Why not consider Pittsburgh? It’s safe, welcoming, affordable and full of employers in need of people with engineering, healthcare and information technology skills.
Among the events open to the public this week is the Sept. 19-21 Pittsburgh premier of the musical Clemente: The Legend of 21 at the Byham Theater. Tickets holders at the Friday performance will enjoy a reception featuring live music by Geña y Peña.
Going to the Thrival music festival? Look for us in our red ImaginePittsburgh.com t-shirts and register for a chance to win two seats just behind the Pirates dugout during the team’s last regular season home stand on Saturday, Sept. 20.
Baseball legend Roberto Clemente would have turned 80 on Aug. 18. In honor of the batting champion and humanitarian who considered Pittsburgh his second home, Major League Baseball, the Buccos and ImaginePittsburgh.com are offering a sweepstakes for a first-class opportunity to enjoy the last home series game of the season. Enter for a chance to win four seats over the home team dugout for Saturday, Sept. 20′s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. From “America’s Most Beautiful Ball Park” you can enjoy what will likely be a playoffs-deciding game.
The seats are up for grabs at ImaginePittsburgh.com/BuccosBrewers until Sept. 13 when the sweepstakes closes. Also up for grabs are 20,000+ open jobs – across all industries – at ImaginePittsburgh.com, the region’s LIVE, WORK, PLAY and LEARN gateway. Check out the site or tell a friend or family member about ImaginePittsburgh.com. Great jobs … great life … great baseball: Pittsburgh’s got them all!
* * *
Looking for a job? Pittsburgh’s got ‘em — more than 22,000 open positions across the 10-county region. Check out our powerful job search aggregator at ImaginePittsburgh.com/work.
It’s the perfect time to explore some of the Pittsburgh region’s great recreational amenities. What better way to quickly cover as many of Pittsburgh’s wilderness trails as possible than by bike? Our ImaginePittsburgh.com Neighbor Gary Stout can help you get out and on your way. Whether you’re buying, renting, or your wheels need some TLC as you make your way along the Great Allegheny Passage, the Stout family’s shop, Bikes Unlimited in Connellsville, Fayette County is worth a stop. Just 23 miles from Ohiopyle, Bikes Unlimited is part of the revival of trail towns in southwestern Pennsylvania.
And of course, Gary is one of our ImaginePittsburgh.com Neighbors, individuals who help to extend the welcome beyond hello to newcomers, boomerangers and native Pittsburghers alike. You can check out his profile here; take the “Find Yourself in Pittsburgh!” quiz to see which Neighbors share your interests or careers; and then ping them via their LinkedIn profiles (linked on their ImaginePittsburgh.com profile page).
And if it’s a career change you’re contemplating, be sure to check out our powerful job search engine. It combs more than 900 websites and job boards (including Monster, Career Builder and Craigslist) nightly to let you access the more than 20,000 jobs available now.