2012 Award Winners
Community Development Awards
The Gardens of Millvale
The Gardens of Millvale (GOM) is a network of residents, business owners and friends of Millvale working to make greening and growing projects happen, while teaching Millvale residents to grow plants- both edible and non-edible. The Gardens of Millvale are run as an auxiliary program of the Millvale Borough Development Corporation in partnership with the Millvale Community Library.
Millvale residents have been the driving force behind the GOM from its origination. A community group formed the base of the GOM which then collaborated with the Millvale Borough Development Corporation (MBDC) and Borough of Millvale to obtain land. Once land was secured, GOM was officially established as a community group and effort.
The GOM has combined private grants, government funding, individual donations, and a government land donation into a viable and growing program. The ongoing maintenance and expansions are products of gardening fees, vegetable sales and donations. In an attempt to make the GOM self-sufficient, gardeners donate vegetables to be sold at a GOM farmers market. The project’s growth will provide additional fees and more vegetables to sell, thus enabling continued upkeep and expansion. These various funding channels ensure that GOM is not only environmentally sustainable, but also financially sustainable.
GOM began with three sites which contained a mix of individual above ground plots, an herb spiral and public farming space. Through the work of over 300 volunteers, the GOM has expanded in size and scope. The project now encompasses three private gardens, two gardens on public land featuring 24 individual plots, one herb spiral, community farming space and cobb oven, a garden on a business lot, one passive garden park, and an orchard on Borough property.
The Tree Tender program was established in 2008 in order to assist Tree Pittsburgh, the City, and other partners in fulfilling Pittsburgh’s need for more public trees, helping to plant over 1,000 trees to date. Tree Pittsburgh’s mission is to “protect and restore our urban forest”, and the Tree Tender program instills a sense of community ownership in the care of these trees.
Tree Pittsburgh supports Tree Tender-organized tree care days and pruning workshops throughout the year to prune, water, weed, and mulch young trees. Tree Pittsburgh offers volunteers a variety of incentives for volunteer hours and hosts various annual social events to build a sense of community among all of Pittsburgh’s Tree Tenders.
Tree Tenders are City residents who receive training on proper tree care techniques and participate in tree stewardship and planting activities. Since 2008, over 1,000 volunteers, representing nearly all of Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods, have completed the program.
The Tree Tender program greatly strengthens Pittsburgh’s urban forest, keeping the city at the fore-front of urban environmentalism. A majority of the trees planted by Tree Tenders grow along city streets where conditions are the harshest, and in order to achieve long-term survival, tree care is vital. A wealth of research demonstrates that our urban forest helps conserve and reduce energy use, reduces local carbon dioxide levels, improves air quality, and mitigates storm water runoff. The Tree Tenders program is essential for ensuring that these various benefits can continue to be realized.
Community Banking Awards
First National Bank
Most improved in Low-Moderate Income Mortgage Lending in the City of Pittsburgh.
Frank Hammond of BNY Mellon
For outstanding service at a large bank to ensure that the needs of Pittsburgh’s communities are met.
Jeni Cooper of Fidelity Bank
For outstanding service at a community bank to ensure that the needs of Pittsburgh’s communities are met.
South Side Local Development Company
In honor of their thirty years of service to the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh’s South Side.
Green + Screen Project
Over the past 10 years, Penn Avenue has seen more than $60 million in investment. However, in 2007, there were still 29 vacant spaces, poorly screened parking lots, and miscellaneous set-back buildings situated within the Penn Avenue Arts District. To address these blemishes in the corridor, the Green + Screen Project was born. The goal of the project was to create architectural screens and landscaping with sustainable and repurposed materials that would improve the physical environment in the Penn Avenue Arts District.
Being ever mindful of the possibility of future site development, Green + Screen designs all projects with modularity in mind so that properties can be easily redeveloped and the screens repurposed at another location.
These Green + Screen sites could have not happened without the collaboration of local organizations and businesses. One of the most critical collaborations has been with students from the Summit Academy, an award-winning school for delinquent youth ages 14-20. The Green + Screen project has instilled pride in these students and given them a chance to leave a mark on their community.
In three years, there have been seven sites screened and landscaped along Penn Ave. The Green + Screen sites have added lighting, seating, landscaping and color to Penn Ave, showing visitors there is a community that cares about bringing creativity and innovation to help revitalize the Penn Ave Arts District.
In 2004, residents of the Hamnett Place neighborhood in Wilkinsburg and other stakeholders approached the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) to help them stave off a demolition plan that would have destroyed a number of architecturally significant buildings and houses. PHLF organized the community and helped create the Wilkinsburg Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (WNTI), which brought together a diverse group of residents, borough leaders, and people with an interest in the redevelopment of the area.
Community leaders and residents sought to redevelop the area situated just off the Martin Luther King Jr. Busway. By significantly refurbishing and restoring key buildings that were vacant and abandoned in the area, they believed they could make a dramatic impact on the borough’s quality of housing stock, which would spur reinvestment into the community by private developers and property owners.
As a result of this effort, PHLF spearheaded the restoration of two significant apartment buildings— the Crescent and Wilson— restored seven single-family houses and a former auto repair shop that now houses the Landmarks Housing Resource Center and a local artist’s studio and work space.
In addition, PHLF helped to organize the creation of the Hamnett Place Community Garden, which trsformed an 8,600 square-foot blighted and vacant lot into a fully engaged garden project supported by PHLF and maintained by area residents who have planted vegetables in twenty raised beds.
Neighborhood Leader Award In Memory Of Bob O’Connor
James Richard has called Wilkinsburg Borough home for over 75 years. Throughout these 75 years, Mr. Richard has served Wilkinsburg tirelessly through a variety of organizations. He has volunteered for organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America (72 years); South Avenue United Methodist Church (72 years); Wilkinsburg Chamber of Commerce (58 years); the Wilkinsburg Historical Society (27 years); and many other worthy groups.
In 1989, Mr. Richard assumed the role of Wilkinsburg School Director, a post he held for 18 years. This position of leadership was one of many that Mr. Richard has held throughout his years of service to his community. He has also served as a Trustee of South Avenue United Methodist Church, President of the Kiwanis Club of Wilkinsburg, and Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America to name a few. Despite his impressive leadership experience, Mr. Richard has time and again been willing to serve his community through even the smallest tasks. He regularly volunteers at community clean-up days and has assisted Nine Mile Run Watershed Association with street tree planting along Penn Avenue. He also frequently volunteers to read to pre-K students in Wilkinsburg. Through his leadership and service, James models what it means to be a constructive citizen making Wilkinsburg a better place to live, work, and visit.
In 2006 Mr. Richard undertook a project that will benefit Wilkinsburg residents for decades to come when he helped found the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC). After the organization’s founding, he subsequently served as Treasurer for the WCDC in its first three years of operation. Mr. Richard’s dedication to the WCDC and all of Wilkinsburg helped the organization survive its infancy in good financial standing.
James has also worked through the Wilkinsburg Historical Society to ensure that the history of the community is passed on to future generations. Using his knowledge and passion for Wilkinsburg he has helped the Historical Society recently publish two books, one which commemorated Wilkinsburg High School’s 100th anniversary and one which provided a general history of the community.
Mr. Richard’s dedication to Wilkinsburg has undoubtedly changed the lives of generations of Boy Scouts, Wilkinsburg school students, and Wilkinsburg citizens.