#HeARTthisCity: THIS <3 Goes to Pittsburgh


by Jean Bartholomew

I heart the rolling hills. I heart the rivers. I heart the bridges. I heart the Steelers. I truly heart this tough little city.
Yep, you guessed it! We have finally arrived in Pittsburgh, the City of Champions. I will refrain from using this blog as a platform to write solely about how much I heart this city. But I am super excited to be in my hometown.
This week we are prepping for the closing event for our Heart this City tour. We have set up shop at Point State Park – better known as the Point. The park sits at the edge of downtown where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers converge to form the head of the Ohio River. The Point is known for its music and arts festivals, the regatta, and as the best place to watch fireworks. It also sits on a historic battlefield from the French and Indian War.

On Tuesday, we celebrated my favorite holiday – Earth Day! And of course, the only way to celebrate Earth Day in Pittsburgh is to work outside in the rain.  AEO employees from the Southside headquarters were joined by Penn State Master Gardeners to plant native flowers and shrubs near the historic Fort Pitt Blockhouse. The 26 AEO volunteers were eager to get dirty! They planted and mulched and took the opportunity to learn from the Master Gardeners.  The volunteers were so motivated that they were able to plant all 170 shrubs and flowers in the islands and mulch the surrounding area.  This allowed us to spend time raking and removing some invasive plants to help prep for Saturday’s big Heart This City project. One of the Master Gardeners expressed to me how excited she was that the native plants were going in near the underpass into the park. It will not only beautify the area, but with some labels can serve as an educational resource to park visitors.

Some local media even came out to see the volunteers. I had the exciting opportunity to be interviewed by WESA 90.5, the local NPR station. It was so great to be on public radio and to have the chance to speak a little bit about not only the Heart this City projects but the importance of urban conservation work!

To finish off the day, we met mural artist Ed Trask. Trask had just stenciled out his design and was in the beginning stages of painting. He got us to help out a bit painting the base colors for the mural. And this being Pittsburgh, I had to seize the opportunity to paint some gold.