Thursday, October 25, 2012

Podcamp Pittsburgh is This Weekend! (I'm Going ...Are You?)

I'm starting to realize that living in Pittsburgh means making some choices - especially on the weekends.

Especially this weekend.

There are a ridiculous number of amazing-sounding things going on this Saturday and/or Sunday in Pittsburgh. Actually, that's true of many weekends here. Honest to God, I've never seen a city with so much to offer as this place does.

This Saturday and Sunday at Point Park University, you can take part in what sounds like a great conference: PodCamp Pittsburgh 7. (Registration is still open.)  What exactly is this?

Wonderful question (as a certain political candidate would say). Anticipating such, the @pcpgh peeps put together The Beginner's Guide to PodCamp Pittsburgh, from where I cut and pasted this from:

PodCamp is the most awesome thing in Pittsburgh.
But if you really want to get specific…
PodCamp Pittsburgh is a social, new media conference. It started in 2004 and was originally built around podcasting (hence the name PodCamp), and has since grown across North America. PodCamp Pittsburgh has also evolved into a study of information sharing online and how it affects us in different ways every day.
At PodCamp Pittsburgh, you’ll learn how to get started (or how to grow) sharing what you do with everyone else in the world through voice, video, pictures, text and other forms of media. You’ll find out what (and how to use) the latest tools others are using to accomplish great things.

In other words, don't be like me and see the word "pod" and think that this is a podcasting only type of thing.    Clearly, it's not.

Did I mention that PodCamp Pittsburgh is FREE? Yes ... free. It's supported by volunteers, of which I will gladly be one on Saturday while also attending several sessions. (You can see the full schedule of sessions, their descriptions, and speakers here.)

I'm incredibly excited about this. PodCamp Pittsburgh is the perfect opportunity to make connections among those in our city's traditional and new media scene and it is exactly what I need right now. Maybe it's exactly what you need, too.

Leave me a comment if you'll be there or follow me on Twitter @thefirmangroup. Would love to meet you and say hi!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blog Post: "To Immigrate is an Entrepreneurial Act": Partnership for a New American Economy in Pittsburgh

I'm the first to admit that mine is your fairly typical, Caucasian, suburban (this-could-be-anywhere) kind of life. Single family house on a cul-de-sac, two cars in the garage, livin' what we all thought was once the American Dream.

There is not, I'm sorry to say, much diversity in my life. (I'm working on that.)

Since moving here over a year ago, I've learned that this is a characteristic I share with my new city of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh's working on that, too.

Yesterday I headed Downtown, where One Young World was in full gear (and you could definitely sense the Summit's energy and excitement). I was just a few hundred yards away from the OYW action at the Partnership for a New American Economy, hosted at the spectacularly gorgeous August Wilson Center by several partners including Vibrant Pittsburgh, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Technology Council. At the event, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl signed a pledge supporting national immigration reform.

Partnership for a New American Economy is an initiative headed by several prominent business leaders and mayors, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City. Robert Feldstein was representing Mayor Bloomberg's office at the Pittsburgh event yesterday.

Feldstein compared the immigration experience as similar to starting a business.

"To immigrate is an entrepreneurial act," he said.

That resonated with me. Deeply. At first I was confused as to why it would. After all, it has been generations since my family immigrated to this country.

But then I realized why.

I'm still trying to get better connected here in Pittsburgh. And, since being laid off in June, this is very much of a career transition time for me, of exploring new opportunities and all options.  Either way, it feels extremely entrepreneurial, of forging my own way, of deciding what path is the best fit.

I was at the Partnership for a New American Economy event helping out Melanie Harrington's team from Vibrant Pittsburgh. Since August, I've been a participant in Vibrant Pittsburgh's New Arrivals Bridge Program, which aims to connect newcomers in Pittsburgh with key business, civic, and social contacts to fully embed them into the community.

The New Arrivals Bridge Program is a pilot program, now in its second year. It is probably one of the most diverse initiatives I have ever been involved with. It has led to discussions at the dinner table with my kids about the interesting people I'm meeting, the countries they hail from.

In our house, this is a good thing. Dare I go so far and say it's a needed thing.

After arriving back home from Downtown to my little suburban cul-de-sac, I was still thinking about the remarks we heard yesterday at the Partnership for a New American Economy event when my 10 year old daughter announced that she made a new friend at school yesterday.

"Oh, really?" I said. "What's her name?"

"Adni," she answered. "She's from India. She was sitting all by herself on the swings, so I went up to her and said hi. I told her I was the sort of person that didn't judge people."

"And what did she say to that?" I asked.

"She said, 'I can tell that about you.'"

Yeah, I think we're onto something here, Pittsburgh.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl addressing a crowd of business and civic leaders gathered at the August Wilson Center for The Partnership of the New American Economy press conference event and pledge signing. 

Panel discussion at The Partnership for a New American Economy event at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh. The discussion was moderated by Robert Feldstein of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Office. 

Some press coverage of the event: 

Pittsburgh Mayor Ravenstahl Supports National Immigration Reform, Attraction of Foreign born Entrepreneurs to Spark Economic Growth and Job Creation - Global Pittsburgh News, 10/19/2012

Mayor calls for immigration reform, 10/19/2012

Ravenstahl joins national push for immigration reform - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/20/2012

Mayor Ravenstahl supports national immigration reform - 90.5 WESA Pittsburgh's NPR News Station, 10/19/2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blog Post: Pittsburgh Welcomes One Young World

If you're walking around Pittsburgh today through Sunday and it feels like our city just got a little bit bigger - in the number of people, in the sense of global spirit - there's a good reason for that.

It has.

Today, Pittsburgh officially welcomes more than 1,500 delegates from almost every country in the world for the One Young World summit. This is an international, four-day summit designed to bring a youthful perspective to global issues - not to mention, President Bill Clinton will be in town to give the keynote speech - and it is all being held right here in the City of Bridges!

It is a tremendous accomplishment for Pittsburgh, and as Bill Flanagan of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development writes in his article "Best of the World Welcomes One Young World," many entities made this happen.

As Bill also says, One Young World also presents an opportunity for Pittsburgh, which has struggled with issues of diversity. Partners such as the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Vibrant Pittsburgh (which I am involved in as a participant in their New Arrivals Bridge Program 2012) and Visit Pittsburgh - and more - are working diligently, creatively, and collaboratively to find solutions to these and other issues.

When I first heard that One Young World was coming to Pittsburgh, I knew I wanted to find a way to become involved. I've gained a lot from my experience so far with Vibrant Pittsburgh, so when they asked for volunteers at a related event tomorrow, I offered to help out as a small way to give back.

The good thing is that we can all be part of the spirit of global goodwill, understanding and peace during the next few days by doing the very things we as 'Burghers do best:

Smile. Be helpful if someone needs directions or assistance. Welcome a stranger. Lend a hand.

The whole world is watching.

Melissa M. Firman is a writer, fundraising professional, editor and blogger based in Pittsburgh, PA. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Blog Post: PittsburghGives

Pittsburgh is an incredibly giving city - and today, October 3, 2012, our philanthropic nature and generosity is on display until 11:59 p.m. through PittsburghGives.

It's an amazing effort that is an initiative of The Pittsburgh Foundation. The aim of this initiative is to:
  • Increase the level of knowledge about nonprofits in our region
  • Leverage or increase individual funding or organizations or an issue in our community
  • Spotlight the charitable trends in our region. Where are people giving?
Contributions made by 11:59 TODAY (and today only) to eligible organizations that primarily serve Allegheny or Westmoreland Counties in southwestern Pennsylvania will receive a pro-rated portion of a match pool. It's a great opportunity to make your gift, no matter what the amount, have a tremendous impact on some deserving nonprofits in a critically needy time.

Click here for more information about PittsburghGives. Thank you!