On March 21 sixteen Northside Next Leaders presented their ideas for building on established community activism on the Northside. The Project Opening, held at the New Hazlett Theater in Allegheny Center, drew about 75 people, including emerging and existing community leaders.
Next Leader Alex Bard, on staff at the New Hazlett Theater, said “the Project Opening is the starting block… an opportunity to organize all of the ideas and research into a course of action. Now the real work begins…”.
Bridgette Kennedy, a Next leader working in Manchester, said the event was designed to determine whether the ideas they had been working on for months “spoke to the hopes of the community.” She felt the event succeeded in its goals. Community members were “energized and inspired” by a variety of ideas for better utilizing existing resources to serve all residents on the Northside.
Next Leader Angela Williams of Perry Hill South says the event confirmed her belief that too many Northsiders are unable to connect with resources in place to help them meet their needs. She wants to collaborate on creating a system to enable all Northsiders to access information about existing programs and services.
Charles Grayson of Brighton Heights said his experience as a Next Leader has helped him see that “no group is alone.” There are people across the Northside who want to support collaborative projects like his, which seeks to provide young men with role models to learn skills to become “better men.”
Last summer the Next Leaders Northside began a one year intensive training program with Coro. Sessions covered both technical skills in neighborhood development and adaptive skills required for anyone wishing to turn ideas into reality.
Coro piloted the Next Leaders program in 2010 with the goal of cultivating a new generation of collaborative neighborhood leaders in the Hill District and Uptown. Coro tapped existing leadership networks to nominate over 30 candidates to participate in two years of intensive networking, leadership training, and civic engagement. Next Leaders learned and applied collaboration tools to leverage existing resources in the Hill/Uptown to better serve the needs of residents in the Hill District and Uptown. Many Next Leaders alumni have since been offered employment and professional opportunities by mentors.
In addition to their independent leadership in the community, Next Leaders collaborated on health and greening projects in a progressive effort to build the Hill’s economy. A 5K walk called the UpHill raised $12,500 that benefitted the Ujamaa Collective, the Tustin Street Garden and the Dwayne Cooper Garden of Hope. Money was also set aside to pay for a second UpHill 5K and to support a club the Next Leaders started called the Pittsburgh Youth Green Entrepreneurs.
For more information see links below:
Aging Pittsburgh institutions inquire, who will the ‘Next Leaders’ be?, Diana Nelson Jones, Pittsburgh Post Gazette