Monday, July 1, 2013

My 1 year Burgh-iversary! a Pittsburgh Love Letter

Today marks my 1 year anniversary of living in Pittsburgh. It went super fast, and it went super well. In only one year I feel like I have made more new connections than I had in the previous 5 years. True, I do go to a lot of events specifically for meeting and networking with people, but I honestly feel that much of my success here is because Pittsburgh is a great place with friendly people.

I had never been to Pittsburgh for a visit before spring of 2011, when through a random series of events, I happened to be passing through and was literally here for 14 hours. During my 14 hours, (much of which I was asleep) I stayed in a hotel downtown facing the incline (I didn't at this time know what an incline even was) and the rivers & beautiful bridges. I met up with an old friend who had moved here 3 years prior and his excitement about Pittsburgh really struck me. I had known I wanted to move out of Philly to some place new, but until that very brief visit (a hotel stay and a coffee at Voluto) I had never considered Pittsburgh. But why not? The rent was cheap, it had so many new things I could discover, and it was clear to me there were things happening here. Furthermore my friend who lived here was not only doing good, he was doing great, and he loved it here, like bled black & yellow while quoting Pittsburgh's rich history loved it (and I swear he never even used to like sports). By January of 2012 I was here for a work visit and I decided I was going to do my best to move here, and by July 1, I had made that happen.

One year went by so quickly but if I had to sum it all up in a single word: change.

I changed locations and changed a lot of things about myself. I threw out a lot of my negative habits (inactivity, eating crap, being a shut in) and traded up for new positive habits- biking, running, yoga, eating paleo (with the occasional beer), going to as many social events (I call them mixers) as possible to meet new people. In short I was on one path, and by moving to Pittsburgh I changed a lot of things and now I feel like my path could lead me anywhere. I now feel like I could live anywhere (but I like it here an awful lot so I'm gonna stay for awhile) and like I could do anything. My friends in Philly who were really good friends, are still my really good friends (and should visit me here). The new people I've met in Pittsburgh have become some of the best support I've had in my life, and I'm grateful to each and every one I've met in this past year.

To get a handle on how I did it, here are some of my favorite networking 'mixer' groups and general places I've been meeting people:
Creative Mornings Pittsburgh
PGH Tweetups
Podcamp Pgh
Catapult Show n Tells
Penn Gallery Crawl
Meetup groups - for Pugs, for small dogs, for tech, biking
BikePGH & Flock of Cycles rides
Start up events (startup weekend, anything at techShop, any opening)
Coffee Shops - cat & dogs (unfortunately closed), Espresso a mano, Commonplace
Steel City Improv
Obscure Games
Volunteering for Construction Junction's Big Pour
Volunteering with the Food Bank
Volunteering for Commonwealth Press's Beer Barge
Volunteering at Swan Day
Pittsburgh Twitter friends
Pittsburgh Bloggers group
Pittsburgh beer ladies!

As I've put this list together there are certainly things I've missed, because there are so many opportunities to get out and do things and meet people in Pittsburgh, and I grabbed a lot of them and met a lot of awesome people as a result!

I also feel like I accomplished a lot of totally new things for me this year that deserve note.
Things I've accomplished:
I rode my first bike event (pedalPGH 2012, followed by numerous other group rides)
I started running
I ran my first 5k
I ran my first 5k with obstacles- foamfest
I ran my first 10k
I feel healthy and like a rock star.
I ate mostly Paleo for this whole year
I took an improv class, then I took another
Became a successful Airbnb host
I got back on stage in front of people after 5 years off stage producing

Within months of moving here I had already turned the corner and started telling my friends in Philly to move here. I was already defensive when someone would say, "but Pittsburgh is so industrial, what is there to do" because they truly don't know. And no matter how many articles are written about us being a travel destination or the smartest city, or the next Portland, or silicon valley, people just don't get it. I truly believe you need to put feet on the ground and experience Pittsburgh to believe it. It can change you, for good, if you'd like.

I have goals in place for next year:
Get my brunch podcast off the ground
Biking more, at least a metric century event, and probably the ms150 next year
Be involved with a theater more, possibly on stage acting
Continue to meet people and network
Run a half marathon?
Have my improv group do a cage match and win
Continue to be a rock star and learn new things

So in short I'd like to say thanks to Pittsburgh, thanks for having me, and supporting me, and thanks for being an awesome place to meet and network, and hit the ground running in a new city. Thanks to my friend who recommended I check out Pittsburgh, way to be the catalyst. Thanks to my friends and family back home in Cape May & Philly (& NYC) for supporting my brash decision to pick up and change my life and thanks to all my new friends here I like you all very much. The first year in Pittsburgh has just raced past, I cannot wait to see what the next year might bring.


  1. A fantastic year! Happy I was lucky enough to cross paths with you so many times last summer. And that we became friends instead of mortal enemies ;)

  2. As someone who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, I love, love, love reading about other people moving here and falling in love with the city. It sounds like you really made the most of your move - kudos to you for putting your mind to making the changes you want to see happen! And I was happy to see the shout-out for the Pittsburgh Beer Ladies : )