The Jaak Sooäär Trio
+ Poet Kai Aareleid
Tuesday, September 15th
The Jaak Sooäär Trio made their US debut in Pittsburgh during Jazz Poetry 2016, and we’re still talking about the incredible concert experience. So, when we decided to commission new work and in-language poetry collaborations with international musicians for virtual Jazz Poetry 2020, we were excited to invite Jaak back.
Their 2020 concert is filmed in an Estonian jazz club and is sweetly melodic. It includes a powerful collaboration with poet, Kai Aareleid, named the “2019 Estonian author of the year.” Tuning in on Tuesday September 15th will transport you from your couch right to Estonia—what could be a better way to spend your Tuesday?
Jaak Sooäär has been a prominent member of the Estonian music scene since 1989, ranging in styles from jazz to rock and folk to classical. In 1999, Sooäär toured with The European Jazz Youth Orchestra and, in 2003, took part in the EBU Big Band in Istanbul. In 2007 Sooäär was the first jazz musician to get Estonian Annual Jazz Prize. He has also recieved annual prize of Estonian Culture Endownment (Eesti Kultuurkapital) both in 2007 and 2018. He is one of the founders of Estonian Jazz Union which has promoted jazz very successfully in Estonia and Estonian jazz abroad.
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We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.
– Thomas Jefferson
And now for something completely different…elections! The consensus of opinion expressed at the August General Membership meeting is that AWCC should not conduct our election during an in-person meeting this year due to risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The revised election plan, which will be discussed at the September meeting and finalized by the October meeting for a November 10th election is as follows:
- AWCC Members will vote during a window of time on the evening of November 10, 2020. Much thanks to Ed Menzer, owner of the Parador Inn on Western Avenue, who generously offered the use of his wheelchair accessible ballroom space as our polling place.
- The polling place will open prior to the vote so that any late nominations (“from the floor”) can be submitted. Members who come to vote will see a ballot with the Nomination Committee slate, as well as from the floor nominations that can be written in if desired.
- Sergeant-at-Arms Sara Sweeney is responsible for the orderly operation of the election process. Sara will serve as Chief Judge of Election, and, along with two appointed Assistant Judges of Election (TBD) will collect, count, recount, and certify the election. The results will be announced via a Zoom meeting after the polls close on November 10th.
- Also on November 10th, per the by-laws, we should select the members of the 2021 Nominating Committee. The first job of the Nominating Committee is nominating the Neighbor of the Year in April. The Executive Committee recommendation is to delay the selection of the Nominating Committee until February or March.
The Nominating Committee is hard at work preparing the slate for the November 10th election. If you are interested in serving on the 2021 AWCC Executive Committee, please contact Tim Zinn, Nominating Committee Chair, me or any of the current Board members. To be eligible to vote in the AWCC election on November 10th, you must pay your membership dues by October 10th. (More information.)
For extra fun, we’re going to conclude the September 8th Informational Meeting with the First Ever AWCC Trivia Contest. It’s open to everyone and there will be prizes! Think you know a lot about Allegheny West? Think again. Side-betting and trash-talking are encouraged. Hope to see you on the 8th.
Earlier this summer, neighborhoods across Pittsburgh were invited to submit nominations for local streets and thoroughfares to be designated at “Neighborhood Slow Streets.” Both Beech Avenue and Galveston Avenue were approved by the City of Pittsburgh’s Planning Department to move ahead as Slow Street locations. The streets were recognized by the City as corridors requiring additional restrictions for safer crossings at busy intersections. The key criteria included a) non-vital residential streets, e.g., no bus lines, low traffic volume, as well as b) having parallel streets that can serve as connectors to thoroughfares. Allegheny West joins 12 other Pittsburgh neighborhoods that were approved as Slow Streets, and this traffic calming program is currently underway in more than 35 U.S. cities as well as several countries as the need for ensuring traffic safety in densely populated urban neighborhoods gains attention.
Why Slow Streets Matter
The Slow Street program is designed to limit through-traffic and slow or “calm” residential city streets that experience heavy and/or speeding traffic. Ultimately, the outcome for the program is decreased accidents and damage due to an increase use of slow streets as shared spaces. Our residents and neighborhood visitors should feel safe whether they are walking, biking, playing, using mobility scooters or exercising in our beautiful, historical neighborhood. In recent years, however, collisions and property damage have occurred, resulting in residents expressing concerns regarding speeding, heavy truck traffic and difficulty navigating certain streets. As a follow-up to a traffic calming petition that was approved by the AWCC Housing and Planning Committee, the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure encouraged the Slow Streets application as one measure to alleviate problems within Allegheny West. The neighborhood petition was signed by more than 85% of residents on Galveston Avenue as well as several residents on Beech Avenue, living close to the Galveston Avenue intersection.
Residents Sara Beck Sweeney, John and Carol Robert, and Deb Lantz assisted with the petition as well as the Slow Street application process. Thank you to all residents who supported the petition!
Two Ways You Can Help
Traffic cones and signs are displayed at three intersections on Galveston Avenue (West North, Beech and Western Avenues) as simple, proven tools to slow down speeding. Speed is the single most important factor in determining the severity of outcomes of a collision, according to national Slow Street data. The Slow Street program is a voluntary prototype, and its effectiveness depends on residents’ involvement.
All residents of Allegheny West, particularly those who live on Galveston and Beech Avenues are asked to:
- Monitor and ensure proper placement of the Slow Street traffic cones and sign. Proper placement is: 1st cone in the crosswalk equal to 1 car width from the curb, sandwich board approximately 10′ – 15′ directly behind the crosswalk cone (again 1 car width from curb), and 2nd cone directly beside sandwich board in the street/traffic side. All residents are “deputized” to adjust correct positioning of the Slow Street materials!
- The City provides free replacement of missing or damaged cones and signs. If you notice that replacements are needed, please email Deb Lantz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Slow Street program is anticipated to be in place for the next 12 months, based on residents’ involvement and traffic calming results within the corridor. Parking, residential traffic and local deliveries are not affected within Allegheny West as a result of the Slow Street program. Feedback on the Slow Streets program is encouraged by emailing Deb, so that input can be shared with the AWCC Housing and Planning Committee as well as the city’s program sponsors.
Pittsburgh Parking Authority will resume enforcement of residential parking areas beginning on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. With the return of this enforcement, all City and State parking violations will be enforced, with the exception of the 2020 Street Cleaning Program, which will be enforced beginning April 2021.
According to the AWCC By-Laws members receive voting privileges thirty days after payment of dues. Elections will take place during the November 12th membership meeting so if you’re thinking about becoming a member, now is a great time to do that. Contact Cathy (email@example.com) if you’d like to pay electronically or send a check made out to Allegheny West Civic Council to:
Allegheny West Civic Council
806 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15233
Annual Dues $5.00 and Lifetime Dues $50.00
A reminder that to be eligible to vote in US General Election in Pennsylvania on November 3rd, you must be registered to vote by October 19th. There is a lot of great information on how to register, apply for absentee or mail-in ballot, deadlines, etc. at this website published by the League of Women Voters: vote411.org/pennsylvania.
Have you filled out your 2020 Census? Here’s how!
- Online: Visit 2020census.gov and enter the code in your letter provided by the Census Bureau or your address.
- Phone: Call 1-844-330-2020 to get started
- Mail: Fill out the paper questionnaire and send it to the address provided by the Census Bureau.
- Census Taker: If you do not fill out the census online, over the phone, or through the mail, a taker will come to your home to interview you.
Why is the Census important?
Census Data is used to determine the amount of federal funding that communities receive for schools, healthcare, roads, housing and more. It is also used to determine government representation, like allotment of congressional seats. It is a vital aspect of your civic duty.
The vote is precious. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it. – John Robert Lewis
Echoing a national conversation, the Allegheny West Civic Council Executive Committee has been discussing how we can best accomplish a safe and fair election this fall. The AWCC By-Laws calls for an annual meeting of the Council to be held in November. Typically the election of officers and committee chairs takes place at the annual meeting. Because there is a provision in the By-Laws to allow nominations from the floor, which, if occurs, alters the ballot immediately prior to voting, the Executive Committee recommends an in-person vote take place. We are working on securing a location that will allow members to gather and social distance. We will also require everyone who attends to wear a mask.
There are a lot of details to be worked out and we want to be very transparent about the thinking and direction we’re headed. This is uncharted territory for AWCC; your input is welcome and appreciated. If you have suggestions, concerns or questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact any of the current Board members (email addresses can be found on the AWCC website, alleghenywest.org). We’ll communicate the current status of the November elections at the next AWCC informational Zoom meeting on August 11th and provide updates up until the election.
There is another full agenda for the August 11th Informational Meeting. In addition to an update on the AWCC November Election we’ll have our usual guests—Leah Friedman, Mayor’s Office, Councilman Bobby Wilson, Thomas Graham, Rep. Jake Wheatley Jr,’s Office, Erin Tobin, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy—plus updates on Western Avenue Neighborhood Improvement District (WANID) and Norfolk Southern Merchant Street Bridge Project.
Hope to see you on the 11th. In the meantime, stay safe, wear a mask!
It would be hard to miss all the fuss over the retirement of local celebrity and neighbor, Brian O’Neill, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. For the past 32 years Brian told stories of Pittsburgh, and Allegheny West made an appearance in quite a few of his columns. His observations were clear-eyed and honest, sometimes causing unwelcome introspection, more often a feeling of pride in the city and neighborhood we call home. Whenever Allegheny West or a resident of Allegheny West was referenced in one of Brian’s columns, it made me feel like an insider, “Hey, I know that guy” or “I know that walk to PNC Park”.
Way back at the turn of the century, I was living in Not-Allegheny West, feeling unconnected to my neighborhood. I started looking for a new place to live that would feel more like a community and, ideally, be within walking distance of the Pirates’ new ball yard. I read a Brian O’Neill column that included a description of his little neighborhood and I was hooked. I will be forever thankful to Brian for pointing the way to Allegheny West. As Robert Frost would say, that has made all the difference. I think I speak for all of us in saying to Brian: thanks for casting such a nice light on our neighborhood and all the best in your well-earned retirement. Sláinte.