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Love My Neighbor! Grantees Changing Communities Alongside Changing Seasons: An Overview of Fall 2019 Projects

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Last year, the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee funded 47 resident projects, totaling $96,073 in funding for our neighborhoods! Check out some of Fall 2019’s projects.

Tune It! Tuesdays with Phat Man Dee

3-year Love My Neighbor! Grantee, Phat Man Dee is a cosmic jazz cabaret vocalist, bandleader, events producer, videographer, poet and part time sideshow marvel all in one.  She has been hosting Tune It! Tuesdays on the 3rd Tuesday of every month for over two years now with support from Love My Neighbor! The monthly jam session invites singers, instrumentalists, poets, and spoken word artists of all genres and ages to participate in this community oriented, intergenerational, musical jam session. The event serves as a space for creating intergenerational, cross-genre connections and building community among general attendees and performing artists alike!

This year, she leveraged the success of the ongoing Tune It! Tuesdays event to obtain additional funding from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council in the form of a Project Stream Grant! The additional funding will aid Mandee in sustaining the program for years to come!

2nd Annual Wilkinsburg Religious Architectural Heritage Committee Sacred Spaces Tour

Preservation Pittsburgh’s Religious Architectural Heritage (RAH) Committee held the Second Annual Wilkinsburg Sacred Spaces Tour on October 12th, 2019. Free and open to the public, the tour served as an “open house” of local religious properties, allowing Wilkinsburg residents to view the interiors and exteriors of 12 religious spaces in the community. Each space also featured its own activities, including artistic performances and exhibitions, craft workshops and classes, and discussions about church history and architecture. Ultimately, the tour highlighted the communal value and historic significance of sacred spaces in Wilkinsburg’s continuing development. RAH aims to foster constructive dialog between borough residents and cultivate healthy community relationships across religious denominations. Photos by Pawsburgh Photography.

Natalie Thomas’ Unified Positive Effect Garden

Natalie Thomas’ Unified Positive Effect Community Garden in Beltzhoover serves as an example of the beauty that can be shared among residents by revitalizing a vacant lot. Natalie’s garden has been a loved community asset of the Beltzhoover community for some years now, and Natalie continues to drive its success with her unwavering passion and dedication. She encourages neighbors to enjoy the beauty, harmony, and peace within the space and hopes that it fosters discussions of love, growth, and hope throughout the community. She applied for funding from the Love My Neighbor! program in order to support ongoing operations and to commission a mural to add to the space.

This past Fall, Natalie also invited a group of University of Pittsburgh students to her garden on Pitt Make a Difference Day (PMADD). The students learned about Natalie’s vision as they helped her weed the garden and prepare it for future projects.

The Peace and Friendship Garden by Project Love Coalition

Kent Bey, a veteran and grassroots community organizer, set out with fellow veteran and master gardener Kevin McBroom and community networker Sophia Smith to create an agri-garden and green space in both the Hill District and Wilkinsurg. The project’s goals include bringing veterans and neighbors together, raising awareness about the benefits of gardening, creating opportunities for therapeutic activities and promoting overall peace. The agri-garden and green space aims to teach veterans and their neighbors how to create pollinator gardens that improve the eco-system, helps improve air quality in the urban environment, and show the community how to grow healthy fruits and vegetables.

On October 1st, Project Love Coalition gathered volunteers to begin building out the Hill District Veterans Peace and Friendship Garden! Also, in addition to the Love My Neighbor! grant, Kent also received $2,000 from Moe’s to continue his great work! We are so excited to see the continued progress on this project!

While we highlighted just a few projects in this article, all 47 of our grantees have been doing wonderful work in their communities! Congratulations to each and every one of you!

Interested in applying for a Love My Neighbor! grant? 2020 Applications open Friday, January 31st! Go to to download and view the application, as well as find information on upcoming grantseeker workshops and technical assistance providers.

Love My Neighbor!, an initiative founded by Neighborhood Allies, invests in the ingenuity, talent, creativity, and hope in our communities by investing in resident-led projects that aim to improve neighborhoods and engage neighbors. Once a year, residents who live in one of our target communities and are passionate about making a positive change in their neighborhood, can apply for small grants ranging between $500 – $2,500. Contact Tamara Cartwright, Program Manager for Social Impact Design, at

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