May was a big month for those of us in the Burgh. Not only did we see our beloved Pens advance to the STANLEY CUP FINALS, but we also participated in our very first #GGBDoBetter event! Do Better is the idea that we can all be heroes in our own communities by giving back and making a difference. We have been very excited about this concept but waited a while to do our first service project to make sure we were established and had enough willing members to help out. Using the theme of Captain Planet, we decided to work with Allegheny CleanWays, Tireless Project, and Friends of the Riverfront to do a riverfront clean up and simultaneously help with preservation efforts for Sycamore Island, which sits in the Allegheny river.
The history of Sycamore Island is incredibly interesting. In the ’60s, it was completely landscaped and fitted with all kinds of infrastructure for a swanky country club. Imagine taking a little boat out in your beehive hair, clip-on earrings, and tulle tea-length pastel cocktail dress while the lights flicker on the island just ahead…sounds kind of magical. Sadly, Hurricane Agnes decided fun and glamour should not be on the menu for anyone in the ’70s, and the damage to the island was pretty substantial. The club was abandoned pretty quickly, and nature started to take hold. In 2008, the Allegheny Land Trust acquired the island and has been working hard to reintroduce natural species of plants to it and eliminate invasive foreign species. I tried to find pictures of the old club, but unfortunately, even my librarian skills could not help me find any images of what once was. I’m a little miffed. You can see a wonderful aerial shot of the island on the Allegheny Land Trust’s website here.
Despite it being bitterly cold and rainy, we had a fun time picking up garbage and cleaning up our rivers, and our hike around Sycamore identifying trees was incredibly interesting. Even though most of what once was on the island is now gone (thank Agnes), there is still the odd bit of infrastructure like an old pool and some oil drums. It’s looks a lot like something you would see on Lost. In order to help support these local organizations even more, we conducted a t-shirt campaign and raised a good chunk of money that we then donated to the cause. The shirts are delightful and everyone was excited to snatch one up!
Captain Planet wasn’t the only cap we celebrated in May! We also hit up some pretty serious laser tag at Laser Storm for ladies’ night in anticipation of Captain America: Civil War and had a blast! Overall, it was a pretty incredible month for Pittsburgh. Thank you to all of the incredible organizations we were able to work with during #GGBDoBetter for allowing us to help and for all the incredible work they do to help clean up this once environmentally hazardous city (I mean, the sky was notoriously black, thanks steel). Thank you to all our hardworking Brunchettes who volunteered to clean our rivers. If you didn’t get a chance this time, don’t worry, we’ll have many more opportunities. Thank you to HQ and Do Better for inspiring us. Thank you to the Burgh, and GO PENS!