Canning: Never underestimate


In the very center of a colleague’s classroom bulletin board was Margaret Mead’s often-quoted statement: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.” 

Though our Northside is not the world, the significance of that comment rings true in many of our communities.  Small spontaneous groups throughout the Northside are at the root of many programs adding to the quality of life in our neighborhoods. These small groups of committed citizens are determined to improve their corner of the world.

I saw this as a youngster when a few residents in Brighton Heights gathered on Sunday nights at a local dairy store on Brighton Road to offer kids the opportunity to play baseball.

Out of these simple beginnings came the Brighton Heights Athletic Association and the playgrounds behind Marmaduke Street as well as the entire complex of fields and the Jack Stack swimming pool high up on what we all knew as Goat Hill.

I imagine same determination was front and center in the founding of the Acorn Hill Garden Club in Observatory Hill, the early organizing of the Northside Oldtimers, the many civic groups who placed war memorials in their neighborhoods honoring the men and women who served in several of our country’s armed conflicts and the recent movements to improve the Allegheny Commons and Riverview parks.

This month, one such group, the Allegheny Historic Preservation Society, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Tiffany Concert Series, a venue of musical programs that greatly helped in the Society’s mission   to preserve one of the Northside’s most significant landmarks.

In the early 1990s a small group of folks led by Jack Schmidt gathered together to address the  badly deteriorating Calvary Methodist church building at the corner of Allegheny and Beech avenues. 

For the most part, these folks were not Methodists, but they were conscious of the historic, architectural and aesthetic importance of of the crumbling structure.

This group of five or six folks decided that an attempt must be made to create a greater awareness of the building.

That attempt was the origin of the Tiffany Concert Series.  With the concert series as a catalyst for AHPS, the organizations leadership passed from Schmidt to Alice Greller then to Tom Jackson and now to Sandra Pack.  

Working closely with the clerical and lay leadership of Calvary Church, the AHPS raised several millions of dollars that have preserved the magnificent building and given renewed excitement for its growing congregation.

In March and April the Tiffany Concert Series will celebrate its 20th season. On Sunday, March 30, at 4 p.m., The famed Pittsburgh Gospel Choir will be “raising the roof” in song. 

Then a month later, on April 27, at the same time, the Children’s Festival Choir will delight the audience with their program, “A Night at the Opera.”

Both musical programs will be presented in the restored sanctuary flooded with the glorious hues of Calvary’s famed Tiffany windows. These two concerts bring to a close the 20th season of concerts sponsored by the AHPS. And, it all began with a small handful of committed citizens.

Tickets for these concerts are priced at $5 for students, $8 for seniors. and $10 for adults. Here is a great opportunity to enjoy inspiring music in stunning setting, and take part in a program to preserve one of the Northside’s treasured landmarks.

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