Above: Allegheny Commons Park overlooking the city of Pittsburgh. (Photo courtesy Allegheny Commons Initiative)

A new project of the Allegheny Commons Initiative will offer visitors to the park a new way to engage with some old trees.

A $7,500 grant from the Sprout Fund will finance a new set signs featuring QR codes on significant heritage trees and historic monuments that park visitors can scan with their smart phones to learn more about the history of the trees and the park.

“There are over 1,000 trees in the park and a lot of the history of the park is related to the trees,” said Sean Brady, fundraising consultant for the Allegheny Commons Initiative. “There’s a lot to say about a tree that’s 100 years old [that wouldn’t fit on] traditional signage.”

The Initiative hopes to finish the project by July of 2013.

In January, The Allegheny Commons Initiative will begin recruiting tree tenders and community members through their Facebook page and through their e-mail newsletters. They’re looking for individuals who are invested in the community and are looking to get involved with this project.

After recruiting volunteers and polling what they’re most interested in reading about, the Initiative will begin its research in the spring for the articles and videos that will be linked by the QR codes.

QR Codes are two dimensional bar codes that smartphones can scan and bring up web pages.

“This is a way to engage with a younger crowd and convey a lot of information through a simple symbol,” said Brady.

The Allegheny Commons Initiative is a community led program done in collaboration with the Northside Leadership Conference that is working to improve and restore Allegheny Commons.

They’ve completed the first stage of the restoration by replacing lamps and walkways in East Park where the farmers market is held.

In 2013 through 2016, the Initiative plans to continue the restoration of the walkways and lights down W. North Avenue and reestablish the North East Fountain across from Allegheny General Hospital as a community resource with a circular water fountain, landscaping and seating.

Once the walkways, fountain and lighting project is complete, the goals for 2016-2019 will be to redesign the area of the park around Lake Elizabeth and replace the pedestrian bridge.

For those interested in getting involved or supporting the organization, the Allegheny Commons Initiative has a Friends Program that allows businesses, individuals and residents invest in the park with tax deductible donations.

Friends members receive seasonal guided tours of the parks, and memberships can be gifted.

For more information, go to www.alleghenycommons.org.