Manchester Academic Charter School: Northside Voices – 8th grade

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Northside Counts! 2020 Census

The Northside Chronicle has paired with Manchester Academic Charter School to feature students’ articles.

This month, 8th grade students paired up to interview long-time Northsiders who have contributed to their neighborhoods. To hear the full interviews, visit http://neighborhoodvoices.org/

<<Click here to go back to the MACS content page

Inspiration at its best: Joan Kimmel
By Deontae Coker & Tamiya Martin

I had the pleasure to sit down and talk with Joan Kimmel who is a Northside native. When we first started talking I could see that she was a very outgoing person and very passionate in what she did. She also expressed to us how much she really cares about the Northside. 
Q) What is your name?
A)  My name is Joan Kimmel.
Q) What community on the Northside do you live or work in? 
A) I live in Central Northside and I work right at the very edge of Central Manchester and Northside.
Q) When and what brought you to the north side?
A) I came moved here in 1974 and it turns out that my sister lived here and she has been living here for a few years, and I had somebody already living here, and I was fortunate enough to purchase a house for $3,000.
Q) Why did you stay?
A) Because I fell absolutely in  love with it. I thought the Northside had the most amazing people, things were always changing, it had an amazing mix of people, a huge diversity, and I just never fell out of love with it.
Q) What activities do you do on the Northside?
A) I actually do just about everything on the Northside and it’s not that often that you see me off of the Northside… It’s usually if I’m going to the movies or something. I own a garden center that’s right on Brighton Road, I walk around the park all the time, I shop in the Northside, I have a fancy dinner tomorrow on the Northside.
Q) How have things changed from when you first came to the Northside to now?
A) Well the most pointed is there are thousands more cars than there ever were. When I first moved here there would be at the most five cars, but now you can hardly find a parking space. A lot of people found out how wonderful it is to live in a city where you can walk to things.  More people are moving back to (the city) fix up the houses, so that been a big change.
Q) What is your most memorable moment/event that has happened on the Northside?
A) Oh good heavens. There’s been so many from street parties, to ice skating in Lake Elizabeth, and Christmas Caroling.
Q) Do you have any children, if so how has it made an impact on them?
A) Yes, my daughter, she was seven years old when we first moved here. She went to Martin Luther King grade school, Columbus Middle School, and then that’s right when buses began running, then we sent her to Greenway. When she became an adult she moved to Athens, Oh. But it’s interesting that when she had a child, and he’s now a teenager, she decided to move back to Pittsburgh. It’s one the best places to live.
Q) What was your occupation when you first came to the Northside? What is it now?
A) I was a secretary at the University of Pittsburgh and now I own a garden center called the Urban Gardener.
Q) What contributions do you feel you and your business have made to the Northside?
A)  Well one contribution I feel I have made is that I took an old vacant abandoned gas station and turned it into a just a massive greenery of flowers, which is a place that people come from all over the region.  We don’t  just get our customers from the Northside. For me personally I think that it is important.  I was involved from the time I came here in my community organization, so beyond the board, we work on affordable housing, we help take care of the problems the community is having with the city.
Q) How do you envision the future of the Northside?
A) I think it will be just fabulous.  I think it will be the star of the city, it’s positioned beautifully, we have many benefits and assets here. West Park is one of the most amazing parks.

People always ask: Tom Roberts
By Taylor Fitzpatrick  & Shayonna Herring

My name is Taylor Fitzpatrick. This past week, Shayonna Herring and I had the opportunity to interview a Nortside resident, Tom Roberts. We found Mr. Roberts to be a very charismatic Northsider who makes a positive contribution to the community. 
Q) What is your name?
A) Tom Roberts.
Q) What community on the Northside do you live or work in?
A) I live in the Mexican War Streets of the Northside.
Q) When and what brought you here?
A) I actually grew up in Pittsburgh, and then I had moved to New Orleans to go touring with another musician. I then moved from New Orleans to Maryland.  Then I moved back to Pittsburgh.  I started looking for a recording studio when I found one on North Avenue on the Northside. I chose this recording studio because Johnny Costa, a pianist who played for Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and a childhood hero of mine, and recorded there.
Q) Why did you stay?
A) I loved the old buildings around and the diversity that takes place on the Northside. I liked being surround by colorful types of people.
Q) What activities do you like to do on the Northside?
A) I enjoy walking my dog around West Park and Riverview Park. I also like going to Buena Vista Coffee Shop where there are tons of fun people. They also have movie nights and game nights. I also enjoy teaching kids all over the Northside how to play the piano.
Q) How have things changed from when you first came to the Northside and now?
A) The biggest thing is the prices of houses are going up and becoming expensive. Also it seems as if everyone is splitting up and branching off into their own groups instead of staying as a community. Other than that people are around the same.
Q) What was your most memorable moment or event that took place on the Northside?
A) Everyday there is something memorable and worth account. I could be depressed beyond belief and just walk around the Northside and people would amaze me. If I had to pin down to one it would be when the Northside had their 100th anniversary and my wife and I performed.
Q) What was your occupation when you first came to the Northside?
A) I have always been a musician.
Q) What contribution do you feel that you have made to the Northside?
A) I feel as if I am the ambassador of the Northside. I can go around telling people that, “Yes I live on the Northside, yes it is safe, and yes it is a beautiful community.”  When I talk to my friends and they ask me if the Northside is safe and I always turn the tables on them and ask them if they feel safe just to stick it to them. We have brought a lot of people from the East End to the Northside to visit the coffee shop for concerts and also to the pub. A lot people come and end up saying wow who knew this was here.
Q) How do you envision the future of the Northside?
A) Well, I would like to see smaller businesses. Not a lot of chain stores.  I enjoy the fact that we have the Amani Café, the Buena Vista Coffee Shop, and the Café and Creamery. I would like to see us, as community take care of each other.  I would also like to see people calling the Northside as a “self sufficient” community.

 

City of Asylum: Barbara Russell
By Chayce Mack and Jzahlee Norrington    

Hi my name is Chayce Mack. Jzahlee and I had the opportunity to interview Barbara Russell of the Northside. I found Barbara Russell to be a very interesting and outgoing Northsider.

Q) What is your name?
A) Barbara Russell
Q) Which community in the Northside do you live in?
A) I live in the Central Northside in the Mexican War streets. I live on Monterey Street in a house that was built in 1875.
Q) When and what brought you to the Northside?
A) The house.  I had some friends that had bought Franco Harris’s house. It was on the corner of West North Avenue and they liked the neighborhood so much that they told us about it and we found a house. Also, the price was right.
Q) Why did you stay?
A) Because of the people. I love my house but, mostly because of the people. The neighbors became such good friends I felt that I had made friends here, a lot of friends that became life-long friends. Then my sister had found a house across the street from us. My sister was living there too which made it very comfortable.
Q) What activities do you like to do on the Northside?
A) I love the fact that we have the park.  I think West Park is a beautiful park and I love the fact that it’s there. I use the park just to walk through it just enjoying the park. And as far as activities I like the library, the theatre and the Giant Eagle.
Q) How have things changed from when you first came to the Northside and now?
A) Since the early 1970’s I seen my neighborhood change by having lots of people by the houses and fix them up. One of the things that had happened in the neighborhood was that when I moved in there was a lot of government money that was available for fixing up houses. People came because it was affordable and they were getting money to fix up the houses. Fortunately the money ran out so people with money came and fixed up the houses. And property values went up.
Q) Do you have any friends or relatives that reside on the Northside? If so where?
A) My sister who lives across the street, and I had lots of friends which were my neighbors.
Q) What was your most memorable moment or event that took place on the Northside?
A) In the last couple of years there was a group called “City of Asylum” which provides housing and health insurance for writers and poets. Ralph Reese and his wife Diane decided to organize the City of Asylum. They bought one of the houses on Sampsonia and redid the house, then had a Chinese man come. The Chinese man was a poet who came from China who wrote a poem on the front of this house before he was put in jail.
Q) Do you have any children? If so, how has the Northside made an impact on him?
A) I have a son and a daughter. My son who is a musician and daughter who is a teacher… Because living in the neighborhood the children he met he wouldn’t identify them by race or nationality.
Q) What is your educational background?
A) I am a graduate of Indiana University. My degree is education I taught fourth grade and sixth grade. I was one of the first teachers on WQED. I taught sixth grade reading when it was just a education program. I taught sixth grade reading and taught for ten years.
Q) What was your occupation when you came to the Northside?
A) I was a teacher. Now I help show teachers how to use drama techniques. I am still an educator and actor.
Q) What contribution do you feel you have made to the Northside?
A) By supporting organizations and being on committees. By donating money to organizations and (being) the person in the neighborhood with all the information. I support the Northside.  When people talk about it or say anything bad, I try to answer it.
Q) How do you envision the future of the Northside?
A) The neighborhood is getting better. The theatre getting fixed and changed. The Northside is changing slowly, but with the attitude we have the Northside will change.

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