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AlphaLab Gear, new accelerator, signs lease in East Liberty

AlphaLab Gear, a new accelerator from the South Side-based InnovationWorks program, has signed a lease for space in East Liberty.

Colliers International, the leasing agent for the new East Liberty developments at Indigo Square and the nearby space on Broad Street, confirmed that AlphaLab Gear will occupy 10,000 square feet and its lease includes rights to expand. The space, located at 6024 Broad Street, places it right next door to Thrill Mill and its business incubator, HustleDen, and within close proximity to the Tech Shop and Google’s Pittsburgh headquarters.

“It’s great to have these types of business. If we can mash together enough high-tech, like-minded startup groups, that can start a great tech community in that area,” says Mark Anderson, vice president of office and retail brokerage with Colliers.

AlphaLab Gear is a new accelerator for companies creating hardware, robotics and other physical products, says Terri Glueck of Innovation Works. Their AlphaLab, which is on the South Side, runs two sessions per year, each lasting 20 weeks. During sessions, enrolled entrepreneurs receive $25,000 in investment capital, office space, mentoring and educational sessions to help get their fledgling companies off the ground.

“We were interested from the beginning in having tech companies in the area. It’s good for East Liberty and Pittsburgh as a whole to mass these tech companies in one location,” Anderson added.

Anderson added that the building at the corner of Highland Avenue and Broad Street still has some 9,000 square feet available in retail and office space.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Mark Anderson

Meet Hop Farm, Lawrenceville's newest craft brewery

Lawrenceville will get its second craft brewery of the summer within the next two weeks when Hop Farm Brewing Company opens the doors to its 4,700 square-foot space at 5601 Butler Street.

“This is the first time I’ve done this,” says Hop Farm founder Matt Gouwens. “It’s a big undertaking.”

Gouwens, who worked as a web and graphic designer before deciding to start a brewery, has been operating as a home brewer for the last five years, growing different varieties of hops in his yard.

When he decided to go commercial, he knew he couldn’t grow all of his own hops, and wanted to add a local spin to his product.

“I thought, ‘why not get a farmer involved in this?’” says Gouwens.

Hop Farm’s hops will come from an actual hop farm that’s currently being set up in Cranberry Township.
When he opens for business later this month, Gouwens says he’ll have a selection of three beers — a saison, a nut brown and naturally, an IPA.

“Our plan after that is getting into a Russian Imperial Stout and aging it in some bourbon barrels,” says Gouwens.

Hop Farm’s beers will initially be available only in growlers, but Gouwens says he will begin canning them once the government approves his label.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Matt Gouwens

The Hardware Store brings a new cooperative, entrepreneurial space to South Pittsburgh

For a startup company or freelance media producer, office space can be an unaffordable luxury.

That’s why Josh Lucas, the founder of internet crowd-funding startup Crowdasaurus, had been looking to open a shared office space on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

“It’s hard to run your company in a Google Hangout,” Lucas says, referring to Google's free videoconferecing tool.  

With help from with Mount Washington Community Development Corporation and developer RE 360, he found that space at 744 East Warrington Avenue in Allentown.

Dubbed The Hardware Store, the co-working office space is designed for entrepreneurs and freelance media producers to have access to fundamental, day-to-day business needs. Among its facilities, The Hardware Store will feature 30 desks, 20 glass markerboards, a podcasting studio, a full audio production suite and a 20-foot green screen.

Having access to the space and tools to create a product is only part of The Hardware Store’s appeal, says Lucas. “The benefit to a small company occupying this space is that they get to interact with the collaborative network of people coming through the doors. We’re using our network of entrepreneurs to get the space rolling.”

Anyone may apply to rent a desk in the space on a month-to-month basis, which includes access to all of The Hardware Store’s facilities. Day rates are also available for smaller project work.

The Hardware Store will be ready for tenants to begin occupying the shared space by July 1.

For more information on The Hardware Store, contact Crowdasaurus.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Josh Lucas

Eat + Drink: open-air Sienna Mercato; Andys Wine Bar on the street; Embody Natural Health

- A three-level, multi-restaurant concept known as Sienna Mercato is coming to Downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.

Owners of Market Square’s Sienna Sulla Piazza have recently bought the former Trombino building at 942 Penn Avenue, and plan to build a glass-enclosed, rooftop dining space on the building’s top level. The enclosure will be retractable, creating an open-air dining space in warm weather.

Each floor in the project will be a separate restaurant concept, which owner David Gilpatrick says will be unique from each other, as well as Sienna Sulla Piazza. Chef Matthew Porco, also of the Market Square restaurant, will lead the Sienna Mercato project.

Gilpatrick says each restaurant will be sit-down, casual dining, and each floor will feature a bar.

- Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week (PCBW), a celebration of the region’s local brewing culture, continues this week until Saturday, April 27th. The festivities include beer tastings, exclusive PCBW releases, dinner pairings at local restaurants, and brewer meet-and-greets.  For more information visit the PCBW website.

- Andys Wine Bar has taken it to the streets. Located in Downtown’s Fairmont Hotel, the bar has added sidewalk dining and a lunch menu of international street food, including ramen, sushi, bánh mì, and more. Andys continues to feature live jazz in the hotel’s lobby, Tuesday through Saturday, every week.

- Embody Natural Health, a juice cafe and studio, will mark its first year in Lawrenceville with a celebration this evening from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The cafe offers fresh, organic juice and smoothies, and features sidewalk seating.

Owner Aimee Woods also offers healthy food at her shop that is ready-made and available for take-out, what she calls healthy convenience food. Among other items, Embody now offers sushi from Penn Avenue Fish Company.

Woods also provides health coaching at the studio, helping clients plan for individual lifestyles. Yoga, juice cleanse, and other services are also available.


Writer: Andrew Moore

The Wheel Mill now open, city's first indoor bicycle park

Pittsburgh’s first indoor bicycle park, The Wheel Mill, is now open in Homewood. The 80,000 square-foot facility is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth, and is one of just a few in the nation.

Located at 6815 Hamilton Avenue, the facility offers year-round riding opportunities for mountain biking and BMX, with with skill levels ranging from beginner to advanced. Lines are marked in green, blue, and black diamond, corresponding to difficulty.

Current features at The Wheel Mill include the expert jump line, mini ramp and micro mini-ramps, foam pit, beginner mountain bike room, and street plaza (similar to a skatepark), as well as the 7-and-under area.  A lounge area is also open.

Owner Harry Geyer says several ramps are repurposed favorites from the former Mr. Smalls Skate Park, reconfigured in the new setting. Construction of the lines was completed in-house by Geyer—who also owns a reclaimed lumber business—and other local builders.

Several features under construction and opening soon include the beginner jump line, technical mountain bike line, and flow mountain bike trail section. A banked oval track and intermediate jump line are also coming soon.

Geyer credits the city’s dedicated bicycle scene—including Velomuse, the Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group (PTAG), and Bike Pittsburgh—for fostering an engaged cycling culture in the city. “That’s really the only reason that this was a feasible idea, is because everybody else laid the foundation,” Geyer says.

The Wheel Mill is open Monday to Friday, 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Harry Geyer

Eat + Drink: Il Pizzaiolo in Market Square; Aspara Cafe; The Steer and Wheel food truck

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly roundup of Pittsburgh's food scene.


- One of Pittsburgh’s newest food trucks is The Steer and Wheel, which serves antibiotic- and hormone-free beef burgers. All beef is sourced locally from Penn's Corner Farm Alliance, ground fresh daily on the truck, and served on Mediterra Bakehouse breads and rolls.

Burgers included the Chesapeake (Old Bay rub); The Bacon Squared (balsamic bacon jam, chive cheddar, lettuce, tomato, bacon on an onion roll); and the Andre (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, smoked gouda, grain mustard on an onion roll).

To find The Steer and Wheel food truck, look for them at The Coffee Buddha (often along with the PGH Taco Truck), or follow them on Twitter or Facebook. 412-230-7323.

- Apsara Cafe has opened in the South Side, a new restaurant offering Thai and Cambodian cuisine. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. 1703 East Carson Street. 412-251-0664.

- Il Pizzaiolo’s opened a second location in Market Square, serving its highly regarded and authentic Neapolitan-style pizza. Like the Mt. Lebanon original, the new restaurant’s pizzas are cooked in a wood-burning ovens, built by Italian artisans.

Il Pizzaiolo replaces the former Lubin and Smalley flower shop at 8 Market Square (between Starbucks and Moe’s Southwest Grill). The 40-seat restaurant includes a bar on each level of the storefront space. 412-575-5853.

- On Monday, April 22nd, Downtown’s Vallozzi’s will host a benefit dinner and film screening of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. The event is a benefit for the Western Pennsylvania & West Virginia Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Tickets are $20, and can be purchased online or at the door; for more information contact: rachealleelacek@gmail.com. 226 Fifth Avenue. Monday, April 22nd, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.


Writer: Andrew Moore

Urban Stitches hopes to build a community of sewers

Although Tameka Reed comes from a long line of seamstresses, she learned to sew in her middle school home economics class. So when she learned that many area schools had dropped sewing from their curriculum, she decided to open a business that would help the craft continue to thrive.

Reed’s recently opened Urban Stitches shop is a sewing lounge that she hopes will inspire crafters of all ages to pick up needle and thread for the first time, as well as provide a supportive, social environment for more advanced sewers.

At her Monroeville facility Reed offers weekly classes for adults and youth, in addition to open studio hours for independent work. Her Introduction to Sewing class allows newcomers to use sewing machines for the first time, and complete a series of small projects.

"Learning the basics is a good thing to get you out of catastrophies," Reed says, "and I've had several wardrobe disasters over the years that sewing came in handy for."

Additional workshops include dressmaking, children’s wear, alterations, and contemporary quilting, as well as men’s fashion. Classes range from $35 to $150 for single-day and multiple-day workshops.

Reed says her fashion sewing classes are geared for working women wanting to make or amend career clothing that is hip and contemporary.

Reed hopes Urban Stitches can introduce sewing to new audiences—especially within Pittsburgh’s vibrant maker community—as a creative, useful skill. "Things are finally starting to trend back toward things made by hand, and crafting, and things that you can make and put your own personal little stamp on," she says.

In addition to Urban Stitches, Reed teaches sewing at Westinghouse High School in Homewood through the YWCA's After School Program.

Urban Stitches is located at 3948 Monroeville Blvd, Suite 1 in the Presidential Village Plaza, Monroeville.


Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Tameka Reed

From Etsy to a storefront: Garbella's handmade goods and gear

In just a few short years Amy Garbark has turned a screen-printing hobby into a thriving storefront business.

Garbella, Garbark's hand-screen-printed apparel, accessories and home goods line, began as an Etsy store in 2006 but now boasts distribution in over 50 stores across the country, and locally in boutiques like Lawrenceville's WildCard. In May Garbark is moving production to a storefront in Lower Lawrenceville, a building she has recently bought with her husband, Stephen Cummings.

 "I've always been a maker," Garbark says, "In 2008 I set up a little studio in my basement, and started from there."

Garbark's first foray into screen-printing began with an I Bike Pittsburgh t-shirt, made just for herself and friends, at Artists Image Resource (AIR). But the shirt became popular with other cyclists in the city, and remains a top seller. Other designs include P is For Pierogi baby onesies and bibs, a line of women's and men's clothing, clocks made from reused bicycle parts, as well as kitchen items and tote bags.

With exposure at The Handmade Arcade and I Made It! Market craft shows Garbella continued to grow, and in 2008 it became her fulltime job. As the business grew and production slowly took over her living space, Garbella clearly needed a home of its own. In preparation for her first wholesale industry tradeshow last August, Garbark moved production to a small storefront in Morningside.

But when the space in Lawrenceville became available—a small, 1,000-square-foot, one-story commercial structure amidst residences—it offered Garbark an opportunity to create a custom production facility suited to Garbella’s specific needs. Garbark is working with JCI Development to raise the flat roof, create storage space, and install skylights that will add an abundance of natural lighting.

Garbark and Cummings have lived in Lawrenceville for several years. "I am excited to bring my business back here and be able to easily walk or ride my bike to work," Garbark says.
 

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Amy Garbark

Eat + Drink: Tender Bar + Kitchen; Notion now open; Redbeard's; The Pub Chip Shop

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly roundup of Pittsburgh's food scene.


- Tender Bar + Kitchen will celebrate a grand opening next Friday, April 5th. The restaurant features a “Gatsby-era atmosphere,” regional American cuisine, and a craft cocktail list.

Renovations to the restaurant’s historic building—the former Arsenal Bank—unearthed artifacts such as bank checks from the 1890’s, a pair of handmade stone dice, and a vault alarm system, whose 1930’s electronics will be on display in the restaurant.

Tender is the second concept from Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina proprietor Jeff Catalina.  The menu includes regional dishes such as lobster rolls, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits. Tender is located at 4300 Butler Street, Lawrenceville. 412-402-9522.

- Notion has reopened in East Liberty. Chef-owner David Racicot closed the original Oakmont eatery in late 2011 with plans to bring the restaurant to a more central location in Pittsburgh. The smaller, 28-seat space is located at 128 S. Highland Avenue, near the neighborhood's many popular dining destinations, including BRGR, Abay Ethiopian Cuisine, Paris 66, and more.

- Piper's Pub owner Drew Topping is opening a new United Kingdom-style fish-and-chip shop called The Pub Chip Shop. The menu will include pasties, a stuffed British pastry, and other U.K. take-out fare.  It will be located in the adjacent Victorian storefront to Piper's Pub, at 1830 E. Carson Street. 

- Redbeard's  on 6th Sports Bar and Grill is opening soon in Downtown Pittsburgh, at 144 6th Street. It is a second location of the original Redbeard’s, which has served Mount Washington for more than 20 years.

Redbeard’s replaces the former Palazzo Ristorante, and is adjacent to Six Penn Kitchen. The Roberto Clemente Bridge is just one block away, which connects pedestrians to PNC Park on Pirates game days.
 

Writer: Andrew Moore

Morningside rising: Ola's Herb Shop, Capoeira Angola; and coming soon: The Bulldog Pub

Ola's Herb Shop is not located in a busy retail district, and that's fine with owner Ola Obasi.

On a sleepy corner in Morningside, Obasi's shop is a multi-use space that is dedicated to enhancing the personal wellness of all members of the community. It's a center for herbal medicine, energy work, and lifestyle coaching, but also the production facility for Obasi's all-natural product line, Nourishing Botanicals.

And Obasi's husband, Eric Biesecker, also teaches Capoeira Angola, the Afro-Brazilian martial art and fight dance, at the shop.  While the neighborhood's commercial district might be quiet, this particular storefront (typically open by appointment only) is filled with a holistic, healing energy.

Now, thanks to businesses like Obasi's and the dedication of many other community members, Morningside itself is poised for an awakening.

A new commercial structure has been built next to the neighborhood’s Rite Aid. The pharmacy itself has been renovated, as has the Morningside Market, which benefitted from the URA’s façade renovation program.

And the long-awaited Bulldog Pub & Grill—named for the neighborhood's youth football team—is expected to open on March 15th, at 1818 Morningside Avenue (just in time for St. Patrick's Day). The restaurant is a project of Morningside native Terry Golden.

Grant Ervin, Executive Director of the Morningside Area Community Council, says there has been a need for family-friendly community gathering spaces.

“There’s a big opportunity for that type of third place in the neighborhood,” he says. Ervin expects the Bulldog Pub—whose renovations are making the space even more inviting—to succeed in filling that role.

Ervin says Morningside’s lower rents have allowed entrepreneurs to develop their companies without the burden of excessive overheads. “It’s a good place if you’re looking to open a business,” he says.

 
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Ola Obasi; Grant Ervin

Eat + Drink: Casa Rasta, Pizzarita, Texas de Brazil, Egyptian in Brookline: Isis Cafe

Eat + Drink is Pop City's roundup of Pittsburgh's food scene.

The popular Beechview restaurant Casa Rasta has reopened at a new space on Broadway Avenue, just two doors down from its original location. While patrons can still order tacos and burritos—like jerk chicken or citrus marinated pork—an expanded menu now includes appetizers, entrees, and desserts. 

Chef Antonio Fraga says these new menu items are an even better showcase of Casa Rasta’s fusion of Caribbean and Mexican flavors, including beef tongue with avocado or Isleño sauce, and a Caribbean salad with grilled pineapple, roasted corn, and spicy coconut.

The new space—at 2056 Broadway Avenue—also includes a full-service bar, though a liquor license is still pending. The restaurant seats up to 60, including a seasonal outdoor dining area. 

In the former Casa Rasta space—which sat only ten, and was primarily take-out—Fraga and his wife, Laura, plan to open a vegan and vegetarian restaurant serving Rastafarian Ital cuisine. They expect to open the new eatery within the next several months.

Casa Rasta first opened just over a year ago, in December 2011. Previously the couple had briefly operated a taco stand in the Strip District. 412-918-9683.

- Texas de Brazil has announced it will open a new, 7,500-square-foot restaurant in the South Side’s Station Square. It will be the Brazilian steakhouse’s 27th location. Seating over 200, the restaurant will include an interchangeable bar and patio space with river views.  Visit the restaurant's website to stay updated on an opening date.

- Isis Café, a new restaurant serving Egyptian cuisine, opened recently in Brookline.  Its menu features traditional Egyptian dishes—including okra tagen, duck with honey, samboussa, and fava bean falafel—with special entrees changing daily.

Isis is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, and offers a Sunday brunch.  815 Brookline Boulevard. 412-207-2485.

- Pizzarita opened recently in Shaler Township, the third pizzeria owned by the Posteraro family.  It joins Bloomfield’s Angelo’s and Grazzino’s pizza shops.  Located off Route 8 (580 Burchfield Road), Pizzarita is open Tuesday through Sunday. 412-487-1112.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore

ZipPitt plans to run zip line from Mount Washington to North Shore

Adam Young is one step closer to flying from Mount Washington to the North Shore.  The Carnegie resident is proposing a zip line that would sail from near the Duquesne Incline to the Carnegie Science Center.

ZipPitt, as the project is called, was awarded a $1,000 Awesome Pittsburgh grant last week.  The organization has also helped Young with strategizing and advising on how to make this dream of flight a reality.

 “We think it will be pretty amazing taking in the view from that perspective,” Young says.  “I think it would be great for the residents and people visiting Pittsburgh to immerse themselves into the essence of the cityscape.”

The half-mile proposed zip line would cross the Ohio River at 50 mph and with a 400 foot vertical drop. Young will use the grant funds to bring a national zip line company to Pittsburgh to conduct a feasability study.

Young says the project has verbal arrangements with property owners at the proposed take-off and landing sites.  A landing platform would be constructed at the North Shore location with enough height to prevent interference with river traffic.

ZipPitt still needs approvals and permits from the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Young says currently the only urban zip line in the United States is in Las Vegas, where for five blocks riders sail between buildings in that city’s downtown skyline. 

ZipPitt would cost customers approximately $30 to ride.  Young believes it would of interest to city visitors, particularly those riding bikes or renting kayaks near other North Shore attractions, as well as city residents.

Awesome Pittsburgh, which awarded its most recent grant to ZipPitt, is a local chapter of the Awesome Foundation, whose goal it is to forward the “interest of Awesomeness” with $1,000 micro grants.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Adam Young

La Dorita, maker of all-natural dulce de leche, opens co-working commercial kitchen

Josephine Caminos Oría grew up with the inimitable taste of homemade dulce de leche.  Her Argentine grandmother, who often lived with Oría’s family in Pittsburgh, always kept a fresh jar of this sweet spread on hand—for breakfast, dessert, or anytime in between.

Recognizing that all-natural, preservative-free dulce de leche was nearly impossible to find—much less understood—in the region, Oría began producing her own brand for sale at farmers markets in 2009. She used her Grandmother Dorita’s recipe, and named the company after her—La Dorita.

But when it came time to increase production, and expand distribution to a Whole Foods or Giant Eagle, there was just one problem—there were no suitable commercial kitchen spaces for a food startup like La Dorita.  So Oría and her husband, Gaston, have started their own.

The La Dorita Kitchen Share Space has just opened in Sharpsburg, and is a co-working space for food.  The licensed, commercial kitchen is fully equipped—standard and convection ovens, stainless steel work areas, freezers and refrigerators—but aims to offer more than just physical space.

Oría says the plan is to make the kitchen a synergistic food incubator, offering consulting on topics from insurance policies and loans to small business resources and distribution networks.  It's open to groups or individuals, and Oría hopes it can be a hub for artisan foodmakers.

A successful Kickstarter campaign, which ended last fall, raised over $50,000 to help convert the 4,000-square-foot space into the new community kitchen.  Members will also have access to a bar and dining space for special events.

Since this type of facility wasn’t available when La Dorita first began production, the Orías had to convert their home kitchen into a commercial kitchen.  With the co-working kitchen now open in Sharpsburg, the new goal is to convert an adjacent space into the official La Dorita production facility.

“Hopefully by 2014 we will be out of our kitchen and I will have gotten my dining room back,” Oría says.

La Dorita’s line of products—including dulce de leche with dark chocolate and a dulce de leche liqueur—are now available at Giant Eagle Market Districts, McGinnis Sisters stores, and Whole Foods in the mid-Atlantic region.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Josephine Caminos Oría

Unifaun, Rather Ripped, new record stores in Lawrenceville

Unifaun Records opened last week in Upper Lawrenceville, the second record shop to open in the neighborhood in just two months.

Located at 5417 Butler Street, the shop is owned by recent Brooklyn-transplant Larry DeMellier.  Unifaun specializes in rock, jazz, and Americana, as well as soul, prog, psych, and other “record collecting” genres, DeMellier says.

DeMellier had worked in New York City’s music industry ever since graduating from Syracuse University in 1997.  Having spent time at Sire, London, and Warner Bros. Records—and at record shops in high school and college—DeMellier amassed a sizeable record collection, and a passion for the hobby. 

But as that industry began to downsize, DeMellier looked to Pittsburgh—where his family has migrated—for a new opportunity.  He believes Pittsburgh’s music history, live music scene, and record collecting culture make it a place where record shops can still thrive.  “I believe there’s room for all of us,” he says.

In addition to vinyl, DeMellier’s collection of 60’s and 70’s non-commercial posters—used to promote an album’s release—are on display throughout the shop.  The music inventory consists primarily of used vinyl and CD’s, but DeMellier expects to carry new vinyl releases in the near future.

Unifaun’s storefront location had been vacant for the past five years, but was most recently an auto-parts store.

And another shop, a new incarnation of Rather Ripped Records, has opened recently at 4314 Butler Street.  It’s a new life for the shop which first opened over 40 years ago in Berkeley, California, and hosted album signings for bands like the Clash, Blondie, and Sonic Youth.

Lawrenceville’s third record store, 720 Records, opened on Butler Street two years ago.  Located at 4405 Butler Street, 720 specializes in hip-hop, soul, and jazz, and also serves as a performance space, café, and clothing shop. 

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Larry DeMellier

Pittsburgh Paragliding instructor is first to speedfly from Machu Picchu

Last month Pittsburgh resident Jon Potter became the first person to speedfly from the top of Peru’s Machu Picchu.  The flight, which is like paragliding but much faster, wasn’t permitted and afterward involved hiding from authorities in the jungle for several hours.

Having conquered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Potter is back to a tamer pursuit: teaching paragliding to Pittsburghers.

Last fall, Potter launched Pittsburgh Paragliding with lifelong friend Adam Schwartz.  Since opening they’ve taught the sport to over a hundred folks in the hills of Allegheny County.  For $195 students get two hours of instruction, which Potter says is ample time to learn to fly.

“I have never had someone who wasn’t able to fly,” he says.  “It’s relatively easy to start out.”

Paragliding is free flight using a parachute that’s large enough to actually gain lift.  According to Potter, a flyer can stay in the air for hours at a time.  With speedflying, a flyer can only go down, and at very high speeds.

The business is the only of its kind in Western Pennsylvania.  Schwartz and Potter are licensed through the United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association.  All equipment for gliding or flying is provided, except for boots, which students should be comfortable running in.

Lessons typically take place in Hampton Township, but locations are subject to change based on wind conditions.

Unpredictable wind conditions are one of the main reasons speedflying from Machu Picchu, which descends from 7,970 feet above sea level into a steep canyon, is considered so dangerous.  A previous paragliding attempt from Machu Picchu was successful, but according to Potter, he was the first to speedfly from the heritage site.

“There’s something to be said about doing something first,” he says.  “It’s like the bread and butter of what paragliding is all about, being able to do something so monumental.”

Potter is also co-operator of Not Another Hostel, in Lawrenceville.  The donations-based hostel opened last summer, and is the only accommodation of its kind in Pittsburgh.  The University of California, Berkley is currently studying the hostel’s pay model.

Click here to watch a video of Potter's speedflight off Machu Picchu.
 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Jon Potter
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