Tagged Pittsburgh

Building bridges and taking risks

Money Raised for Planned Parenthood (so far!)
Money raised for Planned Parenthood as of Feb. 25th, 2017.

I can barely believe it.

Over the course of a few months, my Build Bridges Pittsburgh design has raised nearly $8k for PPWPA. What started as a hopeful venture with no guarantees— an order of 50 t-shirts from Tiny Little Monster— turned into an epic movement. With the help of Tiny’s web store option, I was able to sell the unisex tees PLUS  a variety of Build Bridges gear, to include hoodies, onesies and totes.

I finally finished up with web sales through Tiny for now, but a limited supply is still available at Biddle’s Escape—my coffeeshop home-away-from-home in Regent Square. I might consider selling them on Etsy for the summer to help start up my shop business and to make some money of my own.

Speaking of Etsy…

1flychicken creations Etsy Shop
The not-so-fully-stocked Etsy shop I finally made, 1flychicken creations.

I finally worked up the nerve to launch my own Etsy shop, 1flychicken creations. There are only a few things up as of now, but I hope to expand my physical collection as well as my digital download offerings. If you have any ideas for either (anything you may have seen me doing lately or want to request), hit me up. I’m working on creating and scanning in some watercolor paintings to get greeting cards printed. I know cards are no moneymaker, but I love making them and the idea of sending sweet, thoughtful notes to people who might need a lift. Cheeseball, I know.

 

Build Bridges Pittsburgh - Billboard by Meghan Tutolo
Joe, owner of Biddle’s Escape, used his own funds to help spread the positive message.

One of the most surreal and incredible moments of this fundraising journey has been to see this guy on a billboard: my design and the positive message spread by yinz guys! #LOVETRUMPSHATE (And isn’t this proof?)

For as much as the last few months have disgusted and disappointed me (politically), this message and those who have helped to carry it have astounded me with their hope and generosity. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope we can continue to build upon it and to take care of one another.

xo

mt

 

 

T-shirt for a cause, yinz guys

BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS // Pittsburgh T-Shirt Design by Meghan Tutolo ©

 

If you know Pittsburgh, you know the implication of bridges.

Not just that they close for repairs causing confusingly intricate detours or that they clog at rush-hour in a stampede of homebound yinzers, but the meaning in it all (even in the frustration) is that they are so very important to us.

“City of Bridges,” we’re called.

Built on industry and the treasures of the mineral-rich Allegheny Mountains, Pittsburgh is situated at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where they merge into the Ohio—the three rivers form a triangle, if you can imagine it. With 446 bridges at last count, “City of Bridges” is an understatement, really. We’re utterly dependent on them.

The past year has been one for destruction, it seems: from the demolition of the Greenfield Bridge last December to the epic and nearly irreversible fire damage caused to the Liberty Bridge (in the midst of an $80 million reconstruction, no less). But the real threat to our everyday (in Pittsburgh and beyond)—detours and delays aside—has come from a not-so-concrete source: a certain president-elect’s campaign.

Like many, I have spent the last few weeks in shock and horror. Not just because my candidate didn’t win, but because we have elected an unqualified, overinflated and narcissistic hatemonger. Whether he believes in the bigotry and intolerance himself is irrelevant. He used a group of people—the hopeless worn-out underbelly of this country’s dying industry—as a means to his own end by scapegoating, making impossible promises and inciting violence and hate.

(Really, I don’t want to hear that you do not align yourself with such values, Mr. Almost-President. In fact, your “just stop it” admonition on television was as weak as it was hypocritical. You did this. You can’t just hit the stop button.)

I won’t lie. I’m angry, fed up. I’ve deleted Facebook friends. I’ve ignored. I’ve blocked. I’ve holed myself up in a bubble, comfortable only at my local coffeeshop and my apartment (with my two smooshy-faced cats and my partner.) I’ve wanted to punch out family members, pelt eggs at signs, scream at the top of my lungs, ram into the car in front of me just for donning the wrong bumper sticker… but I know it won’t help, that I will just be feeding the thing I am fighting against.

“I’m done being nice,” I’ve said, over and over. And I mean it.

But what I mean is… I refuse to be quiet, to be passive, to let this be normal, to watch people I love be badgered or bullied. No, I won’t clock the conservative with the “Make America Great Again” hat in the checkout line, but I won’t shut up either. So I made a t-shirt.

“Figure out a way to use your art,” said a wise man and fellow fixture at Biddle’s Escape, responding to the expression of my post-election helpless-hopelessness.

I created the BUILD BRIDGES NOT WALLS design because I needed to do something. With the help from my friends and their realized dream, Tiny Little Monster, we were able to create a snuggly soft tee with a powerful message. The best part? I will be sending all of the profits for t-shirt sales to Planned Parenthood of Western PA.

My hope now is that we’ll only get stronger from this division, that somehow this brigade of big hearts will triumph. Just as the Greenfield Bridge replacement takes shape over 376, just as the Liberty Bridge has been recovered from its near-collapse… we keep moving, we keep finding a way to the other side.

 

BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS // Pittsburgh T-Shirt Design by Meghan Tutolo ©

Get Your T-Shirt

BUILD BRIDGES NOT WALLS shirts are available to pre-order online (shipping out February 7th) or drop by Biddle’s Escape in Regent Square to pick up a shirt and a French Toast Latte.

For special orders or ideas, drop me a line.

<3
mt

 

 

*Special thanks to Tiny Little Monster for their cause-loving discount which has allowed me to donate over half of the money from each purchase to the cause. 
**Also, a big thank-you to Joe Davis (a.k.a. Mr. Biddles) for believing in me and the cause (always).

Moving and not moving

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So it goes.

A and I packed up our shit, piled into our friends’ car and hit the road for Asheville last Thursday morning. Doped up on Dramamine and too little sleep, my heart was fluttering and flying. Despite the excitement, I fell asleep over and over again in A’s lap, waking to a new state each time I opened my eyes. I felt like I was small again, curled up in the backseat completely dependent on the grown ups manning the ship. You know. I wasn’t worried about the music choice, taking the wrong exit, weather conditions, traffic… just at peace, swaying to the hum of the tires rounding below.

We were moving to Asheville. I did it all. I talked to my workplace. That was step one. A scary step one that seemed to go over well. Relief.

Then, I started mentally preparing myself. When I woke up in the mornings, I began to log all that I would say goodbye to soon. Goodbye, room. Goodbye, cat. Goodbye, mornings stumbling out of the house and to the gym. Goodbye, Oakland Avenue. I got myself pretty sad just by doing it. But it needed to be done. Preparation. A lot of things that make you sad need to be done. True story.

Next, I told my friends. Most everyone close to me (and even those in my periphery) probably know how I long to move, leave this dot on the map. It’s not because I hate everyone or that I have fallen out of love with my buddies or even that I don’t enjoy where I am. It’s mostly because the world is so large, so full, and we all get stuck in these little grooves. I want to unstick myself. I want to explore a little, gain some experience points. Everyone I know has moved or left, left and come back, picked up and never returned to their home base. I just want that freedom, even if for a little while. I don’t think my declaration was much of a surprise to anyone, really. Maybe only in that I was serious this time. I was taking all the right steps. Hell, I even threw up an elusive Instagram photo that seemed to trigger an online hullabaloo of goodbyes I wasn’t equipped for. Damn.

I saved this part for last, because it was what I dreaded most: I told my mom. Sure, it was a flighty text message. Of course, she misunderstood it the first time and I had to retell her days later. You bet I used plenty of good emojis and made sure to keep things light. It’s all I know how to do. But all was well. I was a grown up, doing grown up things, about to thrust myself into a new world. Good, grown up.

But then the actual trip came. A and I planned to scope out neighborhoods, look up places to live (which we’d already been doing on Craigslist). We started our journey jazzed up, ready to take on the Asheville rental community. But this gusto quickly fizzled. The prices were high, the waitlists were long, the competition was nearly impossible.

“Yeah, we put something up on Craigslist and get about 14 calls in the first hour. It’s hard to keep up with,” a prospective landlord divulged.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no dumb-bum. I know a salesperson when I see one, but this was the story from everyone we spoke with—from property management companies to Asheville newcomers to old-head Asheville folk. It is competitive.

“About 1 in every 10 people that come to see my places,” another prospective landlord estimated, “is actually from North Carolina. The rest are from out of state. Everyone wants to move here!”

Ok, so it’s difficult. I know difficult. I work so hard. I am not afraid of work. But it wasn’t the work that had us waving our white flag. We made posters, hung them up in coffeeshops. We made calls, met up with people. Drove around looking for lawn signs (not an Asheville thing, by the way). We went out of our way to converse with strangers in grocery stores, in restaurants, on the streets. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s networking. Because why not? I’m always willing to help someone out. That’s how the world works. We’re here for each other.

So why no move? It was that the magic that seemed lost. Maybe it was the hustle and bustle of competition, the way a prize is hyped up to be more than it is. Sure, the mountains are beautiful, the hippie liberal swag of the city, the artist vibe of every indie shop, the temperate weather and influx of sunshine… it’s a great place, it really is. And everyone knows it. Jobs are scarce, housing is rare and overpriced, every corner we turned (both literally and figuratively) seemed flooded. Asheville is the trend and we were hopping on board—but perhaps too late. Maybe it was that we both got our periods and were overwhelmed with hormones and paranoia and doubt. Is it worth it? Giving up our friends and home and connections and A’s career. Loads of questions and in it unfamiliarity.

I’m not saying it won’t happen ever, that I won’t ever unstick myself from this groove. But maybe it’s not the worst groove to be stuck in, you know? And before jumping ship, I want to make sure I’m diving into the right sea. It might not be Asheville. It might not be now. And as embarrassed as I am to redact my former verdict of leaving, I’m glad that we discovered this before it was too late.

Now we’re looking in Pittsburgh, Regent Square being a hopeful possibility.

And to be honest, I’m eager to throw myself into Pittsburgh: a place I already know and love and court on the weekends like some fulfilling affair. Hey, I’m excited again, feeling rejuvenated, thinking about all the lovely, lovely people I’ve gotten to know there. The writers, the Biddle’s crew, the Bayardstown folk… if you’ll have me. <3

So the bottom line? Appreciate the now, where you are, the present dance. It’s a hymn I’ve sung to many, even lately. But one that I struggle with myself.

I accept the challenge.
mt