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Gas leaks, an odor of gas, damaged lines, and carbon monoxide symptoms are all considered emergencies. If you have an emergency, call our emergency hotline at 1-800-400-4271. Our personnel are ready to assist you 24/7. When in doubt, call us immediately. 

If you smell gas, do not attempt to locate the leak. Instead, leave the house or building right away. Do not turn on or off any electrical switches, appliances, or lights, as an electrical charge could create a spark. When you are in a safe place, call the Peoples emergency hotline.

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Work Together. Build Together. Grow Together.


How Community Forge is creating an inclusive neighborhood space in Wilkinsburg

It’s a common habit of Pittsburghers to refer to buildings by their “birth name.” Give a Pittsburgher directions to “the old Del Monte building” or “Star Lake,” and they won’t get lost. Long after those buildings have been given new names or a new life, we feel connected to those roots and to the history of those places.

If you’re from the Wilkinsburg area, or if you’ve ever driven down Ardmore Boulevard, you’ve probably seen the “old Johnston Elementary School” at the corner of Ardmore and Franklin. A large, faded yellow brick building, the Johnston Elementary School closed in 2012. It remained vacant for several years until a group of eight motivated individuals decided to give the building a new chapter.

Community Forge formed in January 2017 as a partnership between Pittsburgh Learning Commons and Xpogo.  They purchased the building with the goal of revitalizing the school into a community resource. From local outreach to community board members to neighborhood barbeques, the group built the vision for Community Forge hand in hand with the community.

Instead of imposing their own specific strategies or ideas, they welcomed the community into the development process, and let the neighborhood essentially pour itself into the vision for the space.

“A school is a central community asset so losing a school means losing a lot of value in a community. Schools provide more than education, but public space, history, jobs, and relationships. So, for us, bringing back a school meant cultivating a common asset that was value to everyone in the community. Using participatory design principles, commoning practices, input sessions, and on-the-ground outreach, we worked to align the vision we came with to our surrounding community needs and interests.”

- Mike Skirpan, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Community Forge

Out of these brainstorming sessions, three values emerged. Community members believed that Community Forge 1) should continue to be a place for kids to promote youth learning, 2) should promote the prosperity of those in Wilkinsburg through employment opportunities and support to build sustainable businesses, and 3) should keep the building accessible to anyone who went to school there.

Building on those points, the group recruited individuals and organizations that supported those goals to make their home at Community Forge. They opened doors in January 2018, and Community Forge is now home to artists, educators, and entrepreneurs who are looking to grow, run community events, and provide new and unique programs to the Wilkinsburg community.

“We are seeing a lot of energy by business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, and residents who are eager to use the facility for opportunity,” Skirpan says. “We believe in a true diverse economy, which means everyone has to be involved—the kids to the families to the businesses. Working deep in the community and reinforcing a day-to-day culture around ideals of inclusivity, sharing access and privilege, and supporting one another, we work to create a hub of opportunity and positive relationships.”

Community Forge is also committed to cultivating regional partnerships and to supporting small, local businesses with dreams in arts, youth programming, and technology. With that goal in mind, they began a partnership with Peoples in 2019 to launch a soft pilot of their business incubator program.

As part of this partnership, Peoples helped Community Forge support two local business in developing growth plans, accessing needed professional services, and provided a business coach. The hope is to help these two businesses sustain and grow their initiatives, and then launch the program to any of the other businesses at Community Forge who would like to participate.

“Now that we have the energy from the community back in the former Johnston School, we needed resources to start stimulating new growth,” Skirpan adds. “Peoples worked with us to get two of our most talented entrepreneurs who were early adopters of Community Forge. These two women are mothers who were striving to grow good business ideas using their incredible talents, and Peoples connected with us on this vision of getting support to them. By offering us funds for business coaching and professional services, we were able to put both of these amazing women through our first pilot business growth program.”

We’re excited to continue building this partnership with Community Forge, to help encourage the growth of new businesses in the Wilkinsburg community. It might be “the old Johnston Elementary School” for now, but by connecting with the community—by connecting with people—Community Forge is giving the building a new, powerful mission and already making a name for itself.

You can learn more about Community Forge by visiting their website.

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