community + cultural info
By now you may have heard the most recent Union Project news - starting with stolen plants, and quickly escalating to a vandalized building and culminating with the intervention of the Pittsburgh Police Bomb Squad!
For a bit of background - sometime over the Memorial Day weekend, vandals broke through a dead-bolted door of the Union Project. They were most likely youth, as far as we can tell from working with Police.
Almost all of the interior windows have been broken, the sanctuary floor and stage have been damaged, many of the items for this weekend's yard sale have been destroyed, and one of the stair banisters was ripped off, the spindles snapped. There was no evident exterior damage; all stained glass windows are still intact.
It is also nothing short of a miracle that the building did not burn to the ground. There were at least ten different fires started or attempted--everything from newspaper to t-shirts to a couch--and yet none of the carpet or wood caught. The Bomb Squad was called in regard to several small incendiary devices that looked like crude attempts to make bombs - giving evidence to the dangerousness and severity of this attack.
Despite the shock, loneliness, disappointment, confusion, anger, etc there are reasons to be positive even now. Our fundraising and strategic planning efforts are at truly wonderful points and have provided some much needed forward momentum. Indeed, the vandalism actually strengthens our case and our resolve to succeed. Already, we've gotten an outpouring of support from neighbors and friends and have no doubt that this will be turned into something positive for the organization. Local news carried stories about this last evening and today, there was a photo in the Post-Gazette today and will be a longer feature article telling about the project in Sunday's paper. So we're working to turn this to the project's advantage in every way possible.
As well, several grant proposals that have already been submitted address this exact public safety issue. We have asked for funds for additional exterior lighting and signage, and through follow-up calls we will be able to make those needs abundantly clear in a very real way. We are also planning to install a security system at the earliest possible opportunity.
Ironically, the vandals found some tubes of colored paint, and in the midst of all their negative energy and destruction took the time to finger paint their 'tag' on one of our pews. This shows a dire need for the exact community resource we are trying to create. This experience strengthens our resolve to provide the necessary positive outlets for a healthy community. If the Police can find who committed these crimes, we sincerely hope to connect with them and help channel their energies into something positive - starting with cleaning up the building!
How you can help...
Thank you for your support and interest in the Union Project already. We need your involvement even more right now.
* Tell your neighbors about what we're doing and spread the word about this effort as we work together to make sure things like this never happen again in our neighborhoods.
* Check out our website - www.unionproject.org - for updates and opportunities to be involved.
* Consider a tax-deductible financial contribution to the project, which will go directly to the renovation efforts.
* And please come out on June 13 and 14 to join a team of neighbors as we clean up the damage.
Thanks again for your support and encouragement - we couldn't do this without you!
801 N. Negley Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Restoring neighborhood space to connect, create, and celebrate