College is stressful, but enjoy it

Lessons taught outside the classroom

By: Autumn Barszczowski

At the end of my second week of junior year, I attended X-Fest, with headliners Bastille and Highly Suspect. But as I struggled through the workload of these past weeks, my mind has been stuck on one of the opening acts: K. Flay.

I’ve spent all day listening to her album and trying to think about what I have learned at Point Park. I’m at the halfway point of my college career, so what have I learned and where do I go from here?

Well, K. Flay has a song titled “It’s Just a Lot,” and honestly, I don’t think anything has better described what I’ve learned at college.

The chorus of the song perfectly sums up everything that I have learned about life during my time here: “It’s just a lot, it’s just a lot / I wanna hold onto the innocence I got / It’s just a lot, it’s just a lot / I wanna care for all the little things I got.”

So, why those lyrics?

After the most overwhelming three weeks of my time here, I realized that’s exactly what college is. It’s just a lot. I could go into detail about why and break down every meeting I’ve attended and every assignment I’ve completed up until this point, but no one has the time for that. Those four words get right to the essence of my college experience.

However, if I must provide detail, one of the things I have learned is that you’re forced to grow up overnight. Most of us had been getting accustomed to the adult life slowly over the summer leading up to our freshmen year, but the moment you step on campus, that’s it. There is no turning back. You’re an adult. You remember the years before fondly (or maybe not), but you can tell that the innocence is slipping away with every essay and presentation.

But from this I learned that the innocence you hold onto can be the simple things. You can hold onto the enjoyment of watching your favorite show in the comfort of your favorite shirt or the joy you feel when your high school friends visit you during breaks to play board games and buy you bubble tea.

I learned your innocence disappears for the most part, but in those moments, the innocence remains. By allowing yourself time to do the things that bring you happiness, you can hold on just enough to remind you that life is not all about stress.

Which is where the last portion of those lyrics comes into play. All I have done throughout these past two years is allow myself to enjoy the little things. While that wasn’t something new I had learned to do (I had a sign in my high school cubicle that said “Enjoy the Little Things.” It was from Claire’s and covered in painted flowers), I thought it was something important to mention.

I’ve met so many people since I got here, and sometimes I think we do not stop to appreciate the little things we encounter. We are so focused on the next big step that we don’t always appreciate things such as the milkshakes we buy or the people who stop to actually ask you how your day is going.

College is just a lot, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we can’t let college consume us. We have to be able to enjoy our time here. Enjoying the little things seems to be the only thing we have at times, so why not make it a priority?

We learn a lot at college, but what I’ve taken away from my time so far is that no matter how high the stress levels are, we still deserve to be happy and to feel innocent and carefree, if only for an hour. So from here, I’m going to keep enjoying the pictures I take with strangers’ dogs and the concerts where I don’t know a single lyric, because college is a lot, but it’s not everything.

Originally Published with The Globe
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The old Taylor is dead, but she still has a place in this world

Exploring what we made Taylor Swift do and why it’s important

By: Autumn Barszczowski

 

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Taylor Swift by Nicole Pampena

 

That’s right. The old Taylor Swift is dead. At least, that’s the narrative that Swift is selling in her new single, “Look What You Made Me Do.”
But what exactly does that mean?
Since 2006, we have witnessed Swift present a new version of herself with every album. She’s come all the way from America’s Sweetheart to… Well, however you see her now. Because in 2017, you either have an undying love or never-ending hatred for Taylor Swift.
Or at least, your feelings are based on how authentic or inauthentic you believe her to be. Many see this new Swift as a snake, who is money-crazed and does nothing but play the victim.
The only problem with that view is: Do we actually know who she is? We only see what she presents and, eventually, how the media and other celebrities discuss their own perspective of her well-woven narrative.
We have built up this idea of who she is, and with every new piece of information, we have re-defined what we know about her until the version we see is nothing like the one presented.
The problem with this? We still do not know who Swift really is. We only know what she is selling us, and frankly, no matter how she presents herself, people are no longer willing to buy it.
Over the years, we have seen her reinvent herself enough times that we no longer know who she truly is and, for a while, we didn’t care. She shielded herself from the world and we went along with it.
In her self-titled album “Taylor Swift,” she established her image as America’s Sweetheart. She went from “Tim McGraw” to “Picture to Burn,” where she exposed what it felt like to be in love and to be heartbroken. In “A Place in this World,” she discussed the thoughts we all face regarding growing up and searching for where we belong. It was littered with innocence and uncertainty at what was to come.
Fast forward to her album “1989.” At this point, she has grown up significantly. She found her place in the world through her music. Unfortunately, this is also the moment in time where people were more focused on the drama related to her lyrics than the shared experiences she sang about.
People were analyzing every lyric to see if they could find a story to sell. We began to lose the real Swift as she embraced the fact that she had to fight for her reputation in an effort to keep a hold of the title of America’s Sweetheart.
What many have yet to understand is that, we have taken away her ability to grow. Swift can no longer freely express her anger without people questioning the motives behind every lyric and action.
“Look What You Made Me Do” is Swift’s way of showing people that she can no longer be America’s Sweetheart. That after years of ridiculing her for her breakup songs and the way she handles conflict, she is finally accepting her role as the snake because we will not let her live in any other way.
We have this idea of who she is in our heads, that she has been given no other choice. No matter the effort to keep her music upbeat and innocent, she can no longer maintain it when that isn’t what sells.
Her place in the world is in the music industry and, unfortunately, she will do anything she can to hold onto it.

Originally Published with The Globe

There is (Not) a Feminist World Inside Your Phone – The Emoji Movie

By: Autumn Barszczowski

Before I begin, I should note that there will be spoilers. For my purposes, I cannot avoid them. I apologize in advance if you care enough to eventually see the Emoji Movie.

With every new animated movie, feminists like myself are scouting for strong female characters who do not fall subject to the typical romantic plots that overshadow their ambitions and dreams. We are looking for characters who have more than marriage as their end goal.

Walking into the theater at promptly 4:40 p.m. on July 28, I wondered what I would get out of the movie. I admit, I had grown to ironically love the movie. Everyone around me was sick of hearing “Emoji Movie, coming July 28.” I kept reminding myself that I had this ridiculous, silly movie to look forward to amidst the nightmare that is the United States.

We could escape the serious implications of our president’s actions for an hour and a half to listen to stories about emojis.

However, as the movie progressed, I stopped thinking about the pure joy that came from watching this cinematic masterpiece, and instead began to consider how Jailbreak, a female emoji, would be as a character.

 

In this movie, Gene the meh emoji is on a mission to fix the fact that he expresses too many emotions. In a society that expects him to only be “meh,” he has to fix his “malfunction” so that he will not be deleted. He ends up meeting Hi-5 who agrees to find a hacker that will help Gene solve the issue before the anti-virus bots can send him to the trash.

 

Jailbreak, the “emo” female hacker, starts out as our representation of people who successfully go against society’s roles and expectations. In the snippets I had caught before seeing the movie, she seemed to be Gene’s guide in his journey to the firewall where he would be able to restore himself to his original purpose as a “meh” emoji and rid himself of malfunctions.

 

Everything I knew about her led me to believe she could be a strong female character amongst the wild creation that is the Emoji Movie. I thought for a second that maybe, just maybe, we could salvage something from this movie.

Boy, was I disappointed.

There were clear moments where it seemed like the writers had considered establishing Jailbreak as a feminist character . In fact, I would guess that they had put a solid thirty minutes of research about feminism that they could sprinkle into her character periodically.

For example, the writers start by “surprising” Hi-5 and Gene, who wrongfully assumed that the top hacker would be male. Instead of a male, they find Jailbreak and are forced to say “she” instead of “he.” As a result, the writers show that the best in an industry are not always male.

Then, when she first meets Gene and Hi-5, she tries to brush them off, but she quickly realizes that by helping them, she could help her own hidden mission and dream. It is only when she finds out that she can benefit from the mission that she decides to help them. Thus, Jailbreak isn’t written to be willing to help wherever she is needed, the usual female role. Instead, she has purpose and seeks missions that benefit her goals.

Later, she encounters a moment where Gene and Hi-5 interrupt her thought and begin to claim an idea she has for their escape as their own. Instead of letting them, she firmly reminds them that the idea was in fact hers and she would not stand to have it taken from her. By standing up for herself, she shows that females do not always have to take what is given to them.

But the turn comes in the scenes that follow where we continually hear about how she helped a princess emoji to escape the phone through the cloud. Instead of discussing that journey, she lets Gene and Hi-5 ramble on about the stories they had heard. This is when my brother turned to me and said “I bet you $10 she is the princess emoji.”

I didn’t have to bet him anything because I knew that he was right. I watched as her princess crown is revealed and any hopes of her achieving her goals was lost.

 

Sure, the writers tried to develop her back story with minor emoji history details, like saying that she had left Textopolis (their world) because women could only be a princess or a bride in the first set of emojis.

What they seem to forget though is the underlying romantic plot they thread between Jailbreak and Gene. The moment that plot starts, all hope is lost for the seemingly feminist character.

By the end of the movie, Jailbreak is willing to give up her dream of escaping the phone to stay with Gene. Instead of watching out for number one like she had always done, she remembers that Gene asked her “What good is it to be number one if there aren’t any other numbers.”

 

In that moment, Gene is telling her that she does not need to put herself first because her ambitions are useless without someone else to share it with. Unfortunately for Jailbreak, by not putting herself first, she gives up the opportunity to escape. Instead, she returns to a slightly improved Textopolis for a guy she has just met.

Overall, the movie was everything I expected it to be: Garbage.

But man, I loved watching every second of that train wreck. If you’re into lame jokes and the recycled plot line of Wreck-It Ralph, this is the movie for you. 10/10 would recommend.

Originally Published on Her Campus – Point Park

Caruso Heating

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Originally Published through The Reader’s Choice – Southwest Edition

Caruso Heating was founded over two decades ago and continues to be a family-owned business at 98 McNeilly Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15226. They earned the 2017 Reader’s Choice Southwest Silver award for Best Heating and Air Conditioning.

Caruso heating has been owned by Tony Caruso for the past 25 years. According to him, their services include heating and air conditioning, air quality and humification products. They offer affordable pricing on HVAC units and installation, which includes making their prices fit within your budget.

Caruso discussed how his business follows old school values. The company is dedicated to 100% customer satisfaction. He wants his customers to know that he will tailor their services to fit within the boundaries of their budget.

“We treat and deal with every one of our customer’s on an individual basis. We try to do the job right on the first time around. We try to meet and adjust to customer’s needs on heating and cooling,” Caruso said.

The technicians that work for Caruso are NATE-certified which means that installations will be done right. They rate high with the A+ Better Business Bureau and their workers are NATE-Certified technicians.

They are currently looking to hire HVAC Field Service Technicians. If you are interested in the position, you can call 412-882-6080.

Caruso Heating offers a variety of deals on their HVAC services, including 36-months of no-interest financing and saving up to $1650 in instant rebates.

In response to what customers should know about their services, Caruso said “We are committed to integrity, customer support and product quality.”

They guarantee that customers will be satisfied with their work on the first installation.

When asked about what Caruso believes is unique about his business, he said “We treat the customer’s house and property like it’s our house. We take the same amount of care as if we are working on our own house.”

Railyard Grill and Tap Room

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Originally Published through The Reader’s Choice – Southwest Edition

Railyard Grill and Tap Room, opened in October of 2016, and is known as a New American Craft Cuisine to loyal workers and customers. They are located at 413 Railroad Street in Bridgeville, PA.

“Our goal is to put Bridgeville on the map with quality of food. You don’t have to go downtown to experience a vast beer selection and elevated food selection. We are trying to bring that downtown feel to the South Hills,” said general manager Jeremy Rob.

Railyard and Tap Room has 50 rotating taps along with locally sourced food. They carry drinks from all over the world, but they focus their taps on local Pittsburgh or Pennsylvania beers, ciders and meads. They won two Reader’s Choice awards including a Gold award for Sports Bar and Silver Award for New Restaurant, both in Southwest.

As for their food, Rob said that “Railyard Grill and Tap Room is unique because we source all our beef, pork, all the stuff we get from local farms. It is all local grass-fed and cruelty free. The fish we sell can be swimming around the warm pacific ocean waters of Hawaii one day and in our kitchen 24 hours later.”

The food found at Railyard is homemade or sourced from other nearby businesses. They like to try different dishes at the restaurant but some of their speciality food includes local grass-fed steaks and burgers and craft-beer infused wing sauces.

“Being a new business in the area, we try to partner with other local businesses. Like we use a salad dressing from a place up the street. We are trying to grow the businesses of our partners that we team up with,” said Rob.

In doing this, Railyard is hoping to increase the impact of sustainability in ingredients and food. They make sure that they are creating an environment that helps to build the communication and execution of these ideas while giving people a place to enjoy their food.

On top of the normal dining experience, Railyard also offers a large space to host events and they include a full-banquet menu. They also host a trivia night once a month.

“It’s a neighborhood gathering place where you can get elevated food and a vast beer selection in an environment where the staff is friendly and knowledgable and where people like to keep coming back,” said Rob.

You can find them on Facebook as Railyard Grill and Tap Room and on Instagram @RailyardTap. They are open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Cenacolo

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Originally Published through The Reader’s Choice – Westmoreland Edition

Cenacolo Restaurant started as a small pasta business in Steve and Jen Salvi’s basement. They began selling pasta to Pittsburgh restaurants in 2005 and eventually the business grew into Cenacolo in 2013.

Cenacolo’s is located at 1061 Main Street in North Huntingdon, Pa 15642.  It seats over 120 people and provides a full bar to customers.

“Being in an industrial park, I like when people enter the restaurant for the first time and are taken back by the design of the restaurant” said Steve Salvi in response to what he liked the most about his restaurant.

The pasta they serve is made by them with Italy-imported machines and some of the speciality dishes include tagliolini with crab meat and ricotta gnocchi with short rib ragu.

When asked to describe his restaurant’s services, Steve Salvi said “We are strictly a fresh pasta restaurant.  It is a dining experience that should not be rushed.  From the olives to the lemoncello, it is time to sit back and relax.”

The dining experience he discusses takes about two hours and his food is only a part of it. He believes that the company people bring and his food together create a great time for his customers.

Cenacolo won three awards from Reader’s Choice, including Gold for Ethnic food and Bronze for Romantic Restaurant in Westmoreland  and Bronze for Restaurant in North Huntingdon.

“We are very grateful for the rewards given, but the only rewards we strive for are the smiles at the tables” said Steve Salvi. “I would like our customers to know how grateful we are for their support. To know that we will always strive to give you the best in food, service and experience.

The restaurant also offers pasta classes once a month, sometimes more. You can make Cenacolo favorites and then enjoy them afterwards. To reserve a spot, call 724-515-5983.

“I welcome anyone who is looking for a great pasta meal. It is a dining experience that when you are finished, you feel that it was the best meal you have had in a long time, you feel refreshed and cannot wait to come back and bring your family and friends” said Steve Salvi.

Cenacolo is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m, Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday they have brunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and dinner from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. You can make reservations by calling 724-515-5983.

 

The Progress We’ve Made Since 1967

A look back at what has changed since the Globe’s founding

By: Autumn Barszczowski

Let me set the scene for you: 1967, the year the Globe debuted, was at the tail end of the Civil Rights movement, during the second wave  of white feminism, and before the Stonewall riots. It was a time of historical movements that stemmed from people trying to improve their livelihoods, obtain equal rights and claim their own identities.

The thing is, someone 50 years from now could also use that last sentence to describe 2017.

I started to consider how the Globe and our society has changed these past 50 years when I read a Globe article from March 6, 1969 entitled “The Power to Define” by James L. Saylor.

He discussed “the extinction of black identity” during that time and how, what he defined as white America, took control of the right to define black people’s role in society. Saylor wanted black people, including himself, to have the opportunity to define their own purpose in the world.

The ability to establish who you are is crucial for human beings, especially in a world bombarded by media and advertisements that attempt to tell you who you should be.

The specific rights that current movements are fighting for have evolved as the culture in our society changed. However, the core of all of our movements today are no different than what Saylor was suggesting to readers in 1969.

The Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’s March and the LGBT communities are trying to define their own role in the world. They are fighting back against the stereotypes and misconceptions about themselves on a daily basis that curtail their freedoms and cause them pain and misfortune.

Each movement is tailored to the rights that the individual groups have been denied in recent years. Through intersectionality and determination, these groups are attempting to achieve their goals.

Many of our history books claim that we have already obtained equal rights and our chance to set our own standards, but that is not the case for these people in the United States.

Our struggles are concealed and more complex than they once were, but they are not gone. People are being placed neatly back into their stereotypes and reminded that they already have their equal rights.

Just as Saylor did in 1969 in order to take control of his black identity, people of color, women and members of the LGBT community must gain the power to construct their own identities.

If we allow white, straight, cisgender male America to monopolize our identities, then we lose everything that we have worked for.

While our strides in social justice are not as complete as our history books claim, we cannot afford to lose this progress. Within these past 50 years we have taken baby steps towards our goal of equal rights for all, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. The United States has managed to keep the expectations and standards for these people the same since the 1960s.

On the positive side, despite the fact that we have not improved these standards, we have made tremendous advancements in technology.

Our ability to access social media and have our messages reach the entire world has given us a better chance of fighting back against the definitions that have been created for us.

In 50 years, I hope that people will look back on our archives and see that we, like Saylor, have continued to defend ourselves against the limitations placed upon us and that we did not allow ourselves to be defined by the America that stands before us.

We are more than our stereotypes, and we should not let the world ignore that.

Originally published in the Globe

Tekko Brings a New Sense of Community to Downtown Pittsburgh

Convention goers attend the 14th annual Japanese Pop Culture convention at David L. Lawrence’s Convention Center in Downtown Pittsburgh.

By: Autumn Barszczowski
This video contains interviews from the attendees featured throughout the article as well as clips from the wedding ceremony, attendees dancing, the Masquerade skits, and more.

With Tekko convention attendees by their side, Shawn and Michelle Gallant got married dressed as video game characters during the annual convention here last weekend.

Meanwhile, others among the 7,600 in attendance, including Dominic Malloy and Stephanie Guerdeen, praised Tekko’s improved sexual harassment policies that prevents unwarranted advances.

Also for the first time, Tekko expanded the support of its own community by creating new policies, a cosplay repair room, expanding the game room, and much more.

“I think Pittsburgh is really accepting of the Tekko community, mostly because… it’s a weird thing,” said Malloy, explaining why Pittsburgh is so supportive. “If we are going to be weird, we are going to be the best at it.”

The convention, in its 14th year, was staged from April 7-10. It had a 30% increase in attendance from 2015.

This year, Tekko, which cost $50 for a regular pass, $75 for a premium pass, and $150 for the limited 25 “Rockstar” passes, hosted a number of voice actors and musical guests, including Marisha Ray, Matt Mercer, Micah Solos, Austin Tindle, Chris Patton, Back-On and DJ Bass.

This year saw an increase of awareness as well, including an appearance by Mayor Bill Peduto, who declared the weekend to be Tekko 2016 Week.

As Tekko’s city wide recognition grew, the officials of Tekko worked on making the attendees comfortable, including the Gallants, who were the first couple to ever be married at Tekko.

The couple was dressed as Talon and Cassiopeia from “League of Legends” during their ceremony. It was officiated during the annual Masquerade, where attendees danced, did walk-ons in their cosplays, and put on skits in character. Their bridesmaids and groomsmen were also dressed as characters from the game.

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Shawn Gallant and Michelle Gallant pose outside of the Main Stage on April 9 2016 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. This is shortly after their on stage ceremony during Tekko’s Annual Masquerade. – Photo via Autumn Barszczowski

Tekko had been supportive of the couple getting married during the convention, going as far to create them their own bride groom badges, with unique badges for their wedding guests as well.

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This is Shawn Gallant’s custom Rockstar Badge for Tekko 2016. This was made special in order to include a groom character made specifically for Gallant. – Photo via Autumn Barszczowski 
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This is Michelle Gallant’s custom Rockstar Badge for Tekko 2016. This was made special in order to include a bride character made specifically for Gallant. – Photo via Autumn Barszczowski 

“They were on-board 110% from the very beginning… this, by far, the most-organized and most receptive [convention I’ve been to],” Shawn said.

As for the rest of the convention, other cosplayers, like Malloy and Guerdeen, were enjoying the individual attention given to their cosplays by the Tekko Community.

Being dressed as Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza attracted the attention of “Hamilton the Musical” fanatics all over the convention.  While the pair of friends gloried in adulation stemming from the attention given to their cosplays, they were happy to turn the attention to Tekko’s new sexual harassment policy and how it has improved over the past few years.

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This badge was created with a bride and groom character specifically for the family and friends of Shawn and Michelle Gallant. These badges were only created for those who knew the bride and groom in order to make the ceremony unique. – Photo via Autumn Barszczowski 

In the past, there had been incidents of harassment in which attendees had felt beleaguered in their cosplay. This year, Tekko chose to address those past problems by making it clear in their new policy that harassment is defined by the victim.

“The harassment policy has been very clear and has been… very everywhere,” said Guerdeen, “I can’t speak about other cosplayers, but I always feel happy and welcome here.”

Both Malloy and Guerdeen went on to discuss how not only the attendees have supported this policy, but how much this policy means to cosplayers and the development of the cosplay culture.

Along with improved policies, Tekko also worked to expand activities provided to attendees, including a larger game room that hosted Tekko’s first “Escape Room,” in which attendees worked through a series of puzzles to find their way out of a wooden room.

Scott Swank was a part of a Saturday team that went through the Escape Room, a day in which all the time slots had been sold out.

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This is Scott Swank’s Escape the Room team on Saturday night after they escaped within 44 minutes. Swank is featured in red on the right of the group. – Photo via Autumn Barszczowski

While he was not in cosplay, he was there because he was a fan of escape rooms and he was excited for the convention to host this activity, as well as the expansion done on the game room this year.

“They are just offering a nice experience, which is a great way to support the people who go,” said Swank.

Tekko also hosted their first cosplay repair room, which fixed a variety of cosplays throughout the convention. It run by Louisa Fan, who was cosplaying as Nephthys from “Puzzles and Dragons” and had worked at other convention’s repair rooms in the past.

The room had characters such a stormtroopers gluing helmets, Thor adding felt to his fabric, and anime characters repairing cosplay props with glue.

At closing ceremonies on Sunday, she spoke of the positive response that attendees had of the repair room, including comments such as “Jesus was saved by cosplay repair,” referring to a cosplayer who chose to dress up as Jesus.

Most of Fan’s staff had previously worked at or attended Tekko and say that this had been their best experience.

“I love cosplay repair, so having other people be like, ‘I think I had even more fun working as a volunteer,’ that was just really awesome,” said Fan.

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This is Louisa Fan and Lane Ryan working to hot glue a Storm Trooper helmet during the convention on Saturday afternoon. – Photo via Autumn Barszczowski 

 

During a social hour on Friday night, Maegen McMillen discussed the process of putting this convention and other Pittsburgh Japanese Cultural Society, or Pitt JCS, events together, including how she has come to discover the importance of anime conventions to others.

Being apart of the Table Swap Project management means that McMillen is constantly on the go, making sure to advertise for Pitt JCS and Tekko during other local conventions.

“I’ve driven thousand of miles for conventions… [but] you do it for the kids,” said McMillen, discussing how many attendees have spoken to her about how the Tekko family has helped them to keep moving forward and to find their own support system within the convention.

Some of the attendees who have praised the support system included the Tekko Gakkou panelists Chelsea Marshall dressed as Ayase Eli and Brea Ross cosplaying as Nozomi Tojo, both from “Love Live.” The couple worked with Tekko Gakkou, the educational track at Tekko in order to create LGBT+ informative panels this year.

In their panel, the couple discussed the importance of LGBT+ representation and the historical backgrounds of Japanese culture that influence these particular representations.

The influences for their first panel came from their own personal experience and connections to the LGBT+ community and they made it clear that panels like these were important to have, especially in a community that has a large portion of LGBT+ people.

“We decided to debut this panel here [because of the support] and it was an overwhelming success. It went so much better than we ever expected it to,” said Marshall.

The two believed that the success stemmed from the support Tekko has given to their large LGBT+ community, including by advertising at Pittsburgh Pride.

As for the future, the couple believes that they will look at LGBT+ representation in other areas in order to continue to educate the public on the issues and history.

“We are really interested in running panels that have a look at nerd culture and fandom culture and how those things intersect,” Ross said.

Outside of panels, people like Emily “Gale” Smith work to support the LGBT+ community at Tekko in other ways, including creating the Nightengale Needles booth found in Artist’s Alley.

Nightengale Needles has a large variety of LGBT+ products ranging from scarves, to blankets, and even pride pals, a monster that has a pride heart that depict the pride flags for a variety of sexual and gender identities.

Smith has been a vendor at Tekko for seven years and says that meeting people through her booth has been inspirational.

“My booth inspires a lot of deep and sometimes really emotionally loaded conversations. I like to think I learn as much as I am able to impart,” Smith said.

Along with a number of artists and dealers like Smith, there were also 250+ volunteer staff members that worked operations like bag check, security, registration, and much more.

One staff member, Josh Palmquisd had been attending Tekko for over eight years, but this was his first year working the convention.

He had heard from other friends about what it was like to work at Tekko and found that during this year’s convention, he grew a new appreciation for all that staff members do for attendees.

He believes that these volunteers go above and beyond by dedicating their time to making the convention run smoothly and to address any issues that are reported.

One of his experiences this year included helping someone to find their badge, because he knows that as an attendee, he himself would have been upset to lose it and wanted to go above and beyond to help them out.

“We all volunteer our time and I think we are all a bunch of good people trying to do the right thing,” said Palmquisd.

Meanwhile, Tekko not only inspires its own volunteer members for the convention, but for volunteers in the Pittsburgh Community.

Convention attendee Rachel Makary, founder of Volunteer Princesses and cosplaying as Judy Hopps from Disney’s “Zootopia,” discussed how her own cosplays made for conventions have brightened the lives of the kids that she has met through her organization.

She no longer just uses cosplay for herself, but she uses the cosplay to help bring the community together, both inside and outside of the convention.

After winning last year’s Masquerade in the Western Category, Makary also gained more confidence not only in her cosplays, but in herself by performing a skit as Drizella Tremaine from “Cinderella.”

“We didn’t think that our cosplays were popular, and I didn’t feel very confident in mine, but we went out and everyone loved it,” said Makary, discussing the best experience she has had at Tekko.

The support of people’s cosplays is a common theme found in Tekko, and the new policies and resources have only reinforced the need to support Tekko’s inner-community, as well as the Pittsburgh community.

At the end of the weekend during closing ceremonies, the Pitt JCS team announced the Tekko 2017 will be held from April 6th to the 9th. Tickets were available at ceremonies and will be available online in the upcoming months.

Originally Published on Her Campus – Point Park

 

The 12th annual South Side Soup Contest brings something new to Pittsburgh’s favorite bar crawl

South Side community holds the 12th annual soup contest along with 50 businesses and restaurants all across the South Side Flats and Works

By: Autumn Barszczowski
All Photos via South Side Soup Contest 

On a sunny day in February, people from all walks of life, such as VIP ticket-buyer Alicia Kenney, tasted soups from various restaurants stationed in local businesses as she walked the streets of South Side in search of the best soup.

Along with Kenney and about 1,200 others, including Jacki Delaney and Celine Roberts, attendees of the South Side Soup Contest enjoyed a variety of soups that ranged anywhere from Eat‘n Park’s Potato Soup to The Smiling Mooses’ Chipotle Chickpea Chili

Every year for the past twelve years, the South Side Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Brashear Association, have hosted the South Side Soup Contest, that allows 25 restaurants and bars to collaborate with 25 businesses in order to bring awareness to the “daytime South Side.” This year the event was from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 21, anywhere between 10th Street and 27th Street in the South Side.

The picture above depicts the containers of soup given to participants in the South Side Soup Contest. This was at Stop 25 during the contest on Feb. 21 2016 of this year. The people hosting this event wanted to show people some of the soups that were offered during their event so people got a taste of what the contest is all about.

“It’s basically an experience where you get the best of both worlds; both retail and restaurants in one location,” said Jennifer Jeffers, the event chair of the contest. “It’s a way to experience daytime South Side and the best of what it has to offer.”

It was started by the South Side Local Development Company in order to support the business corridor, since most of the attention has gone to the bars and restaurants in the South Side, particularly at night.

Over the past twelve years, the event has grown from just generating traffic for businesses; now they are also earning money and food donations for the Brashear Association and their food pantry since they added both General Admission tickets for $25 and VIP tickets for $100.

The VIP experience began two years ago and is a party within a party. It includes a pre-event reception at City Theatre with coffee, mimosas, and pastries. There is an honorary meet and greet with Rick Sebak as well as other types of entertainment,“swag bags,” and soup tastings only for VIP ticket holders.

“I really loved that there were unlimited mimosas,” said VIP attendee, Alicia Kenney. It was her fourth or fifth year at the contest and she said she enjoys the event because it is a great way to try soups that you would never try on a regular basis.

While the contest only started with two awards, which were best soup and first runner-up, the contest has now grown to include four awards, including runner-up: Best Overall Soup, Best Host, Best Vegetarian Soup, and Most Unique Soup.

This year the Best Overall Soup went to Carmella’s Plates & Pints for its Mushroom Bisque with Crispy Duck Root Vegetable soup.

Workers at Carmella’s Plates & Pints pose with the People’s Choice trophy won for their Crispy Duck Root Vegetable Soup. This took place at Carmella’s on February 21st after the contest had ended and winners were being announced. They were glad to pose with their trophy that will sit in their shop for the next year.

Carmella’s soup “was creamy, mushroomy…bacony…,” said Jacki Delany. She believed that the soup had a smokey taste and she was able to identify some of the particular flavors in the soup.

This was Delany’s first time attending the contest and she was excited, saying that she loved soup so much that she could eat it for three meals a day.

As for the first runner-up, the prize went to The Pub Chip Shop for its Beer Cheese Chowder.

It had a creamy base and attendees like Celine Roberts could taste potato and a little bit of bacon. People had spent the day raving about the soup and the contest in general.

This was only Roberts first time at the event but she seemed enthusiastic about it. “I love food. So anyway that I can eat food and help people, I want to be a part of,” said Roberts.

As for Best Host, Five Star Dentistry won for hosting Carmella’s Plates & Pints.

They had a S’mores station next to the line in the front of the building and while walking through the business with their cup of soup, they were able to grab free toothbrushes and toothpaste. When they exited the business, they were offered bottles of water as well as hot dogs made fresh on the grill.

The Best Vegetarian soup was Butternut Squash soup made by Stagioni, last year’s Best Overall Soup winner. “It is really warm and subtle,” said Lucretiz Collins.

The final award is Most Unique which went to Lin’s Asian Fusion for its Mango soup. They were the only soup “on ice” as the soup handlers told attendees as they walked into the building.

“It’s a little fruity, and sweet, but it has like a little tang after it,” said Judy Sippey.

She loved the event, particularly because the money goes to a good cause. “It’s also fun to walk the streets carrying a spoon,” said Sippey.

Others were happy to praise the event for what it does for the South Side neighborhood.

“It was Soup-er,” said Janet Edwards, with what she called her “soup posse.” She believed that the event was representative of Pittsburgh.

Even the Presenting Sponsor, First National Bank, a sponsor who has contributed since the beginning, was ecstatic about the impact of the event.

“We are helping out the community that we serve,” said Ron Giulianelli, Senior Vice President and Marketing Manager at FNB. “It’s a way to get the food of the restaurant or bar establishment out there as well as driving consumers into specific businesses.

Originally Published on Her Campus – Point Park

Documentary highlights Afghanistan photographers

Point Park’s School of Communication and Honors Program present documentary about Afghanistan photojournalists in JVH Auditorium 

By: Autumn Barszczowski

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Point Park School of Communication, The Honors Program and the student chapter of the National Press Photographers Association hosted a screening of the award winning documentary “Frame by Frame” last Tuesday night in the JVH. The documentary features photojournalists in Afghanistan and the trials and tribulations they endure on a daily basis.
Photo by Gracey Evans via The Globe

The reality of the plight and opportunity photojournalists face covering the lives of citizens in Afghanistan was featured Feb. 9 in the JVH Auditorium.

The event, hosted by the School of Communication and the Honors Program, invited students as well as professionals to watch and discuss the significance of the documentary “Frame By Frame.”

“I think it will inspire young photojournalists and photographers to go out into their own neighborhood, and any boundaries and barriers that you might think are there are nothing compared to this film,” said Jasmine Goldband, a Point Park alumna and photographer at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The film featured a few Afghanistan photojournalists and their everyday lives. Students were able to learn about what each of those photojournalists focus on from conflict to the lives of Afghanistan women, and the importance of having this focus in the photojournalists’ careers.

Goldband hoped that the film would inspire them to learn about life outside of the United States after witnessing day-to-day life in Afghanistan.

Chris Rolinson introduced Goldband to an audience filled with not only students, but professional photographers as well as photojournalists and she shared her thoughts on her pre-screening of the film with Honors Student Organization (HSO) Director Helen Fallon and another co-worker.

The documentary gave those in attendance a chance to witness day-to-day life in Afghanistan for photojournalists and the difficulties that these people had to overcome, including the hoops photojournalist Farzana Wahidy had to jump through in order to get her story on the women burn victims found in her country.

Without other media sources to report, these photojournalists are the ones who have to document what is happening in their country, including the conflict coverage of a bombing that won Massoud Hossaini a Pulitzer Prize.

Photojournalist Renee Rosensteel discussed afterward her own experience in Afghanistan and the struggles of being a foreigner, including how obvious it was that she was an outsider in the country. She told a story of how she tried to fit in by wearing a scarf on her head, but she wrapped it so terribly that even male Afghanistan natives were walking up to her to fix it.

Fallon had been the one to discover this documentary among emails about journalism, and she was immediately fascinated with the trailer. After she read about it, she had intended to show it to her Journalism 101 class in the fall, but believed that the film should be viewed by more than just a small crowd.

In order to bring the screening to Point Park, she helped to pay the $250 licensing fee for the movie along with the honors program because she believed that students should be learning outside of the classroom and that the fee for the movie was worth the learning experience.

“This documentary goes a long way towards explaining the status of journalism and photojournalism, in particular, in Afghanistan, and by that you can learn the history of Afghanistan,” Fallon said.

Jacqueline Roberts, a junior journalism major, said she enjoyed the movie, saying that it was an eye-opener for her. The documentary enhanced her perspective on the photography field, particularly in Afghanistan.

“I mostly learned that photojournalism isn’t just a field,” Roberts said. “It’s something that you do because you want to tell a story.”

As for Matt Nemeth, a senior photography major, he believed the movie gave him a basic understanding of the field outside of the United States. It connected his experience here in the U.S. with the experiences of the Afghanistan photographers.

“One of my favorite parts of the film was the more humanistic aspect to it…it was the perfect way to show that these people’s lives are just like ours,” Nemeth said.

Originally Published in The Globe