Plus, how lead levels can cause mental health issues in Western Pa.

🌊 The Mon is nominated for Pennsylvania’s River of the Year

Plus, how lead levels can cause mental health issues in Western Pa.

By Francesca Dabecco

Welcome to Wednesday, Pittsburgh.

Question: Do yinz have a favorite river? I know, I know, asking Pittsburghers to name their most prized waterway might be akin to naming a favorite child, but I only ask because the Monongahela River is up against three other nominees for Pennsylvania’s 2022 River of the Year. Come on, Mon! 

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources puts on the annual competition and allows the public to select their River of the Year by voting on the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers' website. If the Monongahela River wins the honor, the local group that nominated it, Three Rivers Waterkeeper, will receive a $10,000 leadership grant to develop activities and events dedicated to celebrating the river.

The Mon sure has come a long way since the collapse of the steel industry, and it would be great if this competition had a ‘ripple effect’ of bringing about more positive change for the river.

After you cast your vote, scroll on to learn more about what’s happening in the ‘Burgh.

What Pittsburgh is talking about


Two inclines, three rivers, and way too many bridges to count. | Be sure to tag #theinclinepgh to be featured in our Instagram of the Day (📸: @diko.bean)

3 things to know today 

🚰 We know lead exposure is harmful to the brain, but did you know that it contributes to mental illness too? In an investigative series called “Pollution’s mental toll,” Environmental Health News reporter Kristina Marusic wrote an in-depth article about how children in Western Pennsylvania are particularly at risk, especially those in primarily non-white zip codes. These communities with higher levels of childhood lead exposure are also disproportionately more likely to experience poverty, racism, violence, and other harmful environmental exposures. Currently, the percentage of Pennsylvania children with elevated blood lead levels is more than twice as high as the national rate, which prompted the Pittsburgh City Council to pass a lead safety ordinance just yesterday. (Environmental Health News)

  • Quotable: “There’s evidence that one harmful exposure changes the brain in a way that can magnify the effects of another harmful exposure later on. So it’s not an additive effect—one plus one equals two—but a synergistic effect, where if you’re getting one hit from lead exposure and one from air pollution, they combine to create three or four hits.” — Aaron Reuben, researcher at Duke University
  • What’s the solution? EHN listed a variety of mental health resources as well as ways to advocate for clean water and air in Western Pa. at the link. ➡️ (Environmental Health News)

🏛️ The 10 elected Allegheny County Common Pleas judgeships have been assigned their courtrooms, but some didn’t get the seats they hoped for. For example, of the “Slate of 8” candidates — those backed by progressives who ran on the agenda of changing the county’s approach to criminal justice — just one, Wrenna Watson, was placed on the criminal bench. Other judges are content with taking a seat in the family division, as it will allow them to intervene in defendant’s lives at an early age. (90.5 WESA)

🌳 South Side got a grant to transform South 21st Street into a “Complete Green Street,” a project that will help to divert stormwater and improve pedestrian safety. Through a partnership with the South Side community, City of Pittsburgh, ALCOSAN, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, this “green boulevard” will be developed as a gateway to the East Carson business corridor. (Pittsburgh City Paper)

3 things to make you smile

❄️ For the first time ever, The Frick Pittsburgh is inviting locals to its Point Breeze cultural center for a month of festive outdoor activities. It’ll all culminate in a week-long Winterfest celebration from Tue., Dec. 28 through Jan. 2, 2022. The Frick’s activities are typically inspired by the Gilded Age — the era of its namesake industrialist Henry Clay Frick — and this celebration will be no different. Visitors can expect ice skating, horse-drawn carriage rides, outdoor walking tours, and more. It all kicks off today with its opening of the Winter Gardens. (Pittsburgh City Paper)

📖 Former Steeler Ryan Shazier shares how he took lessons from football to recover from paralysis in “Walking Miracle,” his new book co-authored with Larry Platt. After an on-field spinal cord injury in 2017 left him paralyzed from the waist down, Shazier changed his perspective of recovery to reaching “first downs'' rather than “touchdowns.” (90.5 WESA)

  • Quotable: “A first down is basically a small gain. Just small gains, small rehabs, small progress. And, as I continued to get better, if something big happened, I would consider it a touchdown." — Ryan Shazier

🧀 Need a tasty snack board to satisfy holiday guests? Here’s a list of six spots where you can find everything from charcuterie to cookie trays, including Blanket & Board (who The Incline interviewed earlier this year), Chantal’s Cheese Shop, DiAnoia’s Eatery, and others. (Pittsburgh City Paper)

City Paper made a great list, so we thought we’d build on it with a few more:

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✨Get lost in the illusions with magician Siegfried Tieber in Sixty-Seven Keys at Liberty Magic (Downtown)

🖋️Learn the principles of modern calligraphy (all supplies included) with Ketchup City Creative (Sharpsburg)


🎻Enjoy a mix of classical music with contemporary sounds with a performance by Black Violin at the Byham Theater (Downtown)

🎄Be amazed by the synchronized lights at the Holiday Laser Show at North Park (North Hills)

🎨 Find finely crafted, one-of-a-kind artisanal pieces at the Holiday Mart Preview Party at Sweetwater Center for the Arts (Sewickley)

🎶Hear the stories of marginalized voices through a multimedia performance of Lavender Terrace at the New Hazlett Theater (Northside)

🕯️ Join Repair the World Pittsburgh for a virtual dinner & chat about dismantling colonialist ideas around Hanukkah and Judaism (Online)


🛍️Find holiday gifts, take classes, and visit exhibits along Penn Ave. arts district with Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn (Bloomfield / Garfield)

🎄 Watch a holiday classic come to life at A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Byham Theater (Downtown)

🎶Experience unique light sculptures, soundscapes, and vocal arrangements by Ian Brill and Clara Kent at Aura: Reimagined at KST’s Alloy Studios, today and tomorrow (East Liberty)


🛍️Find all your holiday gifts and shop from more than 200 local vendors with Handmade Arcade at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (Downtown)

🛍️ Keep on shoppin’ local with even more vendors at the 10th Annual Peoples Gas Holiday Market (Downtown)

🍄 Find local produce at “A Taste of Harvie” Holiday Farmers Market with Farm to Table (Lawrenceville)

🐧Waddle on over to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium to watch the Penguins on Parade (Highland Park)

🕯️ Celebrate Kwanza at the August WIlson African American Cultural Center’s AWCommunity Day (Downtown)

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🎄 2021 Holiday Jingle Mingle

Kick-off your holiday season with an evening of holiday cheer, complimentary appetizers, and establishing new connections @ Fairmont Hotel.

Reserve Your Spot for Thurs. Dec 2

One more thing…

Do you feel a sense of pride after all the charitable efforts for Giving Tuesday? I sure do. It’s amazing to see our community show up for one another. If you’re still looking for causes to donate to, consider Allies for Health + Wellbeing, an organization that integrates medical care and supportive human services, particularly those at risk for HIV. Today is World Aids Day, and I recently learned that the City of Pittsburgh has joined over 300 cities across the world in committing to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. That’s the sort of good news we love to hear!

Until tomorrow,

— Francesca at The Incline

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