City of Asylum

Jaime Dillen-Seibel / Flickr

It’s being called the “largest crowdfunding event in history,” and Pittsburgh has the most nonprofits participating.

May 5 is Give Local America day, in which nonprofits are asking individuals to log on and donate gifts.

When Huang Xiang came to Pittsburgh, he was so happy to be able to share his poems – which forced him to leave China – that he painted them onto his house on Sampsonia Way, marking the beginning of City of Asylum.

“In grass style … calligraphy, he painted a poetry anthology in Chinese,” Diane Samuels, artist and co-founder of City of Asylum said. “From the moment he was out there on the scaffolding, people in the neighborhood stopped by and asked what was going on.  We explained and then Huang Xiang would read, perform one of his poems – the neighborhood was fascinated.”

Neighborhood Business: The Mexican War Streets

Feb 3, 2015
Joseph / Flickr

Cities are made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique features and characteristics. On the first Tuesday of the month, business contributor Rebecca Harris will focus on one of the city’s neighborhoods. Today's focus is on the Mexican War Streets.

Broadly speaking, Harris explains, the North Side consists of 18 different neighborhoods. The district that makes up the Mexican War Streets was laid out in the middle of the 19th century by Alexander Hays, who named the streets after famous figures and battles in the Mexican-American war. The area now holds city and federal designations as a historic district.

Today’s Mexican War Streets district doesn’t really have any central business district; businesses are more spread out instead. Some highlights are the Inn on the Mexican War Streets and the Allegheny City Market, which has been a corner grocery store since 1825.

Exploring Sonic Sanctuaries On The North Side

Aug 5, 2014
Joseph A / Flickr

Perhaps you’re familiar with the North Side — maybe you’ve lived there, or maybe you just visited the Aviary. Is there any way for someone who’s visited the Pittsburgh neighborhood to see it in a different way?

A North Side-based group known most for its support of exiled writers is spreading the word, literally. 

The City of Asylum has partnered with the Pittsburgh Office of Public Art to connect its Alphabet City, a literary center, to its Alphabet Reading Garden, the residential part of the neighborhood, by creating what it is calling a River of Words. The “River” will consist of area neighbors hosting words made out of  plastic placed on the outside of their homes.

Nick Frost / 90.5 WESA

As a young writer, Moniru Ravanipur, hoped that her writing would keep her alive. But more often than not it caused conflict with the Islamic government of Iran, where she grew up.

After waiting nearly seven years to get permission to publish her work, then ten years for her first novel, Ravanipur’s work was quickly banned.

“I didn’t write before the revolution. I wrote a short collection story that immediately they burnt and banned...That was not the only story that they banned.”

Joseph A / Flickr

City of Asylum Pittsburgh was launched in 2004 and has since been a hub of activity on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

Created as a sanctuary for writers in exile, City of Asylum is expanding into a vehicle for community development on the city’s North Side.

Henry Reese, founder of City of Asylum, says the organization's role in the community is constantly evolving.

Exiled Voices of China and Tibet Come To Pittsburgh

Jun 4, 2013
City of Asylum

The Pittsburgh based online magazine, Sampsonia Way, seeks to protect and advocate for writers in asylum, educate the public about threats to literary expression, and to create a community where endangered writers can thrive. This is made possible by the Northside's City of Asylum Pittsburgh.

Exiled Voices of China and Tibet is an event taking place this weekend at the City of Asylum.  Notable international writers will for the first time, be able to talk about the exercise of fundamental human rights in China. For many of these writers, they've never been in the same room at the same time or been able to speak freely about human rights.

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

For the first time in nearly 50 years, Cubans no longer need a special permit to travel outside the country. With the new potential for travel freedom, how does one's view of the world change? Because of the relaxed restrictions, Cuban writer and photographer, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo is now visiting Pittsburgh and the United States for the first time. He joins us to talk about his work for City of Asylum's Sampsonia Way Magazine, publishing Voces, Cuba's first independent e-zine,  and what it took to travel to the U.S.