Raised in Pittsburgh, Alec Rieger spent nearly 20 years in Los Angeles, New York City and Asia working in global development and media, including stints at Unicef, The Jewish Federations of North America, and Warner Bros. Records. He recently boomeranged back with his wife, Cara, and their two young children, where they are residents of Squirrel Hill.
Monday, August 17
I start every day with 30 to 40 minutes of meditation and a run through Schenley Park. I love that I can go for a run here and be completely alone in the middle of the city, and our massive urban green space is one of Pittsburgh’s greatest assets. After a quick breakfast, I’ll grab my laptop and head over to Commonplace Coffee in Squirrel Hill and spend a couple hours planning the week. Then, I’ll sit down with Alex Stanton, from Sunburst Music and our music team to plan for the upcoming Squirrel Hill Night Markets. Since we are a volunteer driven organization, evenings are always work related, and nearly all of these meetings take place at the Independent Brewing Company. It’s a great bar and it attracts a lot of interesting folks. Pete and Matthew Kurzweg deserve big thanks for opening such a cool establishment in Squirrel Hill.
Tuesday, August 18
I’ll work from home for a few of hours and treat myself to the best croissant on the East Coast at Gaby et Jules. Squirrel Hill is home to an increasingly global student population and it has become much more of an international neighborhood during the two decades I was away. As a result, NextGen:Pgh is planning a slew of open-street diversity programming, including a Diwali luminary festival and Asian (Lunar) New Year parade. In the afternoon, I’ll meet with Casey Monroe, the executive policy advisor of the Allegheny County Health Department, Zack Block, executive director of Repair the World Pittsburgh, as well as several major donors.
Wednesday, August 19
I’ll spend the morning digging through the mountain of details pertaining to the launch of our Squirrel Hill Night Market on August 29th. We’re featuring I Made It! Market vendors, local merchants, food trucks and some great local bands and artists. I’ll touch base with Carrie Nardini and others, and in the afternoon I’m meeting with representatives from Community Day School and Weinberg Terrace to hammer out the details for a cool intergenerational after-school program that we’re launching at the farmers market.
A big part of my job is making time to listen and I try to take meetings with anybody who expresses an interest. Wednesday afternoon is for this type of brainstorming and Dobra Tea House is usually the location. My operating assumption is that the more people I engage; the more I learn; the more I can deliver.
Thursday, August 20
I’ll have a morning meeting with Seth Hufford, founder of The People Group, and we’ll talk leadership development. Next up is a meeting with Brian Schreiber, the president and CEO of the JCC and we’ll talk big picture strategy. I’ll spend a few hours on my laptop at the 61C Café, then I’ll head down to Curry on Murray for lunch. I love their Pad Ka-Prao. I spent a lot of time in Thailand and the food at this restaurant is every bit as good as what you’d find on the street in Bangkok.
Friday, August 21
Meditation, run and then at 9 a.m., a prominent local philanthropist is hosting a parlor meeting. Pittsburgh Planning Director Ray Gastil and I will be speaking to a group of real estate magnates about the value of “third place” development. Then I’m having lunch at Heinz Hall with executives from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to hammer out details for an exciting collaboration. After that, I’ll catch up on work before heading home for our regular Friday night Shabbat picnic in Schenley Park. We’ve met some great families since moving back to Pittsburgh and we love how this event has grown into an outdoor potluck extravaganza. The adults sit in the grass and talk while the kids play, and sometimes it’s the other way around.
Saturday, August 22
I’ll make breakfast for my two kids and then we’ll all go for a hike in Frick Park. On the way home we stop at our favorite bakery in Pittsburgh, Five Points Artisan Bakeshop, and consider all the fun ways we can waste the rest of the day together. I’m always pushing for The National Aviary, because BIRDS!
Sunday, August 23
You can find me at the Squirrel Hill Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s become such a labor of love, and it’s my kids’ favorite part of the week. Zeke’s Coffee powers me through the morning and I can never resist trying the new flavors from Family Farm Creameries. And all the happy faces inspire me to keep pushing.