Sharpsburg is lucky to be home to several new breweries, Deeplocal’s new HQ and a main street lined with independent businesses. But the riverfront community of 3,400 is also very lucky to have Brittany Reno, founder and executive director of the Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization and president of Sharpsburg Borough Council. Reno’s priorities include launching Sharpsburg’s EcoDistrict plan, and improving access to multimodal transit, natural resources, affordable housing and economic opportunity.

What upcoming events are you excited to attend?

This week I’m looking forward to checking out Friends of the Riverfront’s We Love Our Friends volunteer appreciation event at The Highline (Wednesday, 4-6 p.m.) and the Valentine’s Day 21+ MAKEnight at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (Thursday, 6:30-9:30 p.m.).

What is the best part of your job?

My job consists of talking to a ton of people, figuring out what they’re passionate about or having trouble with, and then working to find ways to incorporate their concerns and priorities into actionable plans for Sharpsburg. The best part is making progress on projects that address real concerns of local residents and business owners so that everyone is happier being here in Sharpsburg — and so that other communities can see what’s possible.

What is your big idea for Pittsburgh?

I dream of Pittsburgh becoming a region and cluster of neighborhoods with unparalleled levels of civic participation. Over the last five years, I’ve seen what a community can do with just a few dozen people going all-in on their neighborhood. My hope is that across our city (and country), civic apathy and frustration with the status quo can be harnessed and transformed into people having meaningful, ongoing conversations about what’s important to them and how they can work together to make it a reality.

Sharpsburg Borough Council President Brittany Reno.

What is the one thing that would surprise Pittsburghers most about you?

I spend much of my free time playing computer games. Lately I’ve been staying up way too late playing Overwatch and Minecraft, but I’m also a sucker for old Microsoft DOS games and have been since I was a kid.

What’s one thing you would love to change about Pittsburgh?

I wish people across our region realized how powerful they are, especially when they work together. We’re finally at a point where many people will admit that addressing huge, complex issues like air/water pollution, systemic racism, income/wealth inequality, and lack of access to health care is critical to improving the quality of life in Pittsburgh (and beyond). It’s important now that we all, across the political spectrum, hold our elected officials (local, county, state and federal) to a higher standard and demand more of the people who have the honorable and difficult task of representing us.

Favorite Pittsburgh brewery?

It’s definitely a tie between Hitchhiker Brewing and Dancing Gnome, because 1.) they both make incredible beers and 2.) I can walk to both of them from my house, so I’m always running into friends and neighbors when I pop in.

Brittany Reno and her partner, Eric Sonnet, at an Open Streets Sharpsburg event. Photo by Nanci Goldberg.

What song in your playlist is on endless repeat?

In recent years I’ve come to love folk music. Right now, “Homeward Bound” and “America” by Simon & Garfunkel, plus “Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles, are constantly playing in my head.

It’s time to unwind. Where do you head?

I grew up in rural Butler County — my dad was the son and grandson of dairy farmers and he inherited a small piece of land in the middle of a cornfield down the road from the Reno Dairy Farm — so as much as I love the city, sometimes it’s nice to escape to a campground or go on a road trip out to a state/national park. I grew up camping a lot and I’d love to own a camper van one day and spend more time on the road and in the forest.

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