Vibrant Pittsburgh is trying to expand the diversity of Pittsburgh's workforce.
Here's one of the organization's operating premises: You can attract people for great jobs, show them nice neighborhoods, acquaint them with the region's cultural offerings, but in the end, "people will move to and stay in a region if they feel welcomed," said CEO Melanie Harrington. "It's all about finding those connections and making friends in your neighborhood."
So Vibrant Pittsburgh publishes a "Pittsburgh Guide for Diverse Newcomers" and operates a Welcome Center that connects newcomers with community resources.
But this is sometimes the linchpin for retaining diverse talent: The organization also hosts "Dine Arounds" -- dinners for newcomers in Pittsburghers' homes.
They started hosting Dine Arounds in 2010, when Ms. Harrington and Steven Sokol, president and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh -- themselves newcomers to Pittsburgh at the time -- hatched the idea of dinners in people's homes as a way to create the more intimate relationships needed to make newcomers want to stay here.
Mr. Sokol went on to organize home dinners as one of the attractions at last year's One Young World Summit here, with delegates from around the world attending dinners in Pittsburghers' homes.
Now Vibrant Pittsburgh has stepped up its game a notch. In the past, the organization has merely organized individual Dine Arounds in one home at a time. On April 20, they're holding their first Community Dine Around. Their hope was to attract hosts from the "four corners of the region," Adriana Dobrzycka, community outreach and inclusion manager, said.
And that, it turned out, was no problem at all. They hoped to find 10 to 15 willing hosts; they ended up with 50 volunteers, plus a list of 30 more who wanted to do it at a later date.
Now they need to scare up enough newcomers.
For some events, the organization tries to match people based on interests; for this event, they're using geographical location alone in the hopes that having new friends in close proximity will be helpful to the newcomers.
While some of the organization's events are family-friendly, the April 20 Dine Arounds are for adults only: a little wine, some finger foods or sit-down dinners or whatever the host wants to provide, and some adult conversation about what Pittsburgh has to offer and what concerns newcomers have.
The organization has made connections with employers in the area, working with human resources departments to locate newcomers and offer services. But more newcomers are still needed for the April 20 dinners.
Newcomers interested in attending should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The group hopes to host a second community-wide Dine Around in the fall.
Dessert Tasting for a Cause: Taste fancy desserts and benefit two charities operated by former Pitt football players: The Kris Wilson Foundation, operated by former Baltimore Raven Kris Wilson and benefiting inner city youth, and The Polite Way Foundation, operated by Atlanta Falcon Lousaka Polite to benefit single mothers and their children. Three actual events:
• Pre-tasting: 8:30 p.m. April 12 at The Smart House, Mt. Washington. $30.
• VIP reception: 5 p.m. April 13 at Larrimor's, Downtown. $100 also includes the tasting later in the evening.
• Dessert tasting: 7:30 p.m. April 13 at the Clemente Museum, Engine House 25, Lawrenceville. $60.
Gullifty's, Dream Cream Ice Cream, Sweet Sophistication, Godiva and others will provide desserts; paired wines also will be served. desserttastingforacause.com.
Pasta dinner: Pasta, sauces, salad, bread, dessert, silent auction and live entertainment. 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 12 at the Millvale Community Center. $8 advance; $10 at the door. Proceeds benefit North Hills Community Outreach. 412-487-6316 opt. 2.
Spring Thaw Wine and Food Fest: Tastings of wines from eight area wineries, fine food, live entertainment and local artisans. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 13 at Hidden Valley Resort. $30 in advance or $35 at the door; for ages 21 and up only. 1-814-443-8000.
Taste and Style Event: Food trucks selling everything from organic burgers to homemade pierogies, plus wine tastings, children's activities (1 to 3 p.m.), artisan marketplace, fashion shows and more. Noon to 5 p.m. April 13 and 14 at Tanger Outlets in Washington, Pa. tangeroutlet.com/washington.
Pittsburgh Folk Festival: Live entertainment, bazaar, cultural exhibits and lots of food, including stuffed grape leaves, hummus, curry, kebabs, funnel cakes and other specialties of about 30 different cultures. 4 to 10 p.m. April 19 and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. April 20 at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, Oakland. $5; free for children, veterans and Pitt students. pghfolkfest.org.
Ukrainian Easter egg decorating: Learn the fine art of making Ukrainian Easter eggs by drawing on eggs with beeswax and then dyeing them. 8 to 11 a.m. April 13 at Panera in Mt. Lebanon. Reservations required by Sunday. $45. ucowpa.org.
Pasta making: Learn to make homemade pasta with Lidia's Executive Chef Jeremy Voytish, and enjoy a four-course dinner afterward. 3 p.m. April 13 in Lidia's Loft, Strip District. $95 per person. Reservations: 412-552-0150 or lidias-pittsburgh.com.
"American Meat": Documentary film about chicken, hog and cattle production in America, followed by a conversation with local farmers and food experts. 6:30 tonight at Washington & Jefferson College's Dieter-Porter Life Sciences Building. Information or to register: americanmeatfilm.com.
Submit your events
Organizing a food-related festival, conference, fundraiser, class or other event? Submit your information for possible inclusion in The Food Column by e-mailing the address below.
Rebecca Sodergren: email@example.com or on Twitter @pgfoodevents.