Planning a Pittsburgh Conference Highlighting Resident-Led Grantmaking
TST Productions' specialty is event planning. We get creative in bringing people together for transformational conversations. We also love working with organizations who's mission and vision align with our own value-based approach. That's why TST Productions' latest project was such a perfect match. For the past few months we have been working with Grassroots Grantmakers to plan their yearly On The Ground conference. The yearly conference brings together community and philanthropic leaders from around the country to highlight ways they are participating in resident-led grantmaking. Each year the "On The Ground" conference takes place in a different city, this year it was held in Pittsburgh. Planning this conference was a fun opportunity to show off the vibrancy of Pittsburgh neighborhoods, highlighting the work of so many Pittsburgh grassroots leaders!
They are a network of place-based funders in the United States and Canada who are working from a “we begin with residents” perspective – supporting active citizenship and building civic capacity at the block level in their communities with scale-appropriate grants, a highly relational style of grantmaking, and a learning orientation.
On The Ground focused on the quality of relationships between grantors and grantees as the catalyst for change. Therefore TST Productions' event planning goal was to ensure that everyone's conference experience was one that allowed for people to be open, honest, and ready to engage in the transformative dialogue.
The conference agenda was a mix of panel discussion, breakout sessions called "Learning Markets" which allowed conference attendees to delve a little deeper on topics that affect community work. Guest panelists included Pittsburgh grassroots community leaders and representatives from the philanthropy community, topics focused on resident's experiences, perspectives, and identities. The intersectionalty of all these elements provided a powerful opportunity to have transformative conversations which are contributing to the culture change within philanthropy and grant giving.
We booked rooms at a hotel that was in walking distance to the event venue and included a free breakfast and shuttle to ensure attendees were able to easily, and comfortably, travel back and forth. For all the meals we worked with Pittsburgh based catering businesses, most of whom were local to the Northside. To ensure throughout the day people had sustenance to get through the long conference days we provided coffee, water, snacks (including fresh fruit).
- Group Tours - The conference had four community tours to show conference attendees ways that communities in Pittsburgh are shaping things from the ground up. The groups were warmly welcomed into The Hill District, East Liberty, The Northside, and Braddock for thought provoking conversations challenging traditional ways of philanthropy.
- Community Dinners - On the second night of the conference, Northside neighborhood residents opened their doors for community dinners catered by Cafe On The Corner (more on them below).
- Cafe On The Corner - Located in the Marshall-Shadeland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Cafe On The Corner is run by Mr. Blackwell and his wife La'Teresa. They offer delicious food, beautiful set up, and service with a smile.