Dear Riverlife friends,
These days of COVID-19 lack modern precedent. We are all being asked to navigate uncharted waters. Social distancing and heightened vigilance are here. They are among the most important things we can do—as we do our part for the common good.
Since 1999, Riverlife has had the privilege of working with the community to transform the city’s riverfronts—turning the proverbial backdoor into the front yard —by creating signature open spaces for everyone to enjoy. These are spaces that we cherish because they help make Pittsburgh, PITTSBURGH.
And, while the benefits of these riverfront spaces are more than I can enumerate here, I want to point to one clear benefit that resonates at this moment:
Pittsburgh is one of America’s great river cities, and our connection to water is a key to our community’s wellness and resilience.
In his book, Blue Mind, researcher and marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols identifies that being near water—any type of water—can lower stress and anxiety, increase our sense of well-being, and lower heart rates. It boosts creativity and can enhance the quality of conversations. High-quality waterfronts create safe spaces for physical exercise and provide the setting for important parts of living — like creative play, romance, and quiet moments of solitude. Water makes us more human—and more resilient.
Over the past twenty years, we’ve partnered to build and restore world-class waterfront destinations like Point State Park, the North Shore, the Mon Wharf, and South Shore Riverfront Park. We’ve connected 15 miles of downtown riverfront trail and over 880 acres of public open space.
In the coming days we will feature some of the iconic places and projects along our riverfronts that we’ve helped create with your invaluable support. These are your assets to explore for their beauty, their opportunities for respite and connection to nature, and for recreation. They welcome all of us during these stressful times (just make sure to follow local and federal guidelines for outdoor activity and social distancing, and avoid parks and trails that look crowded).
And, when these waves subside—after we ride out the storm apart but together—these spaces will be there to welcome us collectively for celebrations: joyful reunions, marathons and festivals, picnics and playdates.
The riverfronts remind us of our own resilience. They are the places to which we return again and again. They are the balm for our bodies, minds, and spirits. For now—and for when this passes. Together.
Riverlife President and CEO
Header photo by Maranie Staab for Riverlife