Tube City Writers look to spin ‘Stories from the Mon Valley’ | TribLIVE.com
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Tube City Writers look to spin ‘Stories from the Mon Valley’

Mary Pickels
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Kim Stepinsky | For the Tribune-Review
Nicole Peeler, director of the Seton Hill University MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program, at the Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center in Greensburg in 2016. Peeler will facilitate “Tube City Writers Live” in McKeesport on Nov. 21.
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Megan Guza | Tribune-Review
McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko speaks at the grand reopening of the former Daily News building in Downtown McKeesport on Feb. 11, 2019.

The Mon Valley is rich with stories to tell, and storytellers will share their personal tales at “Tube City Writers Live: An Evening of Stories from the Mon Valley.”

The program will be held 6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Tube City Center, 409 Walnut St., McKeesport.

A multi-use, co-working space in the former Daily News building, the Tube City Center keeps the former newspaper building open in a vital part of the community.

Trib Total Media donated the building to the city in late 2017, about two years after it stopped production of the McKeesport Daily News.

The McKeesport Community Newsroom is a project of Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation.

Nicole Peeler, Seton Hill University associate professor of English and director of the Writing Popular Fiction Program, will facilitate the evening.

More than half a dozen local writers, none of whom are professionals and ranging from an eighth-grade student to a man in his 70s, will present stories, Peeler says.

Writers will share stories highlighting the struggles and joys of life in the Mon Valley, including their memories and reflections.

Peeler has been working with interested writers every other week for several months, she says.

“These are people from the community who were invited to tell a story and who just liked the idea of storytelling. … We had no idea who would show up, or how it would evolve. It has evolved into this really great thing. I’ve never done such diverse teaching,” she says.

The writers’ only common denominator, Peeler says, is the Mon Valley.

“It’s been really wonderful to hear the stories about how the area is changing. One of my goals was to resist nostalgia. I think it’s important to know the history of a place, but also to put it into perspective,” she says.

“I wanted to resist a narrative that (the Mon Valley) has devolved,” she adds.

Workshop participants learn how to start, structure and end a story.

“I will facilitate a discussion around a topic,” Peeler says of the sessions. “Some people drop in for one session. Some come to every single session.”

Every place has, historically, its down sides and up sides, Peeler adds.

“I think there is this narrative of McKeesport as a place that’s dangerous, that’s lost something in terms of wealth. It certainly has challenges. But it’s a vibrant, wonderful place that is regenerating,” she says.

The writers will share stories from their own lives.

“They represent the Mon Valley in the sense that they either grew up there or are living there now,” she says.

“We have a woman who talks about having her first child at the hospital there. It’s a snapshot of her life. We have stories about what it’s like to be a sixth grader and move to a new school, about rescuing a dog, about a father’s beloved pink car, which he insisted was ‘salmon,’ ” Peeler says.

Another writer recalls “umbrella men,” itinerant workers of long ago who offered their services sharpening knives, repairing radios and fixing broken umbrellas.

The program is free to the public and refreshments will be served. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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