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One Young World summit delegates get out to see Pittsburgh

Jason Cato
| Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, 6:32 p.m.
Ava deMarco and Rob Brandegee of Little Earth Productions talk to the delegates at a breakout session of One Young World at the Cathedral of Learning on Saturday October 20, 2012. The session is named 'Recycled Fashions.'
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Ava deMarco and Rob Brandegee of Little Earth Productions talk to the delegates at a breakout session of One Young World at the Cathedral of Learning on Saturday October 20, 2012. The session is named 'Recycled Fashions.' Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Luke Hingson of Brother's Brother talks to the delegates at a breakout session of One Young World at the Cathedral of Learning on Saturday October 20, 2012. The session is named 'The Unintended Consequences of Aid.'
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Luke Hingson of Brother's Brother talks to the delegates at a breakout session of One Young World at the Cathedral of Learning on Saturday October 20, 2012. The session is named 'The Unintended Consequences of Aid.' Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

International delegates spread out around Pittsburgh on Saturday to learn about Western Pennsylvania charities and companies as well as for chances to meet locals and share a meal.

One Young World, a global summit of 1,200 young adult leaders from 180 countries, got out of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, and into the community on the summit's third day. Organizers arranged more than 50 sessions focused on developments in and around Pittsburgh that also have global interest and reach, including programs on unintentional consequences of aid, women in sports and social justice activism at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning.

“I think the humanitarian aid field is changing. The younger generation is starting to ask important questions, like ‘if this is aid, why does it come with strings?'” said Marisol Wandiga Valetin, a program officer with Global Links, a Garfield-based charity that provides medical equipment and supplies to Latin America and the Caribbean. “We want to do good, but we don't always think of that next step. What does good mean?”

Discussions at the City-County Building, Downtown, focused on how Pittsburgh officials addressed problems facing local government. American Eagle Outfitters hosted a session at its South Side headquarters on corporate philanthropy. Some delegates visited the North Side's Mattress Factory and City of Asylum project to explore connections between artists and writers and social change.

At the Cathedral of Learning, Ava DeMarco explained how she and her husband, Rob Brandegee, grew their eco-fashion company founded in 1992 into a $10 million business by using recycled and sustainable materials to create handbags, belts and other accessories.

“Everything is recycled and sustainable today, but back 20 years ago it was hardly anything,” DeMarco told delegates inside the India Room.

Manchester Bidwell Corp. hosted an “Art for Work's Sake” session for delegates. Ryohei Moji of Japan said he hopes to use the vision and mission of Manchester Bidwell's president and CEO Bill Strickland to enhance his work at home.

“I'm creating events called ‘World Living' to break the borders,” Moji said. “And the concept of MBC is to know and do ‘real' products and activities. So I'd like to put this concept into my projects.”

Strickland started the Manchester Craftsman's Guild, an art school, in 1968 and later merged it with Bidwell Training Center, a North Side vocational program. The combined Manchester Bidwell Corp. founded the National Center for Arts & Technology to create similar centers elsewhere. Centers have opened in Ohio, California, Michigan and Connecticut, and plans are in the works for ones in Akko, Israel, and Ogatu, Japan, said Manchester Bidwell spokesman Erik Rueter.

“This is very much about Bill's mission to help the disadvantaged, and you can be disadvantaged if you're American, Japanese or Israeli,” Rueter said. “Differences aren't insurmountable if you put people in a warm, inviting environment where there is open dialogue. That's what we've done in Pittsburgh, and it can be exported to other places.”

Saturday's events included a tour of the Manchester Bidwell campus and lessons in screen printing and ceramics. The center also hosted another group of delegates for dinner and a concert by five-time Grammy Award-winning musician Béla Fleck.

“Having these types of opportunities is really a justification that not only do we know our model of education works and that people across the nation recognize that,” Rueter said. “But the eyes of the world also recognize it. There is a universality to hope, to respect, to recognition. Everyone has some level of genius in them.”

Later in the evening, participants met for dinners in about 120 locations across the city and in suburbs, including homes of hosts.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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