Pride Month is in full swing with rainbow flags flowing, marches manifesting solidarity, and activities honoring the past, present, and future to celebrate LGBTQIA+ lives. One newly founded network, Suburban Action, is taking advocacy to a new level by bridging awareness, education, and actionable ways to connect communities together with an expanded footprint leading to the outskirts of Pittsburgh.
Created in the summer of 2020, the non-profit advocacy group aims to connect residents from Northern Pittsburgh Suburbs with information, resources, and leaders with a mission to make human-centric changes at a local level. 21-year-old and co-founder of Suburban Action, Sophia Kachur, started the grassroots group from her inspired political action committee in high school.
“I have had a pretty active political action committee in high school,” says Kachur. “We would go into the city and show support in various ways, but racism, sexism and homophobia, and all of these oppressive systems exist in the suburbs, too, and we need to be able to do that kind of work and bring these movements to the suburbs as well.”
In its infancy, Suburban Action held a Black Lives Matter solidarity rally on Mt. Royal Blvd. in Shaler, layered with call campaigns, aimed conversations at the local government, townships/municipalities, and police departments. To make a change during a historical time of civil rights, the group encouraged local leaders to craft statements and discuss changes to make progress within surrounding communities.
To continue assisting marginalized communities, the main focus of Suburban Action is to educate people about their local government and to give them the resources needed to realize the projects and dreams each person has for their own communities.
“We want to be able to provide information and to let people know that they can talk to their local government, who they should talk to, and what kind of things they need to do if they choose to do something,” says Kachur. “…whether it be hosting a protest or organizing a community cook-out.”
Since December, the collective non-profit has been planning Pride activities incorporated as the North Pittsburgh Pride with to-dos of a safely planned scavenger hunt and a virtual movie night series, thanks to a Millvale business, Maude’s Paperwing Gallery.
“The scavenger hunt is about exploring the local neighborhoods and businesses. We need something that’s safe during the pandemic, but something that recognizes the needs of our communities,” says Kachur. “So, trying to connect people to these local businesses that are supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community and entrenched in our daily lives was a necessary component.”
We started this planning group, North Pittsburgh Pride, just trying to think what’s fun, what’s educational, what meets the needs of the community, what can help uplift local queer voices, and show that were here and can add to the local economic livelihood all while being safe and accessible to the greatest number of people. That’s why we chose the scavenger hunt; like you can go when you need to go, go on the weekdays or weekends, explore just one neighborhood or visit all of them. To us that’s just wonderful.
North Pittsburgh Pride is not only showcasing notable LGBTQIA+ history of queer heroes, but the organization helps to uplift allies making an impact in the Shaler, Etna, and Millvale areas.
Participating in the scavenger hunt is free and offers a multi-level prize opportunity, based on the level of completion. You can find the details about the scavenger hunt here:
Kachur says, “We are going to have one grand prize in which if a person completes every stop and takes a picture to tag us on social media with each photo, the person will be entered for a grand prize raffle basket of local goods and queer inspired items.”
Those that can only make one stop are entered to win another prize basket at a municipal level. There are three opportunities to win prizes at a municipal level with Shaler, Etna, and Millvale that include items from local businesses.
Maude’s Paperwing Gallery will be showcasing LGBTQIA+ movies every Thursday night at 8pm via Zoom, and those interested can find the movie night information here.
As a little but mighty help, North Pittsburgh Pride by Suburban Action gave brief advice and confidence in the emerging stages of planning for Millvale’s first PRIDE Millvale 2021, a day-long community celebration happening on June 26 at noon. One of the lead organizers of PRIDE Millvale reached out to Suburban Action prior for guidance on how to start the planning process of the event in order to bring it to their own success.
“I feel like this is the first time someone from the outside came to us for guidance,” says Kachur. “I am happy that we could function as an organization that can give people confidence to go achieve what they want in their community.”
Need help completing a community project? Don’t know where to start? Want to get in touch with your local government? Surban Action can help!