Dynamic organizations shape this month’s issue

At the National Aviary, where growth is influencing some interesting and new things, an emotional connection is paramount.

Executive Director Cheryl Tracy told me that when visitors can get close to the birds, it helps with the Aviary’s mission of inspiring people to have a respect for nature through an appreciation of birds.

Experiences like participating in a lorikeet feeding, where participants have a cup of nectar, go into the exhibit and the lorikeets will fly down and eat out of their hand help set the organization apart.

Another emotional connection comes from the novelty of a baby sloth surrounded by hundreds of birds. Or, live birds flying through the atrium of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

The Aviary also does a number of programs with underprivileged schools, like One Northside, which aims to bring its environmental education to every Northside second grader.

“We’re beginning to embark on another program with some of the city schools as well. It’s a way to bridge the surrounding neighborhoods with the cultural assets that exist in the city,” Tracy says.

You can learn more about this and other fascinating stories in this month’s Uniquely Pittsburgh.

While the National Aviary isn’t officially part of our Who to Watch list, the centerpiece of this issue, it’s certainly one of the many dynamic organizations that make Pittsburgh such an exciting place to live.

The list is also just a sampling of the people or projects that are driving positive momentum in Pittsburgh’s growth and development. In fact, when I reached out to some of my contacts to ask for suggestions, I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response — and how little repetition there was.

You may have been sad to flip the calendar, and say goodbye to the Penguins Stanley Cup year, but our Who to Watch list spotlights some of the great things that are in store for 2017.