COVID-19 Calming Page

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Click Here to Watch –

Multimedia artist Miwa Matreyek’s clip is more of a performance rather than your usual TED Talk. She combines shadow play, meditative music, and cool animation projections for around 10 minutes to calm you down. It’s a good watch when you want an escape to a dream-like space.

Rivers of Steel Arts is excited to launch the 2020 Mon Valley Featured Artist Series. Showcasing some of the exciting creative professionals working across the Mon Valley Creative Corridor, this weekly blog highlights multiple artists each month—from a variety of boroughs—to provide a snapshot of the region’s growing cultural vitality.

Yoga can play a useful role in self-care, along with the other tools in your belt – nutritious foods, restful sleep, physical activity, connection with others. Adding a touch of restorative yoga and some deliberate breathing does not come with any medical guarantee, but as we say in the South – “Can’t hurt, might help.”


By Brianna Horan, Manager of Tourism & Visitor Experience, Rivers of Steel | Image of a pysanky egg created and photographed by Lisa DiStefano-Bauer

Flowering trees, fragrant bulbs, chirping birds, and warmer weather are very real expressions of spring’s arrival, but to prevent the spread of COVID-19 our usual celebrations of the season are encouraged to be virtual this year. Even though some people have used their extra time indoors to spring clean like they’ve never spring cleaned before, health experts advise that no one who’s not already living in your home should visit to see how organized you’ve become. This also means tables at Passover Seder and Easter brunch could feel empty in coming week, and the iftars of Ramadan towards the end of the month may be more solitary breakings of fast. READ MORE

As we strive to create a new normal and move ourselves and those around us forward, how do we remain positive when the realities of the pandemic circumstances leave us feeling pretty grim and depressed? The answer resides in our perception of what it is we believe is within our control.

The new Pittsburgh Labor Choir (formerly unnamed) is meeting at 8 p.m. every Sunday evening. It lasts about an hour and we are using the ZOOM meeting format.  It is easy to connect via computer, tablet, or phone. 
Edwin (Ted) Everhart, Ph.D. is the director and a very enthusiastic one.  He has decided to keep things simple while the physical distancing limits are in place.  We focus on singing and keeping the extra discussions to email or very brief during the session.  Suggestions for songs are shared and anyone who wants to do so can lead a song.  Everyone on the video or phone call mutes their microphone when we are singing (because of lag time).  This lets us listen to the song and sing along with only one person’s voice being heard.  It works!  It is a good way to learn the songs and to experiment with the parts, etc.  Nobody has to worry about their singing ability or experience. 
If you are even the least bit interested, I suggest that you take a look at the PITTSBURGH LABOR CHOIR Facebook page and request to join the page.  The details for connecting with the ZOOM meeting each week will be posted there as a separate event.  It is also good to send an email to Ted at if you have questions and to be sure that you get on the email list.  
Songs that we have been singing include:  Solidarity Forever, Which Side Are You On?, Union Maid, Bella Ciao, Internationale, Sticking with the Union, Step By Step, There is Power in a Union, Go to Work on Monday, Pity the Downtrodden Landlord,  Bread and Roses, We Shall Not Be Moved, and several others. 
It is great fun and a useful way to maintain some social connections at this time. 

© 2020 L.E. McCullough (Lyrics: L.E. McCullough / Air: “The Rollicking Boys of Trandragee”)

An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans
By Kristin Flyntz

Stop. Just stop.
It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.
We will help you.
We will bring the supersonic, high speed merry-go-round to a halt
We will stop
the planes
the trains
the schools
the malls
the meetings
the frenetic, furied rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our
single and shared beating heart,
the way we breathe together, in unison.
Our obligation is to each other,
As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.
We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,
to bring you this long-breaking news:
We are not well.
None of us; all of us are suffering.
Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth
did not give you pause.
Nor the typhoons in Africa,China, Japan.
Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.
You have not been listening.
It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.
But the foundation is giving way,
buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.
We will help you.
We will bring the firestorms to your body
We will bring the fever to your body
We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs
that you might hear:
We are not well.
Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.
We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.
We are asking you:
To stop, to be still, to listen;
To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;
To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;
To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?
To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?
To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?
Many are afraid now.
Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you. Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness,
listen for its wisdom.
What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?
As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?
Notice if you are resisting.
Notice what you are resisting.
Ask why.
Stop. Just stop.
Be still.
Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.
We will help you, if you listen.

Tales from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

      “There was a little girl, and she had a little bird,
         And she called it by the pretty name of Enza;
         But one day it flew away, but it didn’t go to stay,
       For when she raised the window, in-flu-Enza.”
                                  –Children’s rhyme, late 1800s 

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, daily we are hearing stories of suffering, selfishness, and mismanagement–yet others of courage, compassion, and self-sacrifice. With most of us at home during the day, we are glued to the computer and TV screens, watching these stories unfold. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions, from horror to inspiration, to see the images of people and places around the world affected by the pandemic. Trilby Bush has an excellent discussion of the 1918 Flu Epidemic in Munhall and Homestead. CLICK HERE