The trails that run along the hills and valleys of Frick Park, the ones where you’re bound to meet a friendly dog, or a joyful family, I’ve enjoyed walking since I was old enough to stand. And from what my mom told me, she and her sisters would walk them as girls too.

On my dad’s side, my family has roots in Pittsburgh going back to my great-grandfather who immigrated from Ireland and ended up working as a foreman in the coke plant on Second Avenue (now the Hazelwood Green site), which I bicycle past on my regular route.

Whether it’s a walk in the park or a bike ride around town, I think a lot about how we still travel the same paths as so many people before us who built the communities and institutions that we are part of. On those outings, however, I also see how we are changing Pittsburgh and how forces beyond us are changing this city. Some for the good, and some for the bad — especially from the pandemic — which impact each of us in our own way.

I’ve been witnessing new things since I came back to the city after college, a decade and a half ago. One of those good — great, actually! — things that I saw seven years ago was the launch of NEXTpittsburgh. It was a resource for getting to know both the nooks and crannies of the city as well as all the big happenings. I’ve shared and discussed countless NEXTpittsburgh articles with friends and neighbors since its beginning.

Tracy Certo clearly saw the changes across our city, but also specifically in the journalism industry, when she founded this news organization. She understood that there was news that people wanted but weren’t getting, and they wanted it to be easily accessible, wherever they are.

I come from a background in public policy and entrepreneurship. Community activism is also really important to me, and that’s why I’m lucky to currently serve as co-chair of Housing & Development for the Polish Hill Civic Association — I live in the neighborhood — as well as Treasurer of the City of Bridges Community Land Trust.

I see such a promising future for NEXTpittsburgh — and was interested in becoming the next owner and publisher of this treasure of our city — in part because NEXTpittsburgh is on solid business footing now and for the future. More important I believe we, as a city, have more desire than ever to better know ourselves. And that knowledge is what calls us to make change for the good, from supporting our local shops to getting out to vote.

As Rachel Carson, one of my favorite Pittsburgh natives, once said, “Most of us walk unseeing through the world, unaware alike of its beauties, its wonders, and the strange and sometimes terrible intensity of the lives that are being lived about us.” I see NEXTpittsburgh as one way to help us be a city where everyone is seen, known, and needed.

As the new owner and publisher of NEXTpittsburgh, I recognize my responsibility to carry forward what Tracy and so many other members of the NEXTpittsburgh team have built. I aim to continue its same path of journalistic excellence. It is obviously up to you — our wonderful readers — to decide if that excellence continues, but I guarantee that I will put my love for this city into it because I believe NEXTpittsburgh is as bonded to this community as I am.

This publication will only be at its best with feedback from you and the community. So please feel free to reach out with suggestions and ideas any time. You can reach me at john@nextpittsburgh.com

Also, if you’re looking for more info, check out Tracy’s great piece here. And, here’s the news article about the sale.