Interview #96: Dustin Stiver

Meet the one and only Dustin Stiver! 

I got to know Dustin through CreativeMornings/Pittsburgh. He's one of my favorite people to work and conspire with, so I thought it was high time that he be featured on Yinzpiration. 

You've probably seen or met Dustin if you've been involved with any Sprout Fund initiatives. (It's not uncommon to find him in front of a mic inspiring and charming the crowd.) 

One of the best things about Dustin is that he's so multi-talented—I'm constatnly discovering new things about him. 

For staters, I recently learned that he and his friend Nathan gather their friends together annually for a photo shoot called "FRIENDshoot." (One year everyone at the shoot held giant balloons and paraded around an abandoned warehouse!) 

He also plays in a top secret hockey league that has taken place in Pittsburgh for many years. Everone on the team has top secret nicknames and they only play games at midnight. 

Pretty sweet, right?

I hope you get to meet Dustin sometime soon. He's a top notch Pittsburgher.

Enjoy Dustin's Q&A

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Name: Dustin Cory Stiver

Job title: Program Officer, The Sprout Fund

Twitter: @DustinStiver

Blog: I don’t have a personal blog, but allow me to invite you to visit www.sproutfund.org and www.remakelearning.org

Neighborhood you live in: Regent Square. Although, no one really lives in Regent Square. So, Edgewood.

Coffee Shop Drink of Choice: Name: Cortado. Taller than an espresso, shorter than a latte.

Current Shampoo Preference: Dr. Bronner’s Magic 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure Castile Soap made with Organic Oils.

Why do you choose Pittsburgh as your home?
I’m one of the people that stayed. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, moved to Pittsburgh to attend university, and was fortunate enough to land a job worth sticking around for after grad school. Originally, I chose Pittsburgh for college, now I choose it because it’s hard to leave a place you have grown to love.

Who do you spend your time with?
Lots of folks. My wife Alyssa - she’s lovely and talented and worthy of anyone’s time, IMHO. My co-workers at The Sprout Fund - a committed band of creative professionals. My friends - an encouraging, inspiring, and caring collection of humans. My neighbors - a lovely assortment of Pittsburghers (some young, some old, some new to the city, some that have never crossed a river).

What are your favorite aspects of your job?
Two things, primarily: (1) Frequent opportunities to interact with and support some of Pittsburgh’s most creative people and  (2) nearly endless opportunities to learn new things.

Do you have a soul food?
Noodles of any kind prepared any way. Also, my mom makes a mean piece of pie. She loves making pies. In fact, if you ask nicely, she’ll make a pie for you.

What are some of your recent personal goals?
At the moment, my major goal is to finish my PhD. I’m currently working on my dissertation and I’m intent on writing a little bit (or a lot) every day until it’s finished.

I started running last year and completed my first half marathon in Philadelphia. This year I am excited to run the Pittsburgh half marathon for the first time. My goal is to run faster than I did in Philly. Everyone reading this blog should join me!

What are your favorite Pittsburgh restaurants?
Square Cafe for breakfast. Five Points Artisan Bakeshop for tasty treats. Gaucho Parrilla Argentina for wood fired fare. Smoke for tacos.

Describe your ideal day.
I couldn’t help but answer this question twice: once for warm days and once for cooler days.

Warm day: Warm Commonplace coffee, a hearty breakfast, a long bike ride to an afternoon Buccos game, followed by splitting a growler of Pedal Pale Ale with friends on my porch while playing a game of Cucumber. 

Cold day: Warm Commonplace coffee, a hearty breakfast, a snowy hike through Frick Park, quick nap, followed by a game of outdoor hockey at Schenley Ice Rink. And a little bourbon to wrap things up.

What is the most memorable live show you have seen in Pittsburgh?
Phil Collins, Star Lake Amphitheater, June 1994.

What do you think Pittsburgh will be like in ten years?
My hope is that in ten years Pittsburgh will be known not only for its sports teams or smoke-filled past, but also for its commitment to cultural vitality, education, bike friendliness, and hospitality. It’s no secret that this transformation has already begun, but we still have a variety of challenges to overcome. In essence, I want Pittsburgh to become a better version of itself. Despite increasing popularity, I hope our city retains its iconic quirks and neighborly charm. And most importantly, it is my sincere hope that in ten years Pittsburghers will be able to look back over the past decade and say that they joined together to meaningfully address our city’s shortcomings. Pittsburgh is an attractive place for a variety of reasons, but we still need to make it more safe, fair, healthy, and just...for everyone.

What do you love most about the city?
I once heard someone say that you can “wrap your arms around Pittsburgh.” I like that. I love that this city has a way of pulling me in and pushing me away, only to draw me in again. Whenever I grow tired of Pittsburgh or frustrated with some problem we are facing as a community, this city -- more than any other place I know -- begs the question: “What are you going to do about it, Dustin?” I love that. I love feeling like I have agency to contribute to Pittsburgh’s ever-evolving culture. In ten years, I hope that more people share that same sense of empowerment.