Having lived here my entire life, it is hard to imagine being a newcomer to Mt. Lebanon. The closest I can come to the experience is visiting another city for the first time—hiding my map and camera so I don’t look like a tourist, struggling to figure out the subway system and wondering where to find a good restaurant. The good thing about being a first-timer, whether it’s to Paris, Kentucky or Paris, France, (and I think this is true about most people) is that I notice things longtime residents may not, ranging from beautiful gardens and interesting architecture to potholes and litter. Of course, visiting a new city is not the same as being a newcomer; there is no need to find a preschool or a dry cleaner, figure out the local zoning ordinance or remember how trash collection works. And although visitors might have pleasant conversations with the locals, there is no need to make friends, either. For people who move here from other countries, states, cities or even other parts of Pittsburgh, however, day-to-day things, including making friends, are paramount.
Meeting friendly people is probably the best part of being a newcomer to Mt. Lebanon, as the new residents featured in Katelynn Metz’s story attest. Unlike many towns where people drive in and out of their garages and cocoon in their houses, Mt. Lebanon’s neighborhood schools, business district and network of sidewalks create a community where it is easy to make friends, if you are so inclined. If you don’t have a block party on your street (and you probably do), there are plenty of activities and volunteer opportunities where you can meet people you “click” with.
Figuring out the challenges of everyday living, including local government procedures and ordinances, is a tougher task. Although a lot of this information is available at www.mtlebanon.org, new acquaintances and neighbors are often the best sources of practical information. Most residents are quick to help newcomers, for sure, but newcomers also help the rest of us. They see Mt. Lebanon with fresh eyes, and as they get involved with the community, they remind us of the things we should take pride in while also helping us solve problems by sharing constructive ideas from other places they have lived.
Spring and summer will bring many newcomers to Mt. Lebanon, filling houses that have been on the market during the long, cold winter. Perhaps the days of taking a fresh-baked pie to a new neighbor are long-gone, but in Mt. Lebanon most newcomers can count on a “hello” and a handshake (and a store-bought pie isn’t a bad idea either). If you get a new neighbor in the coming months, we hope you’ll take time to answer their questions and tell them what you love about Mt. Lebanon. And don’t forget to ask them what they think could make our town even better. You might be surprised at their creative ideas.