NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK – The 20th Pints for Progress was held at the Hard Rock Cafe on Thursday, Feb. 16. Over 125 people attended the event for a chance to vote on a community project.
This was the Hard Rock Cafe’s third time hosting the event, which has also been held several times a year since its conception in 2013. The event has been held in various locations throughout the city. Everywhere from the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center to Antonio’s banquet hall has held the community gathering.
Pints for Progress has been the starting point for several different projects over the years. Everything from a Tesla museum to the recently completed Art Alley on Third Street were crowdfunded through the unique event.
“If you want to see the most creative and positive minds in Niagara Falls, come to Pints for Progress,” said Brook D’Angelo, who pitched an idea at the event.
Pints for Progress works through crowd voting. A $10 ticket comes complete with food, the namesake pint of beer, and one vote for any of the projects pitched at the event. Guests also have the ability to roll their money over to the next event if they don’t feel strongly about any of the current ideas.
This year’s winning idea was Niagara Track and Field Club, which would bring youth track sports back to Niagara county. Willie Price pitched the idea based on his own experiences with track.
Price said that he, along with his two siblings, was raised by a single mother. Football and basketball camp was too expensive for Price’s family, which left him without a sport to play. The affordable nature of track was a way for him to get involved in sports. Price fell in love with track and field, and wants to share this sport with the youth of Niagara Falls.
“I moved to Niagara Falls about four years ago,” said Price. After moving to the Cataract city, Price began volunteering at Niagara Falls High School as a track and field coach. Through this experience, he found the need for a new track and field club.
“I found out that in the summer these kids had nothing to do,” said Price. This led him to explore the possibility of creating a track club, which he then pitched at Pints for Progress.
Also pitched was a project to hire an illustrator for D’Angelo’s “Dance of the Fireflies” storybook, which has spawned a firefly festival downtown for the last three years. Freelance reporter Joseph Kissel’s also sought funding for his Niagara News Source website, which aims to cover all local issues for free without the need for advertising.
In addition to the crowdfunding event, Pints for Progress also serves as a social gathering. Politicians like state assemblyman Angelo Morinello sat shoulder to shoulder with everyone from new residents to Niagara University students. In an era where there is increasing disconnect between citizens and their government, Pints for Progress is proof that sharing a beer with the local officials is still possible.
“It’s just about getting people together in the community to talk about new ideas,” said Seth Piccirillo, Director of Community Development for the city. Piccirillo has been a key part in the success of the event, which is tied in with the increasingly popular LiveNF movement.
Other city officials, such as City Clerk Lisa Vitello, echo Piccirillo’s sentiment.
“It’s very uplifting for the community to have all these new ideas out there,” said Vitello. “It’s a very positive thing.”
Anyone interesting in Pints for Progress can visit their Facebook page.