INTELLIGENT INFRASTRUCTURE: SMART CARS AND SMELLING LEAKS

GUEST POST: Peoples continues to be an indispensable partner, not only for Thrival, but for the entire region. As leaders in both business and in the community, Peoples works collaboratively with many regional stakeholders to improve the lives of citizens in Pittsburgh and beyond.

GUEST POST: Peoples continues to be an indispensable partner, not only for Thrival, but for the entire region. As leaders in both business and in the community, Peoples works collaboratively with many regional stakeholders to improve the lives of citizens in Pittsburgh and beyond.

What do Google, the Environmental Protection Agency, and a natural gas company have in common? An exciting new project that combines innovative technology with environmental consciousness and market applicability.

Last year, Peoples joined 32 other natural gas companies to launch the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program. Together, the 33 founding partners serve more than two-thirds of the natural gas customers in the nation. The goal of the Methane Challenge is to pioneer ways to reduce methane emissions and improve air quality, and to share those methods with the other partner companies for a nearly industry-wide collaborative effort.

To do our part, we teamed up with Google, the Environmental Defense Fund, and Carnegie Mellon University to outfit Google Street View cars with technology that could detect methane leaks throughout the City of Pittsburgh. Using cutting-edge technology, these specially-equipped cars can “smell” methane gas leaks in aging pipes, which — while not hazardous to public health — pose a threat to the environment. The
Google Street View cars recorded and mapped these leaks throughout the city, helping us to prioritize pipeline repairs and replacements.

While Google and the EDF helped to get the project off the ground last year, we’ve been largely operating it on our own for some months, with help from researchers at CMU. This group has continued to compile and analyze the data to help us brainstorm strategies for addressing the city’s methane situation.

As a proud sponsor of Thrival Innovation + Music Festival, we’re excited to highlight a project of ours that so clearly captures this year’s Thrival Innovation theme: Intelligence: Human x Tech.”

The collaboration between technology and the expertise of researchers at CMU and Peoples has provided a far more precise and workable picture of the state of methane in our City. By taking two existing technologies in the form of a “smart car” and a methane detector, and repurposing them for a new, innovative purpose, we are pushing the envelope for other natural gas providers in the country. This program will aid in the effort to make Pennsylvania’s natural gas sector cleaner, more efficient, and thus more competitive, and will pave the way for others in the industry to follow.

Thrival Innovation + Music Festival hopes to show the world why Pittsburgh is a hub for innovation, and we are pleased to offer this one example of how Pittsburgh is leading the way in employing innovative solutions to pressing challenges.

For more information on the Methane Challenge, or to learn about some of Peoples’ other innovative environmental projects, visit: peoples-gas.com/environment.

For a full schedule of Thrival events and to buy tickets, visit: thrivalfestival.com.

Intelligent Infrastructure: Using Drones to Protect Pipelines and People

GUEST POST: Peoples continues to be an indispensable partner, not only for Thrival, but for the entire region. As leaders in both business and in the community, Peoples works collaboratively with many regional stakeholders to improve the lives of citizens in Pittsburgh and beyond.

What do a natural gas distribution company and a festival have in common? Turns out, a lot! That’s why we’re thrilled to be a part of Thrival Innovation + Music Festival again this year.

For the fifth year in a row, Ascender is preparing to wow us with their four-day event. But did you know that the world-class weekend music festival is actually just the cherry on top? The chart-topping performers have already got people buzzing, that’s for sure. But it’s the Innovation piece of the festival that truly sets it apart, and that makes Thrival an absolute gem for this region.

Thrival Innovation — the first two days of the festival — emphasizes innovation-focused programming and features thought leaders across an entire spectrum of professional fields. The goal is to “shine a light on the new ideas and entrepreneurs that are fueling Pittsburgh’s 21st century economic resurgence.” As a proud sponsor of Thrival, we’re excited to see how our company is contributing to that mission of innovation and progress for our region.

Thrival’s theme for 2017 is “Intelligence: Humans x Tech.” Their aim is to examine “the intersection between humans and technology and what this means for our collective future,” with particular weight on artificial intelligence and other new digital frontiers being explored in Pittsburgh. As a company, we are no stranger to exploring the potential use of new technologies in our own services and operations. Late last year, we conducted a test flight with a drone to see if they are a viable option for detecting gas leaks, particularly in difficult-to-access areas. Many of the communities we serve outside of the City of Pittsburgh have pipelines that run through forests or that have steep elevations. Using drones to inspect our lines could potentially be both more efficient and safer for employees.

Our company has over 400 bridges in our service territory, and many of the older ones have gas pipelines running underneath them. We inspect them all on a quarterly basis — that’s over 1,600 inspections per year! So being able to regularly check all 14,000 miles of our pipeline more efficiently and safely would be extremely beneficial.

At present, drones have two different methods for identifying leaks. First, they are equipped with an infra-red camera to detect heat, which can be a sign of a potential leak. Additionally, the drones can also be outfit with — what the natural gas industry calls — a “sniffer” that can “smell” a leak. To kick this project off, the drone we tested visually inspected pipelines that ran across bridges—a particular concern for leaks, as they tend to expand and contract significantly with weather changes and must endure traffic vibration.

The project is currently still in the research and development phase, but the results look promising. This initiative is just one of the many ways we as a company have begun to explore and even operate in the intersection between humans and technology.

By supporting Thrival Innovation, we hope to help move the conversation forward, and learn how other companies, organizations, and individuals are employing new and innovative solutions for the issues facing our region and beyond.

See you in September!

- The Peoples Team

Tech Culture Needs a Re-Boot: From Silicon Valley to the Steel City

The life, culture, and general mindset of Silicon Valley is often referred to as a 'bubble.'

Largely recognized as the world's epicenter of innovation and new ideas, there is much to celebrate about the Bay Area — and the new technologies and creation that have such an enormous impact on how we live our daily lives.

Whether it is tech giants Apple, Facebook, Google, Oracle, Uber, Airbnb, or the literally thousands of startups calling the Valley home, we can safely say that this particular land mass around San Francisco isn't just a geographic axis point, but a cultural one. 

Far from the realm of geeky startup parlance, terms like "full stack," "scale," "unicorn," "minimal viable product," "go-to-market," and "cap table" have now become commonplace, and even popularly satirized in shows such as HBO's Silicon Valley.

From our estimation, we can categorize all of this as 'good stuff.'

However, while an increasing amount of the modern American economy and identity are crafted around technological advancement and innovation for the masses, there is an insidious homogeny not only of the oft-cited "tech bro" persona within the Valley, but of thought and culture.

Some of the most glaring and chilling instances revolve around the gender balance (or imbalance), discrimination, and sexual harassment (and more) within the Valley. Most recently, an array of high profile, damning reports have bubbled to the surface of the national conversation.

Last week, a Google engineer unleashed a running diatribe positing that biological gender differences make women less effective programmers and that Google should not actively work to improve diversity in staffing.

In late June of this year, dozens of female entrepreneurs spoke to the New York Times regarding numerous instances of sexual harassment, unwanted advances, and sexist comments from individuals representing major investment and capital firms.

Earlier this year, Uber founder and former CEO, Travis Kalanick, resigned amidst pressure from key investors and reports of widespread gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

The list goes on, and on, and on.

But before we simply assume that this is just a Silicon Valley problem, let's think again. A July 2017 report from FiveThirtyEight makes the case that these issues extend far beyond the 'bubble,' and aren't exclusively reserved to tech.

The data is alarming, to say the least. Nearly one-third of women report that they have been sexually harassed at work. 25 percent of respondents have personally witnessed the harassment of the colleague. And 70 percent of individuals who experience sexual harassment don't report it to their supervisors. 

It happens in Pittsburgh, too. There are plenty of tech bros here, and worse, stories (and less formal reports) that of the same instances of misogyny, gender bias, and sexual harassment.

It's tempting to unleash a bevy of speculation and guesswork about why these conditions exist, or to point fingers and lay blame on individuals or circumstances that make these cultural and behavioral conditions a reality in the first place. It's not just tempting — it's very tempting.

But for every one of these reports, there are a dozen more opportunities and hundreds more people (both within and outside of the Valley) trying to make things better.

As such, what remains most important is to foster accountability and leadership — as individuals, corporations, institutions, and as a community. Pittsburgh has an opportunity to reshape this narrative, and be proactive stakeholders in a much more robust culture shift that is long overdue.

We must talk to each other about it, however difficult or uncomfortable that may be. Communication is key.

At Thrival Innovation, we're trying to contribute by discussing these issues in a open forum on Thursday, September 28, during our panel discussion "Tech Culture Re-Boot: Diversity, Equity, and our Evolving Ecosystems." 

By no means are we going to solve this problem in an afternoon, and many organizations and initiatives are dedicated to addressing these challenges head on. Black Tech Nation, WELD, Red Chair PGH, Women In Bio, Inclusive Innovation Week, Women & Girls Foundation, and Chatham University's Center for Women's Entrepreneurship are among the many excellent stewards of this important work just within our region. This doesn't include the thousands of their colleagues doing the same throughout the U.S.

To boot, Carnegie Mellon University reports that nearly half of their incoming School of Computer Science and College of Engineering first year enrollees are women, compared to national averages of 16-20%. 

At Thrival Innovation in 2015, Dr. Drew Davidson, Director of Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center, made a straightforward argument: diverse teams produce better results (read more HERE).

This is all positive yardage — but we're nowhere near the goal line. Yet.

Creating a culture of fairness, inclusivity, equity, and opportunity will take years. But as Pittsburgh sits on the precipice of its own tech revolution, it's time to come together and act as a unified community — to listen and learn from one another.

Let's take action and prevent our own bubble while we have the chance.

See you in September.

 

Dan Law

Director, Thrival Innovation + Music Festival

VP of Business Development, Ascender

 

THIS ISN'T "Crazy": Mental Illness, Suicide, and Our Collective Responsibility

Author’s note: I take medication everyday to battle anxiety and depression. I’m not ashamed of it. I receive help. But I didn’t for most of my life — and I suffered for it. My unsolicited advice for those dealing with mental illness: talk about it. And make informed, thoughtful decisions that help you heal.

Part of our Thrival Innovation programming this year will focus on a pressing topic that deserves attention: mental health.

Over the years, Thrival Innovation has hosted a number of brilliant thought leaders in the areas of neuroscience and brain science — in an attempt to simply offer additional context and depth to conversations around mental health topics.

Yet, something has been missing from our side of things — an element of openness about the importance of mental well-being, but the pervasiveness and consequence of mental illness in all aspects of American society.

To emphasize — it’s OK to talk about it. The elephant in the room. The 400-pound gorilla. Or whatever anthropomorphic analogy you want to use. By “it,” I mean mental illness.

According to analysis from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and data cited from the National Survey on National Drug Use and Health, serious mental illness affects almost 10 million people a year. Essentially, one out of every 25 adult Americans have mental health challenges that lead to “serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.”

But what about having a rough day? Or week? Or month? Or just ‘not feeling like yourself’? These numbers are higher. Almost 18% of American adults — or nearly 43 million — deal with less debilitating mental illness each year.

For children, NIMH states “just over 20 percent (or 1 in 5) children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.”

Any way we slice it, millions and millions of people deal with mental illness in their daily lives or at some point in their lives. By extension, it affects all of us.

And while many of us are able to live our lives with varying degrees of normalcy, another staggering statistic deserves mention: 90% of individuals who die by suicide experience mental illness.

Particularly within the music community, suicide is very much a reality. Most recently, the tragic loss of Linkin Park frontman, Chester Bennington, as well as Soundgarden lead singer, Chris Cornell, to suicide, once again raises the relevance of this conversation in our national discourse — with respect to the complexity of each individual circumstance.

Kiiara, who will play at Thrival Music this year, had this to say about the passing of Bennington and their friendship.

Thrival Music headliner, Logic, has reportedly encouraged an increase in calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline through his track “1-800-273-8255” off his most recent album, Everybody.

These statements are important. They unapologetically speak to an issue that deserves our attention and our resources. Moreover, both Kiiara and Logic use their substantially large platform to do something positive with far-reaching impact for others, a practice that seems to be increasingly rare in the industry.

However, it shouldn’t have to take famous musicians broaching the topic to make us feel like we can discuss mental illness without a stigma attached to it. A chorus of voices are necessary to explore this subject with the appropriate depth and range.

In 2016, Dr. Bennet Omalu, discoverer of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (otherwise known as CTE), spoke at Thrival Innovation — emphasizing the significance of mental illness in our society, and the need to have courage and conviction when confronting these issues, even if one’s position is unpopular or threatening to the status quo.

In Dr. Omalu’s famous confrontation with the NFL, chronicled in the feature film Concussion, many of us have explored in more detail the tragic stories of professional athletes taking their own lives and the study of potential links between CTE, mental illness, and suicide.

Just this week, the New York Times published a deep dive into CTE research, coming to some brutal, but also not so surprising conclusions.

This year, Thrival Innovation will expand our scope into mental health, mental illness, and entrepreneurship — in an attempt the examine the psychological toll associated with high stress environments and daily challenges confronting startup teams. Suicide is significant among these concerns.

Research conducted at the University of California notes that instances of mental illness are relatively high in entrepreneurs, and the daily stress that comes with growing a company can have a significant impact on one’s mental health.

It’s also particularly important to sideline terms such as “touched with fire” or the generic “mad scientist” designation when describing the psychological conditions of entrepreneurs. These colloquialisms can soften or even delegitimize a very legitimate issue by conflating the startup grind with some sort of fringe mentality.

Mental health — and its effect on all aspects of society — deserves respect. With Thrival, we’re attempting to make our contribution and to do what we can in our own limited way to expand the conversation.

But we hope that regardless of whether you come to Thrival Music or participate in Thrival Innovation programming, you feel encouraged and empowered to talk about mental illness and mental health, and if you’re suffering, find the people and resources that can help.

For more information and additional research on mental illness, visit the National Institute of Mental Health website, HERE.

If you are having, or have had, suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the website, HERE.

 

Dan Law

Director, Thrival Innovation + Music Festival

VP of Business Development, Ascender

WHY PITTSBURGH? There's a revolution happening at your doorstep.

We sat down with John Battelle and Stacey Foreman, Wired Magazine veterans and co-founders of San Francisco-based event/media company NewCo, to talk about why Pittsburgh is America’s new “it” innovation city, and why Thrival Innovation is experiencing major growth in 2017.

First off — who are you, and what are you doing here?

We’re John Battelle and Stacey Foreman, founders of NewCo, a new kind of events and media platform that celebrates new approaches to business. We identify and connect new kinds of companies (hence the name) large and small, with a particular focus on mission-driven organizations. We came to Pittsburgh at the invitation of several colleagues, and we were both impressed with the vision and resources of the city’s civic leaders. So much so, that we’re partnering with Thrival to bring a bit of the NewCo vibe to the city!

What attracted you to the Thrival partnership, and what do you hope to bring to this year’s experience?

Thrival is built into the fabric of Pittsburgh, and know how to connect the dots between key institutions - government, business, startups, academia, foundations. Thrival understands the NewCo narrative, and together we’re going to bring dozens of tech and corporate leaders to Pittsburgh to experience what the city is all about and to speak at the Thrival Innovation Festival. We’re also giving them a special tour, a VIP experience at the music festival, and more.

Pittsburgh isn’t lacking on hype recently, and the tech and entrepreneurship scene is consistently making national headlines. But what does Pittsburgh need to do in order sustain growth in innovation and become a indisputable hub for entrepreneurship?

Hype is one thing, but first hand experience is quite another. Before we visited Pittsburgh, we didn’t really understand what a special, deeply committed place it was. We think the story of Pittsburgh - the roots in the industrial revolution, the strength in academia and business, the closely knit sense of civic pride - needs to be told by new converts who otherwise may never experience it. That’s why we’re excited to bring these deeply networked folks from outside the city inside, to get a firsthand view.

Thrival Innovation’s 2017 theme is “Intelligence: Humans X Tech,” which focuses on the relationship between people and technology, and how that is changing society. Where does Pittsburgh fit in this puzzle?

Beyond its role as a center for one of the most important technologies in the shift from industrial to informational economics (automation), Pittsburgh is a case study in how a complex social institution can evolve from one economic model to another. It takes committed leadership, a business community that views its responsibility to society as greater than just profit making, and a willingness to try new approaches. We see all of those things in the Pittsburgh community. The next few decades are going to bring extraordinary change to our society once again. Where better to understand that, than a city that’s already made that transition once?

Asking you to look around corners, what are the some of the key trends you see when it comes to artificial intelligence, automation, and the future of cities like Pittsburgh?

As a society, we’ll have to have intelligent, facts-driven, rational discussions about how best to manage these technologies and their impact on our citizens. We can’t afford to ignore their impact, and we can’t shy away from our duty to understand what society might look like in an age of abundant intellectual labor driven by AI and automation. These are deep, difficult questions - should we embrace some kind of universal basic income? What gives us meaning if traditional “jobs” become scarce? How do we apportion value when massive companies control most of the means of production? No matter what, cities like Pittsburgh will be where these questions are asked and answered. By convening leaders from across business, tech, government, and beyond, Pittsburgh is poised to be the leading example of how to tackle these issues head on.

If five questions aren’t enough for you (and they shouldn’t be), attend Thrival Innovation this September 27-28 in Pittsburgh, PA, as we explore “Intelligence: Humans X Tech.” Learn more at thrivalfestival.com and follow us on social media @thrivalfestival.

Thrival Innovation passes are on sale now at thrivalfestival.com.

Why Festivals Fail. A Lesson from Karoondinha, and others. HINT: It's not just about the lineup.

The festival market is taking a hit. Signature events, as well as promising up-and-comers have fallen victim to what many term the music festival “bubble.”

Pemberton. Mysteryland. And now, Karoondinha, our neighbors in Central Pennsylvania. At risk of reopening fresh wounds, a discussion about the festival space is necessary.

Karoondinha checked off a lot of boxes — lineup, mainly — and left some important ones blank. Just ask their team, or read a very thorough and revealing Billboard piece about the festival here.

The Karoondinha scenario (and many others like it) is a stark reminder that people — many of whom may not even have the slightest clue about a festival or what it does — will celebrate around the bonfires of failure.

Such is life. Such is the festival world. For all of the good feelings and experiences festivals create, the industry can be a cruel, unforgiving space. But it’s also great and emblematic of some of the best qualities we exhibit as human beings.

So why do festivals fail? The answer is both complicated and simple — but it whittles down to one crucial element.

Contrary to popular belief, festivals don’t fail only because of their lineups. If they did, Karoondinha would be thriving, and not out of business. Chance the Rapper, John Legend, the Roots, Paramore, Odezsa, Porter Robinson, and Leon Bridges were all playing Karoondinha.

Festivals also don’t fail only because of poor customer experience. Virtually every festival in the U.S., at some point, has failed its customers in this realm. Thrival is included on this list. If this were the case — we’d all have been out of business long ago.

Price points rarely seem to be a deciding factor, either, as evidenced by the doomed-by-incompetence Fyre Festival — accessible to only rich, privileged Millennials with active Instagram accounts. An over-hyped and cartoonishly planned festival on a deserted Bahamian island can still command outrageous ticket prices from thousands of buyers willing to travel thousands of miles.

Instead, festivals fail for one reason — or perhaps a lack thereof: COMMUNITY.

I should say this first — there are thousands of ways a festival can fail, ranging from the realistic (bad weather) to the absurd (a plague of locusts yielding foghorns).

However, without a community, without a support base that is committed to the festival’s success, without dedicated stakeholders who take ownership over the initiative year in and year out, a festival will fail.

Community cannot be manufactured. It is organic, and slow to develop. But it is, by far, the most valuable asset of any festival. Community gives a festival its life.

Four years ago we started the Thrival Innovation + Music Festival in a dirt lot in the East End of Pittsburgh, with three weeks of planning. We begged agents to bring national talent to Pittsburgh (and still do). We implored sponsors and community power-brokers to offer support. For every success we had in this regard, there were a dozen or more failures.

From a combination of forces both within and outside of our control, we grew over the years — with many stumbles along the way.

Looking back, we’ve grown 800% since our founding. We’ve started something unique. In 2015, we hosted Panic! At the Disco, Wale, Manchester Orchestra, and the Wu Tang Clan’s Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, at a former industrial brownfield.

In 2016, the Chainsmokers performed right next to a retired blast furnace that has been out of commission for four decades. But the Carrie Furnaces are alive once again. The site once produced liquid iron, and now produces art and culture.

None of this would have been possible if it wasn't for the support of our community.

Still, we have so much work to do. We’re improving parking, free water access, line queues, box office operations, shuttle services, rideshare programs, concessions (No tokens! — inside joke), and more.

Nonetheless, all of this is for not if our community doesn’t support us.

“Build it and they will come” is a fantasy. Instead, an invested community ensures a festival’s success — not the other way around.

So while we’re so excited to host a bigger and better Thrival this September, our community will determine its success. And rightfully so.

It’s about the power of the people.

And for those of you who missed out on Karoondinha, we can extend a helping hand. No questions asked, if you were a ticket holder or planned to go, we’re offering our blind faith two-day pass rate ($59) to you from now until July 21. Use the code “FESTLOVE” to get your pass. It’s not free tickets, but hopefully it helps.

In the meantime, take care and keep supporting creativity and new ideas, wherever you are. 

See you in September.

 

Dan Law

Director, Thrival Innovation + Music Festival

VP of Business Development, Ascender

Thrival Innovation to have major growth year; featuring new regional and national partnerships

Contact: Dan Law, Director - Thrival; dan@ascenderpgh.com

Date: May 11, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pittsburgh, PA — The Thrival Innovation + Music Festival has announced the theme, dates, host sites, and a new national partnership for the innovation conference element of the annual, Pittsburgh-based festival.

A two-day innovation conference (preceding Thrival Music), Thrival Innovation “addresses key challenges and opportunities relevant to our local, national, and international ecosystems,” according to Ascender, the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that presents and produces Thrival each year.

Festival organizers have announced Intelligence: Humans X Tech as the theme for this year, with programs hosted at a variety of locations through Pittsburgh’s East End — including Google Pittsburgh, UPMC Enterprises, the historic Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, and a marquee event at Carnegie Museum of Art — from September 27-28.

Inspired by Pittsburgh’s fast-growing reputation for artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and robotics — bolstered by the presence of Google, Uber, Facebook, Amazon, Carnegie Mellon University, and others — Thrival Innovation will explore the relationship between humans and technology, and how it is rapidly changing the world around us at an unprecedented pace.

“Thrival has grown significantly over the years. In 2017, we have a great opportunity to bring Thrival Innovation to a much broader audience, demonstrating why Pittsburgh’s innovation story is so important to share with a global community,” says Bobby Zappala, Founder of Thrival and CEO of Ascender.

Thrival’s new partnership with NewCo — a San Francisco-based media and event company that “identifies, celebrates, and connects engines of positive change in society” — will draw in an array of national and international thought leaders to the Steel City.

“There is no better place than Pittsburgh to be exploring these topics,” says John Battelle, NewCo CEO and founding editor of Wired magazine.“NewCo works with partners around the world in dozens of cities, and we’re excited to partner with Thrival and our global network to examine a subject with such far reaching impact.”

Through Thrival Innovation, festival organizers intend to present an interdisciplinary and dynamic model to approaching AI challenges and opportunities, while keeping the Pittsburgh experience at the programming core.

“We’re at the frontier of this revolution. AI isn’t just science fiction to us, it is part our daily lives,” says Dan Law, Director of Thrival and Vice President of Business Development for Ascender. “Pittsburghers are catching driverless cars to go to work to in the morning. Everyday, we deal with the opportunities presented by this new technology, but also the consequences.”

A full schedule of Thrival Innovation programs will be released later this spring and early summer, as well as ticket sales and registration information. Thrival Music, a two-day outdoor live music experience, will conclude the festival on September 29-30 at the Carrie Furnaces.

For more information on the festival, visit thrivalfestival.com, and follow Thrival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. For more information on NewCo, visit newco.co.


###

SAVE THE DATE!

Thrival Innovation + Music Festival Announces Return to Carrie Furnaces

September 29-30 for Live Outdoor Music Experience

 

Pittsburgh, PA – Celebrating its fifth year, Pittsburgh’s Thrival Innovation + Music Festival has announced its outdoor live music experience will take place September 29-30 at the Carrie Furnaces, a former blast furnace facility turned national historic site.

Retired in late 1970s and operated by the nonprofit, Rivers of Steel, the Carrie Furnaces are part and parcel to Pittsburgh’s industrial past; a narrative that Thrival is keen to preserve.

“We’ve turned the mill back on. It just functions differently,” says Dan Law, director of Thrival. “Instead of hearing shift whistles, you hear a bass line. It’s one way of telling Pittsburgh’s comeback story, but this demonstrates what is possible with imagination and creativity.”

Founded in 2013, Thrival is produced by Ascender, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that has grown the festival from community block party to a flagship regional event celebrating Pittsburgh’s resurgence as a fast-evolving tech and creative hub.

The entire festival runs September 27-30, with two days of immersive, innovation-focused programming preceding the music. More details on Thrival Innovation — including host sites, themes, and a new national partnership — will be released soon.

While Grammy Award-winning duo, The Chainsmokers, drew huge crowds to last year’s music portion, Law gives equal weight to both innovation and music, crediting both areas of the festival that broke attendance and sales records in 2016.

“Thrival crosses a lot of genres and disciplines. It’s part innovation conference, part concert. In all, the festival is a holistic experience,” says Law.

To help manage this growth in 2017, Thrival has partnered with Live Nation Entertainment for venue operations, talent buying , and marketing efforts.

“Ascender's partnership with Live Nation to deliver Thrival Music allows our core team to both invest more energy in scaling Thrival Innovation and more effectively engage our dynamic local audience, with Live Nation adding significantly to the festival's expanding national reach. We’re very excited for the opportunities this presents,” says Bobby Zappala, founder of Thrival and CEO of Ascender.

Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV) is the world’s leading live entertainment company comprised of global market leaders: Ticketmaster, Live Nation Concerts, Live Nation Advertising & Sponsorship and Artist Nation Management.

For more information, visit www.thrivalfestival.com. Follow Thrival on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about Ascender and its mission, visit ascenderpgh.com. For additional information on Live Nation, visit www.livenationentertainment.com. Full artist full line up to be announced soon.