Our Mission

Swissvale Community Action Committee (SCAC) is comprised of impassioned residents of the Borough of Swissvale. The mission of SCAC is to connect Swissvalians to create a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable community.

Our Beliefs

We believe that getting to know your neighbors, connecting with people who are different than you, is how we build the kind of community we want to live in. A community that cares about each other as individuals and as a collective is a community that can work together to build equity, sustainability, and resilience.

We believe that change is possible and essential at the local level.

We believe that the systems upon which this country was built, namely patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism cause harm to all of us, but particularly those folks existing at various intersections of oppression. We value inclusion and stand in solidarity with people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, survivors of sexual violence, people with disabilities, immigrants, religious groups, indigenous communities, and all other communities whose civil rights have been threatened and/or violated.

We believe everyone should have access to affordable healthy food.

We believe housing is a human right.

We believe clean air and water is a human right.

We believe in public education and are committed to supporting it regardless of test scores, or whether we personally have children attending WHSD schools or not.

We believe in science. We acknowledge the existence of human-accelerated climate change and support actions on the individual and policy level to mitigate its effect.

We believe in people over profit. Collective over individual.

We believe that police need to abide by the same laws as the general public, to be held to high standards, and to be accountable to the people. We believe that disproportionate policing has caused severe harm to oppressed communities, often by design, and that institutional power maintains this dynamic.

We believe that substantive change comes from tackling systems, not people. But, we do not shy away from exposing and speaking out against individuals who actively work to uphold systems of harm.

History of SCAC

2013 - Swissvale Community Action Committee (SCAC) was founded by Leland Scales. After growing up in Swissvale, he moved away for some years, and then returned to find a growing negative energy around the neighborhood. He was moved to create something positive in his hometown and so started SCAC as an FB group. The original intention of the group was simple. Discuss anything and everything about Swissvale but follow up your words with positive action.

2015 - Leland went on to found the Swissvale Community Garden, located at the corner of Denniston and Collingwood. To date, the community garden has provided over 1000 lbs of free fresh produce to the community. It is entirely volunteer run.

2016 - Several community members began having monthly in-person meetings discussing how to tackle some specific issues and concerns.

2016 - SCAC hosted its first Swissvale Community Bar Crawl, spearheaded by LauraEllen Ashcraft bringing neighbors together, supporting local businesses, and raising money for a local cause. To date, Swissvale Community Bar Crawls have raised over $3000 for local causes.In early 2017, a community survey was administered, the results of which helped restructure and redirect the focus and strategy of the group.

2017 - SCAC hosted first Meet the Candidates events to fill a gap it saw in communication between candidates for local office and potential voters.In 2018, SCAC welcomed a new group of volunteers to grow the capacity and potential of the group to do more and engage more residents in pursuit of its mission.

2018 - SCAC hosted a Meet the Candidates event for a debate between 34th District State Rep Paul Costa and Swissvale resident and challenger, Summer Lee. Over 60 people from Swissvale and neighboring communities attended.
SCAC also began the process of working with local stakeholders to build a Swissvale Ecodistrict.
We also held a public forum with local school board representatives to discuss issues and the future of WHSD.

In 2019 thus far, SCAC hosted a new series of Local Election Events aimed at lowering barriers to entry to run for office and increasing communication between candidates and residents. SCAC also published a deeply researched “How to Run” guide specific to the borough of Swissvale.
We hosted a wildly successful first ever Swissvale Edible Garden Tour, raising over $1000 for the Swissvale Community Garden and attracting over 200 people to the borough.
We also kicked off the process of community discussions around the possibility of forming a Community Land Trust to preserve housing affordability.
We held the 3rd annual National Night Out Potluck and Block Party at the Community Garden, and the first ever Swissvale Food Truck Roundup and Fun Fest.

We began holding public quarterly meetings. Our last one for the year is scheduled for November 19. Our annual holiday party, which is all fun and no business, is scheduled for December 17. Details TBD.As of 10/8/19

Our Facebook Group and Page

SCAC uses a Facebook group as well as a Facebook page, Swissvale Community Action. The group functions as a place to promote events, answer questions, and engage in community conversations in support of our mission. We believe the conversations in the group are most valuable when they are limited to individuals who currently live and/or work in Swissvale. If you no longer live here, simply have a friend who lives here, live nearby, or want to stay up to date for some other reason, we encourage you to Like/Follow the group’s separate public page Swissvale Community Action.This is a non-partisan (NOTE: This does not mean neutral or non-political) forum for communication and discourse about issues that are locally relevant.We wish to be welcoming and supportive of as many Swissvalians as possible. We recognize and accept that not everyone is about what we’re about. Unlike elected officials, we are not legally bound to represent everyone in our jurisdiction. We strive to connect with and work with Swissvalians who are enthusiastic about what we’re doing to build a better future for Swissvale. If that’s not you, we welcome you to leave with absolutely no hard feelings.

Facebook Rules of Engagement

Constructive and thoughtful criticism paired with ideas for improvement are always welcome, while negativity for the sake of simply being negative won't be tolerated. Disparaging comments about or toward fellow community members will result in your comment being deleted and a message from an admin. Abusive behavior will result in automatic removal from the group. The judgment of what is deemed disparaging or otherwise problematic rests solely in the hands of the admin team.Bullying of any kind isn't allowed, and degrading comments about things like race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender, or identity will not be tolerated.Give to this group more than you take from this group. Spam and irrelevant links aren't allowed. Relevant self-promotion is welcome within reason. When posting links for informational or promotional purposes, add a line or two about for context. What are you sharing and why is it relevant to this group? This invariably helps more people look at what you are sharing and helps our goal of building a sense of community in here, not just another link drop.Membership to this group is moderated. Folks who ask to join will be prompted to answer 3 brief questions. Pending members must answer all 3 questions to be added to the group. We believe the conversations in this group are most valuable when they are limited to individuals who currently live and/or work in Swissvale.Posting to this group is also moderated. A few things to keep in mind when submitting a post to the group:
-Our admin team is all volunteers with various other commitments so we may not be able to address posts in a fashion that you deem timely. We always do our best.
-Add context to links.
-Angry rants will be declined. Have a question for the community or request for help with an issue? Share that. Griping for the sake of griping with no request for or intention toward action is not what this space is for.
-When your post is approved, it is approved as written. Editing your post after it has been approved to the group, for anything other than typos or clarity, is strictly prohibited. Members caught doing this will be warned and ultimately removed if they continue the behavior.DO:
-Have patience with your neighbors.
-Start many of your discussion sentences with “In my experience” or “I think” or “According to what I have read.” Own your stuff.
-Participate in discussion freely.
-Contact the borough directly when appropriate - remember that this is a volunteer community group that is not affiliated with the borough administration in anyway. Posting here is not an efficient way to get in touch with elected officials or borough staff.
-Include context when sharing links.
-Tag an admin if you think a post or comment needs attention.DO NOT:
-Call names.
-Shame others.
-Only use the group for promotional posts without ever otherwise engaging with the group.
-Debate personal beliefs.
-Repeat the same statements/posts/comments over and over again. Once you’ve made your point, move on.
-Block admins or moderators.

Contact and Leadership

If you know Swissvale folk interested in learning about our events, and getting involved in our work, particularly those who are not on FB, please direct them to www.swissvale.org and/or swissvalecommunity@gmail.com.The leadership of SCAC are:
Hollen Barmer
Dan Buch
Miranda Crotsley
Laura Kuster
Sam Laffey
Alyia Paulding
Leland Scales
Nathan J Shaulis
Rachel Thompson

When each of these people posts or comments on Facebook, they are speaking for themselves. When the page Swissvale Community Action posts or comments, we are speaking collectively as a group.