Fellow Story: Jarrett Crowell

PULSE has challenged me to think about Pittsburgh as something so much more than a beautiful city at the crux of three rivers with hip neighborhoods…” -Jarrett Crowell

Jarrett Crowell grew up in Redwood City, CA, and attended the University of California, Davis where he earned a degree in International Relations with a minor in Spanish. Through UC Davis, he studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile studying Human Rights and Cultural Memory.  Jarrett has devoted his time to advocating for affordable and sustainable housing with the California Center for Cooperative Development.  In his free time, Jarrett enjoys hiking, cooking, listening to music, playing soccer and baseball, and speaking Spanish.  He is a part of the South Hilltop cohort, and is serving at Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (OPDC).

Vince Balestrino: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Jarrett Crowell: I think the most valuable part of the PULSE experience has been meeting community members in Oakland where I serve. It feels good when I can walk into a community meeting only 4 months into my year of service and know all of the faces who are sitting around the table. Being out in the Oakland community has not only built trust between the residents and myself but has also allowed me to gain a greater understanding of what issues we need to focus on as a community development corporation.

Vince: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Jarrett: PULSE has challenged me to think about Pittsburgh as something so much more than a beautiful city at the crux of three rivers with hip neighborhoods like Lawrenceville. In talking to neighbors, community members and other non-profits, I started noticing that there is so much work that has to be done to allow ALL Pittsburgh residents to enjoy the amenities of the city. I think that has compounded with the work that I do advocating for sustainable affordable housing in Oakland, especially when I am interacting with people who are at risk of being displaced from their homes because of rising rent–even though they have lived in their house for decades. It is scary and shocking, but also very awakening.

Vince: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Jarrett: I enjoy going to community meetings and hearing directly from residents about ongoing projects in their neighborhood. I have met so many great people in Oakland and they have welcomed me with open arms. It feels good to have people recognize me when I am out in the community.

Vince: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Jarrett: I have enjoyed living with people who are going through a similar stage in life and who are passionate about similar issues. Even though sometimes getting up in the morning is hard, it is always reassuring to see my roommates up and rarin’ to go for another day. Also, it is super clutch when I get home late from an evening meeting and my roomies have left me some dinner in a tupper in the fridge. That warms my soul.

Vince: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Jarrett: Pittsburgh has a lot of hills, that was definitely a pleasant surprise. Also I would say that even though Pittsburgh is a decently sized city it feels like everyone knows everyone, or at the very least most random people will know somebody that you know.

Vince: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Jarrett: I missed my bus on the way to my partnership by 30 seconds so I started sprinting after it for about 3 blocks screaming and waving my arms. The bus driver didn’t stop for me and eventually got too far ahead for me to keep chasing it. I was visibly bummed, but then some random dude pulled up in his PT Cruiser and told me that he would give me a ride in front of the bus. I hopped in and we caught the bus at an intersection 4 blocks up. He pulled in front of the bus and stopped so the bus driver couldn’t leave me again. I hopped on after throwing up a peace sign to the Allentown/Beltzhoover vigilante and got to service on time! I didn’t ask his name, but huge shout out to him, I know he’s out there grinding (making the world a better place).

Vince: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Jarrett: Everyone makes great food, but I really like our taco dinners and I love Anya’s sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts.

Vince: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Jarrett: The best part of the PULSE experience has been meeting a new world of people with different perspectives and life experiences. I came to this city knowing zero people and I have been truly blessed. It is a great feeling to wake up and know that I will meet someone new every day and have a brand new life experience. Also I have really enjoyed this puzzle I’ve been working on at Kingsboro right now. I am so close to finishing up. Thanks for having me over y’all.


Story by PULSE Fellow Vince Balestrino.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation: