Participant Story: Nic Marlton

Nic Marlton

“PULSE has given me a chance to slow down and evaluate things in a way that is brand new to me. Living in intentional community with a group of peers who have different backgrounds, goals and outlooks has given me a chance to evaluate the path that I was on.” – Nic Marlton

When Nic Marlton chose to be in the PULSE program, he knew he loved living with lots of other people. He lived in an intentional community in a three-bedroom house with nine people before joining PULSE. Life in the house certainly wasn’t quiet because five of his housemates were part of a local band, Memphis Hill.

Nic moved to Pittsburgh from Richmond, Virginia in August 2010 to attend Carnegie Mellon University, where he graduated in 2014 with a double major in Ethics, History & Public Policy and Art.

Serving at the Design Center for his PULSE placement is a perfect fit for Nic’s interests. At CMU he focused his studies on community development, both in Pittsburgh and internationally. He also uses his artistic practice to help out with community art projects. One of the events he helps host is the annual Lovelace Puppet Festival, part of the summer Weather Permitting event series. (You can support this year’s festival, scheduled for July 19th, by checking out the project’s Indiegogo page.)

“Collaboration is my favorite thing in the world,” said Nic. “I love working with people. I love arguing with people. I love learning from people. PULSE offered a unique opportunity to participate intentionally in community on many levels. From our houses, to our seminars, to our neighborhoods, to our placements, PULSErs are up to our eyeballs in opportunities to collaborate with the people around us.”

Sara Alvarez: Describe a typical day at your placement.

Nic Marlton: I’m guessing that I’m not the only PULSE fellow who thinks there is no typical day at their placement. Design Center Pittsburgh is a small, skilled, agile nonprofit with programming that is intentionally flexible. This approach is necessary because of the diverse needs of the neighborhoods we serve. On any given day, I might be facilitating meetings with community groups, working internally to hone our approach to community engagement, drafting our communications materials, or drowning in a miniature ocean of paperwork. It is always something new and usually something exciting.

Sara: What do you enjoy most about your placement?

Nic: The people. The small size of our team allows each member to have a strong and personal relationship with all others. I have been supported, guided and trusted in this work environment above and beyond anything I could have anticipated. Design Center Pittsburgh has given me a tremendous opportunity to grow by giving me a lot of responsibility with the expectation that I will succeed.

Sara: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh this year?

Nic: I have lived in Pittsburgh for five years now, and it has provided no shortage of adventures. One of my happiest days of this year was spent biking with friends through the East End. We zigzagged through neighborhoods from Swissvale to Lawrenceville to Squirrel Hill South doing nothing but following whatever street looked most interesting.

Sara: Tell me about something you’ve learned about yourself through PULSE?

Nic: PULSE has given me a chance to slow down and evaluate things in a way that is brand new to me. My college experience was very rigorous and it left me with a very specific idea of what hard work and success looked like. Living in intentional community with a group of peers who have different backgrounds, goals and outlooks has given me a chance to evaluate the path that I was on. The most valuable thing that PULSE has given me is clarity to slow down, stop being competitive and enjoy the moment.

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

Nic: Anything that Phil Yoder cooks is good in my book, but my favorite meals have been a group effort. Every once in a while we all end up in the kitchen at the same time trying to negotiate the narrow space between the stove and sink. Usually at this point, Phil will grab his guitar and we all sing and cook together, making up folk songs about the recipe as we go.

Sara: What surprised you most so far about participating with PULSE and/or living in Pittsburgh?

Nic: I have been most surprised by the other PULSE participants. It is safe to say that I have never had a group of friends like this before. It is inspiring how genuinely kind everyone in the program is.

Story by PULSE Alumna Sara Alvarez.

Read more stories about the participant experience with PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.