Just over the Brookline border, on a farm in Baldwin Township, it’s much quieter than inside the storefront of Cannon Coffee.
Away from the conversation and clinking cups, a honeybee hive is Nathan Mallory’s only focus this particular Wednesday afternoon. Unless you asked directly, he probably wouldn’t offer the fact that he just received an important local honor.
Pittsburgh Magazine named Mallory to its 40 Under 40 list this year, a designation he could have earned with any number of his community projects and advocacies. Urban farming is just the latest.
“The opportunity to live in a city and do this is a pretty cool thing,” he said. “I grew up on a farm, but there just weren’t people around with this kind of expertise.”
The 31-year-old Titusville native moved to Brookline in 2006, after serving in the Air Force.
Most people know Mallory as the co-owner of Cannon Coffee, which opened in February 2010 and quickly became a hot spot on Brookline Boulevard. Through the shop, Mallory champions community involvement, and often opens the store for meetings of local organizations and youth groups.
It’s sister store, Brew on Broadway in Beechview, is operated by the nonprofit Project Coffeehouse, which Mallory founded. The goal of Project Coffeehouse is to raise money through coffee shops, and donate all of that money to community betterment projects.
Mallory is involved with South Pittsburgh Development Corporation and Brookline Chamber of Commerce, and he helped develop “Because You’re Mine, I Shop the Line,” a program to support businesses on Brookline Boulevard.
But it’s Mallory’s latest project—honey bees—that speaks volumes about his passion for Brookline and the legacy he hopes the neighborhood will achieve.
Since last spring, SPDC, with help from Burgh Bees, has been advocating to bring a community apiary to Brookline. Click here to read about the project.
An urban beekeeping center is just one idea—and Mallory invites all Brookline residents to share their ideas—for a unique neighborhood feature that other communities would want to emulate.
“When I first moved to the city, I thought it would be the hamster wheel,” Mallory said. “But there are so many nonprofits and opportunities for shared resources in this city, you can really learn a lot outside your own circles.”
Mallory currently keeps one honeybee hive on the Baldwin Township farm, which a friend owns. Burgh Bees manages a community apiary in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homewood, and if the Brookline apiary were approved, it would be similar.
The project would give Brookliners a chance to work with each other, and possibly with other neighborhoods, in a unique capacity.
Mallory said the characteristic willingness to work together is simply what makes Brookline, Brookline.
“This neighborhood is charming,” he said. “It’s so easy to live here. We want more people to come here, to the business district, and not just to fill it in, but because if someone opens a business here, they will be supported.”
For Mallory, honeybee keeping also is a bit of an escape, a break from thinking about day-to-day responsibilities, and a chance to learn something different.
“It’s not necessarily relaxing, but it’s something new,” he said. “This isn’t like taking care of a kitten. Bees are so complex. There’s a biology you can become familiar with after a long time, but it’s hard to become expert.”
About an hour of time is all Mallory spares before heading back to Cannon. Wednesday means Open Mic Night at the coffee shop, but only after a handful of other meetings are through.
Although busy, Mallory always makes time for community discussion. Ideas are always welcome, suggestions always considered, and participation is key. Involvement—in nearly every aspect of the community—is the objective.
“I get a kick out of all this, because I’m not the one who started SPDC, or the Chamber, or Light Up Night. I didn’t create anything new, I just got involved,” Mallory said. “When you bring people into the picture, they start saying, ‘Something is happening here. Something can happen here.’”