Every day, Sigo Falk puts on his hiking boots, walks out his front door, and hikes at least one mile along a trail network that he helped to create more than 20 years ago. That land provides a space that he sees as essential, not only to a healthy personal life, but also to a healthy community.
“When you’re [outdoors], you’re happy,” Sigo said. “You can’t just live with brick and mortar; you have to get a touch of reality.”
Sigo, when hiking with families, recommends parents allow their children to walk a small loop twice: first rounding the loop while holding their parent’s hand, then making a second lap alone. This, Sigo says, can be a first small step in allowing the child to develop their own individuality and freedom to become who they’re meant to be.
When he reflects on how he became who he is today, Sigo talks about backpacking and trekking on trails in Vermont, Nepal, India, and Tibet. His face shifts into nostalgic smiles and smirks as he reminisces on everything from the beauty of a rock face to the trials and tribulations of trip mishaps. From those trips, he’s learned both to plan for the unplanned, and to foster a connected and sustainable culture in his community.
Sigo brings many of these lessons to his involvement with Allegheny Land Trust, and he is one of ALT’s longest supporters. Asked to join the board in 1996 as ALT was acquiring Dead Man’s Hollow, he became Board President by 2003 as ALT was acquiring Wingfield Pines; by the end of his tenure, the board modified the bylaws to allow those in his position to stay an extra year to ease transitions. His experience and connections coupled with his humble persona brought an entrepreneurial posture to ALT that allowed for scrappiness when and where it was needed, and authenticity and legitimacy when and where it was needed.
In addition to his involvement with ALT, Sigo is a long-time Chatham University Board Member and a major benefactor of its Falk School of Sustainability, He’s also currently involved with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Heinz History Center, the YWCA, and Thornburg Borough.
ALT still grows thanks to Sigo’s support, and his impression will last as the land he helped protect remains green forever.
“Open space is essential to a community,” Sigo said. “It enhances our towns and makes them better places to live.”
25th Anniversary Supporter Stories
ALT has thrived for 25 years thanks to help from hundreds of supporters ranging from casual volunteers to major donors. Sigo’s story is one of 25 that we’ll be sharing in 2018 as part of celebrating our 25th Anniversary.
Allegheny Land Trust is a land conservation nonprofit helping local people save local land in the Pittsburgh region. We’ve protected more than 2,100 acres of green spaces that contributes to our regions unique scenic quality, biodiversity, and water quality. Our strategic priorities are in land protection, stewardship, environmental education, and urban greening; through this work, we create places for passive recreation and provide environmental education opportunities for all ages. Resulting from our quarter century of conservation practices, every Allegheny County resident lives within 12 miles of an Allegheny Land Trust conservation area. These green spaces improve the quality of life for all through opportunities for recreation, education, nature appreciation, improved or maintained water quality, sequestered carbon and improved air quality, enhanced property values, habitat creation, and more.