As you surely know if you’ve read What is GLUE?, this project came about after Abby and I moved back to our hometowns, Pittsburgh and Detroit, respectively, within six months of each other. We started talking – a lot – about the similarities we were finding. As a metro-Detroiter, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone knew how much our two cities have in common? We have so much to learn from Pittsburgh!” Through thoughts like that, the comparative conversation that became GLUE was born.
People often ask us which of the cities we visit now are “dying,” and which are on their way “back.” We like to try to point out the flawed assumptions that underlie this question.
First, we exist on a spectrum of city health. Pittsburgh’s resilience, as discussed in this article urging Detroit Freep readers to look to Pittsburgh for some positive ideas about our potential future, is evidence. Thirty years ago, people might have described Pittsburgh as “dying,” but today, despite its continued challenges, no one would make that mistake.
Second, we don’t want to go “back.” Even in their 20th century heyday, our cities weren’t exactly Urban Gardens of Eden. What we have now is the opportunity to refuse to repeat the same bad decisions – highways that wipe out neighborhoods and make fleeing to the suburbs easier, for instance – that we made in the 1950s and 60s. We have the opportunity not to return to the conditions of the early 20th century, but to move to an economically, socially, and physically healthier future.
Let’s all look to our other GL friends for ideas about how to achieve that.