What’s Your Laundry List Notes from the Burgh: Lost on an attendee’s laptop until just now!!!
- Courtney = from Toledo, has passion for hometown, wants to see it break away from Rust Belt stereotypes, came to Pittsburgh 4 years ago for grad school, thinks region is neglected
- Sara = grew up in Western New York (Westfield) and Erie; is a sailor, baker and makes yoga accessories out of repurposed materials; moved to Pittsburgh after visiting family here, just bought a house in East Liberty; thinks low cost of living frees people up to be creative; wants to see that development extend to places like Erie
- Daniel = grew up in Rochester, family left during economic decline, cost of living allows more free time for community involvement, sees a lot of potential here
- Jennifer = wants to see more local businesses, better utilization of architecture, thinks of
- Emily = thinks a cohesive group could work together to Pittsburgh more interesting
- Lindsay = thinks Pittsburgh has an interesting story to tell
- Elaine = from St. Louis for 20 years, thinks people like her need to invest in the city and guide its transition, its an interesting place to live with a lot of hidden jewels and is small enough that you can experiment socially and politically
- Ken = grew up in Fox Chapel, moved to Boston/New York when 18, came back 20 years ago, thinks Pgh is unique and its worthwhile to preserve it
· Major Problems In Pittsburgh
o It was built for more people than it houses so smaller population now has to support larger infrastructure
o Entrenched culture of “the way things are done” i.e. old boys/girls network, city bureaucracy preempt innovative things that don’t fit into the mold = very traditional/conservative – can do old things in a new way, but not new things in a new way
o Pittsburgh is still pretty racially/economically segregated, affordable for only certain groups
o There’s very little effort to keep downtown office workers from leaving at the end of the day
o City is too democratic – winds up being 1 party system
o Pittsburgh is so tied up and bound against itself that it can’t take advantage of its assets:
§ Pgh is extraordinarily insecure about where its next paycheck will come from and how it fits into the world – who’s going to do what in what way? What’s our competitive advantage? It’s been very insular in its thinking about this when to be successful you need to be part of a network.
§ There is a very traditional social structure – relic of the industrial era – in which rich people don’t want to give up money and power, working people are insecure about jobs, urban and rural poor are having an increasingly difficult time.
§ Ethnicity, race, gender and religion all play a role – particularly religion – one of the churchiest in the region but little interaction between the religious communities (ministeriums don’t include all the denominations)
o There is no regional public transit or access to waterfront – a key asset – that’s not privatized.
o Categorization of city is debatable. Midwestern? Applachian? Peripheral to one of these? Not knowing who we’re like confuses our agenda for the future?
o City of Pittsburgh is in a bad way financially which will impact city service delivery which will impact how we’re perceived.
o There’s a lot of apologizing amongst people not from here – very distrustful of outsiders. We need to celebrate how diverse we are. Need to make it easy for people to feel comfortable here. There is segregation between those from here and not.
· What Innovatve Projects/Organizations are Working Successfully on These Problems?
o CMU brings in people from all over the world as do other major universities
o Bike Pgh provides good mix of public transit/policy advocacy and community organizing and great enthusiasm
o Sprout Fund facilitates and pulls out groups at community level and gets them to talk to each other and make progress, fill the need for risky start-up small grants for projects that would otherwise not get funding, cultural micro-lender – public improvement in a cultural sense, decision-makers are diverse
o Small businesses and start-ups coming out of the universities and recruiting people from other regions
o Public works i.e. grants, libraries, museums – more than cities of comparable size
o Very large art community – over 10k artists. Also have a connective spirit around sports that can be somewhat negative but has capacity to get people to develop joint identity. If you could mobilize that around whole region (including Cleveland) would aid capacity to solve problems.