There Are No Poor People in the Rust Belt

What?

In recent days, I’ve come across not one but two online features that celebrate contemporary Pittsburgh for its economic and cultural sexiness. Largely because of the regional tech economy, the millennials and GenXers who dominate it, and the insistence of Pittsburgh’s Old Guard that what you see today was always the plan for economic recovery after the collapse of steel in the early 1980s, Pittsburgh is back, baby! If this were Southern California and if there were waves on the three rivers, I could imagine Jeff Spicoli saying, “Hey bud! Let’s party!” Continue reading

#Pittsblog: Imagining Pittsburgh

Contemporary Pittsburgh is still mostly missing a writer who distills its emerging, collective voice, meaning a forward-looking imagineer to complement the marvelous visual nostalgia of Rick Sebak.  The expressive identity of the city and region are probably the things that I’ve wrestled with the most since moving here and writing about the place myself, on and off, for close to 15 years.  And when I come back to the topic from time to time — what defines Pittsburgh, in various ways, and what anchors its evolution? — this is the theme that pulls me in.  How does Pittsburgh talk about itself to itself, and how does Pittsburgh talk about itself to others? Continue reading

#Pittsburgh Needs Bodies

20,000 new residents for the City of Pittsburgh by 2025? Mayor Bill Peduto aims low, but that’s not the real problem in the newly-released “Welcoming Pittsburgh” plan. [Welcoming Pittsburgh plan here.] Still, I’ll start with that. According to Aesop, the mountain labored and brought forth a mouse. But like many recovering industrial cities, Pittsburgh may have to get used to hoping to meet low expectations. Over and over again.

Back when I was writing Pittsblog, immigration and what I called “population churn” were favorite and frequent topics on that blog, linking population turnover (not necessarily population growth) to economic development and diversification. Samples:

In other words: Everything old is new again. The Mayor’s Office and the Downtown Powers-That-Be have re-discovered something that lots of people who are better informed than I am have known for a long time: Whatever the future of Pittsburgh may bring, the people who live here right now will need a lot of help in bringing it about.

You’re going to need a bigger boat. Continue reading

Pittsburgh Has Bookstores, Still

@NEXTPittsburgh recently published a nice roundup and review of the independent bookstores in the region that are standing proud for print as well as text. Pittsburgh isn’t as publicly bookish as say, Boston, but it’s nice to know that there are a few outlets left for those of us who like to browse in person as well as online.

http://www.nextpittsburgh.com/features/11-independent-bookstores-in-pittsburgh-worth-browsing-often/

My favorite, for entirely idiosyncratic reasons, is the decades-old Penguin Bookshop, @penguinbookshop. It’s worth the drive down Route 65 to Sewickley.

But check ’em all out, and buy some books.