A Sense of Place

If you want to feel optimistic about Pittsburgh's future, check out this profile of Heinz Endowments' Grant Oliphant, by Pop City's Abby Mendelson. Both Grant and Abby nail it.


3 Responses to "A Sense of Place"

Anonymous said... 9/02/2007 7:50 PM


I agree he hits the nail on the head re: negativism and positivism.

One particular strking comment to me from Grant Oliphant is: "There is something distinct about Pittsburgh – our neighborhoods, our ethnic heritage. From a quality-of-life perspective, that’s priceless. That’s part of what we celebrate. Here, you can visit a dozen different cities in a day."

Many people, especially newcomers, would agree with that.

At the same time, we have political and university leaders and a growing number of followers who are pushing for the consolidation of many small governments. I was a follower of this idea, too. While I believe that more efficiency and effectiveness is needed, any consolidation can NOT dilute what makes us distinctive and take away this region's competitive advantage. Instead, any consolidation MUST ENABLE the city's (and the county's) 'neighborhoods' to become even stronger - not just the same, and definitely not worse. If you can't accomplish the efficiency objectives without enabling stronger neighborhoods, then consolidation should NOT occur. The cost of the inefficiency is greatly outweighed by the value of the distinctive communities. Pittsburghers against consolidation get this in their hearts and souls. To consolidate in a way that doesn't make neighborhoods stronger would be repeating the city planning failures of building a circle in East Liberty and the destruction of the Hill District to build the Civic Arena.

Anonymous said... 9/02/2007 8:05 PM

Changing the conversation to our assets and strenghts is definitely necessary. Many of the positive assets are of value to small pockets of people in the region.
The negativism won't go away until either many years go by or something dramatic occurs that the general population feels is positive and important to them. Over 30 years ago, the people in the region took great pride in being the no. 1 city in the world for steel manufacturing. It built America, supplied the world wars, and influenced the US economy. But, this went away dramatically when the steel industry collapsed here and 100,000+ people left the region in a short period of time. We haven't had anything to replace this sense of positive identity since. The city of sports champions in 1979 and the recent Super Bowl are just momentary pluses. Pending something happening as dramatic but of a positive nature, the negativism won't go away anytime soon. All that we can do is keep pushing forward towards that day.

Travelina said... 9/04/2007 7:06 AM

You can learn more about the U.S. by visiting Pittsburgh than by visiting the Statue of Liberty, this blog from The Economist seems to be saying:

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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