Putting the Pop in Pop City

I went to the first "Pop City Live!" conversation last night at the New Hazlett Theatre and came away unchanged.

This was a moderated panel titled "The First, the Best and the Only." How to make Pittsburgh better, hipper, snappier -- hot.

The speakers were energetic and thoughtful. The theater was mostly full. There was free wine and beer afterward.

Little was said or heard that has not been said or heard before, on this blog, on other blogs, in board rooms and classrooms and buses and bars around Pittsburgh. There was even a gratuitous Chris Briem reference, and an even more gratuitous Pittsblog reference. There's no harm at all in saying these things again (that is, "let's get out there everyone and break down those barriers; Pittsburgh sure would be a wonderful place if only we can mobilize everyone!"), and there's some virtue in repeating it publicly and loudly and often. And (portent of posts to come) a few of the players are welcome additions to the conversation.

But there was a faint undertone of Pittsburgh's Waiting for Godot problem. There were 250 souls in the New Hazlette Theatre last night, and it felt distinctly like they were waiting for someone to tell them what to do.

Best line I heard all night: Pittsburgh will only emerge from its painful collective insecurity when it stops worrying about its painful collective insecurity.

To paraphrase Yoda, just do. Or do not.


8 Responses to "Putting the Pop in Pop City"

Anonymous said... 9/12/2007 1:18 AM

Misquote or misquote not -- there is no paraphrase.

gjhead said... 9/12/2007 9:03 AM

"There were 250 souls in the New Hazlett Theatre last night, and it felt distinctly like they were waiting for someone to tell them what to do."

I disagree. I think there were 250 souls in the theater just waiting to see what Pop City was all about. 250 people that showed up to see what this new series had to offer. 250 people who are interested in making a difference.

I was quiet at Pop City. I was quiet because it was new to me and I wanted to hear what Pop City Live was all about. I left thinking that the first one was a good start and that with some improvements, we're looking at a series that will hopefully generate some ideas and inspire some people to leave and do something that contributes to Pittsburgh.

I'm trying to *see the positives* in Pop City. In my opinion, Pittsblog should try to take this view on things a bit more.

If I could change anything about the first Pop City event, it would be to get rid of the "What if you were mayor" problem. I could care less about what the mayor or any government will do for Pittsburgh. What I care about is what the *people* are doing. Every single person who was at Pop City has the opportunity to make an impact on Pittsburgh. That's where it starts.

I'm looking forward to the upcoming Pop City Live's. I hope they continue to build on this idea and the momentum from last night.

Mike Madison said... 9/12/2007 9:22 AM

Hey Jason,

Thanks for the comment.

If you read back through four years of Pittsblog (beginning long before Pop City, which I like), you'll see that I'm all about pushing the positive here. (Not cheerleading -- criticism is often deserved -- but building anew.) Check out the Manifesto at the top of the left column of the blog. I was the person at Pop City Live on Monday night who prefaced a question with precisely the same premise that you offered: Let's abandon the "what if you were Mayor" question.

In short, we're on the same page. Like Pop City and all of those people in the room, I want to see Pittsburgh succeed. A lot of the people in the room, however, were the usual suspects, listening for anything new. There wasn't much new, except that some of the same things were being said in a modestly different place. That's OK. But Pop City isn't publishing a new book.

AZMike said... 9/12/2007 12:59 PM

I see a link here between this item and the previous one about that poor woman's quest to find a job. If there is a consensus that this is a local cultural problem with business management in the region, PopCity could publicize that issue and promote change. PopCity could also recruit someone with good public speaking skills to go talk to the Chamber Of Commerce and similar organizations and tell them how awful this sort of behavior is.

I have to imagine that these businesses are hurting themselves as well. If the behavior that Mary describes on her web site is common, it's hard to imagine that so many businesses are so incompetent when it comes to hiring.

Anonymous said... 9/12/2007 2:12 PM

I attended Pop City Live live and let me start by saying that you had a very insightful question/comment. Most of the questions asked were good ones, although you're right in saying they weren't anything we haven't heard a least a dozen times before. I have to disagree with your assertion that it felt like 250 people waiting to be told what to do. To the contrary, many of those who bothered to attend are 250 people who are out there doing something already. The tone I detected was more along the lines of 250 people waiting for those in power to do something.

Until government leaders in the Pittsburgh region start becoming more proactive we will, and should, continue to hear the same talking points over and over again.

I'll say that I'm not the biggest fan of the current Mayor's administration, but I thought that the question "What would you do if you suddenly found yourself Mayor for three years?" was a cheap shot."

Ms. Monongahela, Ms. Chief Editor said... 9/12/2007 4:13 PM

Sounds more like a "Waiting for Guffman" problem to me ... everybody dance!

Bram Reichbaum said... 9/12/2007 11:38 PM

Isn't this Pop City dealie sort of a division of the Urban Redevelopment Authority and its real-estate agent cohorts?

Anonymous said... 9/17/2007 10:23 PM

Want some change ??? Would mayoral wanna be Mark DeSantis give the city a new direction ? I want to say yes but the guy is never in the public. For god sakes get out on the street and start shakin hands, or make us know whom you are! and dam fast, time is running short..

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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.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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