Welcome NetRoots Nation -- We Didn't Clean Up for You

Official Pittsburgh is starting frenzied preparations to steam-clean and blow-dry the city in preparation for September's G-20 meeting. We have to make nice for three or four thousands assistant treasury ministers and the trailing TV cameras!

For the thousands of "liberal bloggers" of NetRoots Nation (and don't you all just love that not-so-subtle pejorative lobbed by the PG's headline writers!) who descend on Pittsburgh this week, no such luck. NetRoots attendees will see Pittsburgh as she really is -- blue skies and rivers and green hills, slightly brown summer air, and the grease and grime of the 20th century in evidence throughout the several air and auto corridors into Downtown, as well as throughout Downtown itself.

Considering the jobs, habits, communications skills, and interests of these two populations -- assistant treasury secretaries and mainstream media, on the one hand, and globalized, highly networked "liberal bloggers," on the other hand -- is one group more likely than the other to have greater throw-weight when describing Pittsburgh to friends, family, and others outside the city and during and after the conference? Is one group more likely than others to influence the narrative arc that will accompany the future of the city?

Just wondering.


9 Responses to "Welcome NetRoots Nation -- We Didn't Clean Up for You"

RoboticGhost said... 8/10/2009 10:39 AM

Excellent point. I know its excellent because I've been making the same point to anybody who will listen. A whole bunch of people who have never really thought about Pittsburgh, many of whom have large audiences and move in influential circles, are coming to town. I'm not sure if G20's long shadow has occluded the potential impact of having the new media's most eyeballed writers in town for a few days, or if that 'liberal' tag is scaring people, but its a shame this isn't a bigger deal locally.

Bram Reichbaum said... 8/10/2009 12:01 PM

That's all true, but I'd much rather the bloggers see Pittsburgh in all its glory, rather than uptight and self-consciously groomed.

Mike Madison said... 8/10/2009 12:09 PM

There is a lot to be said for that, Bram. Still, Pittsburgh looks great when it cleans up a bit -- especially if the cleanup takes hold and sticks around for a while. And the effort itself speaks volumes about who and what Pittsburgh cares about.

Bram Reichbaum said... 8/10/2009 1:46 PM

If the special redd up effort and the media spotlight lead to an increased sense of pride and responsibility, that'd be great. Downtown could stand to be a cleaner place, and not in a way that city workers could simply manage by themselves.

joe said... 8/10/2009 10:51 PM

Definitely what I was thinking when I said over on Nullspace that Netroots Nation was going to be bigger than the G-20 :)

I think the NN experience will be a bit more alive and authentic (as much as conventions can be), rather than having a city in lock-down with 4,000 imported and outfitted police manning the gates for photo-ops.

BTW, check out this great diary series about our fine city from a Daily Kos diarist compiled as a .pdf There's a diaspora point to made there somewhere Jim, as the diarist no longer lives in the city (went here for grad school I think).

jdn74 said... 8/11/2009 9:38 AM

Though if we want to keep things authentic, the diary should probably be titled, "We didn't Redd Up for You", no? ;)

Thanks for the plug, Joe. I lived in Pgh for six years -- 18 months working at CMU, the rest getting a Master's at Chatham. I've been gone about a year, but I still consider Pgh home.

Nicole said... 8/11/2009 2:09 PM

I'm surprised these are even questions.

Yes one group is more likely than the other to have greater throw-weight when describing Pittsburgh to friends, family, and others outside the city and during and after the conference. And yes, one group more likely than others to influence the narrative arc that will accompany the future of the city.

Sorry that your feeling are hurt, but without a doubt the people attending the G-20 are more influential. They will be greater number for the G-20. They will have more cameras on the streets and I'm sure a larger volume of news stories will be created by the G-20 than the conference. And these are decision makers that will be able to plan more conferences or events here in the future.

Also, Pittsburgh is an especially dirty city. Remember Detroit who actually had painted facades placed front of the blocks of empty, dilapidated buildings for the cameras panning down the street during the Superbowl.

You planned your conference here, clearly it has redeeming qualities that you recognize.

Mike Madison said... 8/11/2009 2:54 PM

I don't really get the point of Nicole's comment, so maybe others can figure it out.

No one's feelings are hurt.

Pittsburgh isn't an *especially* dirty city. I've visited a lot of Rust Belt cities over the last few years, and Pittsburgh looks neither cleaner nor dirtier than most of them, on the whole. It does have a holdover reputation as an especially dirty city. But most visitors who come expecting to see smoke billowing from steel mills are quickly and pleasantly surprised to find no such thing.

The big mystery is the "you." "You" certainly isn't *me,* since I have nothing to do with NetRoots. "You" might be NetRoots Nation, I guess.

But what does choosing to have a conference have to do with whether the City of Pittsburgh thinks that the conference and its attendees are important enough to warrant a cleanup effort? The White House chose Pittsburgh for the G-20 under similar circumstances.

brenadine said... 8/12/2009 10:38 AM

I moved to Pittsburgh in 1992 from Texas and I was expecting something completely different than what I got - it was a great place - the snow took some getting used to for me, but I was amazed at how vibrant, interesting, and forward thinking the whole area seemed...and no billowing smokestacks.

I left the 'burgh in 1998 and have only had occasion to visit a few times over the past decade but I can tell you, I think cleaning crews or no, both conferences' attendees should be pleasantly surprised at how much they fall in love with Pittsburgh.

I know I can't say enough good things about my time there and am always looking out for a reason to come back.

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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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