New Pittsburgh. Old Pittsburgh. What is Timelessburgh?

Today we’ll take a look at the next wave, and then the Old School.

P for Pittsburgh launched its enterprises with a two-day invitational pep rally celebrating a moment of potentiality.

A citywide building boom, an infusion of young professionals and heightened partnerships between foundation and civic officials are among factors jump-starting conversations about long-term planning strategies. (Trib, Natasha Lidstrom)

Strategies abound. Planning would be excellent! 

Now the goal is to take it to the next level, and that is why Mr. Demchak and about 250 delegates from as far away as Stockholm gathered at the Energy Innovation Center in the Hill District on Thursday for the P4 international conference. (P-G, Mark Belko)

P4 stands for “People, Planet, Place and Performance”. Speakers ran heavy on themes of “sustainability”.

Perhaps as glaringly, with just one exception, no one at the summit suggested that our sustainability problem is a matter not of inadequate technology, or of insufficient will to address the problem, but rather of the way we conceive of our economy in general: as a system in which profit is the paramount value, and “growth” is essential. (CP, Bill O’Driscoll)

Attendees on social media were in awe and excitement over a few things: the capacity represented in the room, the level of public-spirited concern, the expanding knowledges represented in it, and their understanding that founders are special and that entrepreneurialism is a virtue that is especially rewarding.

There was also chatter of the paramount necessity for public participation during the changes.

It reminded us of the old Downtown bus “circulator”, and the Smithfield St. upgrade proposals floated by Mayor Peduto and County Executive Fitzgerald almost two years ago. They engendered immediate, furious opposition as having been cooked up by exclusionary, privileged and entrenched business interests behind closed doors. And it went away.

Is it starting over?

William Demchak, PNC’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, will head a 25-member group of civic leaders, politicians and corporate and nonprofit officials. The Envision Downtown Advisory Committee will look to improve mobility, accessibility and livability in the Golden Triangle, according to Mayor Bill Peduto’s office. (Trib, Bob Bauder)

That’s right, Demchak! From the pep rally!

Good that the business community is moving transparently in seeking upgrades to the central business district, and corridors. Great that they’re talking about accessibility. Relieved that there are a variety of government advisory panels. Hopefully the reset will bring more than just the usual hollering between Sayers and Naysayers!



Councilor Darlene Harris has been arguing with the Mayor’s office over a boxing gym operated by a civic league.

It was a life heading down the wrong path, but he and his father found a new path on Homer Street, where the nonprofit Steel City Boxing and the Spring Hill Civic League run a boxing gym that opens its doors to local youth, troubled or not. The gym aims to build discipline and confidence, and provide structure and an outlet for adolescent frustrations. (P-G, Robert Zullo)

In 1999, the League began leasing the old building from Pittsburgh for a $1 a year. The city has been patching the roof. The Operations and public works czar warns that it’s a big job to fully rehabilitate it, and that there are a lot of aging properties in the city. The Councilor says never mind facilitates management or the capital budget process, “pick up a phone” and get it fixed.

It reminds me again of Dave Wright, the city police Use-of-Force trainer. He is a big fan of reaching out to troubled youth through wrestling. And it reminds me of when Beth Pittinger of the independent Citizens Police Review Board began a class lecture by saying hesitantly, “Pittsburgh is not a very warm and fuzzy political culture.”

I wonder how many of these youths would also benefit from a guitar, a paint brush or a laptop, but it is great that there are fighting coaches in Pittsburgh willing to mentor them. I’m just uncertain in what building they should be training.

The fact that Steel City Boxing is politically connected in certain circles is obvious.

Now. If that tale strikes you as unique, it is not:

“This mayor was the youngest mayor. This mayor played soccer as a kid,” Harris said. “He created this field, which was very much needed in the city of Pittsburgh.”

Before Ravenstahl left office in December 2013, the Parks and Recreation Department purchased the bronze plaque for $2,096.50.

Former city Operations Director Duane Ashley said at the time he requested it without council approval or Ravenstahl’s knowledge, and later volunteered to pay for it with personal funds. (P-G, Bob Bauder)

The North Side is as tribal a lot as any, and Darlene Harris feels in touch with its sense of pride. She would rather not hold up naming rights, get some perspective, put it through a larger political process.

It’s really the debate over the Pittsburgh Land Bank again. While Harris joined the loyal opposition in leveraging for certain concessions, she alone voted against it as potentially violative of her earned privilege to decide to do with property in her district. Keeping her own counsel, reacting to her own politics.

Then again, I wonder when something’s going ever to happen with that New Pittsburgh land banking strategy…


What do you call it when two personalities keep spinning round and round? What stands a chance of breaking through the usual political gridlock?

“So instead of getting angry or defensive that Pittsburgh Dad, a FICTIONAL character, doesn’t fit your idea of a real Pittsburgher, maybe what we need to do is redefine the term.

Here is the new box for the quintessential Pittsburgher: Do good. Be nice. Dream big. That’s it. Within the confines of that new box, it doesn’t matter if they’re wearing shoes from Payless or Saks. It doesn’t matter if they’re waving a Terrible Towel or throwing the Tomahawk Chop (gross). It doesn’t matter if they say “wash” or “warsh.”

Are they doing good where they can? Are they generally nice to others? Are they dreaming big and using those dreams to better their lives in a way that ripples out and betters Pittsburgh?” (PM, Virginia Montanez)

Sounds good.

What is a yinzer anyway? Most of the people I know who say “yinz’’ or “yunz’’ do so knowingly, with the unspoken subtext being the bond among us, as if we’re all in on a comfortable secret. We live in or around a city with world-class universities, museums, architecture, hospitals and performing arts and we pretend we’re just a sports town with a singular way of speaking.

We like it that way. I mostly think about Pittsburgh that way, too. Even so, when someone sneers, “He’s just a yinzer,’’ I cringe and feel a little sorry for the speaker, because he knows the words but not the melody. If, on the other hand, an email to me begins with something like, “Maybe I’m just a yinzer, but I think Clemente was the greatest … ” — well, then I know that both ends of this conversation will be in a comfortable realm. (P-G, Brian O’Neill)

Pittsburgh seems rather anxious about all this “identity” business. Chalk it up to globalization and technology, as much as gentrification.

Pittsburgh deserves a strong and comprehensive vision which joins the best of its traditional values and new ideas. Both can be gleaned through its centuries-old status as a global confluence of enterprises. We who attach are a wholesome and industrious people who have learned much from our legacy of “transformative moments”. Or should have! We’ve been around the block; we’re nobody’s fool.

11 thoughts on “New Pittsburgh. Old Pittsburgh. What is Timelessburgh?

  1. Anonymous

    Reminds me of all those transition team plans that never saw the light of day. Maybe we can recycle the paper and print the P4 plans on it?

  2. Anonymous

    Hey Bram, is it only the “machine” when people endorse someone you don’t like? What about the other endorsements? Are they also all the “machine?”

    1. bramr101 Post author

      No, it’s a machine when an opaque, hierarchical institution called the ACDC endorses in ways consistent with its 115-year history of valuing blood and loyalty over diversity and leadership.

      1. Anonymous

        Certainly agree with that. But that happens in pretty much every endorsement. Those in charge strong arm the committee to support their favorites over diversity and leadership. Just curious how that only gets called out when it is the blue collar part of the committee doing it.

      2. bramr101 Post author

        I think “the blue collar part of the committee” sometimes goes to lengths to confuse personal solitary with class solidarity. Or, it narrowly construes “class”.

        But every election has its particulars, and many issues weigh. I mark the ACDC endorsement into the “Con” column, but take second and third glances to see if the machine wound up on the right side of something.

  3. MH

    “Why don’t you go down to Cuba and live in Cuba where there’s socialism and everybody lives in poverty?”


  4. Anonymous

    Hey Bram,
    I don’t visit much anymore so I’m curious. Did you or do you have an endorsement in the 9th district? Especially after todays (Saturday) article in the Trib about everyone but Burgess (this time) owing back taxes. Also the Young Dems saying everyone in the hood owes taxes. No big deal. Do you give them a bye? This is an example of wealth redistribution. Shift money to rebuilding District 9 while “everyone in the hood owes taxes”. Will Grant street look into better tax collection while we struggle to fund everyone’s special interests? Carlisle hasn’t paid toward her debt for many, many years. Young is in arrears to the URA for goodness sakes!
    Kindly comment? Who do you like in the 9th?

    1. bramr101 Post author

      If you don’t mind I’d like to dodge or at least delay answering that, Anon 8:57. I think Councilor Burgess is a fairly high capacity leader and has a respectable highlight reel for his 71/2 years, although I do think politics can lead him badly astray and he could be serving all of Greater Homewood better in some ways, or be more attentive. At the same time, the other candidates either have thin credentials or problems breaking through — that is, at least from my ill-informed vantage point from the North Side.

      I will say that tax delinquencies don’t bother me — so long as these are admitted and freely and truthfully explained, the person is responsive to the authorities, and late payment schedules have been negotiated and are reasonably being kept. I’m not sure how that applies to the present candidates.

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