Old Money, New Streams: August Recess is Over



Take it from somebody who catches Pokémon in Homewood Cemetery: Pittsburgh is a city of Old Money.

Section 14 was developed in 1890 with millionaires in mind, said Jennie Benford, director of programming for the cemetery’s historical fund. By that time, the scale of wealth had changed “beyond what anyone had ever seen in this country,” she said. (P-G, Diana Nelson Jones)

A million bucks back then would be worth about 27 million now, but remember even a lot of the OG millionaires didn’t stop at a million. And the way they made it — well, you know how it involved a lot of fire and blood, but that’s another story.


Many of us are liable to work with nature, when we can. There being fewer and fewer choices.

As part of a “Come Help or High Water” campaign launched last week, the group is looking to raise $80,000 to eliminate Eagle Lake by building a drainage piping system.

The Allegheny Trail Alliance provided $10,000, and the nonprofit has requested $50,000 from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, leaving an approximate $15,000-$20,000 gap in funding. Allegheny County is a longtime partner with the nonprofit.

“A drainage system will pull water under the ground and then parallel the trail,” Ms. Beichner said. “Water will then naturally find its way to the river.”  (P-G, Lacretia Wimbley)

This is how we have to do things now, with the Old Money. Make the pitch, schmooze some gatekeepers and pass the hat. There are worse systems. 


Downtown Pittsburgh has seen an uptick in stabbings so far in 2019, even as overall violent crime across the city has declined, Mayor Bill Peduto said Thursday. //

“We’re not going to solve this problem simply by having police,” Mr. Peduto said, referencing a recent Downtown stabbing in which a woman was fatally stabbed in front of a police officer and another in which police responded within 60 seconds. “It’s not simply a police issue. It is an issue that deals with mental health, homelessness and addiction.”  (P-G, Shelly Bradbury)

Yes, plus the fact that our nation is having a midlife identity crisis, with powerful interests aggravating our populace even as they herald global catastrophe. Sure.



He added that people who are homeless will always go to areas of the city where they can receive help and can walk to services like laundromats, showers and medical facilities.

“We have a homelessness epidemic, it’s happening on a national basis, where cities are seeing thousands of homeless residents who are moving into the central business district because that’s where the services are,” he said. (ibid)

Were this an occasion to be clever, our Mayor might suggest that criminals are turning to knives owing to his anti-gun crusade, thus many lives are being spared. But that would have been trolling, and inaccurate.

It sounds like some people want to beef up the city’s police presence and policing practices Downtown beyond any terribly scrupulous concern for civil liberties, and “get tough” on vagrancy, transients and seeming riffraff using more profiling and prior constraints. One would think to hear that from commercially-oriented types like the Chamber of Commerce, though perhaps not as much from philanthropic sorts like the Cultural Trust — since more enlightened methods for addressing urban strife must lie somewhere in all that Old Money. Not that we don’t love the arts for their own sake, nor think calling attention to managing public safety is necessarily the worst thing to come out of philanthropy. It’s just a noteworthy response. After all, if Downtown is not for all, it’s not for us — and it’s obviously still stronger than any sort of social tension or hate. We just need to have a larger conversation.


Even when it comes to affordable homeownership and gentrification (which bears only a tangential relationship to affordable housing, homelessness or Downtown stabbings but… okay) philanthropy is crucial in getting new concepts like “community land trusts” up and running, as we examine in this “DevelopPGH” article by at PublicSource, a news outlet which itself underwritten by philanthropy.

Those sorts of livability solutions are healthy and productive channels for our anxieties and investments, though it seems like they rarely scale to our satisfy our needs. But we’ll keep trying, won’t we?

It is difficult to know how to read such stories if you’re not familiar with the Funders and Doers series from the P-G’s Rich Lord, Pittsburgh’s Powerful Nonprofits. If you cannot access it right now just go and get a digital subscription, so you have the thing.

While you’re at it, if you also want to know how government contractors, developers and other private vendors can impact our bearings, read about The Network from the same reporter. It’s a little dated (2010) and the present in-networks may have shifted closer to the philanthropic, academic and high tech spheres (and may not be so Zappala-centric anymore) but it gives one a good flavor how business affects local politics.

The P-G ought next do a birds’ eye view of Big Labor currents and influences; its endorsements, donations, political organizing work and so on. Aside from the nonprofits and the contractors, organized labor is the sphere that never gets enough quality critical examination.

Speaking of which, don’t think we forgot to give you a post-primary election breakdown, or an orientation on our next heists and new platforms. Or to include a lot of the lesser-known reporting and wired-in voices in the city. We’re just getting rebooted and reacquainted. But if there was ever a time to strap on the old pads, it’s now eh?  Brb, beebees

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