A call to conscience for gentrifiers

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .


Daniel Hertz, writing in the Atlantic Cities today, provides an excellent work of thought-food for those who talk about gentrification as if it is either a good thing or a bad thing.
It is, he writes, inevitable whether you move your educated, moneyed self to a poor neighborhood or a rich neighborhood.
If you move to Larimer, say, your income and its strength will encourage others with the same buying power to move near you and then the cafe tables will sprout on sidewalks like wild daisies. If you move to Upper St. Clair, you are strengthening the wall of income exclusivity.
In “There’s Basically No Way Not to Be a Gentrifier,” he writes of his young, educated and progressive cohort:
“We have a lot of conversations about whether or not it’s acceptable to live in our current neighborhood, or the one we’d like to live in. Sometimes, we reassure ourselves by discussing the obviously graver transgressions of the people who live in some other neighborhood, which has accumulated slightly more bougie coffee shops and restaurants.
"Sometimes we find solace in some part of the continuum of gentrification that we’re comfortable with: the very beginning, when you can kid yourself that your presence isn’t changing anything; or when the tipping point has tipped, and the damage has already been done.
“The upshot here is not that we should all descend into nihilistic real estate hedonism. But we need to recognize what’s really going on: that what we call gentrification these days is only one facet of the much larger issue of economic segregation.” 
It results from a system that does not protect people who were there before the market forces begin to flex their muscle, and you can reach further back, he writes, to “generations of rotten and racist urban policies, that makes economic segregation so widespread and pernicious. It also explains why it’s growing so quickly – faster, even, than economic inequality.”
People early to the momentum of gentrification have a responsibility beyond being considerate and socially inclusive of neighbors who do not have their market oomph, he writes, and that is “to be aware of these underlying systemic processes and use what social and political power you have to change them: lobbying your local government for housing subsidies for the low-income, protections against eviction due to rising rents, and an end to exclusionary caps on housing construction that keep prices artificially high.”
Walkabout might add that this responsibility depends on respect for the common good and for those whose economic setbacks could force them out of the home and neighborhood they have cherished, sometimes all their lives.


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Campaign ad's false claim about gasoline tax increase

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

State Rep. Harry Readshaw is taking heat for a campaign ad that denounces the state’s new transportation funding bill. The ad says Mr. Readshaw opposed Gov. Tom Corbett’s “massive gas tax increase” that pays for Philadelphia transit. In truth, the gasoline tax restructuring that was part of the bill is paying for road and bridge improvements. Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, no revenue from gasoline taxes can go to public transit, so Mr. Readshaw’s ad is misinformed and misleading, to put it kindly. But the longtime lawmaker, who is opposed in the Democratic primary by Rep. Erin Molchany, is now clearly on the record as saying he thought our roads and bridges were just fine, and that he wouldn’t mind if Pittsburgh’s transit system underwent further deep service cuts.


Six spaces in Pittsburgh International Airport’s short-term parking garage have been marked for electric vehicle charging. These spaces are on the roof and second levels of the garage. Special green and white markings have been painted to identify the spaces. “Power Up” signs have  been hung above each of the spaces.


PennDOT is inviting the public to take a survey on transportation priorities and investments at as part of efforts to update the state’s long-range transportation plan and develop the state’s first comprehensive freight movement plan.


I’m unfamiliar with the section of the Motor Vehicle Code that allows delivery truck drivers to park wherever they want, including in traffic lanes and no-parking zones and on crosswalks. But it must be in there somewhere.


menatworkPennDOT District 10 expects today to announce plans for an emergency bridge repair project on northbound Interstate 79 north of Zelienople. The left lane has been closed since a truck hit a bridge girder in March, causing some pretty hefty backups. The escape route, for those who hate sitting in traffic, is to exit west at Little Creek Road and use Route 19 north to Portersville and a quick jog back to I-79. The bridge project is expected to begin in early May.

Lime Hollow Road in Penn Hills is closed from Coal Hollow Road to Frankstown Road until 4 p.m. today for repairs.

Drilling on Interstate 70 near the Bentleyville interchange will cause single-lane traffic next week starting at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The affected area is between Bentleyville Road and Route 917. Work will conclude by 6 a.m. each day.

The westbound on- and off-ramps of the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Monroeville will be restricted during pavement repair work Thursday night. (NOTE: This was scheduled for tonight but postponed because of the weather.) The ramps will have alternating traffic controlled by flaggers from 9 p.m. Thursday to 2 a.m. Friday.

The bridge that carries Bedford Avenue over Interstate 579-Crosstown Boulevard in Downtown Pittsburgh will have lane closures todaythu and Friday for inspection. The restrictions will be in place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. Traffic will be shifted on Bigelow Boulevard and the ramp from Bigelow to northbound I-579 during the same hours.

Sidewalk improvements may cause right-lane closures on Ingomar Road between Harmony Drive and Bellcrest Avenue in McCandless from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through May 2. An alternating one-way pattern may be implemented at times in the area.

A wall collapse has closed Riverview Avenue between Roosevelt and Division avenues in Bellevue until further notice.


The off-ramp from inbound Route 65 to Beaver Avenue will be closed after the split for California Avenue at 8 p.m. daily through Friday. Traffic will be detoured using the ramp to California Avenue and Marshall Avenue. The restriction will be lifted by 6 a.m. daily. Also, bridge inspection may cause Route 65 lane closures in both directions between Millerton Avenue and the McKees Rocks Bridge through 3 p.m. today.

Lane closures are possible on Route 28 in East Deer during bridge washing from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Friday. Lane closures also will occur on Crawford Run and Baileys Run roads under the Route 28 bridges.

Work on overhead signs may cause lane closures on all three parkways in the area of Downtown Pittsburgh out to Green Tree and Second Avenue after 10 p.m. weeknights through May 2. Restrictions will be lifted by 6 a.m. daily.

Overnight single-lane closures are scheduled on Connor and Gilkeson roads near Route 19 in Mt. Lebanon, and on Route 19 from Connor to Cochran roads, from 7 p.m. today through 6 a.m. Thursday for line painting on rumble strip installation.

A northbound lane closure is possible on Route 51 between Stewart Avenue and Maytide Street in Overbrook from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through Friday as crews work on utility lines.

The Fort Pitt Tunnels will have overnight single-lane traffic in both directions starting at 10 p.m. today and Thursday for cleaning and maintenance. Tonight’s restrictions won’t start until an hour after the end of the Pirates game. Lanes reopen by 5 a.m. daily.

A lane has closed on eastbound Route 30 at the bridge over Electric Avenue in North Braddock as crews apply sealant. The restriction is scheduled to end at 5 p.m. Friday. No westbound restrictions.

Replacement of a bridge on Saxonburg Boulevard in Indiana Township has begun, closing the road between Francioni Lane and Klein Road through June 20. The posted detour uses Harts Run Road and Route 8.


Single-lane traffic on southbound Route 8 is underway from Krebs Drive to Applewood Drive in Richland from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Friday. No northbound restrictions.

A reconstruction project has reduced Interstate 80 in Jefferson County to one lane in both directions between Reynoldsville (Exit 86) and Falls Creek (Exit 97). The restriction will remain in place into November.

Coming Monday: Northbound Route 885-Lebanon Road will be closed at the intersection with Lebanon Church Road at 6 a.m. for replacement of the bridge over the Union Railroad tracks. Southbound traffic will be shifted to the northbound side of the bridge; northbound traffic will be detoured. The overall project continues through April 2015.


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Unusual frames of Pittsburgh in color

Written by A Pittsblogher on .

Here is the latest entry in the  'Oh, Pittsburgh, you are so awesome' series: A video from Brandon Roudebush.

In this video, according to the description, Brandon sought "to create a bright and vibrant depiction of the area and focus on a few of the culturally significant locations of the city, including the Strip District, Point State Park, Station Square, Mount Washington and of course, the streets of downtown Pittsburgh. The film also features Heinz Field, Primanti Brothers, Market Square, the Steel Building, PPG Place, Duquesne University and the Monongahela Incline.”

Did Brandon do our fair city justice? Judge for yourselves! 

h/t Movoto

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Party on August Wilson's birthday

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

Wade AugustWilson 

August Wilson would have been 69 on Sunday, which would be young enough for him to still be, a realization that makes his age at death a hard fact to swallow considering how much writing there remains in a gifted 60 year old. He died in 2005 in Seattle, the home he had adopted after a childhood and young manhood in Pittsburgh.
His niece, Kimberly Ellis, had been planning a birthday party for her mother, Mr. Wilson’s sister, Freda, when Gab Cody, the Pittsburgh regional rep for the Dramatists Guild, asked her if they could throw a party celebrating Mr. Wilson's birthday.
“My mother’s birthday is April 17 and his is April 27; I remembered that ever since I was a little girl,” Ms. Ellis said. “With all the talk about the August Wilson Center, Gab approached me thinking about doing something to celebrate his birthday. We decided on a party to remind people about the person and why he is celebrated and respected, not the center debacle.”
The August Wilson Center is currently in the hands of a bankruptcy judge who recently had been parsing offers from suitors to buy it when it became apparent she had a favorite; the foundation group that had made an offer to buy it, restructure it and retain the mission of the center, bowed out. Read that story here.
The memorial birthday party for August Wilson is from 3-6p Sunday, April 27 at the Kaufmann Auditorium, 1835 Centre Ave.
The event is free but you need to register so the organizers can know how much cake they will need. You can also donate at that link to help them with the expenses of producing this party.
Besides cake, there will be live music, dramatic readings, birthday card readings and presentations of Wilson's monologues.
Ms. Cody said she presented the idea to the Dramatists Guild, "an idea of people from all over sending cards and celebrating August Wilson and they loved it. The guild works to promote in any way they can writers and playwrights by offering them opportunities to work on their craft or to learn more about what the guild offers, including rights writers have when they enter into contracts with theaters."
The guild also has fellowship and scholarship funds and emergency funds sometimes made available to writers in need.
"This event is a celebration of an author whose legacy has had a big impact on the region and the purpose is to bring a large group of people across the theater community and to strengthen and build rapport." But you don't have to be in theater to attend.
“I’ve never taken on the role of maintaining August Wilson’s legacy,” Ms. Ellis said. “But Pittsburgh is experiencing change, and I thought let’s do something that is unifying and fun, celebrates a great legacy and brings the figurative family together. The Dramatists Guild supports the idea and wants to see more inclusive projects.” 
In an email, Ms. Cody wrote of the opportunity “to bring folks of varied backgrounds together through this event, which we see as a community-building celebration.”
Pittsburgh was a disquieting hometown for the playwright. He told an interviewer once during a visit back:
“Like most people, I have this sort of love-hate relationship with Pittsburgh. This is my home and at times I miss it and find it tremendously exciting, and other times I want to catch the first thing out that has wheels.” 
Pittsburgh gave him deliciously and delightfully rich fodder for the 10 plays he wrote that cemented his legacy in American letters. Each play presented scenes of each decade of the 20th century, mostly portraying the life and characters of the Hill District. One of them, "Fences," won Pulitzer and Tony awards and "The Piano Lesson" also garnered a Pulitzer Prize.
Post Gazette photo by Bill Wade


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'When you're walking, you realize there's so much in Pittsburgh'

Written by Ethan Magoc on .

Two Point Park University freshmen woke up on Friday before dawn to properly capture Pittsburgh in its morning glory with a camera and smartphones in hand. Now that winter has finally loosened its grip, the day was promising to reveal Pittsburgh wide awake: sunny day, slightly chilly air. Good morning, Pittsburgh!

Victoria Mikula and Jake Owens, both 19, are photojournalism majors who often work on projects together. Mr. Owens has a final project due soon, and professor Chris Rolinson suggested he emulate New York Times photographer Todd Heisler’s “Once Around an Island.

Knowing Pittsburgh and its perimeter neighborhoods have plenty to offer visually, they set off on foot from Point State Park at 6:30 a.m.

From there, they went across the Smithfield Bridge and through the South Side.


“We realized we were starving, so we stopped at Nadine’s Diner and got breakfast,” Ms. Mikula said.


From there, it was across the Hot Metal Bridge to the most brutal hill they encountered that day: Bates Street up to Oakland.


Mr. Owens captured the day for his project with an actual camera, while Ms. Mikula shared the journey live through an Instagram hashtag.


Neither grew up here — she’s from Hershey, he from Red Lion — so the journey became a way to explore some of Pittsburgh's corners they hadn’t gotten to know yet: from Bates to Schenley Park to Flagstaff Hill, Carnegie Mellon’s campus and then Shadyside.


By the time they reached Allegheny Cemetery, they were exhausted.


Still, Ms. Mikula said, “I’ve never been to a cemetery that looks so beautiful. I know that sounds weird, but it’s breathtaking.”


Since Lyft and Uber now operate in Pittsburgh, the classmates opted against riding the bus back and instead called a ride-share service.


“When you drive through, you’re going too fast,” she said. “You don’t really get to stop and observe anything, but when you’re walking, you realize there’s so much in Pittsburgh.”


They plan to finish the walking and photographing with a return to the cemetery this week. From there, they’ll head toward the North Side.


A dog on Friday outside Starbucks on East Carson Street. “He was just hanging out at 7 a.m. and didn’t have a care in the world,” Ms. Mikula said.


A house in Shadyside with plenty of bird houses.


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