Since attending the most recent Entrepreneurial Thursday at Dowe's on Ninth, Pittsburgh Quarterly is serving as my muse. I think you can consider that a solid endorsement of the magazine. Mark Desantis quotes Tim Zak in the Spring/Summer issue while discussing Pittsburgh's prospects for redemption, "There is just not enough critical mass of like-minded people."
Zak's assessment resonates with me. I can feel energy in Pittsburgh. The city is alive with ideas. What I don't sense is a coherent, shared vision. Everyone has a plan, endorsing only his own. There is always a better approach or more clever scheme.
I'm in the same boat. Here I am blogging on and on about my perspective on Pittsburgh's problems. I am looking for allies, but I'm not sure where to find them. Pittsburgh needs more than a new direction. The region needs a person who can convince more than herself that this path is the way to go.
I've met a number of young Pittsburghers in their 20s and 30s over the last seven days. One event was a party for someone leaving town, moving to Florida. Few I spoke with that night wanted to stay, looking weighed down and trapped. I think they find life here stifling.
I had a similar experience growing up in the Northeast. I felt limited by circumstances of birth, something my westward migration obliterated. My frontier adventure wasn't filled with true western characters. The people I met were from all over the United States, if not the world. This cauldron of so many different upbringings was inspiring.
This was my idea commons. Social hierarchies were leveled and anything seemed possible. If something akin to this were to blossom in Pittsburgh, it would threaten those currently in power. The latest economic earthquake to the region was not enough to open up opportunity to outsiders. I'm beginning to realize that the requisite shock occurred south of here, in the Mon Valley.