The "leader" for the piece on the Jewish Diaspora (see previous post) in the latest issue of The Economist offers another sounding board for the role that Pittsburgh's expatriates might play in revitalizing the region:
Helping Israel should no longer mean defending it uncritically. Israel is strong enough to cope with harsh words from its friends. So diaspora institutions should, for example, feel free to criticise Israeli politicians who preach racism and intolerance, such as a recently appointed cabinet minister, Avigdor Lieberman. They should encourage lively debate about Israeli policies. Perhaps more will then add their voices to those of the millions of Israelis who believe in leaving the occupied territories so that Palestinians can have a state of their own, allowing an Israel at peace to return to its original vocation of providing a safe and democratic haven for the world's Jews.
I'd like to see a debate about Pittsburgh's future that includes the Burgh Diaspora, breaking what I see as a political stalemate in need of a fresh perspective. Pittsburgh Today and Null Space's Chris Briem publish a wealth of data on the web. There are a number of pundits blogging about economic development for the Pittsburgh Region. Overall, there is sufficient expertise online to generate effective policy prescriptions.
What's missing is a forum where all these elements come together in the form of civil discourse, hashing out a vision of progress for the entire area.