Thursday, January 31, 2008

More GLUE in the News

Detroit offers up a blurb about GLUE. The University of Buffalo paper repackages the press release. Is the Buffalo meeting making a splash in your shrinking city?

GLUE St. Louis

The Buffalo GLUE gathering makes the St. Louis news:

RUST STYLE: Twin brothers Jeff and Randy Vines of the St. Louis apparel line (they design those clever, interesting T-shirts with St. Louis icons on them) and Antonio French of the local political blog will represent our town at an upcoming gathering of urban devotees in Buffalo, N.Y. The meeting, which is being sponsored by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, will bring together urban advocates from 10 cities. They will meet Thursday through Saturday. The goal is "to craft a new narrative for industrial cities of the Great Lakes region, the so-called 'Rustbelt,' according to a news release from the group. Randy Vines said Tuesday that he and his brother hoped to come back with some exciting ideas to help contribute to the current enthusiasm for rejuvenating St. Louis. The gathering is the kickoff of a multiyear initiative that will explore ways to use new media to help spread the word about the cities involved. The group is called GLUE — an acronym for the Great Lakes Urban Exchange. It was developed by Pittsburgh and Detroit boomerangs (a word they use to describe young people who leave their cities and then return) Abby Wilson and Sarah Szurpicki as a means of combating negative perceptions about their cities.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

R.I.P. Burgh Diaspora Blog

I'm taking my Burgh Diaspora project to a new location. The Pittsburgh Quarterly website will serve as the home for my efforts to network regional expatriates as part of the various IntoPittsburgh initiatives that will surface over the next few months. "Globalburgh" will be the name of the new blog and I should have an inaugural post up tomorrow. My goal is to cultivate an audience of Pittsburghers living outside of the region they still call home. I think I can best reach them at Pittsburgh Quarterly, a magazine I hold in high esteem.

While I've failed to tap the Burgh Diaspora, I've succeeded in attracting like-minded bloggers interested in the economic development of shrinking cities. To date, Burgh Diaspora mainly has covered the problems and opportunities associated with human migration. I will continue to blog here about Pittsburgh's knowledge economy and the common experiences of postindustrial Rust Belt cities. Geographic mobility remains central to my understanding of better policy for purposes of job creation and a thriving region.

I will use the Burgh Diaspora blog to help Pittsburgh contribute to the nascent Rust Belt Bloggers Network and the work GLUE is doing. On that note, please consider Ontario as a kindred spirit:

With only the slightest of political direction, cross-border commerce transformed Ontario and Michigan into one of the most deeply integrated single economies in the world. Yet Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty now appears substantially indifferent to this relationship - and the enlightened attention that it requires. Perhaps it's the lace-curtain Irish in him.

Though itself in genteel economic decline for decades, Ontario still dresses well enough and manages to look relatively polished and pressed. It regards itself as enormously better off than Michigan, all grungy and down at the heels.

Mr. McGuinty needs to get rid of Ontario's pretensions of superiority. Ontario and Michigan are looking more like family all the time. Ontario is in long-term economic decline. Michigan is in long-term economic renewal, an intriguing reversal of fortunes that Washington correspondent Barrie McKenna described in Saturday's Globe and Mail as: "The coming rust-belt recovery."

We Rust Belt Bloggers (funny writing that from my Colorado confines) should be the most able when it comes to crossing borders and collaborating. Our lines of communication can serve as the infrastructure for the Great Lakes network economy and I dedicate the Burgh Diaspora blog to this cause.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blog Release: GLUE Gathering in Buffalo

Young Urban Leaders Gather to Discuss Future of Great Lakes Cities,
Shape Agenda for Multi-State, Multi Issue Community Revitalization Effort;
Brookings Institution, Oishei Foundation, University at Buffalo Regional Institute Agree:
The Time is Now for Post-Industrial American Cities

Contact: Abby Wilson, Co-Founder, Great Lakes Urban Exchange
412 551 4609,

From January 31st to February 2nd, over 40 urban devotees from ten US States will gather in Buffalo, NY to craft a new narrative for industrial cities of the Great Lakes region, the so-called “Rustbelt.” The Buffalo gathering is the kickoff of a multi year initiative that will use new media to build networks for change. The Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE) will engage young urbanists in an effort to bolster regional identity, envision livable urban futures, and tell stories about the people who are creating them.

GLUE was developed by Pittsburgh and Detroit boomerangs Abby Wilson and Sarah Szurpicki to combat negative perceptions about the cities they call home. Its mission quickly evolved from new media boosterism to issue-based network building and resource pooling, and from a brain trust of two to a core planning team of forty young, devoted, and solutions-oriented leaders from twenty-one GLUE cities: Akron, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Des Moines, Detroit, Duluth, Erie, Flint, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lansing, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Rochester, St. Louis, Toledo, and Youngstown.

GLUE’s ten state network of younger leaders will share best practices, create a resource hub, and use new media to tell 21st century stories about cities that remain hampered by monolithic and anachronistic associations with heavy industry., the project’s online hub, is in development at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies (

GLUE, sponsored by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program through its Great Lakes Economic Initiative (GLEI), will use creative research and documentary journalism to build upon the analytic foundation laid by Brookings’ “Restoring Prosperity” and “The Vital Center,” seminal reports about the immediate needs and shared challenges of cities at the core of GLUE’s mission. John Austin, Non-Resident Senior Fellow to the Brookings Institution and director of GLEI, has coordinated support to the initiative. For more information, visit

“The Great Lakes region has been and remains a significant center of economic activity, but is making a spotty and imperfect transition from the industrial era,” said Austin. “Young talent, attracted to urban centers with a high quality of life, is essential to this transition.”

“I got tired of telling my mega-city dwelling friends that there’s more to Pittsburgh than beer cozies and empty Steel Mills, but that doesn’t mean we’re living in utopia, either,” Co-Founder Abby Wilson said. “Cities like Pittsburgh have made remarkable progress, hold extraordinary potential, and have a very long way to go.”

“I moved back a year ago to contribute to the future of my first love, Detroit, and have had the good fortune of getting to know several other cities that are in the same boat,” Co-Founder Sarah Szurpicki said. “I’ve had the thrilling realization since that my hometown and its cohorts all boast communities of people devoted to sustainable, equitable, and thriving futures for all. Those communities will, I hope, continue to find peers among the GLUE network.”

Scheduled activities for the Jan 31 – Feb 2 gathering include some of the following: peer to peer interviews that will be downloadable for podcast at, a bus tour of Buffalo’s beloved, but overlooked, gems, a presentation of research from the Brookings Institution’s Great Lakes Economic and Restoring Prosperity Initiatives, a new media tools primer, a Great Lakes cities trivia contest, a tour of Hallwalls gallery, and remarks from both the Regional Institute at Buffalo and the Oishei Foundation.

“The foundation believes it is critical to engage young leaders in envisioning and planning for the future of our region,” said Robert D. Gioia, President of The John R. Oishei Foundation, a critical partner in this effort. “This effort not only links emerging leaders in our own region, but connects them to a body of experience and knowledge in other Great Lakes cities dealing with similar challenges.”

“The institute is pleased to partner on an initiative that draws perspectives and ideas from Buffalo Niagara’s young leaders together with their counterparts from nine other Great Lakes states,” said Kathryn A. Foster, director of the University at Buffalo Regional Institute, which will assist in administering the convention. “GLUE will help foster a valuable knowledge exchange and generate strategies for the Great Lakes region’s future.”

“I am proud to support the engagement of young leaders in the future of upstate New York’s urban communities, and thrilled to have diverse regional representation here in Buffalo for such an important and timely conversation,” said New York State First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer. “GLUE is a natural complement to the work we’ve done here in Western New York with the I Live New York campaign.”

“I'm thrilled to support this initiative on behalf of both my adopted hometown and the Great Lakes community at large. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership welcomes the opportunity to engage with young leaders to learn and share best practices. Specifically, we’re excited to explore ideas related to our efforts to cultivate young talent through our Young Professionals program. Investing in our assets and showcasing ourselves as great places to live and work are essential to our collective success,” said Ann Mestrovich, Business Development Specialist at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, one of GLUE’s organizational supporters in the region.

For a complete schedule of activities, or to attend open sessions at the GLUE conference, email

Monday, January 28, 2008

Human Capital Advantage

Tech Futures stresses water assets as a way for Cleveland (and other Rust Belt Shrinking Cities) to spur economic development. I agree that any region could better utilize its natural resources and water is a key thread binding together what could be a Great Lakes mega-region. Chris Varley outlines a tremendous opportunity for Northeastern Ohio. However, I would challenge his hierarchy of priorities.

I recommend listening to the podcast (tip from Brewed Fresh Daily) of Vivek Wadhwa's presentation to The City Club of Cleveland. Better leveraging human resources, not natural resources, is the more pressing need. I'm not pushing for investing in human capital at the expense of water-centric economic development, but I recognize that each region only has so much bandwidth and I think that networking/attracting talent offers the better value proposition. Of course, "green" posturing could help accomplish this goal.

I have argued, as a matter of course for this blog, that Pittsburgh has unique human capital assets as a result of its historical geography. I would extend that perspective to other Rust Belt locations as I gain a better understanding of the shared landscape. But I predict that the city that best utilizes its Diaspora will emerge as the mega-regional hotspot for research and development, as well as entrepreneurship. Harvard Business School professor Tarun Khanna explains:

To put it bluntly, China has embraced its diaspora, and India has shunned it. While the numbers should always be taken with a grain of salt, it is said that about 50-plus million Chinese and 20-plus million Indians live outside their home countries.

India's tendency to shun its diaspora must rank as among the most disastrous decisions made by a nation in modern times: disastrous in the sense that a successful group of people is willing to give time, money, energy, and good will to their country of origin and is being pushed away. Fortunately, this situation has been changing in India in the last 4 to 5 years.

In China, by and large, the diaspora has played a much bigger role. In 1978, China didn't have the internal markets to rely on, so it turned to the overseas Chinese because they were the only people who could understand China well. To other people China seemed too difficult, too alien, too foreign.

In the case of both countries, there is a broad spectrum of people in the diaspora, so we should be careful about not lumping them all together. That said, the success of the Silicon Valley community and the massive wealth that some people have accumulated have caught the eye of India. And as in most things in life, timing is everything: In some sense the combination of India having its back to the wall in the early 1990s and rejuvenating its reform process, and the wealth accumulating among the diaspora, were the supply and demand side for getting the diaspora together with its home country.

Which Rust Belt city will best embrace its geographically scattered human capital? My mission is to make Pittsburgh the answer to that question and I believe I know how to do it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pittsburgh Promise Geography

A blog post at Brewed Fresh Daily is the first crumb leading me to an article about the value of the Kalamazoo Promise (the model for the Pittsburgh Promise):

In 2004, a billion-dollar contract to design and produce hydraulic systems for Boeing's new Dreamliner went to Parker Hydraulics. That contract has gradually grown to $2 billion. In those four years, the company has boosted its employment from approximately 500 to 605.

Parker Hydraulics program manager Rod Taft said last week he didn't know how many additional jobs the Airbus contract would mean for Kalamazoo. But the contract is a boon to both Kalamazoo and the ailing Michigan economy.

Last year, Taft said the Boeing contract would provide security for the company for the next 20 years.

The kinds of jobs that the two contracts will help create in Kalamazoo are just the type that are most needed here and statewide. They require people with high levels of education and skills. They pay well.

And Parker Hydraulic, which recruits employees nationally, has found it easier to recruit in-demand employees to Kalamazoo, thanks to The Kalamazoo Promise.

To the cynics complaining about the motives of UPMC funding the Pittsburgh Promise, you don't understand how difficult attracting the right talent can be. The payoff for either city's promise is measured in terms of increased enrollments for public city schools. What is the local return on investment in human capital? If the policy works, then in-migration will improve.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Economic North Coast Project

Scanning for blogger posts about the "Rust Belt" unearthed a column about the North Coast Project (NCP), an economic development initiative:

The North Coast Project is a nascent economic alliance of the Great Lakes states that seeks to exploit the region’s enormous strengths to revitalize our shared economies. It aims to create a robust entrepreneurial environment by attracting and retaining talented individuals, providing funds to commercialize the many patents created here and funneling national and global investment into our North Coast communities.

The NCP is in cahoots with Brookings and the Michigan Municipal League.

Spinning Regional Investment in Education

I would be suspicious of any higher education reports that contained a claim about the high retention rates of its graduates. Welcome to one economic development consultant's Atlantic Canada nightmare:

As I have said before, in the last couple of months I have had three community college students tell me that their teachers talk a lot about the job opportunities outside New Brunswick for their skillsets. So, I have a hunch that the 87% is much lower. But if I am wrong, why not just publish the summary of where the total graduates are located? Then my criticism would be put to rest.

The bottom line is that community college and university is heavily subsidized by the New Brunswick government and no one wants to be overly chatty about the fact that 20%, 30% and I even saw one report that said 40% (this was Maritime wide) of graduates leave the region because that would show a serious problem. The NB government spending millions each year to train workers for Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

If you scrutinized the region that ANY public community college or university purportedly served, then you would be looking at a boondoggle. Training people to enable better labor mobility should be a strategy to attract migrants, not a means to encourage them to stay. Concerning migration, I find the misinformation astounding.

A snippet from the article I used for my previous post is instructive:

While not everyone on the Metro-North New Haven line is falling in love, they are having a much better time than most commuters. Mr. Doremus, a bar-car regular, moved to Redding, Conn., for the lauded school system, but has found the commute to be an additional perk. “I work in the MetLife building,” he said. “The commute into the city can’t get any better than what I have right now.”

The reputation of a school district serving as the primary rationale for a relocation decision shouldn't surprise anyone living in Pittsburgh. Great schools attract people. But great schools don't keep people from leaving. In academic terms, the education variable is a pull factor. Public higher education should be utilized to bring new people to the region. The stated parochial mission is largely a farce, but remains a popular and effective political ploy.

Moveable Proximity

I fancy this commuter story about the importance of the bar car for people who travel long distances to work in New York City:

After years of griping and suffering through delays, broken cars and interrupted service, these commuters are finally getting new trains sometime starting in 2009. They are also getting new bar cars.

In the meantime, Jaaka and a few of the other regulars, have a way around the patchy service. Everyday, he and his buddies get a text message from a well-informed bartender on the train who lets them know if and when the car is running.

“Once I discovered these guys, I changed my hours to meet up with them,” said Chris Berberich, pointing with his beer to a few friends. Though Mr. Berberich’s end goal was Redding — he moved their seven years ago from Stamford, Conn., because he likes “living in the woods” — a good chunk of last night’s crew was headed to Fairfield, a town known for its large commuter population. It was also the setting of the television series, “Who’s the Boss?”

The article offers a number of possible points of a departure for a blog post, but the two blogs listed as related to the bar car community sparked the most curiosity. I prefer the Barcar website, as opposed to the poorly designed Beer Train Friday. Still, I like the idea of a blog serving the community that develops around a certain place of patronage.

How many blogs of this type exist in Pittsburgh? I'm not referring to a business-sponsored blog such as the one for Aldo Coffee. I want to know if there are any blogs written by the people who frequent a certain establishment. If I lived in Pittsburgh, I might start a blog about the Sharp Edge and the community I join there as a regular. How about a blog for Entrepreneurial Thursdays?

Blog Release: Help Startups Events


Help Startups Meeting on 2/19

In our last issue we morphed the lyrics of the Staind song, "It's Been a While", to notify you of our upcoming Help Startups meeting. We are getting back into the swing, and will be holding regular meetings and related events from now on.

Our next event is on Tuesday, February 19th from 5:30 - 7:30 pm, and we're going back home to our cozy nook - the private upstairs lounge of Doc's Place on Walnut Street in Shadyside. This is a casual networking event in which you can warm yourself beside the fire with a winter toddy, and rekindle entrepreneurial friendships. We'll be providing Doc's yummy pizza for your eating pleasure - you cover the liquid refreshments!

We have an interesting panel discussion planned for March entitled "Where Do We Go From Here?" The topic is the current state of the entrepreneurial environment, and what needs to be done to further improve things. We are working on lining up a great panel of leaders from the entrepreneurial community - people who can help us affect needed improvements. The event will be held on Tuesday, March 18th, so please hold that evening open!

Mega-regionally (interesting regional perspective):

Midwest Venture Summit

Legend has it that a long time ago a famous bank robber, Willie Sutton, was asked why he robbed banks. He replied, "Because that's where the money is!"

Well that's why we try to get our companies into Venture Fairs, to quickly get in front of many potential investors - where the money is. In our last issue we reminded you about our own 3 Rivers Venture Fair and the Philadelphia Angel Fair. This time we are focusing on the Midwest Venture Summit, which is held in Chicago on March 17 & 18. While Chicago may seem to be somewhat removed from our area, when you look at their web site you will see they include Western PA in their 'zone of influence'.

One of our local VC firms, Meakem Becker, is an active participant, and provided funding to one of last year's presenters, LiquidTalk. Check out their testimonial on the Midwest Venture Summit's Home page!

One thing though, the deadline for submission is Wednesday, January 30th, so move fast! Sorry, about the late notice, but we just found out about this event today.

Pittsburgh entrepreneurial fyi:

Some may recall the TechyVent newsletter that was 'The Bible' of entrepreneurial events in our area. Well, since it's been gone nothing has appeared to take its place - until we launched Help Startups!

Our Events Calendar is even more comprehensive than what TechyVent was. Check it out - you'll see things like three different events listed on Thursday, January 31st. Here's a partial list of the organizations that are posting their events on the calendar - Pittsburgh Technology Council, Duquesne University SBDC, Carnegie Library Business Branch, Entrepreneurial Thursdays, University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon University Project Olympus, DevHouse Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone, Product Strategy Network, TiE Pittsburgh and many others!

If you belong to or know any organizations providing entrepreneurial related events who aren't participating, please tell them to get their events posted. It's easy - just Register as a user on Help Startups (which doesn't cost anything) and then you can post events!

OH, and remember to check out Help Startups at least once a week to see what's happening!

HyperActive Pittsburgh

Occasionally, "Silicon Valley's Coolest Investments" are well beyond the 20-minute rule:

Then there is the more mundane--figuring out how to speed up selling burgers and fries at a fast-food joint. Such calculations are becoming a precise science: Hyperactive Technologies, located in Pittsburgh, has created a combination camera and computer program (appropriately called "HyperActive Bob") that uses video and predictive technology to tell cooks how many burgers and fries need to be cooked at what time to accelerate service. Last May, the company purchased QTime solutions, a drive-thru timer to help speed up how Hyperactive develops its recommendations. Private angel investors organized by Spencer Trask Ventures presumably had a quick meeting to decide to put $8.5 million into the firm in 2006.

You can read a bit more about the big cash infusion here. The article identifies Spencer Trask as "New York-based." I don't understand what the Silicon Valley connection might be, but I'm still curious about a local start-up capturing venture capital from well outside of the region. Were Pittsburgh-based venture capitalists not interested? I'd like to know more about this funding success story, which appears to be an exceptional case.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rust Belt Network Geography

Yesterday, Chris Varley at Tech Futures posted his second installment about Chattanooga lessons for Cleveland. Chris provides some geographic context for the two cities, remarking how Chattanooga is more like Pittsburgh than Cleveland. However, all three cities do have much in common:

The similarities between Chattanooga and Cleveland are reasonably well known by now: both are river-dependent manufacturing communities that have suffered greatly with the decline of manufacturing in the US. Both cities were cited in 1969 for their heavily polluted environments–Cleveland for the Cuyahoga River catching fire and Chattanooga for air so polluted drivers had to have their lights on during the day. In fact, many in Chattanooga consider the city to be a “rust belt city in the south” rather than a traditional southern city.

I confess that I never thought of Cleveland as a "river-dependent manufacturing" community. I characterized Cleveland as a port city on Lake Erie. Since I was born in Erie, you might forgive my ignorance. If you don't understand why that is relevant, take a peek at the debate about the nickname for Erie's new indoor football team: RiverRats. And I'm sure most older Steelers fans remember a certain quarterback who talked about the cold winds of Lake Erie affecting the play at home games.

River or lake, the connection is the same. There are a number of cities in the interior of the United States (i.e. not located on one of three national ocean coastlines) that flourished as a result of access to navigable waterways. I expect Chris will promote a re-imagining of the water asset for purposes of geographic advantage. I would promote his observations as the GLUE for an emerging mega-regional urban network. I think that group should include the Erie Canal cities of Western New York, but not the upper reaches of the Hudson River. But let's not forget our kindred spirits in Chattanooga and "The Pittsburgh of the South" (to name a few).

Blog Release: Pop Pittsburgh

I'm pleased to see Pop City plugging the next DevHouse Pittsburgh meeting at the Creative TreeHouse (wonderful synergy, that):

DevHouse Pittsburgh’s second gathering includes brainstorming for charity on Saturday, Jan. 26th. In true DevHouse style, participants will go all day and into the night, from noon until midnight. Bring a laptop and come for just an hour or stay the entire time. DevHouse provides a place to work on personal software projects, meet other people passionate about technology, and learn new things.

DevHouse Pittsburgh is asking attendees to use their unique technology skills in software coding, software design and database systems to brainstorm for 2 - 3 hours, from 4 to 6 p.m., on how to create an online mentoring structure to assist local Western Pennsylvania charities.

For complete details, visit the DevHouse Pittsburgh web site by clicking here.

Blog Release: The International @ Boxheart Gallery

I long for the day when my blog releases will concern relevant events in Burgh Diaspora locations. For now, my audience is mostly in and around Pittsburgh. Without further ado:

The International at Boxheart Gallery is an annual event. The {art}Press team made its first appearance and was thoroughly impressed with the diverse mix of art. Artists who participated represent the following countries: Russia, England, Chile, Bulgaria, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Germany, Italy, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Norway, Canada, Kuwait, and the US. If you have not yet been to an art show this year, this would be an impressive way to kick-off your art viewing in 2008.

It might be wise to first visit Boxheart's website to familiarize yourself with the artists, then head over to Boxheart in Bloomfield and have a more informed experience. Our favorites include two images of horses by Reinhardt Sobye. These are digital photographs that are embellished by hand with additional strokes of charcoal and other media. This gives the images an aged or decay look and feel. Sobye is also an intriguing artist with unique views on the world, no doubt influenced by his small town experience in Norway. Nicole Capozzi and Josh Hogan, Boxheart Owners, can tell you all about him as he will also be having a solo-exhibition in the upcoming year.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pittsburgh Expatriates in the News

I enjoy reading about the successes of ex-Pittsburghers and I expect to see more of such stories in the IntoPittsburgh part of the website for Pittsburgh Quarterly. Donna Tabor now lives in Nicaragua and will receive a National Awards for Citizen Diplomacy for her work there:

The awards are sponsored by the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy in Des Moines, Iowa -- -- founded in 2006 to promote the role that private citizens can play in cross-cultural relations.

The event will be held in conjunction with the 2008 National Summit on Citizen Diplomacy, a two-day conference to recruit more Americans to serve as citizen diplomats.

In addition to the award, Ms. Tabor will receive a $5,000 cash donation from the center. She will contribute the money to Building New Hope -- -- the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit for which she volunteers. The group has done grass-roots development in Central America since 1992.

Building New Hope provides a vital connection between Central America and Pittsburgh. Private citizens can be diplomats for their hometown as well as their home country. I would characterize IntoPittsburgh as the Pittsburgh Center for Citizen Diplomacy (international and domestic). Through ex-Pittsburgher, the region can develop relationships with the rest of the world.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thinking About Moving to Pittsburgh?

You best hurry because prime city residential real estate is going fast:

The city's first neighborhood land trust to assure affordability for generations of homeowners has been proposed on the Central North Side.

The neighborhood, which includes the Mexican War Streets, would join a growing number of neighborhoods, towns, counties and cities that have set up trusts in response to a housing crisis facing poor and working-class people. ...

... The Central North Side, where some housing prices have shot through the roof in recent years, has not determined its model.

You read that correctly. The City of Pittsburgh is concerned about affordable housing.

Talent Shortage Conspiracy

The talent search boondoggle continues in Ohio:

This year, the state is launching two programs aimed at helping the industrial work force evolve in an increasingly high-tech economy.

One initiative — the Ohio Workforce Guarantee Program — will give training grants to relocating or expanding companies.

The other — the Ohio Skills Bank — will coax businesses and educators to discuss matching current and future vocational needs with school budgets, course work and counseling.

''We have spoken about the concept over the last couple of months and the response has been positive,'' said Thomas Fellrath, project manager for the Ohio Skills Bank. ''We have a wonderful adult education system and . . . regions of the state want to see greater alignment of work force and training out there.''

Dorothy Baunach, president of the region's technology advocate group NorTech, said the talent shortage is holding the region's economic recovery back.

''Our problem used to be capital,'' she said. But young nonprofit organizations formed to bring money to early growth companies have made progress.

''Now they can't find the people they need, from CEOs to the technical folks needed to do the day-to-day work,'' she said.

The talent gap is particularly acute in Northeast Ohio's high-growth fields of science, engineering, health care and information technology, she said.

The Ohio Workforce Guarantee Program can make a quick impact, said Terry Thomas, assistant director for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

That program, operated by the Ohio Department of Development, is ready to offer grants of up to $750,000 to employers that are expanding or moving into the state.

Sobering news if you didn't read the article in today's Washington Post titled, "Highly Skilled And Out Of Work." Isn't the MSM part of the globalist conspiracy? I think what would explain the discrepancy is a lag in migration. Not enough talent is moving to Ohio to keep up with employer demand. However, instead of seeking the "highly skilled and out of work" in the DC region (among other places), the state plans to spend a lot of money retraining the workforce already living in Ohio.

In short, highly skilled labor isn't going where it is most needed.

Sometimes, Distance IS Dead

The blogger reactions to the latest article on the revelation of proximity range from "Place Matters" to the embrace of the idea that distance isn't dead. Urban boosters are keen to point out that city living is more important than any time in history. Of course, that proximity matters is not really a debate. But the evidence offered to demonstrate that distance isn't dead is less than compelling:

As a columnist (which is fancy for "journalist in jammies"), I ought to personify the conventional wisdom that distance is dead: All I need to get my work done is a place to perch and a Wi-Fi signal. But if that's true, why do I still live in London, the second-most expensive city in the world?

If distance really didn't matter, rents in places like London, New York, Bangalore, and Shanghai would be converging with those in Hitchcock County, Nebraska (population 2,926 and falling). Yet, as far as we can tell through the noise of the real estate bust, they aren't. Wharton real estate professor Joseph Gyourko talks instead of "superstar cities," which have become the equivalent of luxury goods — highly coveted and ultra-expensive. If geography has died, nobody bothered to tell Hitchcock County.

Urbanists may find the Hitchcock County story reassuring, but distance could be dead or dying and geography would still matter. How does one explain the skyrocketing real estate prices in and around a number of rural towns? That people want and need to work/live in close proximity doesn't speak to the Flat World thesis, nor does it comment on why a columnist who can write remotely lives in London (instead of McCall, Idaho).

If you look at the relationships between world cities, then you might conclude that distance is dying. Also, the geography of knowledge spillovers describes a very small world. You don't have to travel too far before 10 miles is no different than 10,000 miles. In this case, distance doesn't matter. Furthermore, a number of rural places are increasingly inconsequential. Places that are farther away from London (e.g. New York City) are more important than cities located in England (e.g. Southampton).

Why might a columnist who could work anywhere live in expensive London? Because this alpha world city is where distance matters least for places that are globally most important.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Flat World: Domestic Migration

While we can easily overstate the impact of economic globalization and innovations in communications, we can also overlook evidence of emerging Flat World trends. Jon Udell struggles to frame the novelty of a Creative Class flight from Fairfax, VA to Keene, NH. Likewise, an article in the Wall Street Journal mischaracterizes the gentrification of rural areas as the brave new world of Internet connectivity:

The word "gentrification" conjures up images of once-poor urban neighborhoods invaded by cappuccino bars and million-dollar condos. Now, broad swaths of rural America -- from New England to the Rocky Mountain West -- are being gussied up, too.

Affluent retirees and other high-income types have descended on these remote areas, creating new demand for amenities like interior-design stores, spas and organic markets. For many communities, it's the biggest change since the interstate highway system came barreling through in the 1960s and 1970s.

With the Internet allowing people to work from almost anywhere, the distinction between first and second homes has become blurred. Many people are buying retirement property while they're still employed. Millions of soon-to-retire baby boomers, say demographers, will propel this trend for years to come.

What places such as Keene and McCall, Idaho have in common is not so much high-speed Internet, but a high quality of life. In this respect, the Spiky World trends are overstated. The same kind of cultural amenities that the Creative Class might demand in the big city or Silicon Valley, are springing up in small towns across the United States. Face-to-face communication still matters, but these affluent nomads can get the same juices flowing in the middle of nowhere.

However, this migration is nothing new to the Interior West. The Internet may better facilitate this remote relocation, but it isn't a necessary condition. As Aspen and Vail have lost their charm, the geographically mobile are seeking new small town opportunities or more simply the next Outside Magazine dream place to live. The real story is how these exurban pioneers are dragging with them their affluent suburban lifestyles and even chic urban neighborhood sensibilities. The shock to rural areas is profound.

People still want to come together, but they don't have to do it in the big city. In fact, many would prefer a coffee shop in Bozeman to fine dining in San Francisco. Rural towns are more than big enough to host a micro-cluster of innovation. In this respect, Keene can trump proximity to Washington, DC.

Friday, January 18, 2008


TechFutures responds to my post about Chattanooga comparisons and economic development:

Thanks for the link--and for your comments. My next installment (which unfortunately has been delayed because of other commitments here) deals with exactly the kinds of differences that make "copying" another region the wrong thing to do--Chattanooga actually is geographically more similar to Pittsburgh than Cleveland, because the terrain concentrates activity in a downtown area, where we still have ample room and low-cost land that enables (and even encourages) sprawl. The differences, I think, are as important (if not more so) in informing how you can *learn* from what other regions have done and apply the lessons you learn without simply *copying* what some other place did.

I raised a caution flag about Cleveland, or any other city, learning from Chattanooga. The reply from TechFutures indicates that future posts in the series should be valuable for everyone interested in improving her or his own shrinking city. I'm looking forward to the next installment and thinking about what it might mean for Pittsburgh.

More Rust Belt Immigration

Today, there are a couple posts (here, here and here) and associated articles (here, here and here) about economic immigration to the United States. Since I'm strong advocate for public policy debate, I'm linking to a retort (published in the Youngstown Vindicator) to the champions of more H-1B visas:

Intel Chairman Craig Barrett made dire predictions in a Jan. 2 Vindicator column that the next Silicon Valley will not be in the United States due to restrictive immigration policies and that a brain drain from the United States to Europe will cause an economic Armageddon. In his hypothetical scenario, the United States would lose out in the competition for talent as the best inventors and entrepreneurs migrate to Europe.

This scaremongering is a smokescreen to hide Barrett’s desire to increase the labor supply, thereby slashing labor costs.

High-tech industries such as Intel routinely make false claims that there are shortages of qualified Americans. Anecdotal claims of shortages are touted in order to make the corporate case for increasing the number of H-1B visas. Recent studies, such as one by the Urban Institute, show the United States is creating fewer high-tech jobs than the number of qualified people who are entering the workforce.

Is there or will there be an actual shortage of talent in the United States? That's the heart of the controversy concerning H-1B and other economic entry visas. I'll leave that issue for the labor economists to sort out. Let's assume that H-1B immigrants do drive down wages and effectively displace qualified American citizens from good jobs. Is that the only effect?

We should also consider the innovation and job creation that these very immigrants may promote. Furthermore, decreasing the geographic mobility of any workers hurts labor. Captive labor fenced in by international borders is ripe for exploitation and is more vulnerable to the whims of global financial capital. The Vindicator article by Rob Sanchez is an anti-economic migrant treatise under the guise of anti-big business. Mr. Sanchez, in my view, is fundamentally anti-labor and is also guilty of scaremongering.

Cleveland Council on World Affairs Blog Release

Dear Friends:

On behalf of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs, we are inviting you to join us for two special events involving globalization and innovation experts, Mr. Vivek Wadhwa and Mr. Pete Engardio.

The Plain Dealer recently referred to Wadhwa, a native of India, technology entrepreneur and Harvard researcher, as “a technology guru seen as the rock star of the immigrant talent movement.”

Engardio is the Senior International News Editor for BusinessWeek, writing and editing stories on globalization and economic trends.

We invite you to attend two exciting events next week:

*Thursday, January 24, 2008
Immigrant & Minority Entrepreneur Networking Event,
featuring Special Guests, Vivek Wadhwa and Pete Engardio.

The Networking Event will be held as follows:

When: Thursday, January 24th from 6 – 8pm
Where: Bridges Restaurant, Q Arena
1 Center Court, Cleveland, OH 44115-4001

Cost: $20

216-781-3730 x 102

*Friday, January 25, 2008
City Club Forum Presentation, Vivek Wadhwa
Title: “Myths and Realities in the Globalization Debate: Why Current U.S. Policies Could be a Competitive Blunder”

The City Club presentation will be held as follows:

When: Friday, January 25th, 12:00 noon
Where: City Club of Cleveland
850 Euclid Ave
The City Club Building, 2nd Floor
Cleveland, OH 44114

Cost: $18 Member
$30 Non Member
$360 Corporate Table of 8
$280 Non Profit Table of 8

Reservations: 216-621-0082

Space is limited for both events, so we encourage you make reservations at your earliest convenience.

Building upon previous successful global diversity events, the Council is proud to host the Networking Event and co-sponsor the City Club event in an on-going effort to celebrate, connect and support Northeast Ohio’s tremendously talented immigrant and minority entrepreneurs.

Our region’s economic future depends on developing and attracting a diverse, globally-connected, innovative and entrepreneurial community.

The Networking Event for Immigrant & Minority Entrepreneurs and the City Club Friday Forum are being held around the time that people throughout the world will be celebrating the unparalleled contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr., his special connection to Gandhi, and the Republic Day of India.

Sponsors of the Networking Sponsors for the Networking Event include the following:

· Kauffman Foundation

· Cleveland Cavaliers

· Cleveland Foundation

· Consortium of African American Organizations (CAAO)

· Gar Foundation

· Jumpstart

· Forest City Enterprises

· BioEnterprise

· Cuyahoga County Commissioners

· University of Akron, School of Business Administration

· Richard Eastburn, Vice President, Financial Services, UBS

· Cleveland State University, International Center

· City Club of Cleveland

· Civic Innovation Lab at the Cleveland Foundation

· NEO Immigrant & Minority Business Alliance

· Asia Services in Action

· Richard T. Herman & Associates Law Firm

· On Leong Chinese Merchants Association

· Eduardo Romero

· Raj Pillai, Financial Fitness Network

Please join us for this festive Networking Event on January 24th, and the enlightening City Club presentation on January 25th.

Help us further our common goal of building an intercultural partnership around the power of entrepreneurship in a global age.

For questions, please contact the undersigned Trustees of the Council, or Mr. Mark Santo, President and CEO of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs at 216-781-3730.

Thank you!

Richard Eastburn, Trustee, Cleveland Council on World Affairs

Rose Zitiello, Trustee, Cleveland Council on World Affairs

Richard Herman, Trustee, Cleveland Council on World Affairs

* * * * * * *


Immigrant & Minority Networking Event

VIVEK WADHWA is the founder of Relativity Technologies. Wadhwa has more than 25 years experience in the software industry. Wadhwa’s Relativity Technologies was named one of the 25 “coolest” companies in the world by Fortune Magazine for its vision in helping businesses recycle legacy systems. He is a founder of the Carolinas chapter of TIE (Talent, Ideas and Entrepreneurship), a non-profit global network intended to foster entrepreneurship. . Wadhwa is a Research Fellow at Harvard University School of Law, an Executive-in Residence/Adjunct Professor for the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, a frequent contributor at BusinessWeek, and the co-author of the groundbreaking Kauffman Foundation research “America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs.” A sampling of Wadhwa’s work can be found at the following web links:
BusinessWeek Article

Pete Engardio is the Senior International News Editor for BusinessWeek. Prior to joining BusinessWeek, Engardio was a feature editor of Business Korea in Seoul In 1990, Engardio became a BusinessWeek correspondent in the Hong Kong bureau, where he covered Asian business for six years. From 1999 to 2001, he was editor of the Asian Edition. He is co-author of "Meltdown: Asia's Boom, Bust, and Beyond," published in 2000 by Prentice-Hall. Engardio is a Research Fellow at Harvard University School of Law.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tacit Knowledge Networks

Via the Creative Class Exchange blog, I discovered an article that discusses the use of prediction markets to map information exchange. While proximity is the rule, I take special interest in the exception:

Interestingly, personal relationships persist once these moves have occurred, and people tend to trade in a way correlated with that of their cube-mate from three months ago; although, reassuringly, they do not trade in a way correlated with their future cube-mate. (I say “reassuringly” because this is a useful way of testing whether our results reflect Google seating people with similar opinions near each other, rather than people near each other influencing the opinions of others.)

Most information flows tend to travel very short distances; save the relationship you have with someone who used to sit next to you. Migration works in much the same way. Available information often informs where someone will move. Tacit knowledge does not travel well (hence the micro-clustering of innovation), resulting in short distance people flows. But a trusted friend, neighbor or family member who moved all the way across the country can facilitate long distance relocation.

Think of Parochial Pittsburgh as part of an office crowded with cubicles and the value of the relationships that move all the way to the other side of the room (United States) every 3 months.

Erie Innovation

A Rust Belt blogging compatriot in Youngstown unearthed a link to the Great Lakes Industrial Technology Summit:

Welcome to the first annual Great Lakes Industrial Technology Summit (GLITS).

Formerly EXPO Erie, GLITS is a collaborative event brought to you by the Technology Council of NWPA and the Erie Engineering Societies Council.

A celebration of industry past, present and future, the two-day Summit is focused solely on technology, engineering and research and development. Experience the latest in technology advancements that will affect your industry and business, plus enjoy two days of panel discussions and a speakers series from industry leaders.

The Summit speakers will be focused on this year’s GLITS theme – Global Competition. They will address issues and bring professional experiences to a topic that is affecting each and every one of us on a business and individual basis. Visit our seminars page to see what major topics are being addressed.

You may wonder why the name change and what GLITS represents. To better reflect the shows new direction we changed the name to the Great Lakes Industrial Technology Summit, this allowed us to regionalize the identity and recognize needs of our surrounding area of Crawford, Mercer, Venango, and Warren Counties, Southeastern NY and Western Ohio.

Invoking all of the Great Lakes would seem to be stretch, but I don't know the geographic limits of GLITS ambitions. Might GLITS be interested in attending the Rust Belt Bloggers summit?

Creative TreeHouse Blog Release

Creative TreeHouse will be showing a screening of the Invisible Children's rough cut documentary this Sunday the 20th at 6pm to help inform Pittsburgh that their Spring tour will be visiting Pittsburgh this March. If you haven't seen the documentary then this will be a great opportunity to learn more about this organization and the current issue facing the people of Uganda. We are inviting everyone to come including the press in Pittsburgh to understand why it's important to support their cause and visit in Pittsburgh. The documentary is a little heavy at times but was filmed by three college students so I definitely has its lighter moments.

Time: 6:00 PM sharp
Cost: Free
Entrance: Our entrance is located in the first back alley on Meade Ave near the entrance of the Magistrate, there will be signs out.
RSVP: RSVP f you can, we'd love to know what type of a turn out we might have.

Thanks and hope to see everyone there.
Jesse Hambley
Founder of Creative TreeHouse LLC

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

IntoPittsburgh News

I've cleared out my inbox and blogged about the backlog of articles I've been bookmarking over the last few weeks. On a personal note, my second child will be born sometime in the next few weeks. I've also started teaching college level geography once again and my tenure as Commissioner Russell for Longmont Planning and Zoning starts this Wednesday night. As if all of that wasn't enough, the Rust Belt Bloggers Summit is officially now a go.

But none of the above is the big news, at least as far as IntoPittsburgh is concerned. I hope I'm not jumping the gun, but IntoPittsburgh now has a virtual home at Pittsburgh Quarterly. Right now, there isn't any fanfare save a new look for the magazine website and some additional features. I'm slated to be one of the PQ Bloggers and I'm tackling the Kivaburgh project (consider that name a placeholder). Ideally, at least from where I'm sitting, all the IntoPittsburgh initiatives will have a presence at our Pittsburgh Quarterly virtual home.

While I'll keep up the Burgh Diaspora blog right here, my energy will be shifting to the IntoPittsburgh website and managing our efforts there. I view the Pittsburgh Quarterly as a high-end alumni magazine for the region's expatriates. Doug Heuck's venture blows away the competition for re-branding Pittsburgh and I believe the IntoPittsburgh community that we are building will serve as the catalyst for our city's latest renaissance.

Pittsburgh Quarterly is the perfect venue for the Burgh Diaspora project I've been mulling over the last 2 or 3 years. Doug does have a magazine to run, so I greatly appreciate his support of IntoPittsburgh and taking the lead on our web presence. I've struggled to reach the Diaspora, most of my readers (and members of IntoPittsburgh, for that matter) living in and around Pittsburgh. My bet is that Doug can successfully attract that scattered demographic (if he already hasn't) with top-notch journalism and wonderful storytelling. If you are passionate about Pittsburgh, then I'm certain you'll get hooked on Pittsburgh Quarterly.

Shoveling Trust

Kit Hodge, CEO of the Neighbors Project, sent me an e-mail about a way to say thank you to those residents who bother to keep their sidewalk clear of snow:

Snow both adds to the charm and creates a lot of frustration in Pittsburgh. I've walked around the city after it's snowed, and I rarely looked up from the ground since it was endless patches of ice and mountains of snow. Now that it's the snow season, your readers might be interested in our new, free "Thank you for shoveling" cards, designed to encourage your neighbors to shovel the sidewalks during the winter.

It's easy to curse your neighbors when it takes you ten extra minutes to get to work in the morning because you have to wade through snow or jump over slush. We're making it easy for people to do something constructive and neighborly about keeping their block shoveled this winter. We'll send you cards, and all you have to do is drop them in the mailbox of your neighbors who shovel. A little positive reinforcement goes a long way towards making a snow-free and friendlier block. This definitely won't work for people living in larger buildings controlled by a management company but in mid- and low-rise areas with more homeowners it's a good solution to the eternal neighborhood problem of sidewalks blocked by snow.

While I don't live in Pittsburgh, most of my readers do. So, I thought I'd pass along the idea. Youngstown recently gave thanks to those people thoughtful enough to extend the courtesy after a recent snowfall. And now that I am a homeowner in a small Colorado city, I make an effort to clear the way for my neighbors who enjoy an early morning stroll.

As the geographic mobility of labor continues to increase, so will the number of strangers living down the street from you. You might notice these dynamic communities by the lack of shoveling in public passageways. Or, a neighbor who is physically unable to do the task loses the friend who always made sure the snow was removed. The Neighbors Project would seem to cleverly address the eroding trust that results from demographic turnover.

Population and Political Influence

A reader, speculating about federal political officials embracing the Rust Belt immigration initiative, sent along a link to a blog post about disappearing congressional districts:

After the 2000 Census, Illinois dropped from 20 to 19 Congressional districts, and Rep. David Phelps, a Democrat from the southern tip of Illinois, got the shaft, as his district was carved up between three different Congressional districts (the ones represented by Reps. Costello, Shimkus and our own Tim Johnson).

Politicians fighting for the life of their seats in Congress might make a good target for innovative Rust Belt programs. My assessment is that most elected officials feel helpless in the face of dehabilitating population loss. That's why we continue to get the song and dance about keeping residents from leaving the region despite the numbers pointing out the problem of weak in-migration. Furthermore, the status quo isn't bad for everyone, as the debate about Pennsylvania's Case Law makes plain.

Right now, Rust Belt politics is all about maintaining your piece of the shrinking pie. I don't see sorely needed change coming from the top unless there is an angle of patronage.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Spiritual Capital

Via a post at Opinio Juris, I read about the value of religious freedom and tolerance for economic development:

Robert Barro and Rachel McCleary of Harvard University have used the results of World Values Surveys to study the relation between religion and economic attitudes. They found that many religious beliefs concerning cooperation, government, working women, legal rules, thriftiness and the market economy are conducive to higher per-capita income and growth. Religion appears to have an effect on economic growth and development by fostering thrift, a work ethic, honesty and openness to strangers. This has lead to the notion of "spiritual capital," analogous to human capital, which focuses on knowledge and behavior stemming from transcendent concepts and ultimate concerns.

Before nationalism, religion was the primary mechanism for distance-trust. There is an economic comparative advantage for people who can use a shared religious heritage to overcome the lack of proximity. The Catholic Church is an excellent example of a religious vehicle for the global flow of financial capital, evidence of which you can find in my "4 Dead in Ohio" post.

Sharing faith can facilitate a wide variety of transactions, liberating business deals from the narrow constraints of hyper-locality as found in Bay Area economic micro-clusters. This Flat World geography might help us locate economic flows and tap into rapid growth. I'm not suggesting that Pittsburgh or the Rust Belt get religion, but recognize the opportunities in the exceptions to the rule of proximity.

4 Dead in Ohio

The murders stunned Ohio residents, but caused economic turmoil in a Mexican village:

Last month, four relatives from this village, which depends almost entirely on the money its sons and husbands send back from the United States, were brutally murdered in a sparse Sharonville apartment, just over the border from Butler County. They all worked in Mason.

The men — a pair of brothers and an uncle and his nephew — were stabbed in their hearts, most likely while they slept.

The unsolved killings shocked Ohio, but their most profound impact was felt 2,000 miles away in El Zacaton, where four families now wonder how they will survive. Two of the men left wives and young children. All were the principal breadwinners for their families. ...

... Poverty is on clear display in El Zacaton: A single stand selling bootleg CDs stands in front of a leafy plaza as elderly men sprawl in the shade of crumbling buildings. A Catholic Church, which is being renovated thanks to money sent from the United States, dominates the town's central square. Clutches of teenagers wearing University of Texas caps and Pittsburgh Steelers jackets fly by on bicycles.

These kinds of long distance global linkages confound our attempts to define a coherent and contiguous regional geography. El Zacaton is a remote corner of Steelers Nation dependent on the economic climate of Ohio. We should attempt to map this network economy and gain a better understanding of the growth opportunities active just beneath the surface of post-industrial distress. At the very least, let's expand our concept of community and recognize those people whose fate we share.

Burgh Diaspora: Philadelphia

A Diaspora sighting at a new restaurant in Philadelphia:

So it was with sense of "At last!" as much as anything else that I popped into the newly opened restaurant a few weeks ago, a romantic mural of the scarlet-cloaked daughter of Iroio (the inspiration for Abruzzi's only opera of note) striding on one wall, the bar populated - who woulda thought? - by a gaggle of high-spirited Pittsburgh expats, one of whom, the soprano RoseMarie Peraino, was easily coaxed into launching into a few sweet bars of the Puccini classic O Mio Babbino Caro.

Steelers Nation Annual To-Do List

From Jonathan Barnes at the Barnestormin blog:

I’m not happy about the Steelers loss to the Jaguars, but I am relieved. If they’d won we probably would have had to see them lose further into the playoffs, when it would’ve hurt even worse. Now that the season is behind us, I’ve been thinking of how to rebuild morale among fans of the team and among the Steelers themselves. The answer is, of course, outsourcing. We should outsource some of our Pittsburgh-ness to like-minded folks across the country.

There’s a lot of talk during football season about the Pittsburgh Steelers Nation—the widespread group of expatriate (and non-native) fans that don their Steelers-themed clothes and root for the hometown win. But once the football season ends for our team, we Pittsburghers tend to forget about our wide network of Steelers kinsmen. Similarly, those fans in San Diego, Seattle, Baltimore, and beyond tend to forget about the Steel City when the Steelers aren’t playing. Maybe it’s that aching that we feel when the Steelers don’t win the Super Bowl that keeps us from staying in closer touch. Or maybe it’s the painful nostalgia that expatriates feel when they think of being away from their homeland.

Whatever the reason for our distance from each other, we Steelers fans need to stick even closer together in the off-season than we do during the season. Those of us in the Promised Land of Pittsburgh take our hills, foods, sayings and ways for granted. But people who left, even if they left decades ago, still get a wistful look when they talk about our City of Champions. We know that oftentimes their love for the Steelers is wrapped up with their love for Pittsburgh, a place where they sometimes wish they were, but cannot be. To fight the ennui that falls like a winter freeze in the off-season, folks in the Greater Steelers Nation can do more than a few things to keep their Pittsburgh Spirit alive throughout the year:

I'll add one more item to his list: Join IntoPittsburgh.

Creative Connectivity: Youngsburgh

Jesse Hambley is getting the word out about the Invisible Children World Tour:

I hope everyone is doing well and if I'm just now meeting you, then it's nice to meet you. My name is Jesse Hambley, I'm the founder of Creative TreeHouse out here in Bellevue, PA. I'm writing in regards of the Invisible Children World Tour that will be visiting Pittsburgh area between March 6th to the 13th. I've worked with the Invisible Children in the past doing fundraisers/screenings and have been asked to try to contact some of the local organizations here in Pittsburgh for some support. The Invisible Children tour, in laymen's terms, will be traveling the country in hopes of educating the public about the situation in Uganda, raising money, and raising support for their struggle to help the children of Uganda. Creative TreeHouse has worked with Invisible Children in the past and it's a simple process to have them come into an establishment to show their documentary and talk about what they are trying to do. I just wanted to contact everyone and supply some information if you can lend some support to the Roadies while they are in town. They would love to reach anyone at theaters, venues, restaurants, campuses, etc. I hope everyone can help out this amazing organization. Please forward this to anyone that can help out or host an event. They will be touring the east coast, so please forward this to any contacts in other east coast cities.

Who are the Invisible Children?

What have they accomplished so far?

Interested in helping?
Learn More about IC -

If you are interested in hosting a screening or fundraiser this March 6th to 13th or need more information then please contact Adam Palumbo at or 1-619-631-0362.

Connecting Pittsburgh energy with a cause in Uganda is a great idea. But I see an additional opportunity. Why not enlist the like-minded in nearby Youngstown? I've noticed a number of similar creative endeavors in both cities. Youngstown and Pittsburgh are close enough to functionally collaborate. Perhaps some events will not travel well, but I do think that both places could share a substantial support network.