Thursday, November 30, 2006

Celebrating the Burgh Diaspora: Pittsburgh Day

Scots all over the world celebrate St. Andrew's Day. Like the Irish on St. Patrick's Day, the Scottish Diaspora enjoys a spotlight during the displays of national pride. The time has come to cheer, instead of jeer, Scotland's global emigrants:

But there's something unique about Scottish identity; not just a distinctive culture but particular values were taken abroad. They are recognised everywhere, sometimes in jest but more often with respect. It's not just jokes about thrift but an image of venerating education, probity and hard work that the name conjures up. That is something to take pride in and build upon. As a global brand Scotland has its unique selling points. We would be daft to let it pass by.

Excuses are made that the timing falls between Hogmanay and the Festival - both big and important in themselves. For sure progress has been made - yesterday MSPs endorsed a Bill to make St Andrew's Day a voluntary national holiday - but much more could and should be done. While Dublin is at the epicentre for Ireland and the Irish around the world on St Patrick's Day, the same cannot be said about Edinburgh on St Andrew's Day.

Yet it's a huge opportunity not just to promote Scotland but the Capital around the world. It's our day and our chance to parade on the global stage. Truly celebrating St Andrew's Day offers an opening to bring our people together wherever they may be and allow our country and identity to be portrayed to countless millions around the world. As well as the bonding with our kinfolk of old, there's a chance to promote a modern, vibrant Scotland to visit and invest in; with Edinburgh at the heart of it.

I think Pittsburgh has a global brand worth promoting, something not lost on CMU or UPMC. Scotland is making a concerted effort to reach out to its diaspora, a development model Pittsburgh should emulate.

Pittsburgh intends to celebrate its 250th birthday in November of 2008. The City should pick a day for Pittsburghers around the world to reconnect with their heritage on an annual basis. Boston is synonymous with Patriots' Day, a state and municipal government holiday with the Boston Marathon as the centerpiece.

As long as there isn't an effort already in place, let this post serve as the launch of a "Pittsburgh Day" campaign.

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