Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Pittsburgh I Desire

Lest anyone misunderstand my previous post as a plan to drain Pittsburgh of all its talent, I continue to promote local success stories and highlight the creative energy feeding the vitality of the city. Something to Be Desired (STBD) understands the value of local connections and global support:

Expatriate Pittsburghers Seek Us Out.

Actually, they don't know they're seeking us specifically. But Pittsburgh is the kind of town that its expatriates eventually realize they're proud to be from -- the history, the tradition, the Steelers -- and they start looking for news and reminders of their hometown online.

Then they find us.

Second only to the "cool in Pittsburgh" comment above is the amount of feedback we get from people who thank us for giving them a visual reminder of the city they (sometimes only now) realize they love and miss. If shots of Primanti Brothers, Mount Washington and legions of pigeons help soothe the homesick heart of a Texas or Washington transplant, so much the better.

One can be a Burgh booster while servicing the needs of expatriates. As a shared cultural artifact (like the Pittsburgh Steelers), STBD's "webcom" helps to keep the Diaspora connected to the region. STBD also appeals to the right audience, other creative types and innovators who could be part of an impressive network that promotes economic development in Pittsburgh. Along the way, non-Pittsburghers may find out just how cool the Burgh really is.

Not only do I think that Pittsburgh doesn't do enough to celebrate its successful alumni who have left the region, many seem to overlook all the wonderful things going on in their own backyard. There are too many cynics and too many people overly sensitive to anything negative uttered about their hometown. The icon of this unhealthy anxiety is Border Guard Bob. Pittsburgh should be confident enough to help people relocate to wherever they might find the most success. In doing so, Pittsburgh will become an important destination for those who harbor great career ambitions and are looking for a place that will provide some advantage.


H.O. Blues said...

As an ex-patriot "near" Pittsburgher (ranging from northern WV, to central OH, and western PA) I stumbled onto STBD a while back and, although I am not exactly in their market wheelhouse, I appreciate the webcom, especially for it's 'Burgh flavor.
The diaspora needs these reminders. The more they hit the youthful, artistic crowd, the better. Thanks for this blog, too, I plan to relocate to Pittsburgh when I retire in a few years.

Brendan Crain said...

One of the things that has always fascinated me about the Pittsburgh political machine (and convinced me that political change is a requirement if the region is ever to re-enter the top tier of American cities as I genuinely believe that it can) is the way in which locals view the demographic problem as "our young people are leaving."

I love Milwaukee, but after 21 years there I was done. It was time for a change. And this sentiment is hardly unique among college grads. Young people will leave. The challenge is to be a place that young people from *other* cities and countries are going to want to move to. If you continue to try to prevent an inevitablility, you're going to continue to bleed people. Pittsburgh needs to learn not only how to embrace, but how to actively attract immigrants.

So basically, what I'm saying with all of this is that I agree, wholeheartedly, that a city with such a large, diverse diasporic population should turn its "lost" young people into an asset -- make them into ambassadors. Give them something to boast about, and word will get around. The more people we have out there evnangelizing the greatness of the Burgh, the sooner we'll start seeing that all-important influx of people.

Here I go again, talking like I actually live in the Pitt...