Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chris Barzak World Domination Day

Today, Youngstown's own Chris Barzak debuts his first novel, One for Sorrow. I've never met Mr. Barzak and he didn't contact me looking for a plug. The connectivity map, just a couple degrees of separation, is as follows:

  1. I blog about the Shrinking City That Could.
  2. Once Youngstown appears on the Burgh Diaspora radar screen, I Will Shout Youngstown picks up the ramblings of this blog.
  3. The of author of I Will Shout Youngstown is part of the burgeoning creative community reinventing their city.
  4. Brooke Slanina, one of the people who make the Stage @ the Oakland a happening venue for performance artists of all kinds, contacts me (name dropping the author of I Will Shout Youngstown) to ask if I will participate in Chris Barzak World Domination Day.

My participation in Mr. Barzak's Day is another example of the Manifesto for a New Pittsburgh in action. I'm helping to support my blog neighborhood while promoting Pittsburgh's kindred spirit in Youngstown.

I did insist that Ms. Slanina help me invoke some of the themes of this blog:

[T]he arts have always been a huuuge (sic) part of Youngstown, and as we become the landmark for "shrinking cities" we have to figure out new ways to attract fresh blood. It's not going to be land expansion or suburban sprawl -- but it could easily be the cheap cost of living and incredible pool of artists who exist here. As Chris puts it, he could live in NYC and pay $1500 in rent, waiting tables and serving coffee to scrape by and barely have time to write...or he could live here, teach at a University, and have hours to write if he likes, and still save money. And, because we are so close to NYC, it's not impossible to get there in a couple of hours and do business.

Youngstown's proximity to the creative center of New York City is an interesting selling point. I'm sure there are Youngstown expatriates in NYC who can help deepen the relationship between the two cities. Just as we take on multiple career identities at the same time, I figure we will increasingly co-locate. A diaspora network is an efficacious way to successfully adopt this lifestyle.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pittsburgh Through Aussie Eyes

A retired Aussie football (not soccer) player is trying to catch on with an American football team as a punter for the Philadelphia Eagles. The author of the article thinks last night's game in Pittsburgh is an appropriate place for Saverio Rocca's career rebirth:

For someone seeking reinvention as Rocca is, Pittsburgh can be an inspiring place. In the mid-20th century, when it was one of the most heavily industrialised cities in the US, the smog was so bad here that street lights stayed on all day and businessmen had to change shirts at lunch because of the soot. One writer called the place "Hell with the Lid Off".

Today, however, Pittsburgh is an urban oasis regarded as one of America's most liveable cities. The jobs once provided by steel mills, coal mines and engine shops are now found in smart industries such as robotics and software manufacturing, and at institutions of higher education and medical research.

But one thing that hasn't changed in Pittsburgh is the obsession with football. The Steelers are one of the most storied franchises in the NFL and their fans are fanatics. Yesterday was only a practice game but there were 58,000 through the gates.

For whatever reason, Pittsburgh has a better image internationally than domestically.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

East Coast Connected

Today, Nova Scotia is in the diaspora news. Dartmouth-born/Toronto-resident Chris Crowell is the president of East Coast Connected, a non-profit that seeks to promote the connectivity between world city Toronto and Atlantic Canada:

Atlantic Canadians who have moved away still represent a valuable resource to the Atlantic Provinces. Instead of brain drain, East Coast Connected (ECC) will promote brain circulation - allowing both Atlantic Canada and Toronto to benefit from the best of what each region has to offer through the free flow of capital, knowledge and creativity.

East Coast Connected's suggested geography brings together the Atlantic Provinces in terms of their relationship with Toronto, somewhat redefining the region. ECC is a fine example of the Manifesto for a New Pittsburgh in action and demonstrates the universality of our framework.

The differences between our respective projects concern the design of the network. The Burgh Diaspora project imagines Pittsburgh as a hub with spokes radiating out in all directions to the locations of expatriates. ECC's model places the hub of Atlantic Canada in Toronto, Ontario (skipping right over French Canada in the process).

Of course, Network Pittsburgh is still an open question. We could align with other shrinking cities or form a larger contiguous region that might include Eastern Ohio, Northern West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, and Western New York. Looking at the GlobalErie initiative, might a relationship with the DC region serve to bring coherence to the aforementioned area?

To date, the energy of Global Connect: Pittsburgh is decidedly California-centric. CMU is linking up with Silicon Valley and Carl Kurlander is developing a bit of Hollywood back in the Burgh. Sheer numbers suggest Washington, DC as a third spoke and Creative New York may demand a fourth. Charlotte is Pittsburgh's toehold in the New South and Tampa-St. Pete is where Yinzers like to retire. Six places are likely too ambitious for starters, but those are the main Burgh Diaspora centers that come to my mind.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Subnational Diasporas

In my last post, I was a bit sloppy with my use of terminology. An urban diaspora could describe a city's surrounding suburbs and exurbs, which is what regionalism advocates are mapping. When I reference the "Burgh Diaspora" or even the "Erie Diaspora", I invoke all the regionally displaced who identify with some hub city as their hometown.

For example, someone born and raised in Butler but now living in the Bay Area might answer "Pittsburgh" when asked about where they grew up. When two people "from Pittsburgh" get together the geography is more precise, perhaps at the scale of school district or neighborhood.

One of the challenges of regional politics is figuring out where to draw the border. Where does one region end and another begin? There are scientific approaches to answering this question and I think a diaspora population would be a useful group to survey on that count. The core region is the homeland that identifies with Pittsburgh when speaking with non-natives. Those who might say, “I’m from Morgantown, near Pittsburgh”, define the periphery.

What might Youngstown expatriates say? Would they reference Cleveland or Pittsburgh when trying to help non-natives understand the location of their hometown? I suspect that they would use both cities.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Urban Diasporas

Imagine my excitement reading the AntiRust blog this morning and discovering that my hometown of Erie has launched a diaspora project of its own. Well, Erie itself didn't hatch the initiative. An Erie expatriate living in the Washington, DC area, Peter Panepento, is the brainchild of an attempt to leverage the brain drain in Northwestern Pennsylvania:

Many of Erie’s best and brightest are making names for themselves in other cities across the country and around the globe. Their hometown, meanwhile, is struggling to keep up with changing times.

It shouldn’t have to be this way.

Erie needs new perspectives and ideas to build its future.

So why not turn to those of us who have gone elsewhere and can offer new perspectives on how to bring opportunity to their hometown?

Mr. Panepento's approach is inspiring. His background in journalism informs a website that succeeds in engaging the community and provides a wealth of information for anyone interested in the plight of Erie. Honestly, I wish I were as ambitious as Mr. Panepento when I decided to start blogging about the Burgh Diaspora.

By early September, I believe the Global Connect Pittsburgh group will be able to announce a similar umbrella website to that of GlobalErie. What I hope develops is a network of urban diaspora projects, which I view as a novel geographic perspective along the lines of the current infatuation with regionalism. I greatly appreciate Mr. Panepento's vision and his willingness to embrace geographic labor mobility.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Regionless Pittsburgh

Pop City recently did a story on Pennsylvania state representative Chelsa Wagner. Once again, Pittsburgh's small scale parochialism comes to the fore:

Leading your typical a-camel-is-a-horse-designed-by-committee district, Wagner’s 22nd combines such disparate universes as Overbrook, Carrick, Brookline, Beechview, Mt. Washington, Baldwin, Whitehall, Sheraden, Esplen, even Manchester. Indeed, Wagner has her own version of the thousand warring duchies into which the region seems to be divided, the seemingly impassable divides – “disconnects” in the current argot -- between hilltops and hollows.

Ms. Wagner is a politician worth watching. She is overtly taking on Pittsburgh's most difficult policy problem and engaging in regional speak that might indicate a willingness to listen to the Burgh Diaspora:

“The future of policy-making must transcend increasingly inconsequential governmental boundary lines. So the sooner we embrace regional planning, the sooner Pittsburgh will chart its course as an undisputed leader in a changing economy.” To that end, she adds, “I am hugely supportive of legislation that encourages cooperation beyond community borders – both within and beyond the city.”

Ms. Wagner will need allies to promote a regional agenda. At the very least, she is talking across the traditional borders and Network Pittsburgh has another advocate. The policy counter-narrative continues to gather steam.

Project Olympus Show and Tell

Project Olympus will be holding our 2nd Show and Tell, Sept 25, 3:30-5pm in the Collaborative Innovation Center lecture hall with a reception immediately following at Google Pgh.

Information about registration & directions (and about other Olympus events) can be found on our Events page:

For those of you who are not yet too familiar with Olympus... in a nutshell: Project Olympus is a new initiative designed to create a climate/culture and community that will enable talent and ideas to grow in the region. Please do explore our website:

Our Inaugural Show and Tell attracted a broad swath of folks from the region's innovation investment community --and a lot of buzz. See:
The program and presentation slides can be downloaded from the Olympus Events page.

We have another fun and stimulating program in store, chock full of exciting talent and ideas, showcasing both Olympus and Community projects in progress:

-Luis von Ahn and Matt Humphrey will give brief updates on their projects (Matt's team was selected to participate in the Y-Combinator program this summer and Luis has been named one of this year's top 35 innovators under the age of 35 by Technology Review:

We'll then hear short reports from 2 innovative gaming projects:
-Betty Cheng and Ulas Bardak (SCS Phd students) inventors of Mindkin, a social networking game designed to connect people with kindred interests, will report on its use during Carnegie Mellon's orientation program for incoming students.
-Eric Brown and Asi Burak (ETC graduates) of ImpactGames
--and PeaceMaker fame--
will talk about "Play the News," their new interactive experience that explores social and political issues affecting the world today.

In a Focus on Computational Biology:
-Bob Murphy will give an overview of the newly inaugurated Lane Center for Computational Biology, and
-Roni Rosenfeld will talk about Project GATTACA (vaccine design in the computer lab).

Finally, PGH Connects, our feature to highlight people/groups with like-minded goals, will present a short preview of Carl Kurlanders' upcoming film "A Tale of Two Cities" (Pgh and Hollywood). See:

City Wide Talent Search

Articulate; Pittsburgh Creative Network is conducting a “city wide talent search” for artists and artisans living in the Pittsburgh area. FREE MEMBERSHIPS are available to sell your artwork online. JOIN Articulate and upload 3 images for sale for free.

STUDENT MEMBERSHIPS are $3.00 per/month, upload 15 images.

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Great exposure locally & globally. Articulate is generating over 10,000 unique visits per month worldwide. Market your art, NOW. Writers & exhibition reviewers are also needed. Only Southwestern Pennsylvania artists accepted!!!

To Join: www.art-iculate.org

Contact: anita@art-iculate.org

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What Frontier Landscapes Lack

I'll add another quick post before I hit the road for a week. One of Pittsburgh's charms, and challenges, is the urban landscape. The shiny new cities in the Sun Belt may look clean and even inviting, but they lack the rich character of the Burgh:

Andrew Moss of Moss Architects has something old and something new in the works in East Liberty. With Rob Pfaffmann, he is designing prototypes for East Liberty Development Inc. to build in-fill houses. He also has a 90-year-old ghost to resurrect at Whitfield Street on Penn. It's a two-story rectangle that used to house a showroom for cars.

"It's fun to do something new," he said, "but it's more interesting to recreate an existing building, to be part of the evolution of an old building.

"One reason I came back from Denver was the architectural heritage and building stock here," he said. "Pittsburgh is rich with it, and there's more money going into it now than in the last 50 years."

I didn't expect to find a Diaspora tale in that article, but there's another boomerang migrant.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Pittsburgh Indian-American in Minneapolis

Why is Minneapolis better than Pittsburgh? Just ask this Yinzer:

The presence of successful Indians, as professionals, academics, entrepreneurs and now as highly valued IT whizkids, in the U.S. has undoubtedly given a boost to Bollywood’s high visibility. A Pittsburgh resident told me in envious tones that cable TV at the hotel she had stayed in Minneapolis had 10 Hindi films on demand! An au pair from Peru helping an Indian family with small kids knows of Amitabh Bachchan and can hum a few catchy songs.

Does she know about Bollyburgh?

Venture Community Utah

While doing some research, I stumbled upon an article in Connect Magazine that discusses the Utah Diaspora as an asset:

[W]hile we lack a single Brigham Young-type visionary to steer existing resources, the state is full of powerhouse dynamos no less enthusiastic than "Brother Brigham" in fostering networking organizations and systems to funnel talent to fit needs and interests around the state. We can also do more to actively promote the early return of Utah natives that receive their education/work experience outside the state.

In other words, Utah needs a "build" rather than "buy" vision. It seems we spend too much time trying to "buy" outside talent, which is invariably more expensive and not necessarily more productive. We should encourage the return of Utah's talented diaspora, but we should also recognize that the most likely candidates for return are young professionals. The good news is that this demographic increasingly yearns to move back in order to give back to Utah to make it a significant force in the U.S. economy.

Now I understand why the Burgh Diaspora project resonates so well with Utah entrepreneurs. There seems to be a unique quality to the Utah Diaspora, but I'd have to see the results of the networking efforts. Looks like I can add some more research to the growing queue.

Love Letter to Pittsburgh

I know Pittsburghers love praise. An expatriate writing for the Baltimore Sun heaps it on:

My hometown, once a gritty, grimy, blue-collar steel town, is now the darling of the travel writers. They have all discovered Pittsburgh's glittering reinvention as a banking and medical hub, with the shiny new skyscrapers to prove it.

The time away has made the heart grow fonder and I'm sure there are plenty of ex-Yinzers who have a similar feeling:

On my way home, I called my husband and told him that it might have been a mistake to leave all those years ago when we thought the city was dying.

"I could have told you that," he said.

Come on home.

Location-Neutral Migrants

The geography of knowledge economy nomads is emerging. Small towns in the Interior West are booming with "new urban refugees." People with companies or occupations that cultivate primarily virtual business relationships are fleeing the big city and remaking the rural West. Among the attractions are great weather, beautiful views, ample recreation, no commuting, and knowing your neighbors.

Location-neutral migrants do not require a lot of face-to-face interaction to do their work and they don't relocate in order to create a job opportunity. They are pioneers of a dispersed business model that could increase the geographic mobility of American labor. Pittsburgh isn't going to become the next Steamboat Springs, but the second generation of labor nomads could take advantage of the region's relatively inexpensive real estate.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Migration Matters Pittsburgh

If you are skeptical of my amateurish musings about migration, check out Chris Briem's article in the Sunday Post-Gazette. Mr. Briem is Pittsburgh's voice of reason for discussing the demographic issues the region faces. I also appreciate how Mr. Briem makes data available for a more informed public debate. Pittsburgh Today is embarking on a similar effort and hopefully more citizens will come forward with fresh ideas.

Mr. Briem and Pittsburgh Today provide a snapshot of the region, along with trends that are useful for comparison. Mr. Briem's main point is that the current anxiety about out-migration is unwarranted. The balance of migration is better than it was 20 or 30 years ago and the out-migration isn't out of line with other regions. In-migration is sorely lacking, as Mike Madison notes in his coverage of the Post-Gazette's story about international migrants coming to Pittsburgh.

This tale of the migration tape isn't news to anyone reading this blog (or Chris Briem's blog, for that matter). What I am endeavoring to do is point out opportunity, which starts with migration patterns that are unusual. Mr. Briem covers what we should expect:

It was well over a century ago that British economist Edward Ravenstein noted that most migrations were short distances, with proportionally fewer people moving longer distances. That observation could explain much the pattern of migration from Pittsburgh today.

Many are surprised to learn that our largest competitors for people are not concentrated in the fastest growing regions, but actually Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C.

Proximity is a key variable in modeling Pittsburgh's migration. Where are the exceptions? We should also try to control for population figuring that larger cities can more easily send people Pittsburgh's way. For example, Denver and Colorado Springs are roughly the same [long] distance from Pittsburgh. While Denver has more people than Colorado Springs, the Springs send what looks to be about double the migrants to Pittsburgh than come from Denver. In fact, little Pueblo sends about the same number of migrants to Pittsburgh as does Denver.

How can we account for these anomalies? Why is Pittsburgh so much more attractive to people living in the Colorado Springs region than those living in the Denver region? You solve that mystery and you might crack the code for increasing Pittsburgh's in-migration.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ageless Pittsburgh

Interesting post over at CEOs for Cities blog about catering to the Boomers demographic. Co-author of Generation Ageless, Walker Smith, comments on how cities might take advantage of untapped geriatric energy and ambition:

The biggest impact might be to invest in infrastructure that makes is possible for Boomers to live independently -- mass transit; easy access to services; networks and communities; activities and entertainment. At the same time, urban leaders must remember that Boomers have highly developed tastes, so they will want these basic services delivered with a luxury look and feel.

Demographic bets are risky, but Pittsburgh would do well to diversify its target markets for encouraging regional growth.

Not-So-International Pittsburgh

From the better-late-than-never file, University of Pittsburgh finally figured out that welcoming international students at the airport might be a good idea. Actually, I'm not shocked to read that story in today's Post-Gazette. Carnegie Mellon University still hasn't formalized the practice, despite (perhaps a result of) large numbers arriving each year. This is another fine example of Pittsburgh's navel gazing and the obsession with those who might leave.

I'm sure most students manage just fine on their own and wouldn't go home because the welcome wagon wasn't present. But a warm reception might help the students feel appreciated and more likely to stay after graduation. There is nothing but upside to rolling out the red carpet to newcomers.

Does GlobalPittsburgh have an information booth at the airport for international arrivals? This is what I mean when I discuss infrastructure for the mobile class. Pittsburgh's orientation is all wrong for the knowledge economy, with too much focus on reducing geographic mobility while ignoring opportunities for connectivity.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Unique Pittsburgh: Yinzburgh Nation

The story behind Pittsburghese goes a long way to demonstrating the uniqueness of the Burgh Diaspora. Barbara Johnstone and Dan Baumgardt argue that Pittsburgh expatriates have fueled the nostalgic discourse about Pittsburghese as a distinct "dialect" which sets Pittsburghers apart from other Americans. Furthermore, Pittsburgh's location plays into the Diaspora's identity hierarchy:

Pittsburgh is in southwestern Pennsylvania, on the western edge of what Pittsburghers (along with most other Americans) think of as the Northeast, but across the Allegheny Mountains from the East Coast. Partly because of the city's historical geographic isolation from eastern Pennsylvania and other large eastern cities, along with perceived differences between Pittsburghers and people from nearby Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia, Pittsburghers tend to identify with the city rather than with the state or the region. This helps account for their belief that the local vernacular dialect is unique to Pittsburgh or to the immediate area.

The two factors that inform Pittsburgh as a place are the relative geographic isolation and the city's position at a crossroads of regional cultures. Consider this map of major dialect regions in the United States. Pittsburgh doesn't fall within any of the major dialect regions, showing characteristics of 4 or 5 neighboring areas: North, Midland, South, Mid-Atlantic, and New England. Pittsburghese is a creole of major regional dialects with linguistic artifacts from a number of American sub-cultures.

Perhaps most compelling is Dr. Johnstone's thesis that Pittsburghese is partly the imaginings of the Burgh Diaspora. This myth making reminds me of Benedict Anderson's book Imagined Communities:

In an anthropological spirit, then, I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community - and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.

It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion... In fact, all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined. Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined.

Pittsburghese, the Steelers and Pittsburgh style sandwiches form the image of Yinzburgh Nation's communion. I suppose you could accuse Dr. Johnstone and this blog of romanticizing the Burgh Diaspora, but I think there is some solid foundation for claiming uniqueness. And thus ends my answer to Bill Toland's challenge.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Unique Pittsburgh: Industrial Archipelago

How did Pittsburgh end up with such fragmented political landscape? An article in the Journal of Historical Geography (27, 1), details the growth pattern of metropolitan Pittsburgh from 1870 to 1920. Concerning the explosion of political entities, that served the interests of industrial barons:

Pittsburgh had long been a centre for the craft union movement and experienced years of contentious labour relations. Some owners wished to remove their plants and workers from this caldron of labour politics by relocating to isolated communities where they could exercise more control. After a bitter strike in 1893, the Apollo Iron and Steel Company relocated to a farm site across the Kiskiminetas River from its cramped Apollo works. Here, the Pittsburgh-owned company built a modern works that took advantage of the greater available space, but management also wanted to stabilize the labour force through the construction of Vandergrift, a model industrial town designed by Frederick Law Olmsted’s well-known architectural firm. With an attractive plan and modern infrastructure, company president George McMurtry hoped to encourage workers to become homeowners and turn their backs on the unions that had beleaguered the original works across the river. By 1920, more than 12 000 people resided in the industrial communities of the Vandergrift area.

The physical geography of the region provided ample sites of isolation and the growth of Pittsburgh was more akin to a network than the typical pattern of outward sprawl. Towns became associated with a specific company and industry. Furthermore, the industrial process became increasingly dispersed. Rail and river links allowed for an awesome amount of geographic diversification, which in turn served up to ownership captive labor markets prime for exploitation.

Industry was mobile, at least within the region, while labor was stuck. What was so impressive about the pattern of development was the distribution of Pittsburgh's population in so many distinct communities. Pittsburgh's population was shifting to "industrial towns" within Allegheny County in much larger numbers than to residential suburbs. The resulting geography confounded attempts to define the boundaries of metropolitan Pittsburgh:

The spatially extensive and complexly patterned geography of the Pittsburgh industrial district led to confusion among the Pittsburgh Survey field workers, local politicians, and journalists as to what actually constituted the metropolitan region. Were the many communities not contiguous with Pittsburgh and its adjacent urbanized areas part of the metropolitan region?

That confusion is captured in Pittsburgh's current political geography, which is an artifact of the communal isolation that is the hallmark of the distinct regional culture. Also remarkable is the city's connectivity with the surrounding industrial towns. The regional economy was tightly knitted together yet restricted the geographic mobility of labor.

Next up, I'll look at Pittsburgh's isolation from the rest of the United States and the development of Pittsburghese.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Unique Pittsburgh: Political Balkanization

What's so special about the Burgh Diaspora? At this stage of the game, I don't have much more than speculation. I do know that whatever informs the place we know as Pittsburgh, informs the characteristics of its Diaspora. I figure that the geography of Pittsburgh is what makes Steelers Nation so strong, and by extension, the Burgh Diaspora.

The political economic landscape is what sets Pittsburgh apart from other American cities. Pittsburgh's prolific and fragmented political geography is remarkable:

If you like government, the Pittsburgh Region is the place to be. We have over 1,000 separate governmental entities in the 10-county region: 10 counties, 286 cities and boroughs, 262 townships, 126 school districts, and 389 “special districts,” i.e., water and sewer authorities, airport authorities, etc.

Over 900 of these governmental units are in the 7-county metropolitan statistical area (MSA). That’s the 5th largest number of governments among the 40 biggest metropolitan areas in the country. On a per capita basis, we’re #1, with more governments per person than any other major region.

While archaic Pennsylvania state laws keep consolidation at bay, Philadelphia is still well behind Pittsburgh when counting governmental entities in a region. The Pittsburgh region is uniquely Balkanized. That's a significant barrier to policy and hurts Pittsburgh's economic competitiveness.

This geographic liability was once an asset and its legacy may be part of what inspires the Burgh Diaspora. Tomorrow, I'll investigate why the region has this strange political geography and how it unleased an industrial Leviathan.

Art 2.0

What: Doughnuts and Art 2.0 (DNA 2.0)

Where: Creative TreeHouse, 517 Lincoln Ave., 2nd floor, Bellevue, PA 15202

When: Sat. August 25th starting at 6pm

Cost: $2 cover, 18+ only, free doughnuts and coffee, BYOB

Punk Rock Art Show “Doughnuts and Art” Returns To Creative TreeHouse

Bellevue, PA, August 7th, 2007 — On August 25th, Doughnuts and Art returns to Creative TreeHouse, 517 Lincoln Ave., 2nd floor in Bellevue. DNA 2.0” will be a punk rock art show featuring local artists, local bands, and, yes, free doughnuts. Art and music that go to extremes will be showcased, so no one under 18 will be admitted. The gallery show will begin at 6pm and will be accompanied by live bands including Doughnuts in November as well as deejays Adammm vs. Sasquatch. Cover is $2 and includes free doughnuts and coffee. Although alcohol will not be sold at the event, attendees are welcome to B.Y.O.B. anything they want, including alcoholic beverages. For more information, go to www.doughnutsandart.com.

The list of artists whose work will be shown currently includes Matt Gondek, Jason Mosley, Jeremy Shank, Debris Magazine, John Bodnar, Ruth Allen, Jeremy, Rick Byerly, Marty S., and Rob Larson. Artists interested in being part of the show should e-mail gondek@mattgondek.com or jmosley@mrbaconpants.com. Music will be provided by local bands Pfunkt, Ape Fight!, Adam Rauf and Doughnuts in November, and deejays Adammm vs. Sasquatch will finish off the night, spinning crunk, indie, and electronica into the wee hours.

Creative TreeHouse was founded to help local artists of all disciplines grow through workshops, collaboration and frequent public viewings as well as to give them a means of offering their artistic services to local individuals and businesses. It has quickly established itself as one of the premiere venues for local artists to show and sell their work. Past events have been highlighted in such publications as the Tribune-Review, the Post-Gazette, Pop City, Pittsburgh Dish, Digging Pitt, and I Heart Pgh. Go to www.CreativeTreeHousePgh.com or become their myspace friend at www.myspace.com/CreativeTreeHouse for further details on membership and upcoming events.

For additional information, Contact:

Jason Mosley

Creative TreeHouse

517 Lincoln Ave., 2nd floor

Bellevue, PA 15202




Punk Rock Art Show “Doughnuts and Art” Returns To Creative TreeHouse

Creative TreeHouse LLC was created and is owned by Jesse Hambley, a 23 year-old independent photographer, designer and video editor. It is operated by a group of volunteers including Andy Rubacky, Josh Sager, John Bodnar, Rachel Arnold, and many more. They can be contacted at info@CreativeTreeHousePgh.com.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Brain Exchange Pittsburgh

Brain drain is NOT the exodus of human capital from a region. While Richard Florida's book titled Flight of the Creative Class might indicate a preoccupation with why people leave (known in migration scholarship as "push" factors), Dr. Florida's blog is about where talent is headed ("pull" factors). Regardless, a number of smart people informing public policy are focused on reducing push in their region:

We create the matrix of opportunity for business here - the new infrastructure for growth - by investing in strengthening the programs and number of graduates of our institutions of higher education. Government's role and need for investments here is no longer debatable: now we must decide the best strategies to enroll and graduate more students, retain them in our state and reverse the brain drain.

Typically, the outflow of human capital is not the problem. The issue of concern is the in-migration of talent. Brain drain is the net loss of human capital, not the out-migration of college graduates. If the in-migration is a trickle, the necessary stemming of the out-migration tide to stop brain drain is impractical.

Fair enough, but what kind of policy would increase Pittsburgh's pull? One idea I'm mulling over is figuring out where most of Pittsburgh's talent is going. Our region should target the region where CMU and Pitt graduates are heading in large numbers. Instead of looking at local universities for employees, I recommend that Pittsburgh enterprise seek out Stanford or Berkeley brains.

What would it take to attract the talent in this labor pool? That's a policy worth pursuing.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Job for Border Guard Bob

If you are itching for another round of brain drain debate, head directly to Pittsblog. I'm frying other fish today. I wish that the Globalization and World Cities network sponsored a blog. The GaWC is trying to understand the relationship between world cities compared to the relationship of a world city to its nation-state host. The Economist newspaper has picked up on this theme, exploring the rising power and ambitions of cities in the arena of national and global politics. The latest concerns urban policy for international migration:

As the federal government has proved itself incapable of formulating an immigration policy, local governments are stepping in as they did on health care and the environment. New Haven, home to Yale University, is already considered a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. It offers help in filing federal taxes, and it has ordered its police not to inquire about immigrants' status. Last week it became the first city to issue its own ID card. All 125,000 residents may have one: legal and illegal, children as well as adults.

Could Pittsburgh invoke a similar policy and at least appear more immigrant friendly? Well, a start would be a better valuation of its Indian community. Furthermore, Pittsburgh should distance itself from Altoona and Hazelton. While establishing itself as a Mecca for H-1B visa applicants is beyond Pittsburgh's control, the New Haven example suggests the city and region could do something.

Thanks to the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, an Irishman had nothing but nice things to say about our city. There is definitely some infrastructure already in place that could help promote international migration to Pittsburgh, as well as foster deeper connections with other world cities. Let's see if any of candidates for mayor are bold enough to embrace a larger foreign presence.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Pittsburgh as Nation-State

I'm still stewing about Senator Casey's lack of knowledge about the Indian community in Pittsburgh. What is worse is that, as I far as I can tell, the local print media has overlooked the story. Was there any coverage of Casey's visit to Pittsburgh?

Returning to the theme of teasing out what is unique about Pittsburgh, I stumbled upon a blog post that argues Why Being From Pittsburgh is Like Being an Immigrant. The post author, Pittsburgh native Pat Stack (who now lives in the DC area), covers the usual suspects:

  1. Large and identifiable diaspora
  2. Distinctive culture (e.g. cuisine and language)
  3. Powerful connection with other natives when meeting beyond the pale
  4. Strong, but impractical desire to return

Plenty cities can lay claim to certain foods. Nostalgic musings between hometown expatriates are common. But thanks to Steelers Nation, no other city comes close when you consider the visibility of an urban diaspora. I'm curious if something similar develops among Saints fans scattered around the country thanks to Hurricane Katrina.

At the scale of individual states, Californication stands tall. Pennsylvania made a significant impact on the American cultural landscape. Texas enjoys considerable influence, partly thanks to the Bush dynasty. But I don't see another city that can measure up to Pittsburgh in terms of approximating the immigrant experience.