Monday, October 01, 2007

Steelers Nation: Charlotte

Steelers Nation is hungover today thanks to its team crashing to earth in Phoenix. This football season doesn't feel all that "special" this morning, but there is always next Sunday. While I lack the motivation after a loss, I still have Burgh Diaspora business to chronicle. I'm returning to Charlotte, where everyone is from somewhere else:

We don't have a lot of any one thing, but we've got a little bit of everything. You want a great comic-book store? We've got that. You want Ethiopian food? We've got that. You want a sports bar where Pittsburgh Steelers fans gather on Sunday? We've got that.

Some people look at Charlotte, with all this chrome and glass uptown, all these sprawling suburbs, all this relentless growth, and they decide that we are a city without a soul.

We do have a soul. Our problem -- and our great strength -- is that our soul looks different every time you look at it.

I appreciate the author's understanding of a problem and a strength as two sides of the same coin. Pittsburgh's soul is the same no matter from where and when you look at it. I think the problems with this stable identity are apparent. Pittsburgh is risk averse and the region is struggling to create jobs. The flip side of stability is stagnation.

In order to thrive, does Pittsburgh need to be more like Charlotte? The Burgh Diaspora project is an exploration of the benefits of Pittsburgh staying as is. The strong sense of identity that expatriates possess allows them to thrive in highly dynamic environments such as Charlotte. Boomtowns lack such assets. Charlotte Nation doesn't exist.

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