Monday, December 01, 2008

Braddock Diaspora

Null Space ponders the differences between the United States and the rest of the "developed world" in handling economic collapse. In most countries, communities are not allowed to fail and then scavenged as Braddock has suffered. The Braddock story reminds me of China's development strategy: Build new cities instead of revitalizing established urban areas. Seeing this report about Youngstown made me reconsider my stance on whether or not we should leave some neighborhoods for dead, engaging in urban triage. I'm torn.

I'm not ready to give up on Braddock and I still think that such urban frontiers harbor unique opportunities:

The sixth DevHouse Pittsburgh will be held on Thursday, December 4, at the Braddock Carnegie Library from 6 p.m. to midnight. Keeping with their tradition of cool venues, the Carnegie Library in Braddock has the claim to fame that it’s the first library built in America by Pittsburgh entrepreneur-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Now they’re bridging the gap from the region’s historical roots to our rebirth as a hotbed for innovation by hosting events like DevHouse.

Braddock is definitely Rust Belt Chic. Perhaps I'm too detached from the devastation there to make meaningful comments, but my early Sunday morning walking tour of Braddock reminded me of the potential I see in Youngstown. And I haven't forgotten how impressed some of the Rust Belt Bloggers from Youngstown were when seeing what Erie has to offer. I also keep hearing wonderful things about Akron.

I'm in love with shrinking cities and I'm drawn to difficult problems. I can't champion all the Braddocks throughout the Rust Belt. However, not all blighted neighborhoods are equal. Most will be abandoned for more promising areas still at the tipping point. Braddock is different thanks to its mayor. It is worthy of investment. Go to DevHouse VI and see for yourself.

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