Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Penn Avenue Arts Initiative

PG story

See comments for a letter from Jeffrey Dorsey.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tue, 14 Dec 2004

Dear supporters of the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative. In case you missed it, the PAAI, its partners and some of the artists who live here were featured in an article in yesterday’s Post Gazette. (You can read it below and/or go to the links or pick up a copy from yesterday at your local news stand which contains the pretty pictures : ).

I just wanted to take a moment to thank Don Hammonds for his interest in writing the article and all of you who play a part in the revitalization of the Penn Ave Corridor. There are too many to be named in one article. But you know who you are. You all play such an important role, whether its fixing up your own home, participating on a committee, joining a block club, shopping on Penn Avenue- eating at one of our Ethnic restaurants, buying a building on Penn Avenue or one of our great neighborhoods or helping us spread the word to others. Thanks for your investment of time, money and sweat!

Last week I attended a Conference on New Strategies for Vacant Property and I was shocked at how much vacant land we have in Pennsylvania’s cities. This weekend, I was in Downtown Louisville, Kentucky and walking around the deserted looking beautiful homes and architecture- imaging the city in its glory days. In fact every time I go to a city- big or small, I think of what amazing places they are - what assets they have- close proximity to diverse kinds of people, beautiful architecture, and history. You can live in them car-free and get to all the things you need. Our cities are places of knowledge and beauty and ideas ripe to reinventing themselves to fit new generations. Our cities are places with beautiful parks we can enjoy, friends to raise our children kids with, if we choose to stay in them.

But as I drive between cities I can’t help but see the new homes, being built farther and farther from the city center. More and more farm land sold off to developers building cookie cutter homes one after the other. I’ve watched whole valleys disappear in Lancaster where my wife’s family lives. Over the coarse of 8 years the trails that we used to walk during the holidays have become prime real estate- BIG yards with fences. What happened to the need to be near one another. What happened to the desire for difference. What happened to the beautiful view for everyone to enjoy? What happened to tight-knit streets where everyone knows your name and you know everyone else? Just look at how houses are changing. The garages are in the front and the porches are getting smaller. (Oh how I love sitting on my front steps in the long summer nights of my wrap-around porch. Whole nights pass and I never have to plan anything. My neighbors are all out and we talk the night away!!!!)

Yet it seems everyone I talk, not from Pittsburgh, tells me about the decline of their city.

So I thought I’d stand on my imaginary, e-soap box for a minute (or five) and remind us that it is our responsibility to spread the word and bring everyone we know and make sure they have been to the city recently to visit, play, and discover all the wonderful things that are here. (Every time my out of town friends visit they are amazed at how much they fall in love with my neighborhood!) If you don’t want to live here then make sure you visit – often. Or it won’t be here anymore! Come back and help us build this City into what we want it to be! There is a neighborhood in Pittsurgh for everyone! No one group of people can do it alone. Not just artists, not just young people, not empty nesters and not Starbucks. We all in our own way have something to contribute to building a community and re-creating our great Cities.

Okay, enough of my thoughts, I am sounding like a commercial. Read the article. And to leave you with a quote from a fellow neighborhood from my neighborhood’s (Friendship’s) holiday party Friday night:

“In other cities when I meet people they don’t tell me what neighborhood they live in. They aren’t particularly proud of it or feel the need to tell me about it at all. It’s one of the things I love about being back in Pittsburgh. I love telling people I live in Friendship and why its such a great place to be.”

Thanks to everyone who supports the work that we (Community Development Corporations and other neighborhood organizations) are doing. You all make it worth coming to work each day!


Jeffrey Dorsey