The folks that are moving downtown won't save this city.
The boosters won't save this city. Nor the region.
For starters, all the seniors around here are NOT having babies. They are growing older and departing. And, I don't want you to think that they're going to Phoenix. I dare say that more people are leaving Allegheny County to reside in Heaven than anywhere else. And that is a long spell beyond Moon.
People vote with their feet. This is a core concept that we all need to understand. When things don't square, and things are not fair, not just, not with balance -- it doesn't smell right. People notice. Practices and policies have a slanted tint. The earth we walk on often seems to have been undermined. Things crumble quickly for unknown reasons or justifications. Corruption is just below the surface.
This is unsettling. This is what drives people away.
Corruption. Goofy relationships. Back-room dealings. Done deal mentality that defies logic. Labels that are worn like anchors around the necks of neighbors. Glass ceilings.
I would not go so far as to call this a 'racist city.' But, there are pockets of that. But, there are system wide styles where ugly treatments of some are the norm.
I would not say that the fix is to 'be nice to one another.' That would go a long way, but we've got friends and family and plenty of wonderful people that would give you the shirt of of their backs. Being 'good' isn't too much of a problem. But, being great and expecting greatness is a HUGE problem. Pittsburgh settles for survival and stops. Pittsburgh's leaders have been quick to weed and seed repeatedly, but never (or seldom) choose to thrive.
The drinks that quench sky-high ambitions can't be poured in the corner tavern. When there is a thirst to thrive, when a drive to excel arrives, when folks mature past high school -- the time to look in the mirror arrives. The mirror says -- 'move.' The message is 'get out of town.' The future pulls the young people out of Allegheny County with the hope of a richer maturity and opportunities that better match one's own confidence and passions.
The brian drain is real. Thank God we've got CMU and Pitt and other institutions.
Another time to depart Pittsburgh comes when you have kids. When a parent looks at his or her child and sees talent, character and hope -- the voices of a parental conscience speak and urge an exodus from the city. By the way, moving downtown isn't the solution that these folks appreciate either.
There are times when it makes sense to pack up and move. And those are very hard decisions. Very hard.
There are some cultural points (not culture district) when Pittsburgh just seems to jettison its folks out of here. These departures are not quick. But, they are deliberate and deep. Checking out can take seasons.
The sky isn't falling. But, it is still raining. And too many of us are in shelter where the roof is leaking. The reign of the overlords still depresses the landscape of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh's decline is still unfolding.
I know we need a different mindset. I know that new civic attitudes that stress honesty and inclusion are part of these solutions.
If we redd up Pittsburgh throughout 2007, 2008 and 2009 I'm sure we'll be 50,000 fewer. St. Pete, here we come. And I don't mean to call ahead of our arrival to Florida. I mean St. Peter, the guy at the pearly gates.