The Future of Rust Belt Transit

Abby Wilson – Transportation Future

A Pittsburgh Bus
Bussing it in Pittsburgh

If Barack Obama can make discussions of weatherization popular, why not debates about transportation too?  The issue of transit may seem one that only a policy-wonk could love, but Abby Wilson — a native Pittsburgher and a leader of GLUE (the Great Lakes Urban Exchange) — wants to change that.

Within the year, Congress will begin to debate the transportation reauthorization bill, which will shape national transit policy in the coming years.  Abby and GLUE want to see less funding for highways, and more for mass transit, cycle paths, and innovative road policies that will encourage urban development and social justice — as well as saving people money.

In the run up to this debate, GLUE is looking to collect people’s stories about transportation in the region.  Around Pittsburgh, Abby sees a major rise in people cycling, walking, and using mass transit — and she reasons that if legislators see this human face of transportation issues, more sustainable + equitable policy can be pushed through.

For more about GLUE, visit their website here, where you can also contact Abby directly.


Green Jobs in Steel Country

Green Jobs in Braddock

Rob Rogers in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Rob Rogers in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The promise of green jobs proliferated on the presidential campaign trail and in the stimulus package.  Now it’s come to Braddock, the quintessential Rust Belt town on the outskirts of Pittsburgh.  Braddock’s been in the news lately, with its young tattooed mayor John Fetterman appearing on The Colbert Report & a long profile in The New York Times last month. 

This burst of national attention comes after a rough past two decades.  Since the steel industry petered out in the mid-1980s, no other industry has come into the town – and unemployment, drug use, and violent crime all remain high.  A new program has started up in Braddock – the Mon Valley Environmental Innovative Training program (or MOVE IT) – to train area residents to be environmental technicians.  The Pittsburgh area has plenty of post-industrial pollution problems, and MOVE IT aims to supply a new crop of ‘green workers’ to remediate brownfield sites.

The first group of MOVE IT trainees just graduated from the 9 week course – and what do they think now?  Do they believe in the promise of green jobs?  Do they care more about the environment?  And are they optimistic about finding work in this economy?

Ep. 14: Millhunk Days

Another World Episode 14

Larry with the Mill Hunk Herald
Larry with the Mill Hunk Herald

In the 1980s, Larry Evans was named a national security threat, Hollywood script writers were intent on telling his life story, he was crossing the Iron Curtain, and he was overtaking the Pittsburgh public television airwaves. As the steel mills were closing down in that decade, Larry ran the Millhunk Herald, a local journal, and was active in the efforts to keep the industry alive. He tells his story — how he got politically active, what’s happened to him since those activist days, and what it’s like to be classed a threat to society.



The video clip below comes from a documentary Larry made about his Millhunk Herald days. Tony Novosel stars in the 1983 Pittsburgh-made ‘Crashdance’, as a steelworker who turns to exotic dancing amidst the collapse of the steel industry in the city.

Ep. 9: Orangemen & Pittsburgh City Council

Another World Episode 9


Episode 9 considers local politics: of the Orange Order in Northern Ireland and the City Council of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the first half, David Hume talks about the future of the Orange Order, including its new superhero figure and tourism initiatives.   Mid-July has been rechristened as ‘Orangefest’ and the Orange Order has big plans for brining more foreigners and locals together for the parades and activities around the 12th.  Hume also discusses the Order’s international links, in Canada, the US, and Africa, along with its concerns for attracting young Northern Irish men to join its ranks.

In the second half, Patrick Dowd explains how he won a seat on Pittsburgh’s City Council and his plans for the city.  He went from graduate student to teacher to politician, but his victory was not an easy one.  Winning a seat as a Democrat but initially without the endorsement of Pittsburgh’s Democratic Party, Dowd had to mobilize the grassroots of the community, going from door to door to door and fount out a tremendous amount about the Pittsburgh neighborhoods he now represents.