1. The City of Pittsburgh (and many of its neighborhoods, particularly the Black and poor) is at a pivotal point in its history. We can all either sink or swim as a city and there are no guarantees.
2. While the City of Pittsburgh has been voted "the most livable city" (yet again), the fact of the matter is the City of Pittsburgh is actually "one of the worst cities to live in" for African Americans. According to the research of Dr. Ralph Bangs and Dr. John Wallace of the Center for the Study of Race and Social Problems at the University of Pittsburgh, African Americans living here are some of the most disadvantaged in the entire nation.
Yes, yes, it seems hard to believe but this is obvious to anyone who has traveled outside of this City and encounters other African Americans who are, let's say, a bit lighter on their feet, to say the least.
3. The Community Benefits Agreement Movement is a most worthy and just cause when, if implemented correctly, can change the quality of peoples' lives in a very real and tangible way, not just with "good jobs" but certainly inclusive of them. It has worked very well in Los Angeles, Detroit and New Haven with wondrous results.
So, what is the problem?
It's not working so well here in this City.
5. Pittsburgh UNITED is an acronym for "Unions and Neighborhoods Invested in Transforming Economic Development. Pittsburgh UNITED, whose funding structure was outlined as follows:
Pittsburgh UNITED was borne out of a three-year, $500,000 grant jointly funded by local foundations (Falk Foundation, Pittsburgh Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, POISE, and the Women and Girls Foundation), with a match from the
Ford Foundation (Violet Law, Pittsburgh City Paper)
6. Pittsburgh UNITED funds the One Hill CBA Coalition (the first project) and Northside United (the second project), the both of which are guinea pigs to see if this can work in our City.
7. One Hill's slogan is "One Hill, Many Voices" but many of us feel that our voices are not being heard within One Hill and will never be heard within the organization. We feel that One Hill is in need of radical reform.
8. Many of us also feel that Pittsburgh UNITED is not doing what it is supposed to be doing and is also in need of radical reform.
9. As radical reformists (and I am certainly one of them), we get lied upon, called names, silenced within the organization and also cast out (literally, we were kicked out of One Hill just last week).
10. Many people do not know that One Hill was formed against a large portion of Hill District leadership and representation. It was also done using the resources of Pittsburgh UNITED.
The question is why?
The short answer is that folks are trying to get away with the least amount of reinvestment and the rest of us are demanding more reinvestment, greater vision and greater leadership.
In addition, while we have been trying to explain why, it's important to understand the history and understand the issues. Ironically enough, the Hill District's divisions have been exacerbated and now the Northside's divisions have also been exacerbated. If Pittsburgh UNITED is at the center of these controversies, is this what the foundation community asked for when it funded this group? And is Pittsburgh UNITED helping our city become Pittsburgh DIVIDED?
Listen to this podcast. I actually don't agree with Fred Honsberger but just listen first.
So much to cover in so little time.
You should start here, with another blogger's report, to get a sense of what's been happening.
Is it old quarrels, as Bill Toland surmised in his article (which included many errors but we give him points for trying and deduct some for not doing more followup before going to press, although the impending public meeting at the Arena provided more pressure than he probably wanted).
And if it is old quarrels, should they be put in proper, present-day context, as this same blogger from above has done? Indeed, he says that it is largely Tonya Payne fomenting this divison. And many of us must agree.
All roads will eventually lead back to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are only doing what corporations are known to do; but this would not work without the cooperation of certain selfish entities involved. In this scenario, all side roads lead back to Tonya Payne, who is supposed to be OUR representative, not the Pens'. She connected with Carl Redwood and possibly some others to enact her divisive plan.
I was with the group of representative persons who stood up on January 28, 2007, to tell the City, County and the Pens that there would be no signing of leases and just moving forward without us at the table. We were concerned about this give away of public lands, the public subsidy, no representation at the table (from elected officials or otherwise), the Don Barden factor (unless someone else had a $350 million dollar plan to spur development?), the non-responsiveness of the Pens during the gaming application fiasco (just months prior) and our need for a master plan, to not repeat the mistakes of the past and to usher our community into the 21st century with power and promise.
Our lives, literally, depend upon it.
What unfolded was "One Hill", Pittsburgh UNITED's role in One Hill and the manner in which we were treated by both groups.
So, here is some mandatory reading for you to understand. Most of these are the most recent articles in descending order. Please let me know if you have any questions:
Over the Hill: A history lesson for those who would rather forget (Revelations, Pittsburgh City Paper)
Split Decisions: Hill District advocates may be divided but they won't be conquered (Revelations, Pittsburgh City Paper)
Give Up the Ghost (of Sala Udin): Hill District activists are quite capable of thinking for themselves, thank you very much (Revelations, Pittsburgh City Paper)
One Hill or One Hot Mess? (Christian Morrow, New Pittsburgh Courier) - This article caused a huge uproar in One Hill and they blame me for this, even though I was the last one contacted and interviewed or whom even knew about the article.
Write on: No Half-Stepping in One Hill (LTE, New Pittsburgh Courier, My response to clarify my position and put my quote in context)
Write on: Implied Corruption Must be Addressed (LTE, New Pittsburgh Courier, Carl Redwood's response to the above, which actually reinforces my original claim)
Teeing Off: Rough questions on the Mayor's Golfing Excursions (Revelations, Pittsburgh City Paper)
Minority Report: Pittsburgh ignores the plight of its black citizens at its own peril (Revelations, Pittsburgh City Paper)
A Wider Arena: You're not the only victim of government negligence, Mario (Revelations, Pittsburgh City Paper)
These articles do not cover all of the intricate problems and issues within One Hill and Pittsburgh United because we were really trying not to embarrass anyone. But, at this point, we have been left with little choice in the matter.
We cannot wait and we cannot afford to lose this battle because it is much bigger than us, much bigger than any one person, organization or even CBA.
We live, work and play here; and it is ultimately our responsibility. Our silence would be complicity and we are not complicit. We stand firm, vocal and proud, calling for radical reform before it's too late.
Support the Whole Hill. Support the cause.