And then there was Braddock, PA

May 22, 2013

Building in Braddock PA

Building in Braddock PA

When I was growing up in Pittsburgh, the city was awarded, ‘Most livable city’ a number of times.
And it was a wonderful place to live-  with its beautiful situation on the rivers, its numerous parks, prestigious universities, diverse neighborhoods, and general high standard of living.

For some people.

Preparing to go back this time, I stumbled upon a video revealing the other side of Pittsburgh as ‘number one livable city’ in the US.  I always knew about the poorer neighborhoods of Homewood, Homestead and the like.  We never ventured there because of the drugs and violence associated with them.
But seeing the conditions in Homewood now  shocked me awake.

So I resolved on this trip  to get to know not just prosperous Pittsburgh, but also the less advantaged side of my city.

Braddock building

When I started to dig deeper into this  part of Pittsburgh that was unfamiliar to me, I hit upon mayor John Fetterman and what he is doing in Braddock.  And all my lights lit up.  See the video of his Tedx talk about the transformation of a violent, neglected neighborhood into a community gradually climbing back on its feet.

When the steel industry moved out of Braddock in the 60’s,(there are still 2 working mills there) this town lost 90% of its jobs, population, and houses. John Fetterman, through a combination of vision, guts, brawn, know-how, partnering,and magic is helping revitalize this damaged community. What captured my imagination of course, was that the arts were high on the priority list of community-building projects.

near railway Mills and garden

Since I’ve been here in Pittsburgh, I’ve worked with Miss Rachel’s 6-12 year olds in the Braddock Carnegie Library, and am  going back today to assist in another craft session- Crafty Wednesdays being one of the many art, music, movement programs offered there.

Working as a white-skinned person and an outsider with a largely African American population brings up questions about integrity and effectiveness of social engagement. I’ll be exploring these further in future posts on Braddock and more.

Braddock youth garden project

Braddock youth garden project

2 Responses to “And then there was Braddock, PA”

  1. Wonderful to read of your experiences back in your hometown, Sarah! So rich and rewarding for you….and for many others.

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