When a city is divided by race and class, how are its residents' minds affected? And in a nation filled with struggling cities, what has Pittsburgh done differently to address those divisions?
Next Monday, Dr. Mindy Fullilove will address those questions at a free lecture titled "The Meaning of Things: Pittsburgh's 21st Century Triumph Over 20th Century Urban Renewal."
Fullilove, a social psychologist at Columbia University, views Pittsburgh as an anomaly among American cities. She says Pittsburgh has maintained an unusual sense of community despite its fractured past and brutal top-down interventions in neighborhoods like the Hill District and East Liberty.
“Pittsburgh has always been a city of great neighborhoods that are very strong,” Fullilove says. “Even through all this upheaval… people have really clung to the vision of their neighborhoods and love of their city.”
She says those types of past interventions break a bond between a city and its residents, but that Pittsburghers seem to make a distinction between the city’s politicians and decision makers, and the city as a place of beauty and fellowship, of culture and history.
But perhaps more importantly, Pittsburgh’s leaders seem to have learned from the past, and have changed the way they’re making decisions. Rather than a top-down approach, Fullilove says there’s been a big shift to a more inclusive, shared decision making process when determining how to reanimate neighborhoods.
“Which I think is not only really helpful for Pittsburgh, but is something that's going on in the US and around the world, and makes Pittsburgh a real thought leader for the nation,” she says.
Fullilove has studied Pittsburgh's communities for the past 15 years. Her forthcoming book, Urban Alchemy
, tries to identify the key elements of restoring cities from a state of fracture. She proposes nine elements of restoration that appear to be working in cities in the U.S. and in France, with one case in particular being Pittsburgh.
The lecture will be held at the August Wilson Center,
in Downtown (980 Liberty Avenue), at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 18, and is free and open to the public. For more information or to RSVP, email email@example.com or call 412-391-4144.
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Mindy Fullilove