Ideas for a Better Pittsburgh: Semifinalists, Part II

Pittsburgh Tomorrow contest results
Matthew Paul Argall /​Flickr Ideas for a Better Pittsburgh: Semifinalists, Part II
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Pittsburgh Quarterly invited readers and neighbors to offer up their best ideas for improving the region through the Spring 2019 Pittsburgh Tomorrow Contest. The 13 finalists chosen by the Pittsburgh Today advisory board were published online and in the Fall 2019 issue of the magazine. But the ideas of another nearly three dozen thinkers made the semifinal round out of the 115 who submitted proposals that ranged from grand to humble in scope. Here are the thoughts of a few of our semifinalists. More semifinalists will be published in the coming weeks.

Read “Ideas for a Better Pittsburgh: Semifinalists, Part I” here.

Street Corner Recycling

One unifying characteristic to all the ideas, however, is distinguishing and elevating Pittsburgh from the crowd. The question is how do we do that, or what is one step to getting the city above others? Pittsburgh faces unique challenges in tax structure, an aging and declining population and geography. Pittsburgh needs to be a desirable place for businesses and people. But the business community and civically-​savvy population already knows this. So, what will we do to improve that situation? My small contribution to making Pittsburgh a better place would be to have recycling bins next to all garbage receptacles in the downtown area.

Seeing so many cans, plastic bottles and other recyclable items in garbage bins is disheartening. As someone who recycles every recyclable item, I have no other option but to hold onto these items until I am at work or home. Even for individuals that do not recycle as religiously, providing the opportunity to recycle will encourage use. Green initiatives are important the audiences Pittsburgh should hope to attract, either in moving here personally or establishing business here. With Pittsburgh committed to the Paris Agreement, and with the way of the future being greener for future generations, being greener will look good on the black and gold.

Dean Martin of the Swanson School of Engineering at Pitt offered a wonderful comment that Pittsburgh should be the ‘gold standard for knowledge ecosystems that spawn exponential innovation in the new Knowledge Age.’ Pittsburgh should be the gold standard, full stop. But we can be one better than that. We can be the Black and Gold standard.”

—Ellen Gaus

More Scenic by Subtraction

Phased-​in implementation by amendment to City Of Pittsburgh’s zoning/​signage laws and ordinances to require physical minimization, reduction, and/​or elimination of commercial signage and billboards could be part of a beautification process for the city, its residents, and visitors. Cities and states, domestically and internationally, have long had such laws or ordinances. Also, a phased-​in requirement for burial of all overhead utility wires could help beautify the city and reduce weather-​caused outages.”

—Frederick B. Goldsmith

Think Sunny Thoughts

I was born and raised Pittsburgh. I love this city. But, I feel many Pittsburghers deal with depression and mood disorders because we get very little sunlight.

I want to attract more sunlight and better moods among our community using the Law of Attraction. If we as a whole city are thinking there is no sun here, ever, we will, in fact, attract no sunshine. However, if we are thinking pleasant and happy thoughts around sunshine, we could attract sunnier weather and better moods.

I remember how excited I was when I’d see the all the creative dinosaurs around the city, even as an adult. That was fun. I think we could use the same premise, but with murals. We could commission local artists to create murals on buildings that portray the sun in a positive way, to invoke positive feelings. I’d like to call it The Sunshine Mural Initiative. If the artists are drawing sunshine thumbnails or sketches, and people are viewing the sketches and choosing buildings to paint them on, communities see them, positive feelings are generated and we could attract more sun or, at a minimum, lift the people of Pittsburgh’s general mood. It would also help to support local artists and re-​affirm our reputation for being an artist’s haven.”

—Christina Iezzi

Promote Disability Awareness

Pittsburgh has been increasing its rank among the most inclusive cities in the US. Based on economy, quality of life, and health care, Pittsburgh stands at #27 of 182 cities ranked by financial writer, Adam McCann of Wallethub, a personal finance website. This certainly seems impressive to score the top 15%. However, from Abil​i​ties​.com, a resource for the disability community ranks Pittsburgh as being 119.

Quite a disparity. As a hearing aid user with profound hearing loss, I can understand the gap in assessments. On the one hand, my quality of life in Pittsburgh is very high based on housing affordability, taxes, good schools for my children, etc. On the other hand, it is very difficult for a deaf person to get around the city. Most people are just not aware of the differences in abilities of our citizens. With the technology culture growing in Pittsburgh, we are going to increase the number of people with hearing loss, young, old, etc. Most of us are not aware of the effects of our ear bud habit but it has long term hearing loss effects.

My suggestion is a campaign on disability awareness highlighting hearing health. Preventive measures as well as adapting to those who already have hearing loss. American Sign Language campaigns can make us more aware of the different means of communication and to be more inclusive of our community with hearing loss. Pittsburgh can take it up a notch because Pittsburgh has the resources, the staff, and the heart to do it!”

—Fran Flaherty

Improve Carless Mobility

The idea for a new Mon bridge is a good idea, especially since the Hot Metal Bridge is so congested during rush hour. There are also many other lower cost opportunities to connect neighborhoods. The following are three possibilities:

1) One or more modern inclines from the Hill District to the Strip District, starting with one near the Energy Innovation Center. Currently there is no direct connectivity between these two neighborhoods. The development of the Civic Arena site finally starting to happen, new development in the Strip and the proximity to the Convention Center all make a carless connection a necessity.

2) With a major expansion underway at Mercy Hospital, along with other developments on the Bluff and Uptown and proximity to PPG Paint Arena, there also needs to be better connectivity between the Southside and the Bluff. A gondola could serve that purpose and also be a tourist novelty. New York City has a gondola. Why not Pittsburgh?

3) Recently, many nice new homes have been built in Larimer, north of Broad St. However, access to food stores, many bus routes and jobs is a very long walk, especially if carrying groceries. A foot/​bicycle bridge from someplace near the post office over the busway and railroad tracks to the parking lot near Trader Joe’s would give Larimer much better, car-​less access to all the things that make an urban neighborhood viable.”

—Rich Ekstrom

PQ Staff

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