Steel History Or Tech Future: Does Pittsburgh Have—Or Need—A Brand?

Sep 3, 2019

On today's program: How Pittsburgh's community gardens embody neighborhood flair; what it means to study osteopathic medicine; how the city's micromobility priorities are evolving; what the Allegheny Conference is considering to re-brand Pittsburgh; and why Allegheny County has few options to replace voting machines ahead of the 2020 election. 

How do Pittsburgh's community gardens grow?
(00:00 — 12:30) 

Community gardens can be a main resource for fresh produce in a neighborhood, as well as an excuse to get outside. Rayden Sorock, director of community projects for Grow Pittsburgh, says it’s important to keep the focus on residents and their needs.

"The (gardens) work really hand-in-hand in both building community, and the community that’s around them helps build the garden,” he says. Sorock said in Millvale, for example, a garden began as a way to get residents access to fresh, affordable produce where none had been available.

According to the organization, the gardening program, which is currently accepting applications for new garden groups in 2020, has supported more than 2,000 people at 100 gardens across Allegheny County in the last 10 years, yielding more than 300,000 pounds of fresh food.

Sorock says going forward, Grow Pittsburgh hopes to assist would-be urban farmers in applying for grants through the Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program established by the Pennsylvania Farm Bill

What does it mean to study osteopathic medicine?
(13:35 — 18:11) 

Osteopathy uses methods of stretching and gentle pressure applied to muscles, bones, joints and fascia – now known as osteopathic manipulative treatment – to diagnose, prevent and heal disease. 90.5 WESA's Liz Reid found many are still unaware of the differences between osteopathic medicine and the more traditional approach: allopathic medicine. Duquesne University is admitting its first class of osteopathic medical students in the fall of 2023.

Microtransit still has macro-sized gaps in accessibility 
(18:14 — 23:24) 

As residents and officials look to the future, cities around the world have begun to reevaluate the preeminence of the automobile. Though still in relative infancy, micromobility is fundamentally reshaping how people get where they need to go. But only for some. Billions of dollars are being invested, but as WESA's Margaret J. Krauss reports, many planners aren't including pedestrians in their ideas

Does Pittsburgh have a brand?
(23:26 — 35:36) 

When economic development leaders try to recruit new investors and companies to the region, what is their message?

"I would say we don't have a brand today that everybody has bought into," says Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. "I think there's a lot of different ways that we sell Pittsburgh. What we're lacking is the strength of that brand and marketing and communication, and we're being too generic."

Pashman says both the conference and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance want to develop a unified strategy. Alliance president Mark Thomas agrees.

"We are one of the American gateways of innovation," he said. "When companies and talent are looking for a home, they should see that they can be successful and be part of where people in this world look to what is next. That next economy really is here." 

New voting machines leave few options for county administrators
(35:44 — 40:11) 

Allegheny County needs new voting machines, and officials have spent months looking at equipment from four different companies. But now the Board of Elections reports it may have to select machines made by ES&S, the company that makes the current equipment.

Board chairman Tom Baker tells WESA's Chris Potter that only ES&S is certified to handle the large number of local races held in Allegheny County.

"If you go with any other of the options," Baker says, "and it ends up failing, and we have on election night an election system that doesn't work—it is scary to think about that." 

County officials must pick a new voting machine this fall, to have it in place by a state deadline of 2020.

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.