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Pittsburgh, PA

PBS Station WQED, Community Groups, and Filmmaker Host Discussion on Future of Pittsburgh’s Older Communities

May 27, 2010

Building Community Connections: A Film Screening and Civic Engagement Dialogue About Revitalizing Pittsburgh’s Core Communities

Community organizations, citizens and public officials took part in a unique gathering in the studios of public broadcasting station WQED on Thursday May 27th to discuss revitalization strategies and next steps for creating a better future for the Pittsburgh region.

Building Community Connections: A Film Screening and Community Engagement Dialogue About Revitalizing Pittsburgh’s Core Communities was the culmination of a month-long series of programming on WQED focused on renewing urban America. The event was part of an innovative outreach strategy emerging from local public television stations, which are discovering that showing social issue documentaries to live audiences sparks frank debate over how the issues raised by the films reflect the reality of local communities.

Hosted by WQED in partnership with various Pittsburgh community organizations and in collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Andrea Torrice, the May 27th event began with a screening of Torrice’s new documentary film series, The New Metropolis, about the challenges facing America’s older suburbs. After the screening, Chris Moore, host of popular WQED programs OnQ and Black Horizons, and facilitator Jim Turner from the University of Pittsburgh kicked off a heart-to-heart roundtable discussion amongst the participants. Many of the problems depicted in The New Metropolis are familiar to Pittsburgh and its neighboring communities – dwindling tax bases, population decline, business loss, decaying infrastructure, and racial tensions. The goal of the event was to come up with a concrete action plan focused on solving these local problems together.

The conversation hasn't stopped with the end of the event. Grant Ervin of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, one of the community groups who helped put Building Community Connections together, says that more screenings and public discussions are to be conducted throughout the Pittsburgh area in the coming months.

"We recognized that the similarities between the surrounding communities are much stronger than what differentiates them," said Ervin. "Coordinating this dialogue helped bring communities together to share their challenges and to recognize opportunities that they can achieve by working together. With this, we have begun forging new relationships between neighboring communities and the urban core."

The Pittsburgh event was the first in a series of national civic engagement dialogues on revitalizing older communities occurring across the country. Building Community Connections was the result of a partnership between 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, CONNECT - the Congress of Neighboring Communities, Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG), Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development (PPND), Sustainable Pittsburgh, Good Schools PA, The Center for Deliberative Democracy, Coro Center for Civic Leadership and Torrice Productions. The event was free and open to the public. The project was made possible with support from the Surdna and Pittsburgh Foundations.

Pittsburgh Launch Video

Website Resources

10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania
Bayer Center for Non-Profit Management, Robert Morris University
Building One PA
Congress for Neighboring Communities (Connect)
Good Schools Pennsylvania
McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation
Penn Hills Community Development Corporation
Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG)
Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development (PPND)
Sustainable Pittsburgh
Temple University

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