Some might consider Henry S. Beukema, who has announced that he will step down this fall after 24 years of leading the McCune Foundation, a curmudgeon. Well… he is: the very best kind of curmudgeon – brilliantly insightful, and very contrarian in the way he assesses potential. When everyone else zigs, Hank usually zags.
For years, Pittsburgh had a significant problem with its economy, and as a result, it also had a significant problem with its image.
Usually at this time of year, it’s a particular Christmas tune that I can’t get out of my head. You know how it goes: Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” plays from car radio to home stereo to holiday party, and soon it’s in constant playback mode.
We’re fresh from an off-year election in which only 25 percent of Allegheny County’s registered voters went to the polls, and we’re also weary from four months-plus of a bitterly partisan state budget stand-off.
But just when we’re convinced that citizens don’t care enough to get involved and that government will never be able to get its act together, along comes a shining example of the opposite.
One of the most important images connected to Pope Francis’ trip to the United States last week actually happened, from my view, several weeks before his arrival. It was the profoundly tragic and heartwrenching picture of a lifeless 3-year-old boy, Aylan Kurdi, his tiny body dressed in a red T-shirt and long shorts washed up on a beach resort in northeastern Turkey.
One of the things that attracts people to Pittsburgh--that brings young people here to work, that keeps people here who were born in the Pittsburgh region, that attracts companies to bring their business here, that convinces retirees to stay in the region--is the distinctive character of our place.
You can go to a lot of places in America that seem . . . well, like a lot of other places in America; that just blend into a homogenous stretch of the urban and suburban. But not Pittsburgh. When you come here to live and work, or just for a visit, you know where you are.
The funerals are being completed and the grieving is continuing for the nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, S.C., who were shot to death June 17 as they studied the Bible, sang and prayed.
Anyone who knows me also knows that I love a great story.
The one that I’ve been telling and re-telling to illustrate what The Pittsburgh Foundation does for our community is centered on a public appeal we launched during last year’s holiday period to address homelessness and housing insecurity in Allegheny County. It was a classic fundraising campaign with a modern twist: the Foundation promised to match every contribution dollar for dollar – up to $100,000.