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.
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.
“Why would people in Baltimore want to set fire to their own neighborhoods?” my son asked, exasperated in a Monday morning phone call. I struggled to provide an answer that made sense then, but now, after a night watching a city respect the calming voices and decide to step back from the brink, I want to try to answer that; at least, in part.