Arts
7:35 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Bringing Creativity Back To Pittsburgh

A local non-profit group is hoping to get a handle on just how creative one city neighborhood is and then look for ways to encourage more creativity.  CityLAB has launched the Garfield Creative census, which will calculate the percentage of creative workers in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood.

This census initiative comes in response to a 2007 report by CEO’s for Cities declaring if six percent of a city’s population is creative, the city itself—regardless of tourist attractions or other enticing features, becomes an attraction.

According to the 2000 U.S. census, almost no residents of Garfield were considered “creative workers.”

Eve Picker, President and CEO of cityLAB, says the national average for creative persons in the work force is between three and four percent. San Francisco, California had the highest overall at 5.9 percent.

Picker uses San Francisco as an example, noting the sharp uptick from the national average is what makes the city so attractive.

“You have a neighborhood that was teeming with life, teeming with economic development opportunities, a place where everyone wanted to live, and they’re willing to reverse commute to Silicon Valley, and it really seemed to be just that small percentage difference in creative workers,” she said.

Picker also says the census is just the first step.

“The census is really about figuring out who’s already there and our census [is] a little broader than [the national census],” Picker said. “We are actually asking people, not only if they work for a living as a creative worker, but if they do creative things as a hobby.”

Picker and cityLAB also noted there are areas of the city that have a creative population above six percent including Shadyside, Friendship, and parts of both Lower Lawrenceville and Highland Park.

When asked if Garfield should emulate other areas of Pittsburgh however, Picker said no.

“I think Garfield residents have made it very clear that they want Garfield to be Garfield,” Picker said. “And it has its own identity, its own personality, and its own character.”

The Garfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh, located on Penn Avenue between the Allegheny Cemetery and Negley Avenue, is a section of the city that never fully recovered after the steel industry started to decline in the late 1970’s. Census data from 2000 also shows the Garfield area to have a below average household median income of $15-25K a year.

CityLAB will be working on gathering the census until November 15.