Identity & Justice

The identity and justice desk explores how the makeup of the Pittsburgh community is changing, and digs into issues of diversity and equity.

Have 10Ks stopped challenging you, but you aren’t ready to take on a half-marathon yet? The Pittsburgh Marathon wants you to lace up your tennis shoes for its very first “Pittsburgh 10 Miler” this fall.

“The race will be for avid runners," Executive Director Patrice Matamoros said. "Some beginner runners will probably make this their goal, but we always advice to get on a training program. But it should be young and old. In this distance, you can see a wide array of different abilities and different ages.”

Pittsburgh Crowd Cheers Gay Marriage Decisions

Jun 26, 2013
Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

At least 250 people gathered on a downtown Pittsburgh street closed for the occasion were cheering U.S. Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus told the crowd Wednesday morning, "To my fellow gay, lesbian, transsexual and queer friends, welcome to full equality."

City police have issued a permit for Wednesday's rally on Liberty Avenue, during which a portion of the busy downtown artery was to remain closed from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh organized the rally, which was called "Riot or Rejoice."

Flickr user Hannaford

Pittsburgh has been known as the Steel City and the City of Champions, but what about the smartest city?

According to David Cross, content editor for Movoto real estate, Pittsburgh is indeed the smartest city in the United States.

“I can say that, you know, I was a little shocked that Pittsburgh ranked that high," Cross said. "At the same time I was really happy, because I’m a Midwestern boy at heart."

As of earlier Tuesday afternoon, more than 300 people on Facebook said they are heading downtown Wednesday morning to catch live coverage of the Supreme Court’s rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 — two cases involving same-sex marriage.

Delta Foundation organizers are expecting an even larger crowd downtown.

“Liberty Avenue will be shut down to vehicle traffic between 9th and 10th because we’re expecting so many people,” said Christine Bryan with the Delta Foundation. “We’ll have a large television set up, and a stage and various speakers.”

Therese Mangham ended her 22 years of military service with a Purple Heart and a traumatic brain injury.  She received both of them after being hit by a blast from an improvised explosive device in 2008.

She spent three weeks that year in Germany in the warrior transition unit hoping to work her way back to her unit, but the wounds proved to be too much.

Burgess: Blight in Homewood Could Spread

Jun 24, 2013

More than 40 percent of land parcels and 30 percent of houses in Homewood are vacant. That’s according to research from the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Urban and Social Research.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday in Homewood at the Carnegie Library to address the issue of blight, demolition of housing and land banking in that neighborhood. Pittsburgh Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess is hosting the forum, and he said there has been talk for years about addressing the problem of vacant and abandoned properties, but there’s been little action.

Rapid Transit Tips from Cleveland

Jun 21, 2013
Center for Neighborhood Technology / Flickr

Last Thursday, Pittsburgh government and business officials took a trip to Cleveland to tour the Healthline—Cleveland’s rapid transit system—with the hopes of bringing back ideas for Pittsburgh’s own Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

United Way of Allegheny County announced its funding allocations for children and youth programs this week, giving $2.4 million to more than 15 programs.

United Way focused its attention on after school programs, summer programs, future leaders programs, college preparation programs and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs.

Alicia Chatkin, United Way’s director of programs for children and youth, said the funding is meant to help children in two age groups.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Several years ago, a Family Dollar store was set to open on Frankstown Avenue in Homewood. The building was built, but the chain pulled out, deciding not to locate a store there.

The building has stood vacant since. The Homewood Renaissance Association (HRA) is hoping to breathe new life into it and the community by converting the space into a new community center.

Take a Ride with the Gateway Clipper Fleet

Jun 20, 2013
Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

The Gateway Clipper is celebrating its 55th year on Pittsburgh's three rivers. Going for a ride on any of the Clipper's six ships gives Pittsburghers a chance to travel under its famous bridges and listen to their voice echo against Pittsburgh steel. 

The Clipper offers one-hour sightseeing cruises, shuttle services to the North Shore for sporting events and specialty and theme cruises. The fleet is also available for event rentals. 

Training the Next Generation of African-American Leaders

Jun 17, 2013
Robert Morris University

Pittsburgh is one of the few major cities in the northeast that has not had an African American mayor. At present there are only two African Americans on its city council. Where will the next generation of community leaders come from?

On Sunday, 75 black high school students, mostly from the Pittsburgh area, began intensive training sessions to become community leaders.

The young men are taking part in the 7th annual Black Male Leadership Development Institute now through June 23 at Robert Morris University in partnership with the Urban League of Pittsburgh.  

A new study finds that hands-free devices in cars aren’t as safe as people think.

Research by AAA found that hands-free technology in cars gives drivers a false sense of security.

Bruce Hamilton, manager of research and communications with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said an increase in mental workload slows reaction time, causing drivers to scan the road less and miss visual cues.

A report released by the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission shows that 80 percent of juveniles in Pennsylvania that recidivate, or continually commit crimes, come from families with unmarried parents.

The commission looked at juvenile cases closed in 2007 and tracked them for two years to see if the juveniles returned to crime.

The study found that 20 percent of juvenile offenders committed other crimes within two years after their original cases were closed.

Pittsburgh’s gay pride festival continues to grow, with organizers expecting more than 100,000 people to enjoy the celebration on Liberty Avenue.

When the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh took over the festival in 2007, about 3,000 people attended. Six years later, the organization is expecting to break the 100,000 mark.

Gary Van Horn, president of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, attended his first Pride festival in 1996. He said he never expected Pittsburgh Pride to get as large as it has.

Census: Pittsburgh Region Is Getting Younger

Jun 13, 2013
Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

The population of the youngest Allegheny County residents is growing, while nationally the number is dropping.

Between 2010 and 2012, the number of people five years of age and younger increased county-wide by 0.9 percent, while it decreased nationally by the same percentage.

“I think the Pittsburgh region’s been attracting people for the last few years, and most people moving into the region are going to be younger folks mostly coming for work, so I think that’s made us younger as we go ahead,” said Christopher Briem, regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Cultural Impact of Pittsburgh Pride Fest

Jun 12, 2013
Ginny / Flickr

This weekend the Pittsburgh Pride Festival is expected to generate huge revenue for the city and bring thousands of individuals and families to Liberty Avenue. The parade and concerts at Pride Fest have become mainstream collaborations with city groups like Visit Pittsburgh and major sponsorship.

Pittsburgh Pride's website quotes Richard Florida in his best-selling book on economic growth, The Rise of the Creative Class, “the most successful regions welcome all kinds of people. The presence of an LGBT community in large numbers is an indicator of an underlying culture that is open-minded and diverse. People look for cities with lots of gay people when they are hunting for a place to live and work. The presence of gays signals an exciting place, where people can fit in and be themselves.“

But how representative of Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community is Pride Fest? And how do you go about organizing a large scale festival such as Pride, in a way that's inclusive for all aspects of the LGBTQ community and Pittsburgh as a whole?

We'll have a conversation about Pittsburgh PrideFest and its cultural impact with Gary Van Horn, President of the Delta Foundation, which organizes PrideFest and Sue Kerr, Editor of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondence, an LGBTQ Blog.

Pittsburgh Public Housing Shortage

Jun 11, 2013
Halle Stockton / PublicSource

Pittsburgh's city housing authority recently closed the waitlist for the majority of public housing properties. This is the  first time in 17 years this has happened and reflects the critical shortage of public housing in the city and Allegheny County.

Reporter Halle Stockton has written about this issue for our content partner Public Source and joins us to look at this issue.

Via Tsuji / Flickr

Expansion plans to designate more of the North Side as a historic district are causing an uproar in the Mexican War Streets. It's an issue that has neighbors split and calls into question the issue of who has a say in the neighborhood's master plan.

Paul Johnson, president of the Mexican War Streets Society and Post-Gazette reporter Diana Nelson Jones who covers the city's neighborhoods talk about the controversy.

The Allegheny County Conference on Community Development launched a new website today in an effort to fill 30,000 jobs available in Pittsburgh.

The announcement was made inside PNC Park — capacity 38,362 — about one seat for every available job.

Chris Cieslak, a lieutenant colonel with the Army Reserves, returned from Kabul, Afghanistan in 2012 after a year’s duty there.

Cieslak went through what she described as a "minor depression," and only now does she feel she’s made the transition from military to civilian life. She considers herself lucky — she had a good support system in place. Not all women veterans can say the same.

It’s “Great Outdoors Month” across the nation, and for the fifth year, just about every one of Pennsylvania’s 120 state parks has planned something special to encourage people to explore outdoor recreation. 

There’s a Twilight Paddle in Moraine State Park on Tuesday geared toward people who have never kayaked before, a wildlife program focusing on bears at Keystone State Park on Thursday and an early morning wildlife viewing by boat on Friday at Ohiopyle State Park, just to mention a few.

Michael Sias / Immunity Inc.

Edward Snowden is the source of leaks of government surveillance programs within the United States. Which have raised questions about our privacy and how much information the government is gathering about us by phone and on the internet. 

Mark Wuergler, Senior Security Researcher for the cyber security firm Immunity, says the NSA has the means and motive to spy on anyone. We'll talk with him about the NSA and security.

The government has been watching ever since the NSA was created. They've been finding and trying new ways of watching and listening and recording. And they're really good at it.

 

Saint Monica prayed for her rebellious son, Saint Augustine, to strengthen his faith in the late 4th century. Now four parishes in Beaver County want to strengthen their faith community by merging into one — christened Saint Monica.

Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Bishop David Zubik has announced that the parishes of Christ the Divine Teacher, Divine Mercy, Saint Philomena and Saint Rose of Lima will consolidate starting July 15.

Episcopal Vicar Reverend Samuel Esposito said the parishes had been working together since 2007.

Senior citizens are being targeted in the latest over-the-phone scam.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office has issued a warning to seniors after a recent spike in “robocalls.”

These robocalls are designed to obtain credit card and other personal information from unknowing victims by claiming to sell medical equipment like life monitors for $35 a month. In recent calls, companies identified themselves as “Senior Medical Alert” or “Senior Medical Advisors.”

Reid Carter/90.5 WESA

90.5 WESA Programming intern Reid Carter ventured down to Point State Park Friday evening to catch some photos of the official re-launch of the iconic fountain.

WESA

In her new book Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America's Sorted Out Cities, Dr. Mindy Fullilove presents a psychiatrist’s views on how to fix the American city. We'll discuss how a public health and well-being approach to urban planning and design can benefit neighborhoods and the people who live in them.

Welcoming Back the Point State Park Fountain

Jun 6, 2013
Image by Pressley Associates, courtesy Riverlife

It's been four years since the fountain in Point State Park was last in operation. The fountain and the Park were in constant use, without any renovations for more than 30 years, until Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary. The reopening of the fountain marks the final phase of a 6 year renovation process, which has been documented on the Riverlife Taskforce Blog with before and after photos.

The waterworks resume this weekend, just in time for the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Guest: Lisa Schroeder is President and Chief Executive Officer of Riverlife Pittsburgh a group that's promoting the rebirth of Point State Park and the fountain.

Courtesy Riverlife

After years of reconstruction, the fountain at the Point will be turned back on this Friday.

Since April 2009, Point State Park has undergone a $35 million renovation, including $9.6 million for the fountain makeover.

Point State Park's history goes back decades, with planning for the space beginning in the 1930s. Construction didn’t start until the 1960s, and the original fountain opened in 1974.

Image by Pressley Associates, courtesy Riverlife

After four years, the Point State Park fountain is ready to flow again, but some Pittsburghers won’t be getting as close as they had hoped.

The Great Lawn, located on the fountain side of the Portal Bridge, will be fenced off and closed to the public Friday night during the celebration at the opening of the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

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