Sunday, February 1, 2009

An Extreme Of What We Are Talking About

Eight miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, there is a town, Braddock, which might be called a modern-day ghost town. After the collapse of the steel industry in that area, Braddock lost 90% of its population, 90% of its businesses and 90% of its homes. It had a small number of people who chose to remain there over the years but the town lost it's ability to thrive, to grow. As one resident put it, "it has a feeling of 'it's hopeless,' and sometimes you need to have someone from the outside to help with the recovery."

One such person who stepped into that breach was John Fetterman who is now the Mayor of Braddock, and who is featured in the video: Braddock Rises From The Ashes

For the moment I'd like to only draw attention to two characteristics that jumped out at me while watching the video. The first was the committment of the "outsider," the now mayor, John Fetterman. He branded himself with a "tat" - 15104 - the zip code of Braddock. How about that for a focused and committed statement of "this is where I am now and this is what I am all about." It addresses the key question of how does an "outsider" establish credibility with a group, in a community, especially when the residents (presumably) are reluctant to extend membership or hope or belief easily to anyone who is not one of them.

The second part was the action and the intent of mobilizing hope with the youth of the community. Hope when combined with current and sustained action may perhaps be the pivotal experience in the service of developing resilience.

I will be very curious to see how this community moves forward as they reinvent themselves.