Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Youngstown-Pittsburgh Connections

The relationship between Cleveland, Youngstown and Pittsburgh is obvious to residents of the Steel Valley. I won't speak for Cleveland, but I know from firsthand experience that Youngstown isn't on the mental maps of most Pittsburghers, who seem oblivious of what is going on in Lordstown (to cite one important example). Because Youngstown is located in Ohio, the linkages to Cleveland are more obvious. But I'd argue that the relationship with Pittsburgh is, at the very least, as important.

I'm not the only one who thinks this way. There's a new regional initiative for Pittsburgh and it includes Youngstown. In fact, one of the prizes for naming this expansive region are tickets to the Youngstown Historical Center of Labor & Industry. Have any good ideas? Make a submission.

Another common vision binding the two cities is the Working Class Studies Association (WCSA). An upcoming conference in Pittsburgh has already been held in Youngstown and the WCSA reveals the connectivity between institutions of higher education:

“The conference caps off the Pittsburgh 250 celebration by looking at the city's history of production and struggle, how time and again the aims of political and corporate elites collided with homegrown, organized resistance-how this class-based resistance often created improved conditions,” said conference cochair Charles McCollester, director of the Pennsylvania Center for Labor Relations and professor of industrial and labor relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).

In addition to WCSA, IUP's labor center, and Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences, the June conference is supported by programs and volunteers from Pitt's Departments of English, Anthropology, History, and Sociology and the Cultural Studies and Women's Studies programs; Carlow University Women's Studies Program; Carnegie Mellon University Department of English; Chatham University; Duquesne University Women's and Gender Studies Center; Youngstown State University Center for Working-Class Studies; the United Steelworkers of America; and the Battle of Homestead Foundation.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't see any Cleveland representation. The industrial valleys stretching from Youngstown all the way to Morgantown, WV have a lot in common. This region is more Appalachia than Midwest. And as the Business Journal's Staci Erdos puts it, there is no reason why Pittsburgh's recent reinvention and success can't extend to Youngstown:

After covering the 2008 presidential campaign, I started thinking very seriously about public service. I had seen Pittsburgh go through remarkable changes over the 10 years I covered the city. Allegheny County had changed its form of governance from three commissioners to a county executive. I witnessed the move toward greater regionalization.

I saw Pittsburgh further its emergence from a Rust Belt city to a high-tech center, luring major corporate headquarters.

And I saw Pittsburgh’s waterfront transformed into a destination location. I felt, and still feel, optimistic this same kind of transformation could be in Youngstown’s future.

I feel the same way.

1 comment:

  1. I just found this blog through the Shout Youngstown blog.

    Interesting indeed !

    Nice to see the valley is being thought of and ideas are in the works.

    Organically Yours,

    Hubbard, Ohio (just North of Y-town)