Pittsburgh futures

audienceI attended an event the other night, featuring current projects going on in Pittsburgh, or concepts aiming for better Pittsburgh futures. The projects are diverse, from arts to education, health to infrastructure. Presenters include Susan Everingham, director of the RAND office in Pittsburgh; Scott Faber, a developmental pediatrician at the Children’s Institute; Raymar Hampshire of sponsorchange (.org); Sean Jones of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra; Alexi Morrissey, a poet; Priya Narasimhan from Carnegie Mellon’s Mobility Center; LaVerne Baker Hotep from the Center for Victims of Violence and Crime; Hilary Robinson, dean at the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon; Jon Rubin, artist, and the man behind The Waffle Shop; and Janera Solomon, executive director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Each of the presenters took 3 minutes to present their concepts/projects. Concepts have different approaches how to facilitate social change, from the arts to the education. People from arts express strange ideas, like constructing huge fans in downtown Pittsburgh to create a climate change or creating a local Maoist revolution sending academia to the city-field. I found these defamiliarizations quite witty to open up a discussion space or re-framing of possible visions. Among these concepts, I like the LaVerne Baker’s holistic approach best. She is trying to create a five year community program, aiming at changing diet (food habits) of a community gradually, to decrease the (tendency of) violence. It sounds bizarre when you first heard it, but she has conducted some research showing that people consuming healthy and less meat-type products have more calmness than the ones who consume meat. This reminds me Eastern religions diet/fasting practices, especially Buddhists and Sufis a lot. I am looking forward to see more programs from City-Live initiative in the new year..