About Me

Currently a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, I study urban sociology and inequality. Originally from Western Pennsylvania, I am particularly interested in how changes in regional economic structures effect stratification and mobility opportunities, particularly for the working class. I also participate in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Leading the Rust Belt: Braddock and Mayor Fetterman

Well, I don't think I could claim to be blogging about the rust belt if I didn't have at least one post discussing Braddock and Mayor Fetterman.

For those that don't know, Braddock is a town along the Monongahela River, within the Pittsburgh MSA, which experienced substantial deindustrialization and population loss. In the 1950's almost 20,000 people lived in the town and now there's only about 2,000.  As much as you may here about Detroit's population loss, Braddock is a smaller scale version of the same extreme deindustrialization-population loss phenomena.

Mayor Fetterman moved to town and was elected in 2005. He looks like he can fix a Rust Belt town.  He is a character, and has demonstrated a commitment to finding unique ways of working to revitalize the community.

Here is a profile of the town and the new mayor. CBS Sunday Morning is one of my favorite news programs, by the way. My dad was a big fan, and watching this show has been a Sunday morning ritual as long as I remember.

Here is a conversation comparing some efforts in Braddock to those in a couple of other rust belt towns.

There are efforts underway to develop alternative fuel operations in the town.

There is also a mini-factory producing ceramic water filters to help developing countries.  One of the artists mentioned in this article, Richard Wukich, was a professor of my brother's.  He is passionate about ceramics, his students, and assisting both Braddock the folks who need clean water in poor countries.

Also, Braddock hosts a serious effort underway to develop a sustainable urban gardening program in the town.  The project also combines with a youth program, creating internships that give young adults hands on work experience.

Oh, and you may have seen these commercials:

Levi's has invested a lot in this campaign, including investing a lot in Braddock.  They have pledged to help build a new community center and give the community a million dollars over two years. Here is an article on the Levi's ad campaign made in Braddock, and the relationship between the town and Levi's.

There is some skepticism and criticism about this campaign.  But when they run ads like this about work, Pittsburghers (and many others) are going to identify with them.

Here is Fetterman on Colbert, discussing the ad campaign and changes to the town.

Interesting stuff for a town that may be the rustiest of rust belt towns.