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September 16, 2009

G-20 Tent City

Fascinating, thought-provoking comment by the omniscient Bram Reichbaum, located in the third comment on this blog post:
... But as to the City's reputation, one could make the argument that it is the duty of Pittsburgh (if it is to optimize the G-20 opportunity) to pro-actively become as accommodating, impressive, and flat-out cool as possible for every single one of our audiences, even if we were not that way before.

Besides let's face it, the protesters are bound to be more easily impressed with small local niceties than are G-20 principals and finance ministers, who I'm sure hear song-and-dance routines like ours everywhere they go.

Bram raises the intriguing notion that the protesters are our audience along with the media and the potentates. If nothing else, if the protesters are a younger group than finance ministers (which seems likely), then we'll be making a good impression among people who are going to be around a lot longer.

It's an interesting question. Does Pittsburgh profit by establishing campgrounds and positioning porta-potties and showers? Would we get a better outcome if we were welcoming? Would it move the impact of the protesters out of the City proper, and into the County? How do you police a tent city — and how does that compare to the impact of a distribution of homeless people across the city/county?

WWRFD? (What would Richard Florida do?)


Jim Russell said...

I don't think a city could have been more welcoming to protesters than Seattle 1999. The trick is to police successfully the Summit. I think you'll find most of the tent city residents admirably self-policing.

I think the idea of approaching the protesters as the demographic to impress is a brilliant strategy. By and large, the residents will be running point on that front.

Bram Reichbaum said...

I have to say, I didn't think it was that novel an idea. It seemed like Sen. Jim Ferlo was getting at this in his early attempts to arrange a free speech zone ne democracy hangout joint replete with "amenities" near the convention center.

Though it's true I do hear about fifty times as much about impressing the political entourages and the out-of-town reporters. Yet if there really are "professional protesters", or avid hobbyists who do a lot of traveling for these purposes, then it wouldn't hurt to devote some thought to imparting to them a positive impression. In fact, if we could establish that vibe early, it might make things a heck of a lot easier during the summit itself.

Anonymous said...

How about a tent city at the South Park Fairgrounds? Lots of space and basic amenities; easy access to the 47L "T" line and the MMVT bus line. Some truly beautiful -- if rustic -- spots to unwind and declaim poetic manifestoes to the stars. Maybe come up with a special cut-rate two day pass for G-20 visitors of all political stripes.

South Park is just over the hill from where I live, so you can call me a "YIMBY" -- YES, I think it would be cool to host a few thousand outta-towners in our backyard for a week. Show `em how we do things around here, and maybe learn a thing or two in return.

Either way, it would make for some great stories to share with our kids and grandkids!

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