Video: Facebook Live interview with artist Vanessa German

Vanessa German is a renowned artist and a community activist. She runs ARThouse in Homewood, where youth in the neighborhood have the opportunity to immerse themselves in art. German most recently made news when she spoke out at a community conversation about the removal of a billboard that contained the message, “THERE ARE BLACK PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE.”

The Penn Plaza apartment complex in East Liberty before it was demolished in 2017. (Photo by Maranie Rae Staab/PublicSource)

Key moments in the Penn Plaza displacement saga

The displacement of more than 200 residents from Penn Plaza apartment complex in East Liberty was neither Pittsburgh's first mass displacement nor its most catastrophic. Forced relocations of this kind date back to the 1950s, when about 8,000 were removed from the Lower Hill to make way for what later became the Civic Arena. The Penn Plaza displacement has come to symbolize gentrification in Pittsburgh and has captured the public's attention unlike any in recent memory. As it stands, the proposed redevelopment of Penn Plaza would include two separate, multistory buildings that would feature ground-level retail and upper-floor office space. The Penn Plaza owners do not plan to build housing on the site and are compelled to direct about $3 million into a fund that would support improvements to the nearby Enright Park and help to create affordable housing within 1 mile of the site.

Hannah Watkins is a 16-year-old in the 11th grade at Woodland Hills High School. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

My family left Wilkinsburg. But it’s still our community, and I hope it flourishes.

Just like many other communities, Wilkinsburg has its issues and things that need to change. When we put our minds and ideas together, I do not doubt for a second that Wilkinsburg can become a better place — a safer and cleaner community where kids can continue to play games in their yards and parents don’t have to worry about stray bullets or loose dogs. Because they will know Wilkinsburg is a better place.