How PublicSource will serve you during COVID-19

Dear readers, 

I hope you and the people you care about stay safe and healthy during these uncertain and frightening times. We are saddened with you by the extent to which COVID-19 has disrupted daily routines, businesses and the community at large. Let us all hope that this coronavirus pandemic is not disruptive for long and we will find patience, resilience and humanity to rebuild. 

But while this unprecedented crisis is evolving, we, at PublicSource, will be working to provide timely essential information to you, our readers and supporters. So, to that end, I wanted to share with you our coverage plans and let you know how we are taking precautions as a newsroom to provide a safe environment for our journalists, business staff, sources and the community we serve. 

The latest on coronavirus in the Pittsburgh region

If there is a time when reliable information is essential, this time is now. So, we’ve been focused on reporting easy-to-follow details about the coronavirus in Allegheny County and across the state, including the latest tally of cases.

Illustration of novel coronavirus. (Graphic by Ryan Loew and Natasha Vicens/PublicSource)

Why municipal fragmentation makes the wider Pittsburgh region especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic

Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. As a health and development economist, I study how households make decisions under uncertainty. Specifically, I look at how bureaucracy, social stratification and place affect those decisions. The coronavirus pandemic is that sort of uncertainty. And looking at the Pittsburgh region through the lens of my expertise, I worry that our region will be hit especially hard by COVID-19.

‘I’m just me.’ A non-binary second grader in Allegheny County shares her experiences with identity and acceptance.

R, a second grader at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in the Bethel Park School District, is like her classmates in many ways. She loves cheetahs, jumping in big piles of leaves and watching the Lego Avengers save the world from bad guys. Science is her favorite class, especially learning about weather, as she hopes to become a meteorologist one day. 

R, whose first initial is used to protect her privacy, also identifies as non-binary. “I'm not a girl, not a boy,” R said. “I’m just me.”

GLAAD, a national nonprofit that promotes LGBTQ acceptance in media, defines non-binary as a term used by individuals “who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman.” Non-binary is different from transgender, which GLAAD defines as people “whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.”

Because most research on population does not include non-binary as a gender category, it is hard to say how many Americans overall identify as non-binary.

young person drawing

Are Allegheny County schools adequately supporting the mental health of their LGBTQ students?

A few dozen students sat at long cafeteria tables, each with a blank paper figure in front of them. They would spend the next hour decorating the figures in a way that represents their identities. 

“The word of the day is ‘identity,’” art teacher Lauren Rowe said, giving directions to the West Mifflin Area High School students. 

The activity was part of a November joint meeting with the school’s gay-straight alliance [GSA] and the  Stand Together Team mental health club. After the meeting, the figures were displayed in the hallways. To protect students’ identities, there were no names attached to them. “We want our school to see how we proudly identify ourselves,” said Rowe, who also serves as the Stand Together Team faculty sponsor.

Bikers on Forbes Avenue in Downtown during a July 28, 2019 Open Streets event. (Photo by Teake Zuidema/Publicsource)

With more investment in bike infrastructure, will Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods benefit equally?

Over the years, the City of Pittsburgh has been supportive of cycling. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who’s been pejoratively called “Bike Lane Billy,” wants to get more residents out of cars and on bicycles. “A 21st century city is a multi-modal city,” Peduto said in a 2017 debate during his reelection campaign. “It is a city that is designed for cars and bikes and pedestrians, and public transit, and not simply the automobile. That’s 1950s.”

Mayor Peduto took time on Wednesday to talk about how to move forward politically after being criticized by some for coming out against further petrochemical developments in Western Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Shunned and praised: Peduto reflects on his ‘in the moment’ remarks against petrochemical expansion

Even though he didn’t realize his remarks would spark such an intense reaction, Peduto is adamant that he did the right thing and has begun to put together a plan for how to move forward. He has been meeting with leaders who were upset by his stance and is hoping to work with them to convene a forum where advocates for the petrochemical industry can sit down with other stakeholders in the city and region.