A map showing the area in which October Development is seeking to take on conservatorship of 97 properties, taken from the company's petition filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

March 2021 Develop PGH Bulletins: ‘Hostile takeover’ or ‘best practice’? Attorney explains massive North Side conservatorship bid

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 03/30/21: Attorney explains bid for conservatorship of 97 properties
A former City of Pittsburgh attorney who has filed an ambitious conservatorship petition said that it was driven by a developer’s desire to improve a neglected part of the North Side amid slow progress by a community group and government officials. Dan Friedson, who was an assistant city solicitor from 2014 through late 2019, filed a March 5 petition on behalf of East Allegheny-based October Development, seeking conservatorship over 97 properties in and around that neighborhood. Of the properties, 29 are owned by the city, two by the Urban Redevelopment Authority [URA], eight by the Community Association of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown [CASGED] and the rest by an assortment of individuals and apparent businesses or nonprofit entities.

Urban Ecologist and Professor, Dr. Marijke Hecht shares how design patterns influenced by systemic racism affect green space and the plant and pest variety in cities across the country and Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Courtesy photo)

Better nature, better relationship, better planet — A conversation with a Pittsburgh urban ecologist

Are discussions about the non-human natural world relevant to folks outside of climate change and environmentalist circles? After listening to Pittsburgh urban ecologist Marijke Hecht, you’ll understand how everyone plays a role in creating the environment. For episode 6, we’re reviewing a Science Magazine article on how design patterns influenced by systemic racism affect green space and the plant and pest variety in your neighborhood. Do you see more weeds or butterflies where you live? Hecht discusses her work as an urban ecologist and how community design, race and mental health are all related in Pittsburgh’s environmental ecosystem.

In the shadow of the opioid epidemic, how should we care for patients in pain? Reflections after breaking my neck.

I broke my neck four months ago. I fell in my backyard and landed on my head, fracturing my first cervical vertebra in three places and dislocating my first and second vertebrae. Within 24 hours, those vertebrae were fused with surgical screws, rods and spacers, and I woke to a series of frightening, disturbing — and probably entirely typical — hospital encounters. 

To friends, I’ve described my post-surgical hospital care as characterized by “pain mismanagement” — but I don’t think my experience was either unusual or against any rules of in-patient care. Rather, I suspect, it was the result of an attitude that is embedded in for-profit medicine and enhanced by institutionalized suspicion of patients’ accounts of their pain. 

I’ve found myself pondering what it is that drives the scorn many of us notice in medical personnel when it comes to pain care: is it narcophobia, understandably driven by the opioid epidemic, but inappropriately applied? Or is it a dimension of the objectification that is necessary to a model of care driven by profit?

Etta Cetera (left) and Avis Lee (right) at SCI Cambridge Springs Prison in Crawford County, PA. Etta and Avis co-founded Let's Get Free: The Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee in 2013, to end death by incarceration and to challenge the "outdated and dysfunctional" commutation process in Pennsylvania. (Photo illustration by Natasha Vicens/PublicSource)

Episode 5, Season 2: Let’s get free — A Pittsburgh-based prison abolitionist’s point of view

It’s not every day you meet someone who can say they’ve helped someone get their freedom back. I mean, not anytime after the 1860s, and not from someone who isn’t a lawyer or police officer. And not in 2021, because who still needs to be given their Constitutionally recognized freedom these days? For this episode, you’ll meet Etta Cetera, a colorful Pittsburgh artist, community organizer and prison abolitionist envisioning a world where punishment for violence and crime doesn’t involve prisons. We discuss what she sees as the day-to-day injustices that come with imprisonment and how she went from virtually having no political consciousness to adopting the mission of a prison abolitionist.