Collecting the first-person history of community elders in particular has highlighted the disconnect among generations and opened my eyes to experiences from Pittsburgh's queer past I had never considered before the project, experiences that I now realize must be preserved.
Crystal Jennings’s life was thrust into Pittsburgh’s affordable housing saga in July 2015. Her father, Jerome, was one of more than 200 Penn Plaza residents forced to move from the apartment complex. At the time, her father was in failing health. He died of liver cancer in May 2018, a little more than a year after being displaced. However, Crystal’s ties to the Penn Plaza community would only grow stronger over time. She is a core organizer for Penn Plaza Support and Action and helps take care of former residents as if they’re family.
The work of confronting racism has historically been left to people of color. As such, the very people who are oppressed hold the responsibility of transforming the power structures that subjugate them. Imagine lying on the ground with someone’s foot on your neck and you alone are left to overpower your aggressor.
Vanessa German, a visual and performance artist based in Pittsburgh, has written three poems addressed to Antwon Rose II this week during the trial of former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld who fatally shot the teenager on June 19.
The lessons we can learn from each other can help us shape a stronger, more connected city, rather than a city of disconnected neighborhoods. We can begin to build bridges that allow us to look around and really see what others are experiencing. We can be better neighbors by learning where our fellow Pittsburghers are going, why and how they are getting there.
Seneca Valley High School senior Hiruni Herat earns good grades, plays clarinet in marching band and works weekends at a donut shop. But beyond a typical teenage life in Cranberry Township, she’s running a nonprofit called the Close to My Heart Foundation to ease poverty in her family’s native Sri Lanka.