Street sign that reads "Kindness Zone"

Here’s how you can support organizations and efforts helping people affected by the coronavirus outbreak

The novel coronavirus is changing how we live and work in very disruptive ways. These organizations are helping to provide food, money and other assistance to those impacted by the shutdowns. Here are some ways you can contribute:

Food assistance:

Donate to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank as it feeds local families during the pandemic. Or volunteer. Volunteer for 412 Food Rescue.

Thousands of patients in Pittsburgh region have turned to telemedicine due to coronavirus fears

As people in the Pittsburgh area are seeking advice about the coronavirus without exposing or being exposed to the virus, local hospitals have been seeing the number of patients seeking urgent care by video chat skyrocket in recent days, according to UPMC and Allegheny Health Network. Conversely, the number of patients seeking urgent care in person has fallen.

Photo of meters.

Moratoriums on evictions, utility shut-offs now are necessary, but policymakers should also plan for the post-coronavirus fallout

Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. When I worked as a caseworker for a local nonprofit here in Pittsburgh, every spring, I saw the same thing happen year after year. As soon as the winter utility moratorium lifted, we would have a surge in requests for utility assistance to prevent shut-offs. Often, utility bills were so large that we couldn’t realistically help most of the families who applied. For reasons of funding scarcity, we had to instill a strict policy aimed at helping only those whose utility bills were low enough to be helped, and avoided paying down utility bills that were likely to be shut off anyway (bills that were in the thousands).

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.

Pittsburgh resident paying bus fair before riding (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Kansas City embraced free transit. Here’s what the fare-free debate looks like in Allegheny County.

Across the country, activists and lawmakers have begun to discuss a radically different approach to making public transit accessible to residents: making it universally free to use. This discussion is also happening in Allegheny County, where public transit advocates hope for fares to be eliminated within 10 years. PublicSource has collected answers to key questions to help area residents understand the pros and cons and how Pittsburgh compares to other cities.

Changing toxic societal narratives with accountable interracial relationships

This essay is the second in a series on having conversations about the legacy of oppression, confessing complicity, reducing the harm we cause others, assimilation racism, building emotional resilience, and the practice of knowing and telling the larger experiences of our lives. The authors founded a consulting group focused on identity in 2014. “We are going to split up.”

During an anti-racism training some years ago, we learned a lesson that deeply informed our work as educators, creators, passionate critical thinkers and specialists in the field of interracial relationship studies. We’d come to the point of the training where the conversation turned to an in-depth examination of how white people and Black people have internalized racial superiority and inferiority, respectively, and would split into racial affinity groups to safely have this conversation. White-identified people were instructed to go in one room, breaking down the lyrics of the Macklemore song “White Privilege.” People of color were instructed to break down the lyrics of “All Falls Down” by Kanye West.

The Cover Up: On being a prop in the system we claimed to dismantle

This essay is the first in a series on having conversations about legacy oppression, confessing complicity, reducing the harm we cause others, assimilation racism, building emotional resilience, and the practice of knowing and telling the larger experiences of our lives. The authors founded a consulting group focused on identity in 2014. In our work, we seek to differentiate ourselves from “diversity and inclusion” consultants by expanding the definition of interracial relationships as a way to address societal inequity. We believe in order to create safe and equitable spaces, it is essential to first be present and connected with our own experience of the world and understand the way our identity (race, gender, class, ability, family, etc.) impacts how we move through it. Diversity and inclusion trainings often review definitions and information without asking for behavioral change.

Commentary: CMU’s map of Pittsburgh neighborhoods is a symptom of larger disinvestment and neglect

Earlier this month, many Pittsburgh residents were talking about a map Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) published of the campus and surrounding area. On the map, all predominantly Black neighborhoods were made invisible. They were not labeled. There were no outlines showing borders. It’s a sign to mean that these invisible neighborhoods are not spaces or places worth living, visiting or even mentioning. Still, as egregious as CMU’s map faux pas was, it is not outstanding in the context of this city.