In the second season of From the Source, we focused on quality-of-life issues.

What do you need to live well?
How much?
And at what cost?

Before we sign off and come back for Season 3 in the fall, here’s a recap of some of the Pittsburghers you met and the stories they brought to life this season.
Each episode featured stories and conversations that challenged what we think we know about the needs of individuals, families and households of various identities, experiences and backgrounds in our region.

For season 3, we want to talk about your growth, how you’ve broken barriers, how you were the first to do whatever it is that you do and how you’ve created space for what is uniquely you and your talents. What does it take, what did it take?

Contact me at jourdan@publicsource.org with your story or a recommendation of someone else we should feature. Thank you!

Jourdan: My role as host of From the Source is to bring you stories from your neighbors about our city. In season one, our focus was Pittsburghers adjusting their lives and their work to the coronavirus pandemic. In the second season, we focused our conversations on quality-of-life issues.

Naomi Ritter: I feel like in Pittsburgh we can be so truncated and this is my group of friends or this is my clique, whereas it’s like we need to have these spaces where it’s neutral ground. The food is good, the vibes are good and just having more of those spaces where it’s just our friendship is centered and our relationship-building is centered.

Jourdan: What do you need to live well? How much? And at what cost? Each episode featured sources and stories that challenge what we think we know about the needs of individuals, families and households of various identities, experiences and backgrounds in our region. This season jumped off with a personal conversation between colleagues. Janel Young, Naomi Ritter and I – all native Pittsburghers discussing Black womanhood in Pittsburgh and what gets left out of conversations that examines the unique experiences that shape and cage our identities.

Janel Young: I didn’t realize how white Pittsburgh was until I moved to New York and I would come back to visit and be like .. What? Oh my goodness!

Naomi Ritter: What is this?

Janel Young: Where am I? I don’t understand.

Naomi Ritter: Right.

Janel Young: And why one of the most visually or most visual tellers of that was like when I went natural with my hair and I came back, I was like, where are all the naturals? Like, where are they? Like, I couldn’t find them.

Naomi Ritter: We was talking about that on the way up here.

Janel Young: And I’m so thankful ya’ll both have locs. I keep trying to pretend I’m part of a loc gang with my one.

Naomi Ritter: Listen, but it’s flourishing though. It’s flourishing.

Janel Young: One day I’ll get to ya’ll level. But that was one of the first things that I was like, oh, like people are still worried about that here. In New York, you wouldn’t even think twice and just like being around crowds of Black people and groups of Black people that are all doing amazing things. And it’s not rooted in struggle all the time. And it’s not like we can just celebrate and be happy and be joyful and be grateful for each other and build relationships. And I came back and I was like, oh, OK, I have a lot of catching up to do, or is it catching up or is it rewinding? Like that’s the part I’m trying to figure out.

Naomi Ritter: And see and that’s it. Ya’ll have a lot of catching up to do, not me.

Jourdan: In episode seven, we introduced you to LaToya Johnson-Rainey, owner of a Hair Boutique Shadyside. Pulling from her personal experience with tragedy, she launched a hybrid salon and retail space for Pittsburghers, needing medical wigs and hairpieces.
LaToya Johnson-Rainey: And so when I was 18 years old, I was in a bad car accident and my mom was killed in that car accident. After that, I experienced hair loss and I was young. I was 18. And the places that they sent me to get a wig to get makeup were all medical-based places, and they were for older women, white women, you know, nothing really fit me, you know. Being young, dating, coming out of this tragedy and just having to re-learn life again, you know, confidence was a big part of that and it’s hard to be confident when you don’t feel pretty or when you don’t even feel like yourself. It wasn’t that comfortable for me to go to a hair salon. You know, it’s out in the open, all of those things. It was something privately that I had to deal with and figure it out.

Jourdan: The common thread throughout many of our episodes this season was discussing the harm done to people in our city when our decision-making and values center Eurocentric points of view only. We discuss how this plays out in the health care received by poor people and people of color and how Black students are treated on local college campuses.

Morgan Ottley: And we literally gnawed Pitt out, the Black students, and it was like, this is what our experience is like, this is why we hate it here and this is what you need to do to fix it because this is ridiculous. And then in that meeting, we were like, we’re going to write a list of demands. Just so you know, it’ll be on your desk very shortly. You have to react, like you have to respond and fortunately, the chancellor was like all right, cool, I’m ready for it, like, let me know. So, yeah, I guess we expected them to respond, but I don’t think we expected them to respond on the level to which they did, because it honestly has felt like I have not heard BAS [Black Action Society] voice in so many mouths more, than I’ve heard it this year and in my four years at Pitt. And I’ve been in BAS since I was a freshman. And so I was like, I don’t think our organization has ever had the platform that it’s had since this year.

Jourdan: But season 2 wasn’t all heavy material. There were a few bright spots. Tayshawn and his mother Taelor shared with us what work-life balance looks like for a burgeoning culinary chef.

Taelor: Well my way of parenting, whenever my children bring anything to my attention that they want to try is to act on it.

Tayshawn: A teaspoon of lemon juice there. Little bit of lemon zest And a half cup of sugar. We’re going to turn it down to low heat.

Taelor: Oh, Tayshawn, make some good alfredo. I tell you. Listen, that sauce is like sauce I’ve never had before. All Tayshawn’s sauces are from scratch. No jar sauces over here.

Tayshawn: My advice for other kids with interest is, to focus, try hard and they can accomplish anything they imagine.

Jourdan: Try hard and you can accomplish anything you can imagine. I agree with Tayshawn. We envision Pittsburgh to be a city in a region where people are responsive to the news, aware and connected to the flow of information shaping the place that they live. Over the last year, we’ve learned new things about how Pittsburgh talks to each other, what we need to talk about more, how you share the news and how we can contribute to raising our city’s collective conscience.

We want to take what we’ve learned from season two and expand into a new space for season three. We want to talk to you about your growth, how you’ve broken barriers, how you were the first to do whatever it is that you do and how you’ve created space for what is uniquely you and your talents. What does it take? What did it take?
So that we can continue to do this in an authentic way, in a surprising way, we need to hear from you or at least get your suggestions for people we should know and who we should talk to, because I don’t know everybody in Pittsburgh, we don’t know everybody in Pittsburgh. We need to know from you who we should talk to. First and foremost, thank you for all of your support. The emails, the shares, the comments. It’s the energy that keeps pushing Pittsburgh stories forward, further. Please keep the tips coming.
If you’re unsure if your story fits into the From the Source podcast, reach out. Set up an introductory call with me, the host of From the Source, Jourdan Hicks. You can contact me at Jourdan@Publicsource.org I’m very excited to chat with you and to meet you and to talk more about From the Source and PublicSource in general with you.

So please continue to follow us at PublicSource.org where we are committed to producing stories for a better Pittsburgh. Thanks ya’ll. Be well.

This fact-based local reporting drives impact and creates change. Help power that impact.

James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” PublicSource exists to help the Pittsburgh region face its realities and create opportunities for change. When we shine a light on inequity in our region, like the “completely unacceptable” conditions in low-income housing in McKeesport, things change. When we ask questions about policymakers’ decisions, like how Allegheny County is handling COVID-19 safety for its employees, things change. When we push for transparency on issues that affect the public, like in the use of facial recognition software by Pittsburgh police, things change.

It takes a lot of time, skill and resources to produce journalism like this. Our stories are always made available for free so that they can benefit the most people, regardless of ability to pay. But as an independent, nonprofit newsroom, we count on donations from our readers to support this crucial work. Can you make a contribution of any amount (or better yet, set up a recurring monthly gift) to help ensure we can continue to report on what matters and tell stories for a better Pittsburgh?

Jourdan is a senior community correspondent at PublicSource. Previously, Jourdan was engaged as a community-based educator in the Hazelwood section of the city. A lifelong Pittsburgh resident, she’s...