I’m Jim Crutchfield, the president of the PublicSource Board of Directors. Born in McKeesport, I grew up in Pittsburgh and lived in a lot of other places, but I called Pittsburgh home no matter where I moved. I love Pittsburgh.
I didn’t grow up blind to Pittsburgh’s inequities, however. The night my mother, my two brothers and I arrived in our new hometown I saw a big hole in the ground where the Lower Hill District used to be. The hole was where the now razed Civic Arena would go. The poor people who’d lived there were scattered. Our little broken family moved into the Bedford Dwellings housing projects in the Middle Hill. When I was old enough to hail a taxi to take me home, I couldn’t get a cab to go there. I learned Pittsburgh police officers weren’t always my friends. They might hurt me. I once was an eyewitness in a case of pure police brutality.
The great tragedy of Pittsburgh’s glorious rise out the detritus of steel’s decline is it remains a city socially and economically divided.
From the beginnings of what would become PublicSource, I’ve been a supporter. I started a long journalism career in Pittsburgh, and I’ve never stopped believing fine journalism can make a difference. Pittsburgh is someplace special, but the city and the region around it won’t fulfill their potential until the social and economic gaps are closed or a least narrowed significantly. There were reasons those cab drivers wouldn’t take me home. They were afraid, and some people where I lived, out of anger or despair, might’ve hurt them. Both sides of the divide fear the other. I see PublicSource’s serious, public-service journalism as a way of bringing people’s ideas together, to face down fears and to address problems.
Please join me in supporting PublicSource right now, when every dollar you and I give will be matched by a dollar from News Match 2017.
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?