Friday, March 1, 2013

"That’s exactly how I see Downtown – a diverse group of people experiencing a diverse offering."

By, Brian Kurtz--Research and Economic Development Manager

After much anticipation I found myself in the Pierce Art Studio on Saturday with experts, innovators, entrepreneurs and generally gifted people for TEDxGrandviewAve, an event - in the words of event organizers - “here to give [innovators] the opportunity to showcase their efforts, share their realizations, and inspire those around them to develop ideas worth spreading.”

Photo by, Mike Woycheck
TEDx featured a total of nine speakers that were aimed at innovating oneself, one’s community, and one’s thoughts with topics that included stepping outside of the virtual realm, changing one’s brain in an effort to refresh the mind, redefining communities through space and grassroots efforts, being positive to promote good mental health, and moving quickly from words to accomplishments. The Pillow Project provided a thought provoking performance that is indescribable with words.

Photo by, Mike Woycheck
The whole day I continued to ask myself - how do I relate these topics and talks to what I do on a daily basis – how do I use these talks and connections to make a better Downtown? I hear too often “There’s nothing to do downtown” or “Everything closes at 5” and my favorite “Who would want to live ‘down there’”. So how do we take a lesson from Matthew Keener and “design” Downtown to change the brains of others? Maybe, to paraphrase Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, we reinvent what others perceive to be impossible, and redefine the Downtown community through better space planning as Christine Mondor models throughout the city. Don Charlton, founder and CEO of The Resumator – a Pittsburgh start-up – and his mantra of taking an idea from words to actions to accomplishments at a quick pace was energizing and noteworthy in that entrepreneurship is not just about starting a new business.I doubt I’m the first, but let me say that we would love to see Don’s business and his team call Downtown Pittsburgh home.

I don't have the space to talk about every speaker, but be sure to visit the TEDxGrandviewAve website to view videos of the fantastic talks!

As unintentional as it may have been, Downtown was the perfect setting for this conference. Just look at the progress made over the past six years. New skyscrapers, a plethora of new apartments and condos, a reinvented Market Square, new ideas and activities to establish Downtown as the top of mind place for living, business and pleasure in the region. Pittsburgh is lucky to have people who are committed enough to the city and enterprise to spend a Saturday listening to the bright ideas and actions of others. These are probably the same people that will continue to grow Downtown and our region over the next six years. 

Photo by, Brian Kurtz

The evening concluded with an after party at SPACE on Liberty Avenue that also acted as the official launch of Urbanist – the new go-to guide for what makes Pittsburgh Pittsburgh. The party featured some of our favorite Downtowner’s – Bluebird Kitchen, Franktuary, Marty’s Market, Bar Marco and Pittsburgh Winery – in addition to other hot Pittsburgh restaurants and thirst-quenchers. The Pillow Project continued their entertaining improvisational “FreeJazz” movement and music. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing them in Downtown very soon.
It was quite invigorating to walk around SPACE (featuring a new thought-provoking exhibit called “Mean Girls”) and see people from every age, race, social, economic and artistic realm all taking in the food, beverage, music, dance, and art choices the evening had to offer. That’s exactly how I see Downtown – a diverse group of people experiencing a diverse offering.

Photo by, Brian Kurtz
There’s plenty of room to go and grow, and we at the PDP are working hard on a daily basis to make Downtown a true 18 hour/day neighborhood. But that room for growth compounded with the energy and ideas at coming out of TEDxGrandviewAve is what makes me even more excited for what comes next.
P.S. Our upcoming Annual Meeting is a great opportunity to hear more about what we do to make Downtown a better place and what to expect in the next year. I hope to see you there.

No comments:

Post a Comment