“Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful”?

I have to laugh at the sign every time I drive by one on the Highway.  “Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful”. Someone needs to pull out that sign.

There is no far worse depressed and ugly town than Braddock in Pittsburgh, PA.  Artists have scrambled to throw some paint on the old buildings to make this “brighter” and someone threw a hashtag KeepBraddockBeautiful on a wall, which I find so entertaining.

Upon entering Braddock, it is like being transported to a post-war apocalypse.  No wonder why the filmmaker of the Deer Hunter used the steel mills to depict the devastation and disillusionment of working-class people after Vietnam War.  Today’s war is bad air quality. Nothing is being done from the steel mills to do anything from what they created back in the 1970s.  My Dad calls this area “Stinkin’ Rankin”.  It is upsetting to see mankind has wrecked Braddock and shred it into bits and pieces.  To me, Braddock should be classified the same as a shantytown in an impoverished Indian village.  There is no clean water, no clean air, and no place for people to gather.  Except if you venture to a one-acre farm.  This is Pennsylvania in 2019.  This is what people are living with.  There is no light, no beauty, no relaxation. Just work and oppression controlled by the steel, oil, and gas, and pharmaceutical gods of Pennsylvania.

Surprisingly, I met a young couple from Brooklyn at the Braddock Farm on Saturday who moved here because they liked the “industrial” look.  She said it and then bit into a processed hot dog.  Just goes to show you how much she cares about her health….

Filthy buildings

Braddock is filthy.

The overwhelming loads of abandoned buildings, crumbling sidewalks, dust balls, and grime from the US Steel Mill and all the diesel trucks racing up and down the street, the weed-smoking dope heads hanging outside the police building, is just enough to make you want to vomit.  I just wonder, how do the US Steel Mill truck drivers think of Braddock Ave, every day, as they make their errands? What do they see for the future?  What is their hope for the next generation here?

The new buildings are mostly focused on health care, go figure. The Allegheny Health Network camped out here, for the obvious reasons to help the sick, elderly, disabled of Braddock from years of being trapped in poor air, poor food, poor quality of life.  Then there’s Molly’s Mitchell’s Counseling services as well to help people suffering from drugs, alcohol, and depression.

Then, there are two striking buildings which really aggravate me: A fancy “eclectic” restaurant, Superior Motors and Gentlemen’s Brewery, catered to the well off who only care about their booze and having a good time.  Why would former Mayor Fetterman even think this is a good idea for Braddock? This community desperately needs serious help, from infrastructure, clean water, clean air, playgrounds, and shops. Not beers and fancy plates.

Dirty capitalism 

And I think I know the core of the issue. Americans like to “toss money” around to fix things. Build this condo – and they will move in.  Build a fancy restaurant – that’ll attract hipsters.  How about let’s start examining the existing programs, talk to residents, and come up with sustainable development projects?

I called Corporate Communications at US Steel and the press officer had no idea about the Braddock Community Farm.  Before I even went into explaining about Grow Pittsburgh, she was already talking about how US Steel can toss some money.  According to the American Lung Association, Allegheny County has an F rating when it comes to air quality. I am tired of these major corporations just throwing money around to “solve” the issue.  I read that the Cracker plant is doing some jokester like moves too for the residents. They’re just installing monitors around the premise to see if the pollution reaches a threshold and residents can “check the data” on a public website. This is absolutely ignorant to the core issue which is actually using renewable energy instead of oil and gas.

Forgotten Veterans

The other upsetting situation with Braddock Farms is seeing people like Bruce.  He’s not from Braddock but volunteers here at the farm. He is an Army veteran, has a dragon tattoo and a Chinese symbol of “hope” on his arm. His tour of duty brought him to China at one point, and he was very inspired. His daughter is into Asian culture too. I believe there is a lot to learn between the U.S. and China and reconciliation over the years. So many youth in the U.S. like K-Pop, bubble tea, anime, and many other Asian cultural influences. There has to be a bridge to connect these two countries better. I believe it for the youth and for a better future. They want to learn Korean, Mandarin, they want to travel and learn Eastern culture.

Bruce is a veteran since 2008 and he does not know what to do with his life. He has two teenagers, married, and going to garden as a way to connect with other people on a shared vision for green space and clean air.  He’s with Leadership Pittsburgh, and they have an intensive program where you have to apply to get in, and the coordinators show the veterans around Pittsburgh and talk about jobs — but they actually never place them in jobs!  It makes me wonder how many other veterans in Pittsburgh without jobs, wandering aimlessly finding their calling after serving? I also found out even though he spent 10 years in the service, he does not quality for the GI Bill. So, he’s had to pay out of pocket to help his children with educational goals.

So I’m on my next research to find out the data.  Update: I found the data.

There are three organizations who help the veterans. I will investigate if they actually place the veterans in good-paying jobs.

 PA Serves

Veterans Leadership Program of Southwestern PA

Pittsburgh Hires Veterans

According to Pittsburgh Hires Veterans, as of July 2019:

  • The unemployment rate in Pittsburgh is 2 percent higher than PA and the nation.
  • Pittsburgh Hires Veterans serves 9 counties and out of state.
  • PA has the 4th largest veterans population.  Allegheny County has the highest population  of veterans in PA. It even has a higher concentration than Philadelphia County.
  • The underemployed section is 16 percent higher than general population.

Author: Kimberly Kweder

33 years old, career woman, Pittsburgh native, and loves projects that involve communications, social media, and international development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *