“We have to operate out of a lens of equity and inclusion” says Lane (no relation to Ms. Betty Lane, although he calls her “his heroine.”) “Everyone needs a chance to grow within the city, to be able to stay and raise a and family. We need two trains running at the same time.”

The question is how can we bring people back into the city? he asks.

The Larimer Choice Community Grants ($30 million awarded by HUD) will help to attract people back into these neighborhoods and allow them to stay. The African American Neighborhoods of Choice through the URA and Heinz Endowments will also assist by creating create districts within populations that give people incentives to return to an urban lifestyle.

“Juice UP has had a lot of support from the community. Imagine five or ten Juice UPs doing different things in the city. When someone comes in and gets their juice, it provides a higher quality of life for the city as a whole. It creates these third spaces.”

Jessie Ramey courtesy of In These Times

Jessie Ramey courtesy of In These Times

Advocating for children

Jessie Ramey is a scholar, activist and blogger. Her blog, Yinzercation—as in yinzer nation+education—challenges the Corbett administration’s defunding of public education in Pennsylvania.

A fifth generation Pittsburgher and Point Breeze resident, Ramey is a visiting scholar at Pitt and a social historian of working families. She is a member of Great Public Schools Pittsburgh, advocating for a “community schools” model that would open up closed school buildings to house social services for children and families.

She has been twice invited by the White House to meet with President Obama’s senior policy advisors.

“I like the way you posed the question,” she says. “Pittsburgh has been named as the most wonderful in everything, so this is exactly the right question to ask—most livable for whom?”

“We have a long way to go when it comes to being the most livable for all of our families. The statistics reveal what its really like in Pittsburgh, particularly for our communities of color. Our city is one of the poorest places for African American children. About half of them are living in poverty.”

Ramey believes every child deserves the right to attend a great public school. With Yinzercation as her weapon, she is generating momentum for an educational justice movement in southwestern Pennsylvania. The blog is a clearinghouse for news, conversation and civil debate on educational issues that she shares with volunteer parents, students, teachers and community members.

“We have to make sure that every kid has access to a great public school,” she says. “I’m also excited about the Mayor’s push for universal early childhood education. If we really put our minds and our hearts behind giving every kid early educational opportunities, Pittsburgh will be a more diverse and wonderful place for everybody.”