Monday, September 21, 2009

It's G-20 Summit Week in Pittsburgh; Excitement is Beginning to Build, So Let's Relax and Make the Most Of It.

I just picked up my media credentials for the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. It's pretty quiet down there still. Mostly local media folks picking up their press passes. A few obvious out-of-towners, which is great to see, but the real rush probably won't start until Wednesday.

With our credentials we received a booklet called "The Inside Story" - complete with environmentally friendly press kit on a flash drive - about positive changes taking place in the region. We also received a "Media Transit Pass" good for free rides on Port Authority buses, the T light rail system and the Monongahela Incline from Sept. 21-27.

Walking along the streets of Pittsburgh outside the Convention Center, one sees stacks of steel grates to be used as barricades around the security perimeter. Some Apache helicopters could be seen circling the area this morning, but not exactly a heavy security presence quite yet.

The people of Pittsburgh seem to be holding their collective breath a little. We're all a bit relieved that the G-20 is finally here, although I know some people are sick of hearing about it. Sorry folks, but we will soon be the center of the world's attention, whether we like it or not, so why not make the most of it?

"While the media throws fat on the fire and ensures that the fear festers, I find myself excited and unafraid," writes my friend Eve Picker in her great blog, Utterly Opinionated. "Here is an opportunity to be seized. While hosting the G-20 Summit may not markedly change Pittsburgh’s slow and steady transformation, it might ignite something. The world will be watching and they will not see what they have been expecting to see."

Another friend, Brian O'Neill of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, wrote a nifty column on Sunday about preparations for the big event. He studies the history of big events in Pittsburgh, and points out that, one way or another, we've survived them all. The message I take from his words is simple: Relax.

I had to chuckle when Brian quoted his own financial
adviser, Joe Hadobas, who provided this spin on the upcoming events:

"We have a term for anarchists on Wall Street: investment bankers. Both are defined in this manner: Willful destroyers of other people's property; people acting without regard to their actions; people who serve no obvious social utility; people whose sole focus is self-interest masquerading as serving a greater good; people who scoff at rules and regulations.''

Added Mr. O'Neill (as he would be called in his own publication), "It's a toss-up who's capable of more damage, the folks in suits or the ones in black T-shirts, but both should be well represented this week."

Lots of people and lots of points of view will be represented in Pittsburgh this week. Many of them are here already. Look elsewhere on this blog for links to news media coverage from around the world.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not from Pittsburgh, although my son was born here 20 years ago, which I have been told makes me an honorary citizen. I have lived in several large cities, and I've visited many more in my 53 years, and I tell everyone that Pittsburgh offers nice reminders of all of them, but with less traffic and lower cost of living.

Since we really can't control who will come, or what they will say, it's my opinion that we should just keep an open mind and make the most of what promises to be a lot of attention for this city.

After all, we do have a little control over what people will think of Pittsburgh after they leave. Let's hope they think of us as people who are open to new ideas because new ideas can help make things better for us all. Just my opinion.

- Thomas Buell, Jr.


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