the tipping point
6% is the number, the tipping point. If a neighborhood can get that many creative workers, it becomes an attraction in its own right, according to a study by CEOs for Cities. We’re experimenting with this idea in a Pittsburgh neighborhood. Our blueprint for this neighborhood focuses on how to make this neighborhood such a 6% Place. The question we needed to answer was this one. What will it take to get 6% to move to a neighborhood? Answering this question took some time. We broke it down into several tasks.
the lay of the land
First, we determined the current lay of the land. Knowing exactly where things stand today helped us to determine how to attain our goal. We gathered much information including existing demographic data; maps of the neighborhood’s assets and liabilities, real estate holdings, foreclosures, gas shutoffs, liens and more, and maps of the creative work force in and around the neighborhood.
moving to Pittsburgh
Next we explored migration patterns and developed an understanding of how people move to and from Pittsburgh. With that knowledge we wrote a migration theory, the Chain Migration Theory, and an accompanying migration strategy, which tell us who our potential in-comers are and how we should pursue them.
Finally, we developed a process for human interaction. A diverse matrix of people were interviewed. Our purpose was to hear what they had to say, both those who live in the neighborhood (the locals) and those who might move there (the in-comers). We talked to them one-on-one and in pairs and asked them to attend larger brain storming sessions that we organized as well. At these sessions, many ideas were generated that helped to inform us later on how to make our 6% Place attractive to in-comers and a better place for the residents. These ideas were documented on hundreds and hundreds of sticky notes.
We systematically researched the Garfield, Penn Avenue and Friendship neighborhoods (the place, the people, the immigration patterns to Pittsburgh, and potential in-migrants) so that we could develop a meaningful strategy for the 6% Place experiment.
We were surprised by our demographic and physical findings. While the goal of the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative was to unite the fortunes of Friendship and Garfield more closely, this has not been accomplished to date. Penn Avenue remains a dividing line between wealth and poverty. This manifests itself in many ways. Amongst other indicators, Garfield has significantly higher rates of foreclosure and vacancy than Friendship, and lower housing values and rates of educational achievement. Additionally, there are still many vacant storefronts and land along Penn Avenue and there is far less diversity in Garfield than in Friendship.
Creative workers made up more than 7% of the population in Friendship but barely more than 0% in Garfield in 2000. This is a nine fold difference.
We conducted interviews and held focus groups so that we could learn more about the experience and attitudes of both current residents and those who might move to Garfield in the future. While thousands of comments were made in the interviews and brain storming events that we conducted, some common themes quickly emerged. It was surprising how much in-comers had in common with locals: both groups want a safe and affordable place to live with resources and opportunities for themselves and their children. We grouped what we heard into simple clusters. While this may be an oversimplification of rich and detailed material, it has helped us to identify the common threads in these conversations. Ultimately, this information led us to create the most meaningful incentives – ones that will both lift up the people who live in Garfield and entice in-migrants to live there.
what did we hear?
Each group had a distinctive viewpoint. From the locals we heard some strong reminders that Garfield’s identity is critical to them with quotes such as “I don’t want Garfield to become Friendship 2,” “I wish Garfield had a better reputation” and “I wish Penn Avenue belonged to Garfield.” From the in-comers we heard some strong reminders of what they hoped for and the bond they hope to make with their new home with quotes such as “Pittsburgh was my Paris” and “I’m paying it back.”
However, and most interestingly many comments were made by both groups and included these: I want an authentic place. I want an affordable life. I want a great business district. I want things to do, places to eat, and places to shop. I want good public transportation and a bikeable neighborhood. I want a clean and safe neighborhood. I want creativity and culture. I want cultural diversity. I want a voice. I want room for more than work. I want room to succeed. I want entrepreneurial opportunities. I want access to jobs. I want Garfield to be better. I want to feel part of something.
wishes & dreams
The commonality of these thoughts provide us with starting point for our Toolbox. Here are things that both groups want. None of these wishes threaten anyone’s identity or the identity of Garfield as a place. In fact, if these wishes and dreams were accomplished, Garfield would be a much better place for its residents and a much more desirable place for in-comers.
When we clustered all of these comments together, six groups emerged. These have become the six key priorities that we will remain focussed on. They are the most important issues for both the residents of Garfield and for our target creative worker group. By framing the 6% Toolbox around these priorities, our incentives or projects will serve the correct audience. These priorities are to:
Locals might view each priority a little differently than in-comers, but they remain equally as important to each group.
After all the gathering of information – maps, demographic information, thoughts and ideas – we were finally able to assemble the 6% Toolbox. The information we gathered had been with one purpose in mind: to ensure that the incentives we propose will be effective in reaching our 6% goals.
the toolbox emerges
We set ourselves the goal of always solving at least four of our six priorities with each incentive to be implemented. To find the best incentives we transposed each idea generated (all 400 of them) onto a spreadsheet and rated each against our six goals. Some additional principles guided us: first, participation by the residents of Garfield is key and second, we need to amplify the good that is already there. Finally, we also considered the speed of implementation and impact of of each incentive, to ensure that a full range of quick wins and big challenges were considered – quick versus slow, easy versus hard and big versus small.
And so the toolbox emerged. On September 7, 2011, we presented them to the community. At the same time, 7o Carnegie Mellon architecture students, working through the Urban Design Build Studio, began the exercise of turning each of these ideas into an implementable strategy, including brainstorming with community members in October 2011.
By early 2012, there was a lot to work with; summaries of that work are presented in the links below.
1. Tee Contest
2. BBQ cook-off
3. Dream property database
4. Expand the arts
5. Community internet radio
6. Dearborn Street market
7. Bikes on Broad
8. Exercise park
9. 6% space
10. Housing that set Garfield APART
11. Tiny housing
12. Kid Cafe
13. Garfield Hilltop Park
14. Bike incline
15. Girl cabs
16. Food incubator