By Eve Picker
Did anyone imagine, just a few years ago, that we’d be having conversations about how to manage Pittsburgh’s growth? It wasn’t so long ago that the steel industry imploded, and the city’s population was reduced by half. Imagine a city with half of its buildings and land empty, vacant and unused. This was the Pittsburgh I moved to. But the story has changed. Last week I joined 600 other attendees at the P4 conference to talk about how to grow Pittsburgh equitably.
I learned all about good community development here. So many organizations dedicated to their neighborhoods, to better transportation, to better design, to river trails, and more. And I learned about community engagement and the many forms it takes. The process of engaging the community to create a lasting place has always been, and should always be, a part of the bottom line.
While the stakes are higher now because the demand is stronger, the problems of today also mirror the problems of the past. We want to make sure that everyone gets to enjoy the growth of the city. But as in the past, investment in underserved neighborhoods is dictated by financing. The impediments to inclusive and equitable development are often borne out of financing constraints. The problem of inclusive development therefore is a problem of equity.
That’s what led me to equity crowdfunding, and then to Small Change. Equity crowdfunding offers the opportunity for everyone to invest direct in the development of the neighborhoods they cherish and in the cities they love. Equity has become an accessible tool. And it portends another set of p’s: promise and permanence.