Friday, June 19, 2009

G20 Brainstorming Sessions Draws 200

Flags and promoting an international feel were hot topics at the first of three G20 brainstorming events held by Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. After a brief opening by African American Chamber of Commerce CEO Doris Carson Williams the approximately 200 people gathered at Point Park University began throwing out ideas and concerns. Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership CEO Michael Edwards says they are trying to figure out how to provide WIFI to all the 3,000 media representatives expected to be in town for the summit September 25th and 26th. He says his group will also be tripling its clean up patrols in the two months leading up to the summit. Most of the suggestions focused on making the city look its best and several of those suggestions revolved around the use of the flags of the nations included in the G20. One would have them displayed on buildings around town, another on the bridge pier off Market Street, a third would display them along the rivers at the point and a suggestion was made to put them all along the Blvd of the Allies. Ideas for lighting the plantings along Grant Street, sprucing up the inbound side of the Fort Pitt Tunnel, holding a special light up night and a plan to fill all the empty storefronts downtown with art were all suggested. Several of those gathered wanted to watch out for the thousands of protesters who will descend on the city for the event. Former City Councilman Sala Udin thinks a forum running concurrently with the summit to allow protesters to have a “discussion” would be a good idea while Mel Taka warns that if the city does not welcome the protesters it will ruin all of the other efforts to promote the city. He pointed to Seattle as proof. When the World Trade Organization gathered in that city in 1999 things turned ugly and the event is still used as a rallying cry for some activists. Several other suggestions centered on the ideas of environmental stewardship and sustainability. Those ideas ranged from promoting local green business and projects to printing all G20 related materials on recycled paper. Pittsburgh has long seen itself as an international city. From all of the ethnic groups represented in the region and the unique history of each group, to the long list of international businesses that call Pittsburgh home. Several of those gathered for the session looked to exploit that feel with international business forums, the use of multi lingual residents to help international visitors get around and traditional performances by various ethnic groups.

The next session will be held Tues. June 23, 12:00-1:30 p.m. at Robert Morris University at the Sewall Center. The final session will be held the same day from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Hall.

Listen to the entire (one hour) Session 1 here.

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