Look for a series on CONNECT, The Congress of Neighboring Communities, to debut in mtl in April. The brainchild of Mt. Lebanon resident David Miller, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, CONNECT seeks to spark a constructive dialogue among the city oif Pittsburgh and the 35 municipalities that share a portion of its border. The suburbs comprise 56 percent of the county’s residents.
One goal of the initiative, which began in 2008, is to debunk the myth that cities and suburbs think differently—that suburbs have different agendas from the city,” said Miller in a recent interview. The inability to think across municipal boundary lines creates division and isolation, he added, when in fact both the city and the suburbs make up the “urban core” and share similar challenges, ranging from delivering effective emergency medical services to dealing with water and sewage problems.
In the coming months, CONNECT will be selecting two representatives (engaged citizens who are not elected or appointed municipal officials) to serve on a regional citizens advisory council , which will pursue the goal of creating an ongoing regional dialogue, bringing issues from their own municipalities to the Congress and sharing ideas from the Congress with their local governments.
Miller, 64, who early in his career worked as a city manager and a City of Pittsburgh official, sees Mt. Lebanon as playing a leadership role in CONNECT, serving as a translator between the city and the first ring suburbs and visa versa.
CONNECT is still a fledgling, Miller says: “We’re in kindergarten.” But he has seen great changes in government cooperation over the past few years. “Many of the conversations we are having would not have taken place 10 years ago,” he says.
If you know someone who might make a good candidate for CONNECT’s Citizen’s Advisory Council, contact Municipal Manager Steve Feller at 412-343-3620.