In the latest, greatest episode of our “Best Thing, Worst Thing” project, we swing through Western Pennsylvania to visit the famed steel city of Pittsburgh. There may be three rivers and hundreds of bridges, but I take you on a trip to the less obvious places in search of best and worst things: to a machine shop where Chinese students and high school girls are working together; to a Sunday morning church service; and to the “Yugoslav Room” with a local poet.
If you’ve never heard of the project before, catch the previous 11 episodes here. When you are ready to learn about the hardest part of designing a robot, click over to the City Council Chronicles podcast to download this latest episode. Or you can play it below.
Episode 12: Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh had a reputation as a steel-producing city in Western Pennsylvania and now is known more for its robotics, technology, and medicine. It has a population of 300,000 and is defined by hills, rivers, and bridges. In our visit, we watch a high school team assemble robots with visiting Chinese students; attend a picnic in a park; and experience a Baptist church service. We also hear from a poet, a retired educator, a recently-returned young mother, and a “Girl of Steel.”
This week, we air the newest episode of the “Best Thing, Worst Thing” project featuring a big-name city: Richmond, Virginia. I talked with many different residents about their favorite and least favorite things about Virginia’s capital. Many brought up the city’s ties to the Confederacy and the legacy of segregation. Others talked about the extensive collection of neighborhoods. You’ll come with me to a rally with the mayor, stroll along an island, and visit the pew where Jefferson Davis sat in church.
For an explanation of the project, check out the page here. If you are ready to learn which historical figure had turkey quills shoved up his nose, head to the City Council Chronicles podcast to download the latest episode. Or you can play it below.
Richmond is a city of 220,000 people and the capital of Virginia. It was also the capital of the Confederacy and that legacy still lingers. The James River provides recreational opportunities and the Amtrak station provides a connection to Washington, D.C. and beyond. During our visit, we stand in the middle of the water, attend a rally with the mayor, and visit a restaurant that will be gone in a year. We hear from a real estate agent, some college students, a teacher, a tour guide, people who have moved away and returned, and two political watchdogs.
It’s time for the newest installment of the “Best Thing, Worst Thing” project! You probably have not heard of Lake Forest, Illinois, but it is one of numerous Chicago suburbs along the North Shore of Lake Michigan. If you are a lover of trees, animals, or college towns, this is right up your alley. Oh, and the alleys in Lake Forest are beautiful also, by the way.
For an explanation of the project, check out the page here. If you are ready to pet some horses and reptiles with me, come on down to the City Council Chronicles podcast to download the latest episode. Or you can play it below.
Episode 9: Lake Forest, Illinois
Photo source: Google Street View
Lake Forest is about 30 miles north of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan. With a population of 20,000, Lake Forest is very affluent, very tree-lined, and the home of Lake Forest College, a private liberal arts school. We hear from a city councilwoman about the most important location in the city, go pet some reptiles at an animal house, plant trees with college students, and visit a horse-riding academy for kids with disabilities.
Saying farewell to your fearless leader is a sad occasion. But luckily, retiring Mayor Sal Torres was not leaving without a playful jab at his successor.
“Before we get started, I want to make a note of introducing a couple people. Let me start with our newly elected council members: Mr. Glenn Sylvester. Hi, Glenn. Welcome,” His Honor gestured to the newbie councilman in the audience.
After the applause died down, Torres deadpanned, “thank you for not wearing the Hawaiian shirt tonight.”
“I like that Hawaiian shirt!” Council Member Judith Christensen bellowed.
The mayor flashed a good-natured smile Sylvester’s way. “We’re gonna rib you until…whenever.”
In other big news, the “Light Up Our World” art festival is this Saturday–with music, visual art, and…other attractions.
“Together we will form the shape of a heart to symbolize our love for art and our community. Our candles will be powerful and will bring light into darkness,” the organizer described enthusiastically.
Mayor Torres cut in as if she had forgotten something crucial. “You didn’t mention anything about storytelling.”
After a beat, a look of realization dashed across the woman’s face. “I’m very sorry: Mayor Sal is going to have a story time–”
“That’s not why I mentioned it!” the mayor exclaimed as the room laughed.
“You’ll be able to see the book projected on the screen,” she tantalized the crowd. Mayor Torres deftly pulled out the exact book in question and twirled it for dramatic effect.
“Ahhhhh,” the audience approved.
“There’s way too much text in this,” Torres joked. He appeared to be holding a children’s picture book.
With the art festival sufficiently previewed, it was time to move along. “We’re on to public hearings,” somewhat regretfully announced the mayor.
Council Member Christensen rubbed her hands giddily. “Now we get down to business!”
Even though everyone began walking out on his final meeting, the mayor held no grudge. “Thank you, everyone….Have a good night….Don’t forget your coat.”
It was time for public comment. “Probably my favorite time of night over the last few years,” Mayor Torres quipped. “Let me start with the always entertaining Marian Mann.”
An older woman in a bright patterned shirt crossed her arms on the podium. “When I realized that our mayor was retiring…20 years ago he won his election and he’s been here ever since. I want to thank you.”
She pointed to the aisle seat on her right. “I’ve been sitting there 38 years–”
“I know,” the mayor murmured.
“–But you’ve done a good job. I can’t believe your kids are so old! Also, I would like to say that I like the two people that were elected to council. They’re young. They’re fresh. Sal, you’ve really done a remarkable job and you’ve always been the true gentleman.”
She smiled, but barely. “I don’t know if I should say thank you,” she waved her arm at the mayor and turned back to her chair. “Oh, all right. Thank you.”
Final thoughts: Obviously, 10 out of 10 stars to the mayor. We at The Chronicles will deeply miss you, even though we only found out about you this week.