My stepdad is from Braddock, PA, a small working class town just on the eastern outskirts of Pittsburgh, but still within Allegheny county. Growing up we heard the classic, some over-inflated, some as real as the sky is blue, stories of growing up in a steel community. Getting an apple for Christmas if you were good, nothing if you weren’t. Braddock held a lure, a mystery to it, because when I was a kid it wasn’t “cool” to go into areas like that and revitalize and pump hope in the community.
All that has changed now. It is incredibly “cool” to find neighborhoods and help them along, and in many cases the artists that moved into these empty warehouses to make them into lofts are the new cowboys, the fearless ones letting the rest of us know “it’s ok” to go, settle, create commerce, opportunity and places to call home amongst the long-term residents who have seen-it-all.
When I first saw the video above, a single tear slid down my cheek. I’m serious! It’s such an incredible tribute to a town not just of survivors, but of people who continue to thrive, fight adversity and fight back. Part of Levi’s “Go Forth” campaign around their corporate social responsibility campaign that was recently named one of the best of the year by Forbes magazine.
Levi’s also partnered with IFC and the Sundance Channel to create “Ready To Work” which is about Braddock and has been airing segments on both networks, some of which you can see on Levi’s YouTube. The channel say, “We Are All Workers: Braddock, PA, a town of pioneers answering the call to mend what needs mending and build what’s theirs to build.”
Part of what the series talks about is the effort to repair and mend the Braddock branch of the Carnegie Library, another personal connection to me. So this whole campaign struck very close to home.
My favorite line in the video at the top of this post is, “People think their aren’t frontiers anymore, but there are frontiers all around us.”
I’ve been thinking about that the last few days. What is means to create your own frontier and look beyond the horizon to a horizon that you’re creating. Here’s my conclusion; these new frontiers don’t have to be completely new to be special. And they don’t have to be entrepreneurial or something that only a specific group (or clique) of people can do. A frontier is for the every man, and we can all work to finding our frontiers and horizons and share them with those we love.
At least that’s my, somewhat realist but deeply idealist, interpretation.