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  • January 2014
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Welcome To America’s Most Livable City?

The number of stories praising Pittsburgh keep piling up. From Most Livable to Best Places to Retire, from Top City for Geeks to Best Place to Buy a Home, Pittsburgh seems like the new cool place to be. But if everybody all over America saying Pittsburgh is so great, why is Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X calling Pittsburgh “Clicksburgh, Pistolvania?” Is it true, as Jasiri X says, that Pittsburgh has the highest rate of Black poverty among 40 comparable US cities? Is Pittsburgh the “Most Livable City” in the United States?

stopshooting

These are important questions to ask. Jasiri X is talking about Black poverty, and since almost 30% of Pittsburgh’s residents are African-American according to U.S. Census data, that’s three out of ten people.  That’s a lot of Pittsburghers. U.S. Census data shows that the rate of African-Americans who live in poverty in Pittsburgh is around 35.6%– certainly among the highest rates in the country. People who live in poverty have a harder time paying for housing, food, transportation and even the things that would help to lift them out of poverty, such as getting a college degree.

To make matters worse, in some of Pittsburgh’s poorest neighborhoods, there has been an increase in gun violence recently. In 2013, little Marcus Lamont White, Jr., a baby in East Hills was killed when somebody started to shoot at a community barbeque. Wiz Khalifa’s uncle was shot and killed outside the Steak ‘n Shake at the Waterfront in January, 2014. Late that same month, Hosea Davis, the man who saved a girl at the East Liberty Target from a man with a knife was shot ten times with a high-powered gun in the back. Four of the nine homicides in Allegheny County as of January 29, 2014 were African-American. In 2013, 42 of the 62 lives taken were African-American.

Gun violence and poverty levels in Pittsburgh beg the question: if Pittsburgh is the Most Livable City, who is it most livable for? How would the levels of Black poverty and gun violence in Pittsburgh affect national praise for Pittsburgh if they were taken into closer consideration? Is Pittsburgh still “Most Livable” in spite of its challenges? What do you think? How do we explain the differences between some Pittsburghers’ experiences with poverty and gun violence and national articles about how great Pittsburgh is? And finally, what are Pittsburghers doing about these problems?

There are many groups and individuals who are trying to stop gun violence in our city. One of them is Vanessa German, a spoken word artist who lives in Homewood. She exhibits her visual work and performs internationally. Vanessa created the signs that say, “Stop Shooting-We Love You” that you might have seen all over Pittsburgh. They are one of her responses to shooting in her neighborhood and beyond. Vanessa also runs ArtHouse—an after-school house where kids can come to do art alongside her. You need to hear Vanessa German if you want to better understand the strengths of Pittsburgh. She’s amazing! Here is a link to a recent performance Vanessa did about the beauty and challenges of Homewood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aktAjeFqtvw

Another is Sharon Flake, the Pittsburgh author of The Skin I’m In, Bang!, You Don’t Even Know Me and Pinned, among others. Sharon writes about kids who are dealing with poverty and violence. Sometimes reading about situations like yours can make you feel less alone. Reading about kids unlike you can help you to understand the world from many perspectives.

Bang!

Check out some of these great books about gun violence, growing up poor, and how in spite of hard circumstances, people find strength through their connections to other people. And if you want to read more about Pittsburgh’s best-of lists, gun violence in our city and other ideas in this blog article, here’s a list of links:

“30 Years of Hell With The Lid Off to Most Livable: How Pittsburgh Became Cool”

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2013/10/20/30-Years-Hell-with-the-lid-off-to-Most-Livable-How-Pittsburgh-became-cool.html

“18 Reasons Why Pittsburgh is the Greatest City on the Planet”

http://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetsiris/18-reasons-why-pittsburgh-is-the-greatest-city-on-d56b

Forbes.Com Rates Pittsburgh No. 1 “Most Livable City”

http://www.nationalurbanmedia.com/FORBESCOM-RATES-PITTSBURGH-NO-1-MOST-LIVABLE-CITY/

WYEP Gun Violence in Pittsburgh:

http://www.wqed.org/tv/gunviolence/

Vanessa German:

http://lovefrontporch.com

Sharon Flake:

http://www.sharongflake.com/

Sheila-Hill District

Teen Blogger: Life of Pi Review

LifeofPi

The Life of Pi is a movie that came out last year.  It is based on a book of the same name by Yann Martel.  The movie is basically about a teenage boy who is the only one who lives after his boat crashes.  He has to try to survive by floating on a lifeboat.  Except he is not by himself.  There is a tiger on the boat with him!!  This sounds crazy, but the tiger was being sent to a new zoo and was on the same ship.  Pi has to learn to deal with both the tiger and the rough ocean weather.

I really enjoyed this movie and is showed how friendships can survive anything even tragic accidents.  It is a good movie for the whole family, and I would recommend it to all of my friends and anyone who enjoys movies.

Aaron is a seventh grader at Langley.  He enjoys playing video games, drawing and sports.

The Selection

bookcoverCANTCU9F

Today I will be reviewing The Selection, Book One of the Selection Series by Kiera Cass.   Here is a summary of the book for anyone curious:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime.  The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth.  To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels.  To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.  But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare.  It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her.  Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want.  Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.  Then America meets Prince Maxon.  Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.”

Characters

This book combined stereotypes with a breath of fresh air. I really loved America, Maxon, and Marlee.  My one complaint is that some of the characters do lack a developed personality and backstory, but this is the first book in a trilogy.  This book was jam packed with interesting character relationships. A secret love interest is unveiled early on, which definitely complicates the plot. I very much enjoyed the relationship between Maxon and America, but you will have to read to see how that plays out. The relationships between America and the other Selected really was intriguing. While some simply don’t get along with her, she instantly makes a few friends. At the same time America is technically competition, so we are never too sure about how things will end up. I really enjoyed this element of suspense.

Setting

The setting of this book at first confused me.  After a bit of investigating I learned that this books takes place in America.  While we don’t know how far into the future this book takes place, it seems like it has been at least a hundred years.  Now royalty is the main form of government and rankings determine your income, social class, and job.  It‘s very interesting to read about.  At the same time this author didn’t elaborate on the surroundings well.  It might just be me, but I like a very vivid setting to think about.  I like to know the colors of the walls, the little flaws in the architecture, and that sort of thing.  While we did get small descriptions of the setting, I just feel it could have been stretched out more, especially with the castle.

Plot

The plot of this book took old clichés and made them new.  I enjoyed discovering the little details of the government, and trying to figure out what would happen next, yet parts of the book seemed so close to many other dystopian novels.  Mainly the book reminded me of The Hunger Games.  Take out the death in The Hunger Games and replace it with broken hearts, and you have the majority of this plot.  I am not going to complain about this more than I need to, as there were plot twists, original characters, and many events that were completely original, but you might get the same feeling I did when I read it.

The Final Verdict

I really enjoyed the authors writing style!  I thought dialog was realistic and humorous.  The actions the characters took were interesting to read about, and were described in a way that I felt like I was witnessing them.  My one complaint was sometimes it was hard to figure out who the speaker was.  I get a 7.5/10!  This falls right in-between decent and good for me, but you should make up your mind for yourself.  I recommend this book to anyone looking for a book that has interesting characters and plot, with the warning that any Hunger Games fan might find themselves bored with the story.  And if you like love stories, you will like this much more than I did!  The book itself isn’t all that long (only about three-hundred pages) so I recommend you get at least halfway through before you decide.  The beginning can be hard to follow, but it picks up towards the start of the actual Selection.  Thankfully the library systems has lots of copies in print and digitally.  Please let me know what you thought of it! I’m always interested in hearing opinions.  But please, mark spoilers for anyone trying to see if they are interested.

Happy Reading!

-Laurel

Laurel is an overly creative person that is looking for good books to read.  While she fills her spare time with crocheting, filming, editing, drawing, sewing, writing, and crafting, she always has a little time to read.  She enjoys books that have an intricate plot and fresh new characters, but does not like books with a lot of romance.  Hopefully she will find what she is looking for.

Snow Fun

My last post marked the first day of winter, just over a month ago.  So far, the winter weather in Pittsburgh has been VERY COLD and a bit snowy too!  According to the National Weather Service Forecast Office for Pittsburgh, the average high temperature in January 2013 was 39 degrees with an average low of 24 degrees.  This month, the average high is 33 degrees with an average low of 15 degrees.  The lowest temperatures so far this month were -5, -7 and -9 degrees.  In 2013, the lowest temperature was 4 degrees.

The good news is that winter provides lots of opportunities for fun things to do indoors and out!

Snow Fun Outdoors

snow204

Snow Fun Indoors

Snowmen Treats--Easy Food

Snowmen Treats–Easy Food

Have fun,

Stay warm,

~Marian

Super Bowl 48!!

Super_Bowl_XLVIII_logo

Since I am getting sick of winter and the polar vortex, I have decided to write about something that will make me happy-the upcoming Super Bowl.  This year’s matchup is a rarity in that it will be a meeting between the best offense in the league (the Denver Broncos) and the NFL’s best defense (Seattle Seahawks).  This is only the fifth time this has ever happened and so far the defenses have won 3 out of the first 4 times it has happened.

This will also be the first time the game will be played outdoors in a cold weather stadium and the weather could play a factor in the game.  If the conditions are bad it could hurt Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense as he has historically had some of his worst games in bad weather.  Another thing to watch is the Richard Sherman ‘controversy‘.  He caused an uproar after the NFC Championship game when he was mocking the 49ers Michael Crabtree.

If you don’t care about the game on the field, there is also the halftime show featuring Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and there should be some awesome commercials.  Either way, it will help us forget about the cold!!

Happy Martin Luther King Day

Honor Dr. Martin Luther King by celebrating, studying and practicing non-violence. Spread love, not hate.

mlk

Below you will find books and films about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

eyes on the prize

we shall overcome

freedom riders

the words of mlk

soundtrack for a revolution

journey of a king

african american lives

Happy reading! Seek peace, my friends!

Michael B. @ CLP-Hazelwood

Hot off the press: January’s brand new books

New years bring new books, and 2014 looks like a promising one for page turners. We’re already off to an excellent start with January’s crop of new fiction. Check out three of the most anticipated YA novels of the new year:

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Since Haley was a little kid, she’s been on the road with her father, a troubled veteran still haunted by his experiences at war. Now they’re settling down in his hometown so she can attend school and try to have a normal teenage life for the first time. As Haley adapts to high school and navigates an attraction to her classmate Finn, her father begins to unravel and she soon finds herself fearing the worst. In The Impossible Knife of Memory, Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak and Twisted) explores the impact of PTSD with this poignant father-daughter story.


Hollow City In the highly anticipated sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs spins another segment in the strange saga of the Peculiars– a group of people with extraordinary powers who spent decades in a time loop that kept them stuck on the same day in 1940. In Hollow City, the Peculiars leave the time loop and their small island to venture into the wider world. Will they discover others like them, or only enemies? Best get yourself on the list for a copy of this one ASAP, and check out the creepy book trailer, too.


Her Dark CuriosityIn The Madman’s Daughter, Juliet Moreau delved into the depths of her father’s madness to discover his frightening secrets in the gothic mystery inspired by H.G. Wells’ classic The Island of Dr. Moreau. Fans of the first book will be glad to get their hands on Her Dark Curiosity, which finds Juliet back in London as a rash of grisly murders breaks out. As she struggles to pick apart the mystery, Juliet realizes the past is never far behind. The release date for this one is still about a week away, but keep your eyes open for it in a library near you!


So there you have it– three long-awaited titles to start 2014 off with a bang. What books are you looking forward to this year?

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