BEST PGH

Launched the first draft of BEST PGH – my exploration project of bringing business services to existing commercial endeavors who are located in the underserved neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

My intent is to bridge gaps in financing and IT development cause by the lack of robust connections and networks that wealthier business districts can offer by intentionally targeting businesses and engaging with them over long-term periods (18 months).

The underlying theory is that you can change a neighborhood by building up its businesses, helping them grow and hire and be more robustly present in their district, and become capable of providing increasingly resilient services. I do not assume they can not already do this, but I do know I have seen businesses struggle for lack of resources and networks, and that underserved communities can want for these resources. And that I can be the bridge that provides them.


CONNECTing in Allegheny County

I had the pleasure of attending a CONNECT meeting yesterday. CONNECT is a regular meeting, usually monthly, of invited leadership from Allegheny County who gather together and work on solving common municipal issues.

CONNECT is housed at the University of Pittsburgh, in the Graduate School of Public & International Affairs (GSPIA). Their meetings are hosted by a different municipal partner on a rotating basis.

As they say on their website:

Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) brings together the City of Pittsburgh and surrounding municipalities to identify common public policy challenges and advocates for collective change on behalf of Allegheny County’s urban core.

I am fascinated by the topics addressed and dynamics of area leadership in the room. These are elected officials and appointed managers working together to find ways to address problems such as the opioid epidemic and gun violence, or the more subterranean challenge of county-wide shared waste water resources, controlling the costs of energy use, or sometimes just to encourage one another and offer support in the common work of continuing to face the issues these leaders wrestle with daily.

We often think of politics as a dirty game, but these folks are working on action-oriented policy proposals. They seem to have left their party affiliations at the door in favor of working together to have real, tangible conversations on the problems we see in the local news headlines. It is refreshing and exciting to know that local government can work and its practitioners have a place to gather where they can be energetic, creative, honest, and smart in their discussions.

From their team work and availability, solutions arise and they can make plans for policy which, in the end, has a positive impact. An enduring success story is the Community Paramedic program, which I believe is now hosted by UPMC, and was originated by the Allegheny County EMS Council. They create a team of paramedics who can provide more than just emergency medical transportation to those who make a 911 call; they can provide various types of intervention that improve the long-term outcomes for the patient, not just immediate medical relief and transportation. This has the effect of reducing overall non reimbursed costs to EMS. Check out their website.


A map of the 2018 CONNECT member communities

Calling the Kids

I call the kids from the first floor. They don’t respond.

What are they doing up there?

I am as a voice, whispering into the darkness of the world’s largest, deepest, darkest cave.

Cool water drips onto my forehead from a looming stalactite.

Kids!

The car is already running to warm it up – freezing outside. It makes it nice for them to get into a warm and cozy car, so I let it run. My gas mileage is terrible because of this.

“We’re gonna be late!

There’s a birthday party. No, it’s ballet. It’s swimming lessons. Soccer. Church. Camp. Grandma’s. Ugh

Is anybody up there?

If we’re late, there’ll be no [insert fun thing] for you this weekend!

It is the weekend. Half over. They know I am lying. I need the [fun thing] to get them occupied for a half an hour so I can fold laundry/do dishes/go to the bathroom/eat without sharing/feed the cat/sort mail/iron/build the addition to the house/get my car inspected/clean the vomit/empty diaper pails/exercise. So of course they’ll still get to do the [fun thing]. I really need them to do the [fun thing].

Sigh. My book is sitting on the nearby table. I finger the placeholder. Then I am half sitting over the couch arm, flipping through. Now I am fully eaten by the couch and here is where Liver Eating Johnson and forty mountain men are just about to fight off a menacing brace of Crow Indians. Hand to hand combat, arrows whizzing past, tomahawks flying … the musket! It’s empty! Liver Eating Johnson turns to face an enormous chief with a scalping knife high overhead …

Daddy!

Daddy! Come on. We’re gonna be late why are you laying on the couch? Such a lazy bones, daddy!

Using WPEngine’s CDN

It turns out that using the CDN with WPEngine causes a few issues. The first was a problem with also having SSL on. A session with the chat desk resolved it. Next, the development URLs persisted (account-name.wpengine.com instead of website-url.com). Another chat session took care of that – well, two more chat sessions as I found a few instances of this issue. This second item could not be resolved by my clearing the cache, unfortunately.

Then, today, I noticed a third issue. It turns out that the CDN was serving the style sheets and I suppose stored references to that. So when I downloaded a backup for local development, I floundered for half a day wondering why style updates were not taking hold. Was I in the correct directory? Was my local MAMP software running correctly? Was it something with the custom plugin I was coding styles for?

I was inspecting the heck outta the pages, trying to source the pain. Eventually, I checked the Network feature of the Inspector (Firefox) to check how items were loading. Once there, I noticed that style assets were loading in from the CDN, so of course any changes or flushing I did were not being reflected on my local install. Ouch.

After another chat session, I resolved that the solution was:

  1. In WpEngine, turn off the CDN;
  2. Create a new Restore Point;
  3. Download a backup of this new RP;
  4. Create local dev environment with this;
  5. Logo back into WPEngine and turn on the CDN again.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 16.23.01

This is kind of a pain because steps #1, 2, and 3 each require some behind the scenes activity from the folks at WPEngine, which means I click a button and wait around for each step. How long? I dunno. Sometimes a backup is spun up in as little as 10 seconds. But I received a notice that turning off the CDN will take 10 minutes.