McKeesport: Who is in control?

Persuasive arguments surrounding the history of McKeesport relate to its designation as a distressed urban community.  The argument aspect stems from determining who is in control or responsible for the situation. Three possible arguments include:
1. Because of a lack of civic engagement, the City of McKeesport is responsible for allocating city development funds and “saving” the town.
2. The people and businesses who remain in McKeesport are stuck in the past, and are unwilling to make the changes the town needs.
3. Governmental Community Block Grants cannot provide enough funding to fully transform McKeesport, and the city needs to devise more effective relief plans.
I chose to visually represent the argument that Because of a lack of civic engagement, the City of McKeesport is responsible for allocating city development funds and “saving” the town.

Ideally, my audience will be comprised of those interested in urban planning, the histories of former heavy manufacturing cities, Pennsylvania’s steel past, and the fate of this city. I imagine that these types of people will read or view my argument on the web because they will be the most interested in seeking out information related to my argument. At the moment, though, my audience is comprised of the members of this class. Because the class members may not have an interest in my topic, and did not seek it out in relation to the other components of the history that I developed, I added additional text to my argument in an attempt to provide a bit more context. While I did not directly state my thesis, I provided important background information to help supportive the claim and point the viewer toward a possible argument.

Support existing for my claim includes:

1. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has allocated the city millions of dollars in CDBG funds, which puts spending power (with some regulations) in the hands of the city government.

2. While the City holds public meetings to disperse the funds, very few citizens or groups show up to request for funds.

3. The city, then, ultimately has the spending power and has hired consultants to create a five-year plan for dispersing future funds. Despite these efforts, much of the city remains in at-risk conditions.

Other associations exist for the claim and for my reasons, and help to make my case. For example,people oftentimes associate the government with agency. They believe that governments should be able to act and create the necessary changes to improve the group’s quality of life. Because of this, people rely on government in a number of ways. This may lead people to agree with the argument that the McKeesport government has power as well as responsibility. People also have different associations with different areas of Pittsburgh. Because images of McKeesport are striking in comparison to more affluent areas, such as the Waterfront shopping complex, mere miles away, people immediately associate the area as one of poverty, crime, and the like. This immediately creates a tension within McKeesport’s identity.

I chose to combine the pictures in one frame and to fix the image with some text. I felt that the juxtaposition of the images did more work for the overall argument than each remaining separate in a sequence. Placing them along side each other allowed for a comparison to be drawn between the spending power of the city hall and the buildings that lay right outside its doors. I was hoping to raise other questions related to the city’s efforts and who has the power or control to turn McKeesport around. I deepened the colors in the picture to combat its previous overexposure and snow, but the balance of the whiteness also adds to the lack of town that remains in the place that a bustling town once stood. It also allows for the images to be blended into one argument.
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