Imagine Pittsburgh: ‘actually a cool place to be now.’

This story reposted from USA Today with permission.

PITTSBURGH — Kevin Dowling says he can’t believe how cool this city has become.

After graduating years ago from college, Dowling recently returned to Pittsburgh to be the vice president of engineering at 4moms (www.4moms.com), creators of high-tech strollers and other baby accessories embedded with robotics and other patented innovations.

After years working in traditional tech hubs like San Francisco and Boston, he was lured back to Pittsburgh by a fledgling innovation industry nurtured by area universities, innovation incubators and venture capitalists.

“Coming back to Pittsburgh, I saw a healthy balance of finance, marketing and engineering (at 4moms)” said Dowling, who turned down a job offer with Google to lead the next generation of designs at the small company. “It’s actually a cool place to be now.”

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In Pittsburgh, a refuge for endangered writers

City of Asylum is a haven for foreign-born scribes who endured imprisonment, or worse, in their home countries

PITTSBURGH — Writer Yaghoub Yadali first ran afoul of Iran’s hard-line leadership for the depiction of an adulterous affair in his first novel, “The Rituals of Restlessness,” an alleged affront that landed him behind bars. An accomplished TV director as well as writer, Yadali was sentenced to a year in prison on charges of publishing subversive material, even though it had been approved by state censors years earlier.

Widespread protests by his colleagues and supporters following his 2007 detention prompted authorities to release him after 41 days. Freed, but still under constant harassment, he spent the next four years looking over his shoulder, wondering when he would be detained again.

“I was waiting to be arrested every day,” he says, recalling those dark days from the comfort of his new home in Pittsburgh, a seemingly unlikely refuge for an Iranian dissident artist.

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