By Natalie Chen
In 1887, a 23–year-old woman from rural Pennsylvania sneaked into a mental health asylum in New York City and exposed the horrific conditions of patients there.
The public outrage that followed from Nellie Bly’s reporting ushered in a new era for storytelling: Investigative journalism.
These were stories that pointed out a wrong and mobilized the public to demand a solution to a problem. At Postindustrial, we think information is still a tool for addressing problems, in a new way. Information is power.
At Postindustrial, we’ve built our company around that notion. We focus on communities where a loss of power means ideas around problem-solving and bringing people together with common interests is essential.
We think there is power in using all kinds of media to create a community positioned to show what can be in communities beset by shrinking population, job loss, and disparities among race and class. And to share successes.
We therefore invest in initiatives that we believe can lead to a community capable of propagating the best ideas from all over the world to support improving their streets, towns, and states.
We recognize that shared prosperity in a town transformed by job and population loss is not simply a matter of someone’s lightbulb moment.
It has to come from the people who live or move there, who want it, who pitch in and work together. But it begins with a common place where we can speak the same parlance, and give name to the challenges and opportunities in our communities in transition.
After all, before the Brooklyn Bridge was built no one had ever thought of it. So too, with the parlance of Postindustrial Communities.
Powerful storytelling can be an important catalyst in this effort.
That is why sometimes we lead events. Or participate in a nonprofit effort to help new arrivals drive and obtain vehicles, then write about it. Information that leads to common good is an essential investment.
It’s not easy, and that’s OK.
I am the niece of a man who owned gas station, and restaurants and a nightclub and hotels and a radio station and a share of the Pittsburgh Pirates, cousin of an television shop repair owner, a bar owner, an ice cream shop owner, a car dealership owner, a fine woodworker, a life insurance company owner, an hearing aid shop owner, embraced and was amazed at the ways in which it is possible to have an idea and animate it.
They had ideas, and a willingness to execute. They did what it took.
Many of them got up each day before dawn. Sometimes, there was no “quitting time.” They did what it took. They werked it.
For me that’s the spirit of our business, and of Postindustrial Communities. Our towns are not much different from one another even if the mascots and the language and the landscape are. Evolving communities to create shared prosperity becomes easier when there’s a place to talk about just that.
We have to work on it, too.
By Carmen Gentile
By Marcella S. Kreiter