The Morning File / Young Worlders: Didja like Pittsburgh? (Sorry about the world.)


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To attendees of the One Young World summit:

As you depart today from Pittsburgh International Airport (check out the Franco Harris statue -- neat, huh?) after an exuberant, enlightening four days in the No-Longer-Steel City, The Morning File breaks from normal routine to provide this sage advice:

Wear pants that won't fall down when you take off your belt to get through airport security.

Wait, we forgot -- you're all under 30, so drooping pants are de rigueur. Sorry.

Fashion statements aside, it's been a pleasure having you in town this past week. We do wonder why you had to bring along Bill Clinton, however, as it seems the former president is already in town about every week. You'd think they didn't have Primanti sandwiches for him in Washington or New York or wherever he's spending his time these days. (Oh, they don't? Ha, one less reason to live in those over-priced megalopolises.)

We couldn't help but overhear the No. 1 question on the lips of summit delegates as you walked around Pittsburgh: "Why does it seem like we're the only young people here?" Understandable, when comparing us to Johannesburg or Caracas or wherever you're from, but here's the amazing thing -- we actually have more young people now than we've had in decades! A new report showed the region's population of 20- to 34-year-olds grew by 7 percent over the past five years.

So, hopefully, you overcame your initial impressions and got around to join other people your age at our swinging joints like the Tic Toc Restaurant at Macy's and any of the many Eat'n Parks around the area -- many of them open 24 hours for the convenience of those of you still on Australian Western Standard Time or whatever.

Another thing you foreigners (and we use that term in the kindest sense -- not like Arizonans who would shout at you, "Hey, you foreigners, go back to where you came from!") may have noticed is how undiverse we are around here, excepting, of course, inside the Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh.

We do get a little more culturally and ethnically diverse year by year, census data show, and if you come back for the over-50 One World Summit in 20 years or so there's a good chance we will have caught up with Des Moines, Iowa. Or, at least, reached where Des Moines is now.

We're making strides toward a more heterogenous global population, trust me -- just look at how the Pirates traded this summer for pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who still uses an English translator, and Pitt's best basketball player this year is likely to be a freshman from New Zealand.

Even as we make such progress, it's not as good as it would be if we could convince the 1,300 of you to stick around instead of return to wherever you're from. Surely, someone informed you that you can buy a nice home for barely more than pennies in Lincoln-Lemington, McKees Rocks or Aliquippa? Why not stay awhile and enjoy one of our Pittsburgh winters, which are more and more like winters in one of your toasty homelands anyway?

If purchasing your own home seems too daunting, you could always just move in with one of many hospitable Pittsburgh families that have children away at college. It would be good practice for local parents who will soon need to welcome their young graduates back to live with them for five or 10 years or whatever it takes to get them on their own feet.

That's probably a good segue as any into an apology to you, on behalf of all people over age 30, for screwing up the world as much as we have. When I was your age, there was no One Young World summit, believe it or not, because there were no problems for young people to deal with other than where to find drugs and how to make ourselves more attractive to the opposite sex. Old people took care of the rest.

Now, apparently, it's up to you to figure out solutions for the troubled world economy, global warming, rampant terrorism, religious strife, diminishing resources, stark disparities between have and have-not nations, and so forth.

Good luck with all that (might as well get the hockey strike settled while you're at it). Just remember to have fun while doing it, because the fun all disappears after 30.

intelligencer

Gary Rotstein: grotstein@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1255. First Published October 22, 2012 4:00 AM


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