The Silver Lining: Majestic Lane

“How can people of all races, ages, and backgrounds see Pittsburgh as a city that makes them strong, a city that opens their eyes to global realities, while still being on the ground?” As the City of Pittsburgh’s Deputy Chief of Neighborhood Empowerment, Majestic Lane supports the health and vibrancy of Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods. His vision for Pittsburgh—that it be a place for everyone—implies his tenacious commitment to its residents. The confirmation of Lane’s dedication lies in his guiding philosophy: do good to others.

In all of his endeavors, Lane’s aim is “to create processes, programs, practices, and policies that are sensitive to people.” Intent on fostering thriving Pittsburgh neighborhoods, Lane has engaged in ventures such as the p4 Pittsburgh initiative, PolicyLink’s Equitable Development: The Path to an All-In Pittsburgh plan, and the City’s own Inclusive Innovation Roadmap. These platforms preserve the places and spaces that define Pittsburgh’s character–some of his favorites include Frick Park, Spak Brothers, Bar Marco, and Salem’s. And an essential piece of that character is the well-being of all residents.

It is no accident that Lane’s dedication to both place and people is intertwined. During his early work with truant students, Lane realized that children’s disconnection from school often reflects their neighborhood’s disconnection from the regional economy. These vulnerable communities are also most impacted ecologically, affecting children’s ability to become healthy adults. A thriving city then requires a specific attention to the people who are there—to the residents and students who sustain the collection of blocks they call home.

“We’re at our best when we channel neighbors’ concerns, when we can engage residents in issues they already care about”

Lane’s focus on individuals forms the foundation of his neighborhood empowerment work in the mayor’s office.  In conjunction with Partners4Work and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, he is coordinating Pittsburgh’s first TechHire cohort, which connects dislocated workers with training in fields like coding and IT management. Across town, the City is pursuing partnerships with the East End Food Cart—a group of young residents in Homewood, Larimer, and East Liberty who manage a mobile fresh produce market in their neighborhoods. By connecting entrepreneurship with health and wellness, the project could knit together two of the neighborhoods’ great challenges by creating a solution for both.

With another term in office nearly guaranteed, the Peduto administration is staring down some of the city’s most intractable challenges, including affordable housing, aging water infrastructure, and combined sewage overflow. The solutions though lie in individual residents’ success. “We’re at our best when we channel neighbors’ concerns, when we can engage residents in issues they already care about,” reflected Lane. “If you walk around a Pittsburgh neighborhood, you would be amazed how many people want to be involved in the future of their community.”

Despite a career’s worth of success, ask Majestic Lane about his greatest accomplishment and he’ll wax philosophical. “Above all, it’s the opportunity to change who can imagine themselves as leaders. If kids from disconnected communities can look at me and see what’s possible, see what they can do in their lives, I think that’s the most powerful contribution I can make.”

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