braddock

What the X-Men characters would be like in High School

Alex Summers (Havoc)
The quarterback.

Angel Salvadore
The sensible hipster who everyone loves.

Apocalypse
That one kid who’s obsessed with world domination.

Betsy Braddock (Psylocke)
The one everyone is terrified of until they get to know her. Then they’re twice as terrified.

Bobby Drake (Iceman)
The guy who stays sober to drive the drunk ones home from a party

Charles Xavier (Professor X)
The guy who deals pot out of his locker

Colossus
The one who’s obsessed with bodybuilding

Emma Frost
The really pretty and popular girl who every actually likes instead of hates

Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto)
That kid who’s probably hacked the President more times than he’s been to class

Francis Freeman (Ajax)
The kid who looks like he’s killed a man. Probably has killed a man

Hank Mccoy (Beast)
The Science nerd who might get bullied by the older years but his entire year will stick up for him

Jean Grey (Marvel girl/Phoenix)
The quiet girl who gets fantastic grades and does everyone else’s homework

John Allerdyce (Pyro)
The kid who’s been expelled for burning down half the school. Twice.

Jubilee
The one who literally everybody loves because she’s so sweet and kind.

Kitty Pryde (Shadow Cat)
The girl who always gets people out of sticky situations

Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler)
The foreign exchange student who is 10x smarter than everyone else except one person but has zero social skills

Logan Howlett (Wolverine)
The kid who stabs everything with a pen

Mystique
The one who is all round great at every aspect of school

Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Takes no shit and can take a hit

Ororo Munroe (Storm)
The girl who’s obsessed with Kpop and converts half the year

Peter Maximoff (Quicksilver)
The kid who’s never in class but still gets A’s

Remy LeBeau (Gambit)
The kid who sells random shit out of his jacket pocket

Rogue
The Mother of the year

Scott Summers (Cyclops)
The kid who probably has a permanent hangover so he has to wear sunglasses 24/7

Sean Cassidy (Banshee)
That one kid who’s voice still hasn’t broken at 18

Victor Creed (Sabertooth)
The guy who never cuts his nails, probably freaks the shit out of everyone.

Wade Wilson (Deadpool)
The kid who randomly appears in class once in a blue moon and sleeps through that class anyways.

Warren Worthington III (Angel/ Archangel )
The one who’s probably drinking vodka out of a plastic water bottle.

X-23
She will fight you and she will win.

Betsy Braddock Playlist

1. you don’t own me // grace ft. g-eazy
2. bulletproof // young guns
3. the four horsemen // metallica
4. she’s out of her mind // blink-182
5. daddy issues // the neighbourhood
6. don’t hurt me // dj mustard ft. nicki minaj, jeremih
7. flawless remix // beyonce ft nicki minaj
8. needed me // rihanna
9. touch it // ariana grande
10. bang bang // jessie j ft. ariana grande, nicki minaj
11. team // iggy azalea
12. salute // little mix

(i had so much fun making another playlist! hope you guys liked it!)

6

Read our interview with photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier, the 2015 Infinity Awards Recipient for Publication.

Top image: LaToya Ruby Frazier portrait by Aubrey Kaufaman (2013).

All images from the book The Notion of Family, courtesy the artist © LaToya Ruby Frazier.

In this, her first book, LaToya Ruby Frazier offers an incisive exploration of the legacy of racism and economic decline in America’s small towns, as embodied by her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. The work also considers the impact of that decline on the community and on her family, creating a statement both personal and truly political—an intervention in the histories and narratives of the region. Frazier has compellingly set her story of three generations—her Grandma Ruby, her mother, and herself—against larger questions of civic belonging and responsibility. The work documents her own struggles and interactions with family and the expectations of community. With The Notion of Family, Frazier enlists the participation of her family—and her mother in particular. In the creation of these collaborative works, Frazier reinforces the idea of art and image-making as a transformative act, a means of resetting traditional power dynamics and narratives, both those of her family and those of the community at large.

10

STEEL VALLEY - Braddock, Pennsylvania

Braddock, an industrial borough incorporated in 1867 and named for General Braddock. The greater part of the slaughter of Braddock’s troops occurred near what is now Jones and Bell Avenues. The community’s importance as a coal center attracted steel and iron manufacturers in the early 1870′s. Development was stimulated by the introduction and perfecting of the Bessemer process at the Carnegie mills here. Today the steel works, several machinery factories,  and a wall plaster factory support the townspeople.  -Pennsylvania, A Guide to The Keystone State (WPA, 1940)

Braddock is the last city in the “Steel Valley” that has a working steel mill. It is also the poorest city in Allegheny County. With a median household income of just above $20,000, Braddock barely floats above the poverty line. Unemployment is not much higher than the national average; it’s no greater than 7%. So why is Braddock so poor? If most people have jobs, what kind of jobs do people that live here have? Why are there so few businesses on Braddock Ave? Why does U.S. Steel not work to try to improve the area surrounding its mill? Why is nobody stepping forward to lead this city out of its desperate situation?

As to the question of why Braddock is so poor, I can only guess that it must be because of classic urban decline principles: whites with jobs (and union benefits) left, and the only people that didn’t leave were those that couldn’t afford to leave, that is, mostly poor blacks (although the city of Braddock does still contain an unusually large white population; 22% white according to the 2010 U.S. Census). When the high-paying steel jobs left, the businesses that lined the town’s streets began to disappear. With less people to spend money, businesses naturally struggled and eventually they had to go, too. But even so, the neighboring town of Homestead has its fair share of businesses. Although not the healthiest set of businesses to have in a downtown - liquor stores, delis, smoke shops, and dollar stores - Homestead still has some semblance of commercial activity. Braddock, on the other hand, has none.

It’s an odd transition riding through the steel valley. Starting in Pittsburgh, the old hot metal bridge leading to the Southside works has been converted for bike, pedestrian, and vehicular use. The Southside Works site, a massive brownfield that plagued the city for years, has been re-purposed as a mixed-use shopping, living, and dining neighborhood, all done up suburban style with cheap stucco designs and big boxes, yet set in a decidedly urban environment - walkable, with minimal parking lots to destroy the pedestrian experience. Continuing from Southside Works, past the new Steelers training facilities and the medical research buildings, one eventually ends up in Homestead. After a long ride down a nature trail, the first thing to be seen is Sandcastle waterpark. Sandcastle does quite well in the hot summer months, but cannot compete with the Pittsburgh classic, Kennywood amusement park that sits on a bluff only a bit past Homestead. After the waterpark comes The Waterfront, a large big box retail complex that occupies the former U.S. Steel Homestead Works site. The only reminders of the Homestead Works, besides a few sheds at the east end of the site, are twelve smokestacks lined up next to each other at the beginning of The Waterfront. The Waterfront is a dauntingly large complex, and with its sea of parking lots, and difficult entry from the city of Homestead, it has been much criticized. In fact, it was built about five years before the Southside Works, and was used as a model of what not to do with the Southside Works site.

As one rides through the steel valley going west to east, one travels back in time. First, the most recent brownfield development, designed with principles of good urbanism in mind, then the large, sprawling, suburban shopping center, urbanistically uninteresting, yet at the same time, an important piece of the brownfield puzzle in the steel valley. After The Waterfront, Carrie Furnace stands tall and proud, as a beacon of the new interest that has emerged in preservation and sustainable development. Carrie Furnace, a still-intact blast furnace that once supplied the almighty Homestead Works with molten iron, is awaiting a new life as a museum of the steel industry, as well as a performing arts and light industrial facility. A mixture of uses quite unlike anything happening today.

Finally, there’s the Edgar Thomson Works. The last functioning integrated steelmaking facility in the Monongahela River Valley. Where once many mills churned out smoke night and day, seven days a week, now only one giant remains. The Edgar Thomson Works is an impressive factory, as all steel mills are. It takes up a massive swath of land almost as big as the entire city of Braddock, and what’s even more impressive is that it once employed enough people to fill the entire city and parts of the surrounding area. The Edgar Thomson Works today only employs about 900, most of whom live outside of Braddock, since they have relatively high-paying jobs that allow them to escape the miserable air quality and generally poor quality of life in Braddock.

U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Works looms behind the houses in the hills of North Braddock in an ominous fashion. Day and night, the great behemoth billows smoke as train whistles blow, and the houses around the steel mill sit almost perpetually under artificially cloudy skies. It is no surprise that Allegheny County has one of the highest counts of poisonous Sulfur Dioxide in the state of Pennsylvania, more than 50% greater than the EPA’s recommendations of what is safe to inhale. As one walks through the area immediately surrounding the mill, a smell like rotten eggs penetrates the air and burns the throat.

Confronting the harsh truths of Braddock, PA, and other industrial enclaves of the United States is hard, and as someone interested in urban planning, I always ask myself, “what can we do about places like this to improve the quality of life for the residents and make things a little better?” And lucky for me, John Fedderman is already leading the way in answering that question for Braddock. By building a large community garden near the steel mill, restoring a local church and re-purposing it as a community center, and engaging in community-based job training and job-creation efforts, Fedderman has been one of the most progressive mayors in all of America, tackling massive issues on a small scale. John Fedderman has served as mayor of Braddock in 2005. After completing a master’s in Public Policy at Harvard, Fedderman moved to Braddock to do social work for AmeriCorps, and after several years in the town, decided to run for mayor, winning by a very small margin

Creative leadership like Mayor Fedderman’s is a crucial step to making Braddock a great city once again, and without his help, the town would be a few long steps behind its current position, which can be said to slowly be getting better. By building a new playground, converting an old church to a community center, and starting a community garden, Fedderman has helped provide several massive resources for the people of Braddock to use. While a playground and community center are good for a neighborhood for rather obvious reasons, a community garden helps in a number of ways, some more subtle than others. A community garden is not only a good way to provide fresh produce at reduced rates to citizens (especially when they live in a food desert like Braddock), but it is also a crucial grounds for job training. As a poor community with few businesses, young children and teens in Braddock have very few places where they can find jobs nearby, especially if they do not have cars. A community garden helps to fill a need for jobs that not only keep teens busy and off the street, but also jobs that can serve as crucial stepping stones into more serious employment.

This type of on-the-ground, hands-on community planning is an incredibly important first step to making Braddock a great place to live, and since it is clear that federal or state  funding for projects such as these is not going to happen anytime soon, Fedderman has made the most with what he has: a lot of vacant land and very little money. Since Braddock is nowhere near building new housing (aside from one senior housing project), and cashing in on the property taxes that come with new construction, Braddock must make the best of its current situation. It is unlikely that things will dramatically improve anytime soon, and so for some time, Fedderman’s leadership in Braddock and the community-based planning and organization efforts there will continue to be the last leg the Braddock stands on. As it is, Braddock is an incredibly interesting town with plenty of potential to be something special, and with the way things are going now, it would seem like it is already on the way to becoming a special place again, but until then, there is still a long way to go in the process of turning Braddock around.

Northeast Guide Chris Giuliano is a photographer and student living in the NY/NJ/PA region. Traveling throughout these states, and often to other places as well, he is able to see and capture a wide variety of life, and hopes to portray the way he sees the world to other people through his photographs. Follow on his blog, cgiuliano.tumblr.com, and his website, chrisgiuliano.com.

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Braddock Independent 2009- We Do It To Ourselves