1) What is PANDA?
The Pittsburgh Area New Direction Alternative is a public policy platform designed to be used in the 1999 municipal elections. It is designed to encourage good people to get involved in either running for public office or assist others who do. PANDA will be assisting this effort in a number of ways which will be explained further in the coming weeks.
2) Why use the panda as a theme and mascot for the Pittsburgh area?
Besides being cute, cuddly looking, and easily marketable, and besides being a convenient,
memorable acronym, the panda is probably the most endangered large mammal species in the world today. The panda's extinction is threatened by a continuing loss of its natural habitat — the result of human land consumption devouring its native environs. As its habitat dwindles, there are fewer and fewer pandas.
Here, too, in southwestern Pennsylvania, our traditional communities are being threatened with their own extinction by continuing land consumption, primarily for real estate speculation. Occurring amid a long decline in the region's population, this rampant, subsidized real estate speculation has drained our towns of people and investment while overloading their surrounds with suburban sprawl. So, as we are taxed to subsidize speculator's huge profits from more land consumption, and as we spread out more inefficiently over a wider and wider area, we end up pushing both our quality of life and our population further and further down. It's become a regular game of investment musical chairs where businesses and people shift places while each year there are fewer left. The resulting decline of our communities is in effect the destruction of our human habitat, and this is arguably the main reason businesses and residents are leaving.
You might say southwestern PA and the panda share a strong common interest — our survival as viable populations.
3. What is the #1 threat to the region?
It is NOT the possible loss of sports teams that have been here throughout the region's decline. It is NOT the size of the David Lawrence Convention Center. It is NOT our traffic congestion (lowest in the nation among metro areas of comparable size). It is NOT a lack of entertainment and recreation.
It IS subsidized real estate speculation which uses our tax dollars to encourage rampant suburban sprawl which undermines our existing traditional communities, draining them of people and investment as people spread themselves out among new real estate speculation housing projects built upon present and former farmland. The outer communities are crowded with new residents who bring a greater demand for services than the revenue they add — thus taxes must be raised while the lifestyle of existing residents is lost with the transformation of their community.
4. What do you have to gain by participation ?
A better, healthier community and a stronger positive future for the region.
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