A grassroots initiative is underway in Pittsburgh to explore ways to support the region’s growing new economy.

The New Economy Working Group (NEWG) of Pittsburgh invites the actively-minded public to come together and work toward building a robust economy where people, communities and the environment are a priority.

NEWG draws the principals of creating shared-value businesses and competitive strategies in urban communities. The ideas are based on the national shared values movement, the work of Harvard economics professor Michael Porter and others, says Ron Gaydos of NEWG. Local champions include Molly Rush, Cait Lamberton at the Katz Business School at Pitt.

“It’s bigger than an initiative,” says Gaydos. “It’s about changing the paradigm.”

The movement is important for Pittsburgh, a city on the cusp of transforming its economy in new and diverse ways, he adds. People today are looking for highly networked, self-contained communities in which to live in and do business. Pittsburgh already excels in this.

“It’s really important (as we grow) to properly manage gentrification and provide opportunities for under represented populations in the economy,” he says.

One example of this is the Borland Green project in East Liberty, a GTECH initiative that brought the community together in building energy efficient housing and lush urban gardens in a neighborhood that suffered from urban blight. Another is the Larimar/East Liberty Choice Neighborhoods project.

Three events are upcoming. On March 20th, NEWG will sponsor Green Drinks where it will introduce the organization. The networking event will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. in The Map Room at 1126 S. Braddock Ave.

On Friday, March 21st, a “Seminar on New Economy Solutions” will be held with Gar Alperovitz, a historian, political economist, activist and writer as well as a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution. The seminar will be held at the Frick Fine Arts Building on Pitt’s campus from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

On Saturday, March 22nd, an afternoon and evening discussion with Gar Alperovitz will be held on CMU’s campus.  All are free and open to the public. Click here for more details.

“We see the possibility of bringing a lot of people together to make an impact,” says Gaydos.

The NEWG is a coalition facilitated by the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh.