A project of New Sun Rising

There are many great news sources for community development in Pittsburgh and beyond.  This is not one of them.  Not yet, anyway.

Downstream aims to tell stories about the ways in which neighborhoods change.  We see the evolution, but often know little about who brings it about, or how they do it.

Because community development is complex, Downstream takes a long-form approach to storytelling.  Its focus is not so much development projects, but rather the colorful characters and nuanced processes behind them.

The field of community development is one of the the most ill-defined, misunderstood and utterly indispensable industries in our region.  Illuminating the collective value and achievements of this field is certainly a priority here, but not at the expense of looking past its shortcomings.

Everyone who contributes to these stories are kept anonymous, by default, unless they specify otherwise. If you have story idea, I’d be grateful if you sent it here.

Alcosan is downstream for a reason.  Downstream – that’s where it all ends up.



There are many great journalists that bring us stories about neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and beyond.  I am not one of them.

With zero journalistic credentials to his name, Citizen Vrabelman – a lifelong Pittsburgher who occasionally slips into third person narrative – endeavors to join the fray.

Trained as an architect, Citizen Vrabelman made the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh his second home for more than a decade.  There, he worked in sixty of Pittsburgh’s ninety neighborhoods, and is an aficionado of damp church basement meeting spaces.  He’s served as an instructor at Chatham University, and as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, community organizations and homeowners.

Citizen Vrabelman drives a widely recognized and revered truck – affectionately known as Brown Thunder – that he hopes will be in parade some day.

Tell him something:  vrabelman@downstream.city