I wrote this essay for a creative nonfiction class I audited five years ago, in the spring of 2015, before the current occupant of the White House rode down that fucking escalator to announce his candidacy. Anyway, I’ve been on Medium for years and have never posted here, but I’m having trouble reconciling Typepad with my URL and for now it’s easier to just post here. I want to get some of my writing out there, and much of my personal blog (c. 2004–2011) does not need to be part of it.
The whimsical, shiny mosaic sign that welcomes visitors to Historic Braddock, Pennsylvania, belies the sights that greet you once you have passed it: the run-down buildings, the empty storefronts, the collapsing roofs. But as you drive a bit farther down Braddock Avenue, signs of improvement appear, even some new construction. This once-prosperous town has been on hard times for a generation but a few people are working hard to turn around its fate. Asa Foster and his partner Matt Katase are two such people. These young men have brought craft beer — and a lot of hope — to Braddock. …