Homewood15208 - dispatches from the heart of Homewood Nation.
|Posted by Elwin Green on April 6, 2015 at 9:00 AM||comments (1)|
This afternoon, Local 154 of the International Union of Boilermakers will offer an unusual job training opportunity for people who might otherwise consider themselves trapped in a life on the streets.
In essence, they are offering a trade - turn in your gun, and you get a good shot at becoming a welder.
Participants will receive a token to enroll in the Boilermakers welding program. They have six months to complete the program, which typically takes six weeks. The union will waive background checks and their standard requirement for a high school diploma or GED, and persons with drug or alcohol issues will have six weeks to get clean, with assistance from the Boilermakers' own substance abuse program.
The $600 cost of the training program and initial union dues will be deferred until the trainee starts his or her first job - and after paying it, they will be reimbursed for all but $10.
This afternoon's event is a collaboration between the Boilermakers, Homewood Brushton Community MInistries and the Mayor's Office of Community Affairs.
|Posted by Elwin Green on April 1, 2015 at 10:20 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Elwin Green on March 31, 2015 at 5:10 PM||comments (0)|
Several years ago, I and many others participated in a planning process for Homewood and North Point Breeze called "Bridging The Busway."
The final result of that process was a 149-page document of the same name, published in April, 2012.
A small consultancy called Studio for Spatial Practice did most of the coordinating and facilitating for Bridging the Busway. That included creating a website, www.bridgingthebusway.com, which laid out the schedule of meetings, gave people the opportunity to provide input, and in the end, provided the final document for downloading.
None of that is there anymore. Instead, a visit to www.bridgingthebusway.com brings up this:
Don't strive too hard to make sense of it. The new domain owner is in Kyoto and the page is translated from Japanese (and may not even make sense in Japanese).
So, what happened? Two things, basically:
- Studio for Spatial Practice decided, at some point after the completion of their contract, not to continue maintaining the website; and
- no one else decided to keep it going. I considered taking ownership of the domain myself, but was held back by my own concern for propriety. I wanted to respect the rights of everyone who would have rights to the intellectual property. In retrospect, that looks dumb, because no one that I talked to seemed to care.
That perplexed me; it still does. When the BTB vision document, or whatever one chooses to call it, was completed, I expected someone to use it as a basis for ongoing community discussions about how we want Homewood to grow. The website could have a been a valuable tool in such discussions.
The good news is that the document is still available online at the Council 9 subsection of the City's website.
The bad news is that the post announcing the publication of Bridging the Busway, dated 5/12/12, is the last item posted under "What's New in District 9?"
There's a conversation to be had here, about the power that we have at our disposal: previously-inconceivable tools for sharing information, for engaging with one another, for archiving, for iterative learning. There are best practices to be articulated regarding the use of those tools, and I suspect one of them would be something like, "Never let anything that could be useful disappear."
|Posted by Elwin Green on March 27, 2015 at 12:05 AM||comments (0)|
Noted author John Edgar Wideman returns to Pittsburgh Friday, March 27, for a reading of some of his work in an event jointly sponsored by Hill House Association and Duquesne University. Duquesne was the site of his last visit to the City, when he appeared as part of a seminar focused on a program to create think tanks connecting students with inmates.
|Posted by Elwin Green on February 23, 2015 at 5:25 PM||comments (0)|
Homewoodians have a full week ahead of us.
1) Tomorrow evening, the third and last meeting devoted to the Homewood Station Transit Oriented Development Study will be held at the Homewood-Brushton YMCA, 7140 Bennett Street, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Earlier meetings explained how a TRID works (the designation creates a mechanism for real estate taxes from newly-developed real estate in the district to be re-invested in that district), and solicited the community's input on how we would want TRID money to be used here, if the designation were applied. Tomorrow's meeting will present an analysis of which projects might be most feasible for such re-investment.
Refreshments will be served.
You may recall that this meeting was first scheduled for January 29, but postponed due to the brutal weather we were experiencing then.
Project spokeswoman Ivette Mongalo-Winston said that after tomorrow, the team of consultants conducting the study, led by Lynn Colosi, of Delta Development Group, will finalize their report and make a recommendation to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, which commissioned the study. That process, she said, should take a couple of months.
After that, if the decision is made to apply for a TRID designation, the application process - which requires collaboration between the City, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Port Authority, for starters - "basically takes a year."
2) On Thursday at 6 p.m., Operation Better Block will host its Monthly Community Meeting in the auditorium of the Homewood Carnegie Library.
I don't have details of this meeting handy at the moment; will share more after touching base w/OBB.
3) On Saturday, at 1 p.m., the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group will present a "Community Conversation on Development For Us." This meeting follows up on a survey the group conducted among Homewood residents and other stakeholders in November, and will present a set of guiding principles for development based on the responses to that survey.
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|Posted by Elwin Green on February 13, 2015 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
The Community Empowerment Association is holding an emergency meeting tonight, at 7 pm, in response to a recent surge in gun violence. Tonight's meeting is for men and boys. I have heard that there will be a separate meeting for women and girls, but have not confirmed that yet.
I spoke briefly with CEA founder and CEO T. Rashad Byrdsong yesterday. Here's an edited version of the Q and A.
HN: What sparked the decision to hold this meeting?
RB: "Young folks from the community actually called me and said, 'Brother Rashad, we need to really begin to focus on some of the issues that are going on in our community.'"
Citing CEA's origins in working with gangs in the mid-1990s, Mr. Byrdsong noted, "these new, contemporary young people are different from the young people, gang members and street organizations in the past.
"This meeting is to give some us older folks...a better understanding of the kind of mindset of young people now, because it's a little different."
"This is going to be an informational meeting. Young people are pulling together and giving leadership...a lot of us older guys and older folk are going to sit back and listen to some of the things the young folks have to say."
HN: There have been so many emergency meetings in the past that I was going to ask, "How will this be different?" It sounds like you've at least partially answered that, in that the focus will be on listening.
RB: "You have a lot of young folks that are not necessarily established in institutions or nonprofits, but nevertheless, they've got relationships with young people on the ground. We have to give more time to sitting down and listening to young men and women that are actually working on grassroots level with young people on the ground. That's number one.
"Number two is, we have to figure out what are some of the needs of this new population. Their needs might be a little different than the needs of young people from the 90s."
He concluded by saying that whatever plans or strategies emerge from the meeting will require buy-in from the community, from nonprofits, from corporations and foundations...in short, that many people will need to lay aside differences, "to figure out once and for all how to leverage our experience that we bring to the table and how to eradicate and minimize gun violence, shootings and murders in the Black community."
|Posted by Elwin Green on January 28, 2015 at 10:10 PM||comments (0)|
This is happening tomorrow evening:
This meeting is the last meeting to offer Homewood residents and others information to help us decide whether or not we want to pursue the Transit Revitalization Investment District designation for part of the neighborhood.
Earlier meetings explained how a TRID works (the designation creates a mechanism for real estate taxes from newly-developed real estate in the district to be re-invested in that district), and solicited the community's input on how we would TRID money to be used here, IF the designation were applied. Tomorrow's meeting will present an analysis of which projects might be most feasible for such re-investment.
Happy 2015, people!
I gave up doing New Year's Resolutions long ago, but this year, one particular idea has taken up residence in my brain so strongly that it seems insistent on being declared in a way that would sound like...well, a resolution.
The idea? To get over myself.
I mention that here because I have been so quiet here in the past couple of months, and a big part of the reason for that is because I've gotten caught up in myself.
This may be some sort of perverse reaction to the positive attention Homewood Nation (and I) received in 2014 - a spread in Pittsburgh Magazine, a mention in City Paper, a visit from two of Europe's emerging leaders (it started out being just one, but he brought a new friend with him. I need to tell you folks about that).
My hypothesis is that all of that made me feel pressured to perform somehow at a higher level. I already wanted to do that anyway, but I think I began to feel more self-conscious about it, to a degree that it began to hinder my functioning. I look at how far short I'm falling of my own hopes for this work, and I get stuck in loops, running around in circles in my own head.
That, I need to get over.
There's another factor - for weeks and weeks now, I have told myself that this portion of Homewood Nation (i.e., this blog) will publish weekly, on Wednesdays. The logical outworking of that would be establishing a rhythm of producing stuff that could be published each Wednesday. What has happened has been me putting off writing stuff, telling myself, "Tuesday." Then feeling overwhelmed on Tuesday. DUH.
That, I definitely need to get over. Instantly.
For me, getting over myself will mean just doing the work.
For you, me getting over myself will mean more posts on Homewood Nation for your information, edification and illlumination of conversation. More news, but also more opinion. First, because I think that part of what made this work valuable to people in the first place was that it gave them a sense of how it feels to live in Homewood. Second, because I still hope to make Homewood Nation the venue of choice for multiple Homewood voices.
I'm open to suggestions on how to make that last part happen. Meanwhile, I will most definitely be posting much more, because there will be MUCH information to share in 2015. Trust me.
Operation Better Block has anounced the 2015 schedule for its monthly community meetings to inform residents about upcoming events, share resources, and spotlight the work of various organizations in Homewood. Meetings are open to everyone.
The Monthly Community Meetings will be held in the Auditorium of the Homewood Library, 7101 Hamilton Avenue, from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm on the fourth Thursday of each month (except for November and December, when they will take place on the third Thursday). Here are the dates for 2015:
January 22, 2015
Februrary 26, 2015
March 26, 2015
April 23, 2015
May 28, 2015
June 25, 2015
July 23, 2015
August 24, 2015
September 24, 2015
October 22, 2015
November 19, 2015
December 17, 2015
The topic for this month's meeting will be, "A Report Card from Homewood Schools." The meeting will cover academic achievement, support services, etc., at Faison K-5 and Westinghouse 6-12. The principals and other personnel have been invited.
For more information call Lois Toni McClendon at Operation Better Block, Inc. (412) 731-1908 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Operation Better Block, Inc. is a community-based, community development organization that has served Homewood residents for over 40 years. Its mission is to "strategize, organize, and mobilize block by block to benefit the Homewood Comunity". Besides the monthly community meetings, OBB is engaged in a Cluster Planning Process for visioning Homewood's future land use.
|Posted by Elwin Green on December 9, 2014 at 9:20 AM||comments (0)|
This is just an announcement, not a story, because this event happens this evening.
The meeting described above is the second in a series of three meetings on transit-oriented development. The first was held on November 13 at the Carnegie Homewood Library.
At that meeting, consultant Lynn Colosi, principal of Delta Development Group, Inc., led the audience of about 65 people through a presentation to introduce the concept of Transit Revitalization Improvement Districts. TRIDs are a mechanism to provide funding for certain types of public improvements within an area that centers on a major transit stop.
That meeting deserves its own story. For now, you can check out Ms. Colosi's presentation here.
Tonight's meeting will present the results of a breakout session from the first meeting, in which attendees were asked to indicate which types of projects they would like to see receive TRID funding, if (and it's a big if) a TRID were to be created here.
|Posted by Elwin Green on November 14, 2014 at 9:50 PM||comments (1)|
by José Antonio Diaz
On Saturday, November 8, roughly 100 people came together at Community Empowerment Association for “The People’s Plan”, an interactive town hall session to address the economic growth and stability of Homewood.
Over a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, potatoes, and grits and bacon, Rashad Byrdsong, executive director of Community Empowerment Association, addressed the audience by saying that the town hall was the culmination of a year’s worth of advisory board meetings of residents and local community-based organizations. “This has been in the works for a long time,” he said.
Councilman Rev. Ricky V. Burgess echoed some of Mr. Byrdsong’s comments, noting that “where you have community consensus, development happens” and that Homewood has the full support of the City, particularly Mayor Bill Peduto, who he said is fully committed to the neighborhood’s vitality. The councilman also advised that this work will require a multi-pronged approach, with “multiple projects and multiple activities to get what we want.”
That sentiment was shared by state representative Ed Gainey, who encouraged those in attendance to get more involved. “Each and every time there is a community meeting, you need to come out,” he implored. Acknowledging the lack of a strong middle-class African American neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Mr. Gainey cited Homewood as an example of a community in transition, pointing to recent developments as the Homewood Station senior high-rise and the proposed Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center.
“Homewood can be a middle-class community again, but we have to demand it,” Mr. Gainey said.
Attendees had an opportunity to work in small break-out groups, each with a different focus: housing; business and commercial development; workforce development and training; and youth development. Some of the questions raised included how best to prepare residents for jobs that are coming into the community; how to include youth in any development activity; and public safety. (“It begins with our relationship with the police, not the other way around,” said one audience member.)
Before concluding the town hall, Mr. Byrdsong announced several next steps. The first would be to re-establish “Brother to Brother”, a monthly meeting to bring Black men together to discuss how they can support one another and leverage each other’s assets and resources. Second, he hopes to create a broad-based coalition of organizations and residents that will be coordinated and work in unison, similar to the former Homewood-Brushton Community Coalition Organization, which comprised several groups including Community Empowerment Association, Operation Better Block, Homewood-Brushton YMCA, and longtime residents such as Sarah Campbell and Mary Savage.
Lastly, Mr. Byrdsong assured that those in the room would be actively engaged in ongoing projects and discussions related to the break-out groups, underscoring the need for continued community involvement.
“Development is not coming to Homewood – development is already here.”