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Homewood Children's Village head resigns

Posted by Elwin Green on September 26, 2014 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Homewood Children's Village President and CEO Derrick L. Lopez has resigned, the organization announced this evening.


An emailed press release from HCV said that Mr. Lopez is stepping down to complete his doctoral dissertation at Michigan State University, where he is studying educational policy.


Dr. Shannah Tharp-Gilliam has been promoted from Deputy CEO, and Director of Evaluation and Research, to interim President and CEO.


Mr. Lopez was HCV's first President and CEO, having served in that dual capacity since 2011.

In the absence of a standard file photo, we leave with this shot of Mr. Lopez, pre-HCV, at the Build Day for Homewood's first KaBoom! playground, in 2010:

The French Connection

Posted by Elwin Green on September 25, 2014 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Last November, I shared the news (passed on to me by Councilman Burgess' chief of staff Shawn Carter) that France had issued a warning to its citizens not to visit Homewood. Noting that French citizens were unlikely to do so anyway, I asked "Why should we care?" and answered:


I care because I see opportunity here. If Homewood can be internationally famous for one thing, then it can be internationally famous for something else...The opportunity is to make Homewood famous enough so that French citizens (among others, from everywhere) would plan to visit.


Well, it looks like a bit of that is happening. There's a young man in Paris named Olivier Saby. He's a government official and a businessman and a novelist. With all of that going on, the German Marshall Fund of the United States has named him as a young leader whom they want to visit our country. As part of his trip, they asked him to arrange a meeting with someone who inspires him.


He wants to meet with me.


Paris, meet Homewood.


When Homewood's transformation becomes obvious enough for everyone to see, what many people will not see is that what they see is the result of hundreds of incremental steps taken by individuals over a period of years - steps that looked - and WERE - so small when they were taken: like a young man in France choosing to read a blog from an overlooked neighborhood in America.

Homewood, meet Paris.

Final Business District Planning Meeting Tonight

Posted by Elwin Green on September 25, 2014 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Just a reminder that the last of three meetings by Operation Better Block, about the redevelopment of Homewood's business district, will be held this evening at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Homewood branch, 7101 Hamilton Avenue. Come at 5:30 for refresments; the meeting will start at 6. This meeting is for everyone in Homewood who wants to have a voice in the future of our business district.


Tonight's meeting will offer a recap of the first two. Here's a preview of the recap: In the first meeting, residents were asked what the identity of the business district should be - i.e., how do we want the business district to be known, or what do we want it to be known for? The emerging consensus, which was consistent with what residents said during the Bridging the Busway planning process, was that of wanting to see Homewood's business district as a regional destination for African-American culture.


(When Christine Brill, of Studio for Spatial Practice, asked me if I agreed with that, I said that I would if the word "global" replaced the word "regional." My friend, the Rev. John Wallace, pastor of Bible Center Church, got a laugh out of that, but I meant it. In my view, this work will require too much from too many people over too long a period of time for us to deliberately set our sights any lower than global.)


In the second meeting, the focus was on the kind of uses that people would like to see in the business district, which planning consultant Jonathan Kline, who as facilitated the meetings, divided into two categories: uses that would support the idea of building an African-American cultural destination, and uses that residents need in the neighborhood. The first category would includes restaurants or performance venues; the most commonly-discussed item in the second category is a grocery store.


Tonight's meeting, Kline said, will focus on market realities such as the number of households in Homewood, the retail spending patterns, how many households have cars, and how many people move through the neighborhood as commuters. That type of data drives developers' and other businesses' decision making - no one wants to locate a business in a place where there would not be enough customers to sustain it. So those of us who want to help development to happen well, need to understand those market realities.


After tonight's meeting, Studio for Spatial Practice will, as they have for other clusters in OBB's cluster planning process, produce a document to guide future planning efforts. But the one for the business district will differ from the others, Kline said.

While the previous documents have been "very prescriptive," he said, the one for the business district will contain "a list of scenarios."


"It's not going to be quite as definitive as the other clusters,..I'd say there are more unknowns about how the business district might develop."

Byrdsong presents "Urban Agenda Strategy" for Homewood - Part 1

Posted by Elwin Green on September 18, 2014 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (1)

T. Rashad Byrdsong, President and CEO of Community Empowerment Association

About two dozen people came out for a meeting at Community Empowerment Association in which CEA President and CEO T. Rashad Byrdsong presented a document for the community's review and use, titled "Homewood Urban Agenda Strategy: An Inner-City Model for Urban Revitalization."

Mr. Byrdsong devoted the greater part of the evening to walking the audience through a PowerPoint slideshow that provided background on the year-long process that produced the Urban Agenda.

He also challenged the leaders of Homewood's organizations to do better at coming together in order to present a unified front to government and the foundation community, both of whom are expected to be major sources of funding for redevelopment efforts in Homewood.

He emphasized that the document distributed to attendees was not in its final form, saying twice that "it's 75 percent done."

Describing it as "a theoretical framework," he said, "This document will never be done until we receive the concrete goods."


If you find value in Homewood Nation, please help it to continue by using the button at the right to make a donation. Thanks!

Urban Agenda To Be Presented

Posted by Elwin Green on September 18, 2014 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm just going to leave this here for now:

HN Updates

Posted by Elwin Green on September 15, 2014 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)


1) The two episodes "Building A 21st Century Journalistic Enterprise" which I've announced twice already are on hold until I do some higher-level work on my calendar. The next time I mention either, it will not be with location TBA. The location will be included. Thanks for your patience.


2) I missed the deadline for completing the NewU grant application for which I urgently requested your help two Saturdays ago. The first question on the application asked for the URL for a 3-minute pitch video. Since I did not have a pitch video, much less have one posted online, that meant that I needed to write, shoot, edit and upload said video in order to complete that first question. I didn't make it. And the survey's design required the completion of the first question in order to advance to any others.


But working on it convinced me that a pitch video for Homewood Nation is a good thing to have anyway, so I will press forward with that. It will be a general-purpose video to introduce people to Homewood Nation and to invite them to partnership - with partnership being defined broadly enough to include everything from bringing supplies to an HN social gathering to providing financial support. Not to mention things like writing, photography, or managing back office stuff.


Anyway, thanks tons to all of you who expressed your support in response to my earlier request.

Ambassadors sought for energy-efficiency program

Posted by Elwin Green on September 12, 2014 at 5:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Mark your calendar for Monday, Sept. 15.


GTECH Strategies, a nonprofit that is familiar to many Homewood residents for its work in reclaiming vacant lots, is looking for a few good residents to help lead a program for enhancing the neighborhood's energy efficiency.


The ReEnergize Pittsburgh Ambassadors program seeks three residents who, as a promotional flyer puts it, "are passionate about creating change in their communities."


These Ambassadors will work to get as many Homewood residents as they can to participate in a friendly competition with two other neighborhoods, Hazelwood and Allentown, to see which neighborhood can demonstrate the greated reduction in energy use between December 21 and next March 21.


The winning neighborhood will receive a new green space custom designed by GTECH.


Ambassadors will set their own schedules, but GTECH expects that their community outreach will take about 10 hours a week between October and April, with the first month dedicated to training. They will receive a stipend of $2,000.


Monday, Sept. 15 is the deadline for applying to become an Ambassador.


The program was largely inspired by the fact that more than half of the homes in Pittsburgh, including many in Homewood, were built over 70 years ago and are, to but it bluntly, energy hogs. While many efforts in the realm of energy focus on the use of alternative sources such as solar and wind energy, there is a lot to be gained by simply making homes more energy efficient.


GTECH spokesman Zaheen Hussain said the Ambassador program originated when a group of Pittsburghers applied for some of the federal stimulus funding that was available about five years to help fund energy programs. They were not awarded any funds, but "the folks that came around the table understood the need for them to stay together and try to develop some sort of energy efficiency program for your region." The result was the Metro Scale Retrofit Initiative, which received the friendlier name of ReEnergize Pittsburgh two years ago.


The group as a whole meets quarterly to discuss policy issues on such energy-related topics as workplace development and finance. GTECH has taken the lead role in managing grassroots initiatives.


The Ambassadors program began last year, and in its first incarnation trained 15 Ambassadors to promote energy efficiency in 14 neighborhoods. Rhonda Sears of the Mulford Street Corridor Block Association, was Homewood's Ambassador, and is reapplying for one of the three positions this year.


For more information, or to apply to become an Ambassador, visit GTECH's website.

An Urgent Request From The Publisher

Posted by Elwin Green on August 29, 2014 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (2)

Dear Readers,


I'm writing to ask for your help WITHIN THE NEXT FIVE HOURS.


Today, I was invited to apply for a $20,000 grant to help fund the continued development of Homewood Nation. Two such grants are being offered by UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, Inc., in its "New U: News Entrepreneurs Working through UNITY" competition. NewU exists "to support the creative business-building ideas of participating journalist-entrepreneurs."


As a "diverse" journalist-entrepreneur, I may actually have a shot at this thing. And coincidentally, I just wrote two posts about upgrading and expanding Homewood Nation in coming months, so I have some ideas to guide the use of the funds, should I receive a grant.


Here's the adrenalin rush: the deadline for the grant application is MIDNIGHT.


Here's the request: The application is online, so I don't know yet exactly what it asks for. But it may ask for some sort of testimonials, references or statements of support (which it would be good to have on file anyway, right?).


If you would like to speak on Homewood Nation's behalf, please write a note or letter with your thoughts on why Homewood Nation deserves to be funded, with today's date and addressed, "To Whom It May Concern," and send it as an email attachment to (NEW EMAIL ADDRESS): homewoodnation@gmail.com.


Thanks, and I will let you know how things turn out!

Elwin Green,Publisher

Homewood Nation

Homewood Nation, v. 2: Part 2 - Hanging Out For The Good Of The Hood

Posted by Elwin Green on August 28, 2014 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (1)

In my last post, I announced that a major upgrade of Homewood Nation is coming, and that Google Hangouts On Air will be a major part of of that upgrade.


With a Hangout On Air, a group of people (up to ten, I believe) can use webcams (or other video cameras attached to computers) to video conference over the Internet.


I called it "video conferencing on steroids" because they can not only talk to, and see, each other - they can broadcast their conversation, live, to the world. Anybody, anywhere, can watch and listen online. AND...


people watching and listening can comment, and the people in the video can read and respond to their comments, which makes the people watching and listening into participants also. AND...


...when the Hangout is finished, Google saves it and posts it to YouTube, where it can live indefinitely, for viewing by anyone and everyone.


Hangouts On Air are becoming a major part of Homewood Nation's portfolio. I anticipate doing multiple series under the banner, "Homewood Nation Presents."


In March, I did a three-part series with Craig Calvert, of SmartProcure, titled, "How ANYBODY Can Sell To The Government." Those three videos are now on Homewood Nation's YouTube channel. If you're a Homewood business owner, check them out. I would get a huge thrill from seeing a dozen or more Homewood business rise from struggling to prosering through government contracting.


On Tuesday evening, after the OBB meeting, tech consultant Shimira Williams and I began a new series, "Tech Tuesday with Shimira Williams" which will air every Tuesday at 8 p.m. The first installment, "What A Web We Weave," about managing your online identity (there's only one, no matter how many accounts you have on how many platforms) is on YouTube. Stay tuned for an announcement about future episodes.


OBB's Jerome Jackson has also agreed to having Hangouts on Air to supplement the remaining two cluster planning meetings for Homewood's business district, so look for news about those when we schedule them.


In October, we will launch "Homewood 2020," a series of conversations about how we can move Homewood forward as a neighborhood that is

    global and 
    really, really smart.

Keep an eye for announcements about that series, so that you can make plans to join us!

Who do you think would be good guests for "Homewood 2020?" What other topics would you like to see as the subject of a Homewood Nation Presents HOA? Let us know in the comments.


If you find value in Homewood Nation, please help it to continue by using the button at the right to make a donation. Thanks!

Homewood Nation, v. 2: Part 1 - A Community Heads Up

Posted by Elwin Green on August 28, 2014 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (1)

So, this happened:


I went to Operation Better Block's meeting about redeveloping Homewood's business district Tuesday evening.


Those of you who follow Homewood Nation on Twitter, or who have liked Homewood Nation's Facebook page, received live coverage of the event. That's my favorite way of covering some things, and that coverage does not always extend to posting a story here.


But sometimes it does, and I meant for yesterday to be one of those times. I spent most of the day writing a piece about the meeting. Then, when I tried to save it as a draft, my hosting provider revealed that I needed to log in. It had logged me out, and my story disappeared.


I was not up to the task of rewriting it. Maybe I will today; meanwhile, you can get some sense of Tuesday's proceedings by checking the Twitter feed to your right.


That little fiasco was the latest incident to strengthen my resolve to change web hosting providers - and in the process to do a thorough overhaul of Homewood Nation.


So this is your heads-up: some big changes are coming. I don't completely know yet what the new Homewood Nation will consist of, or how it will operate, but I can say five things:


  1. The website will have an entirely new look, with much more use of photography and video.
  2. The website will publish weekly, on Wednesdays. The idea there is to give people enough advance notice of things happening the following week, so that they can plan for them.
  3. The website will integrate more tightly with other aspects of Homewood Nation, which at this point include a Facebook page, a Twitter stream, a YouTube channel and a Google Plus page.
  4. Homewood Nation will strive to exploit the full potential of tools offered by Google. One of their tools, in particular, will become a major part of the Homewood Nation portfolio. It's called "Hangouts On Air," and I describe it as video conferencing on steroids. I will describe Hangouts On Air more fully, and say more about Homewood Nation's use of them, in Part 2.
  5. There will be a print product. I don't know what it will look like (newsletter, newspaper, magazine), or how long it will take to put it together. But the process of putting it together will begin in September.


Homewood Nation is already an award-winning enterprise; now we're making it even better. If you want to learn more, or to participate, then mark your calendar...


  • Sept. 8, 6 p.m. - Building a 21st Century Journalism Enterprise, Ep. 3: Here and There - The Present and The Picture: the current state of Homewood Nation ("Here"), and its desired future ("There")
  • Sept. 15, 6 p.m. - Building a 21st Century Journalism Enterprise, Ep. 4: Processes and Pieces: How Homewood Nation might move from "Here" to "There" - what needs to happen, and who needs to do what?


Location(s) to be determined, partly based on anticipated attendance - so let us know in the comments if you'd like to attend.

Meanwhile - how can Homewood Nation become better?


NEXT: Homewood Nation, v.2: Part 2 - Hanging Out For The Good Of The Hood


If you find value in Homewood Nation, please help it to continue by using the button at the right to make a donation. Thanks!


Coming Soon...

The Homewood Chronicles

Oct. 2005 - March 2010

Reports from a community in transition

In October 2005, after a bullet came through his living room window, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Elwin Green began writing "My Homewood," the first blog on the P-G's website. For 4 1/2 years, "My Homewood" shared stories of tragedy and beauty, of perplexity and hope - stories that live again in "The Homewood Chronicles."

Watch this space! 

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