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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: The secret that never was

Posted by Elwin Green on July 4, 2012 at 2:50 AM

The slogan for Homewood Nation is, "Let's elevate the conversation."


A big part of what that means is elevating our conversation from the realm of assumptions to the realm of facts. In recent comments, reader Queen Lucille seems to express repeatedly the assumption that Councilman Burgess has kept the Bridging the Busway process secret. The following facts show that assumption to be false (I started to post this as a comment, but our commenting software does not allow one to create links):

 

1 - For starters, there was a steering committee working on Bridging the Busway. In order for Bridging the Busway to be a secret, we would all have to keep it a secret. We didn't.

 

2 - The first public presentation about Bridging the Busway was on September 14, 2010, at a meeting attended by more than 600 people.

 

3 - After that meeting, people were asked to indicate their interest in specific topics such as "economic development" or "open spaces" by providing their contact information on sign-up sheets. In April of 2011, people who had done that were sent emails inviting them to participate in focus groups related to their chosen topics. The focus groups provided those Homewood residents with opportunities to give their input on housing; green spaces; Homewood history, culture and arts; and businesses and entrepreneurship. There was a fifth focus group specifically for residents of Point Breeze North.

 

4 - In May of 2011, there were four design workshops that were open to all, on Homewood North housing; developing Homewood's business district; the Busway's industrial edge; and the Busway's residential edge. I do not know what other steering committee members did to publicize these meetings, but I personally placed flyers at Homewood businesses, took them door-to-door, and handed them to strangers on the street. 

 

5 - On July 26, 2011 and August 30, 2011 there were two public meetings to present what the project consultants (Studio for Spatial Practice) had come up with so far based on the input received through the focus groups and the design workshops, and to receive final input from the community before finalizing the plan. Again, I do not know what other steering committee members did, but I personally emailed more than 20 Homewood residents to invite them to those meetings.

 

I also wrote about Bridging the Busway sometimes here, on Homewood's only dedicated news outlet. Not as often as I should have. But sometimes.


Maybe the steering committee did fall short in publicizing Bridging the Busway. In fact, scratch the "maybe" - we did fall short. But falling short in publicizing something is not the same as keeping it a secret. Call Bridging the Busway an unholy mess if you want to, and give all the specifics of what makes it an unholy mess. But let's not call it a secret. Secrets are not announced at meetings attended by 600+ people. OK?

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1 Comment

Reply Craig Stevens
11:32 AM on July 9, 2012 
Hello All,
I participated in the Bridging the Busway information and planning meetings with other residents of Homewood and North Point Breeze. As a NPB resident, I was hopeful that this process could build a positive 'bridge' of mutual benefit to our historically connected communities. There was a steering committee for the planning process that I understood involved some of the key organizational stakeholders in the Homewood and NPB including Operation Better Block in Homewood and the East End Food Co-Op in NPB. So I am surprised that there wasn't a commitment on the part of these stakeholders to carry forward the ideas generated by this extensive planning process and no one is 'taking ownership' of it. I am, frankly, upset and feel used that we, the resident stakeholders, who put significant time into this effort were not alerted to the fact that there was not continuations process built into the planning effort. My only suggestion at this point is that mutliple printed, color copies of the report be made available to residents at the Homewood Library, OBB, YMCA, East End Food Co-Op for public access at those locations and black and white copies be made available for community members to have a copy rather then expect people to have access to or pay for making their own copies....Maybe residents need to get organized on an indpendent basis and not allow this type of thing to happen again....No planning process, let alone physical development should take place in our communiteis without both resident notice and input, but also a seat at the table in whatever implementation or continuations process is needed to make use of any community planning and development efforts affecting our communities.
Peace, Craig Stevens: craig_stevens@verizon,net

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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."

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