|Posted by Elwin Green on April 11, 2013 at 8:30 AM|
Yesterday was, to say the least, a bad day in Homewood.
As reported by both the Post-Gazette and the Tribune Review, a man was fatally shot yesterday afternoon by a constable who had been called to assist with a domestic dispute. That happened on Oakwood Street, at Hamilton Avenue.
Shortly before that, police had been called to Brushton Avenue, near Race Street, where three people were shot, none fatally, in an incident that forced a lockdown of the Student Achievement Center at Brushton and Idlewild.
I was asleep when that happened. When the afternoon nonsense jumped off, I was at my desk, working on my application for Urban Innovation21's grant competition for Homewood businesses. It's due tomorrow and I wanted to get it in yesterday.
I heard gunshots. I couldn't tell where they were, but they seemed farther away than Brushton. Part of me wanted to go out and learn the story. But I kept working on the grant application. A text from a friend informed me about the shootings at Race and Brushton. Other friends made quick mentions on Facebook. I tuned in to the evening news, but missed whatever stories they had about it. I called the Save Race Street Committee block captains for the 7400 and 7600 blocks, but didn't reach either of them. By the time that I had done all that and considered again going out myself, the storm was moving in.
Back to the grant application.
While I was doing that, Bram Reichbaum, over at The PIttsburgh Comet, posted a quick item that ends with these questions:
How do we handle this? Short-, medium- and long-term? What sort of "blitz," what sort of strategy, what sort of components?
At the very least, the shootings seem to reinforce the point made by Trib columnist Nafari Vanaski, in today's column, "Homewood needs police blitz more than South Side" - a column that she had actually planned to write last week (some of you Homewood readers may remember me asking for volunteers willing to be interviewed).
Meanwhile, the Save Race Street Committee meets this evening. The very act of attending will require fighting back against the feeling that all of our work is for naught. Are we just wasting our time?
I'll encourage members to participate in the building of a KaBoom! playground on Kelly Street this Saturday. We'll talk about maintaining the raised flower bed we created last year and the garden at the corner of Race and Sterrett that was our first beautification project. And about beautifying a vacant lot in the 7100 block for our next project. And I'll let them know that the parklet we created last September should receive new trees next week.
Dogwoods because, when the City's urban forester, Lisa Ceoffe, listed the types of trees that they could provide for the parklet, and mentioned dogwoods, I made an executive decision (contrary to my inclination, which is to seek consensus on everything). Dogwoods it would be.
Because the dogwood tree, with its cruciform blossoms that flower in April, is a symbol of resurrection.
Perhaps the biggest component of the strategy that Bram asked about would be ending the "War on Drugs," which is increasingly acknowledged as a CONTRIBUTOR to drug trafficking, and the violence that goes with it. And perhaps the second biggest would be more effective gun control.
But while the federal government procrastinates on those issues, people in Homewood die. And sometimes it seems that hope dies. So, dogwoods. To remind ourselves of a life stronger than death.
I'll finish now, and return to my grant application. Because a third component in a long-term strategy to combat street violence is job creation. In practical terms, it just may be that the best and biggest thing that I can do for Homewood is to grow Luminaria Productions, the company behind this website. To grow it enough to create dozens of jobs for Homewood residents - and thereby possibly save dozens of residents from death in the street.
That's what I know I can do. Neighbors, what else can WE do?