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Homewood 100 - a concept, and a call to respond

Posted by Elwin Green on January 21, 2011 at 12:16 AM

I have been thinking about how to make "Homewood Nation" better.

One idea I have is based on a post I read at PressThink, a blog by New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen. This idea is simple, but deep.

The idea is to provide 100 percent coverage of Homewood.

That's it. I told you it was simple. But think with me for a moment. What would 100 percent coverage of Homewood look like?

First of all, it would include everything relating to Homewood that is already public record. Every birth, every death, every marriage.

See how deep it's already getting? Think about how Homewood appears in the news now. Death, pain and confusion, right? What if we had a medium that let us all know more of the everyday good news that makes up the bulk of everday life ("It's a girl!")? News that lets us celebrate together, as well as mourn together?

Speaking of mourning, what if we had news that allowed us to share in the peaceful passing of someone who lived a long and honorable life just as well as in the violent passing of someone who lived a short (and sometimes foolish) one?

Then there's marriage. More precisely, weddings, people getting married. When the media repeatedly repeat the statistic that 70 percent or more of Black children in Pittsburgh live in single-parent households, aren't weddings worth noticing?

(My wife says that some people may not want their information out there. I say that it's already out there, in the public record, and that we need to get better about rejoicing for one another. What do you say?)

Public records also include every real estate transaction, every zoning hearing, every business permit.

Real estate transactions and zoning hearings shape our physical world. Who owns the vacant land and vacant buildings on Homewood Avenue and what are their plans? How much of Homewood is owned by people outside of the neighborhood, in different states, or even in different countries? Do you want to know those things?

Business permits shape our neighborhood's economy. Tracking them would let us know what's coming in terms of new businesses. And it would eliminate a lot of guessing and rumor and reacting to guesses and rumors.

All of that is public information, and there could be enough there to keep a person busy full-time.

But 100 percent coverage of Homewood would include a lot more.

It would include, at the very least, announcements of every church event, every event at the Homewood Carnegie Library, every function at Homewood's public schools, every event at the Homewood-Brushton Branch of CCAC, and every event hosted or sponsored by local service agencies - the YMCA, the YWCA, etc.

It would include every midget football game our kids play.

It could include stories of personal celebrations, such as Mrs. SoandSo's 80th birthday, or Mr. and Mrs. ThemThere's 50th wedding anniversary.

It would definitely include continuing coverage of continuing stories, such as the Jordan Miles matter, Homewood Plaza, the Rite-Aid building, Meadow Lanes, the Homewood Childrens Village, the Bridging the Busway project, Cafe 524, and the Race Street Project.

Pursuing 100 percent coverage of Homewood would mean asking every social service agency in Homewood that receives public funding for a copy of its annual report, so that residents can know offically exactly what they are doing, and who pays them.

Do you see why I said that the 100 percent idea is simple, but deep? Can you imagine what that would look like? What would it mean for you if you felt like you could learn everything - EVERYTHING - you need to know about Homewood right here, at Homewood Nation?

Effective dissemination of all of this information would also require doing something in print at some point, but that's a whole discussion by itself...

So what do you think? Do you have ideas for "Homewood 100" that I didn't mention? Concerns? Questions? Toss them into the mix!

Please share your thoughts!

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