During the fall 2015 semester, seven students from the College of Communications at The Pennsylvania State University worked with business owners of Homewood, a crime-ridden, historic and predominately African American neighborhood in Pittsburgh once labeled as “the most dangerous neighborhood in America.” The goal of this semester-long fall 2015 class, COMM497E: Pittsburgh Outreach, Rebranding an Urban Community, was to provide technical assistance to the Homewood-Brushton Business Association as part of an engaged scholarship initiative by the Penn State Center Pittsburgh. Students spent five months gathering information from business owners, historical documents, branding exercises, and media reports to focus on how to best contribute to Homewood’s rebranding effort.
The overall goal of the project was to work closely with stakeholders to provide Homewood with the necessary tools to spread and promote good news about the community to counter the often negative media stories and perceptions both inside and outside neighborhood boundaries. By changing the story, Homewood can persuade more people to shop in Homewood, embrace its history and invest in its revitalization.
The project included developing a conceptual neighborhood logo, videos, a high school communication club and an educational/training program that empowers the Homewood Brushton Business Association members and Homewood residents to develop, distribute, share, and promote positives stories highlighting the community’s resources, people, and community within Homewood and the broader Pittsburgh community through traditional and new media techniques.More