Circulation Project Reflection

With the rise of the internet and social media, it only made sense to circulate my message through social media. Millions of people use social media. Of the main outlets, twitter is most frequently checked, so I decided on twitter to spread some thoughts about the neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. This way, I thought, I had a chance to reach a significant amount of people– more than with a flyer.

But first, I had to have something to circulate. For my research narrative I used sidewalks as an object that is representative of neighborhoods. In a way, sidewalks act as a sort of barometer for a neighborhood. If the sidewalks are well kept, well paved, cleared and lacking growth, than the neighborhood is usually middle to upper class, or at the very least well taken care. Conversely, if the sidewalk isn’t well kept, if it isn’t well paved, has growth sprouting up and can’t be walked or rode across smoothly, than the neighborhood is usually lower income.

Beyond that, it seems to me that the sidewalk can act as a bit of unifier for the neighborhood. Its through this sidewalk that people can meet other neighbors, and from there become friendly. Taken a step further, people can then unite to create a neighborhood group. This group, or friendliness in general, can only help in combating crime.

With that in mind, I took a trip to a few neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. Shadyside was my first stop. Shadyside is a safe area with generally higher income residents, and it shows. There’s lots of businesses, the houses are big and the area is generally clean and well kept. And the sidewalks, well, are exactly how you’d want them to look– smoothly paved and easily rideable or walkable. Naturally, there were plenty of people outside on this decent spring day, walking their dogs, running and biking.

A typical Shadyside sidewalk.
A typical Shadyside sidewalk.

It was more of the same in Squirrel Hill, which carries the similar traits of Shadyside of being higher class, filled with businesses and being clean.

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Then I moved onto Homewood, an area known for its violence, abandonments and general lack of money. Tons of people have moved from Homewood, and it shows. There’s lots of abandoned or foreclosed homes, which are naturally surrounded with awful looking sidewalks. And because of the low number of people, there’s hardly any businesses around. Needless to say, Homewood does not seem like a nice place to live, and I’m not sure it’s getting proper attention to improve it.

A standard Homewood sidewalk.
A standard Homewood sidewalk.
A neglected Homewood sidewalk.
A neglected Homewood sidewalk.

With such poor sidewalks, there were hardly any people outside exercising. There wasn’t much of a sidewalk to do so, so they didn’t. I can only imagine this helps in putting a barrier between Homewood residents, without a proper sidewalk to help in uniting neighborhood members.

With the power of my @jteppwftp twitter handle, I spread word of my experience. In fifteen tweets, I explained the importance of these sidewalks, while also sharing various pictures of the neglected ones in Homewood. Twitter does some natural circulation of these tweets, as it can potentially reach a large audience if searched and seen by someone with a lot of followers. But I want the word to get to the important people, so I tweeted some pictures and thoughts to Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh and Mike Doyle, the Representative for Pennsylvania’s 14th congressional district, who both oddly have twitters.

I don’t know if they saw these tweets. I doubt they did, or paid much attention if they happened to. That being said, twitter provides an outlet to get in contact with important people, even if they don’t happen to see the tweets. And if they don’t, there’s millions of people on twitter, and by sending these tweets out to the public there is a chance that I can raise awareness.

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