For my circulation project, I attempted to create and implement a hashtag to begin community discussion around food security issues in Pittsburgh. I chose to approach this by tacking up bold, plain text signs with facts about food insecurity and the city of Pittsburgh, with a hashtag at the bottom of the page. I was hoping I could track the tag on Twitter or Instagram.

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I’ll be upfront in saying I didn’t track a single post. Thinking back on it, I think there were a few issues that compiled to hinder the success of the project.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.24.09 PM

I think the first issue was location. I placed my flyers in places heavily populated by other flyers— outside the Union, the law building, Posvar. I think having such plain flyers in a sea of brightly colored, highly stylized flyers made them difficult to see and notice. If the flyers had been in a less populated area, and placed next to each other, I think their message would have been more effective than spread out across a bright flyer background.

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Another aspect that could have been improved was the information to connect posts. I don’t think just the hashtag was enough- I think linking my twitter would have been a good idea as well. I also think my internet presence could have been bigger— making more posts under the hashtag to be the genesis of the project, so if folks checked the hashtag, there would be something there to see.

Were I to reimagine this project, I would have started assembling information under the #pittsburghfoodsecurity hashtag earlier. I also would have placed flyers in places of higher traffic that wee a larger demographic than just college students— on busses, public restrooms, etc. I think community communication and engagement with food issues would result in a much stronger base to begin to understand and help combat food issues, and begin to eliminate food security in Pittsburgh. Strong, sustainable solutions are community driven— for the community, by the community, from the community. What better way to begin building a community than through social media?



  1. cjc127 April 1, 2015 / 12:17 am

    I was interested to see the results of your project because we have similar topics. It’s interesting that you took on a digital approach and found it wasn’t successful while I had a nondigital approach that was also unsuccessful. I agree that there are a lot of fliers in those spaces around campus and very few students take the time to read them. I was thinking for a future project, it would be cool to combine our ideas. For my project I placed colorful cards in produce showing how far food travels. Some comments on my project said people might overlook it because its so simple. If I added a hashtag like yours to the bottom of my cards, it maybe would encourage people to go on twitter and look at the larger conversation about the topic.. Just an idea.


  2. psm16 April 1, 2015 / 2:54 pm

    I think the premise of your project is very thought-provoking even though it wasn’t as successful as you envisioned it to be. You mentioned that part of the failure may have been due to the location of the signs – in places that were already filled with attention-grabbing posters and fliers. If you were to go about this project again, I think a possible place you could explore would be to place the signs in areas that sell food – the Cathedral cafe, next to coffee carts, in Market, outside restaurants. That way, people are already thinking about food, maybe they’re already holding a piece of food in their hands about to buy it, and the information you present would feel more jarring. For most of us at Pitt, it’s very easy to get food and we forget that it’s not that way for everyone, so showing the statistics and facts that you had in that moment when students are easily accessing food might create a sense of discomfort and awareness about our privileged situation and how it’s not ubiquitous.


  3. taa59 April 1, 2015 / 3:06 pm

    Your approach to this project was definitely a great idea. Social media seems to be the way to spread news now a days, because everyone is so consumed in it. Even though your project did not work, your thinking behind it and ideas were awesome. This is definitely an issue that I personally would be interested in learning about and I think that there are a lot of people who would also be interested. I have volunteered at food banks in the past, and also participated in 30- hour famines, but I cannot say that I have ever been without food. This is an issue that people take for granted and I think that you and your project can definitely make a difference in our community!


  4. jtepp01 April 2, 2015 / 6:38 pm

    Similarity, I took a digital approach, using twitter to spread my topic. Stupidly, though, I forgot to use a hashtag, instead tweeting heavily and using some pictures. It seems if we combined our approaches, we would have an effective project. That being said, I definitely think digital media can be an effective way to spread a topic, given how many people use it. You have a powerful topic, which, if used effectively with strong facts and such, can be spread well on social media. I’ve never been without food, so it’s hard for me grasp this topic. But, this is an important enough issue, so there should be plenty of facts to make your point.


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