“I Lived, We Live: What Did We Miss?” leverages spatial storytelling to describe the journey of Hazelwood, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh that has experienced urban violence and poverty stemming from institutional divestiture and the vanishing steel industry. Created as my senior capstone project at Carnegie Mellon University, the exhibit questions the larger systemic forces in our society, while creating a space for the community to be empowered by vulnerability, strengthened from compassion and engaged with the issues that matter most to them.
Five interactive experiences throughout the space were designed to provide opportunities for listening, learning and reflecting. The exhibit sets the tone for positive change, and recognizes the power and resilience of the Hazelwood community if given opportunities to learn and grow. Through curated artifacts and personal stories from community members, a meaningful narrative began to take shape, one designed to amplify the voices of forgotten lives, hopes, and dreams in this community.
Aspirations We Hold The people of Hazelwood are living and breathing stories of inspiration and resilience. From olympic medalists to entrepreneurs, the community is filled with champions of hard work and talent. However, amongst these bright stars are also quieter voices whose stories of compassion and determination remain untold. Here, we recognize the different kinds of strength that live in Hazelwood. As you read inspiring stories of individuals’ success, consider your own future ambitions.
Systems We See As Americans, we are promised the rights of freedom, justice, and equality. But how are these rights fulfilled if communities struggle to put food on the table and keep their children safe? Battling systemic issues like poverty, racial inequality, and urban violence starts with open eyes and honest conversations. Take a moment to read newspaper stories and community quotes about Hazelwood’s challenges alongside the promises from our Founding Fathers. Where do these promises fall short? Join the conversation by writing your thoughts on the table top.
Spaces We Shared A community cannot grow without spaces to call its own. Although Hazelwood used to be a thriving neighborhood, it lost countless resources like schools, grocery stores, and jobs when the steel mills closed. Neighborhood treasures like ice cream shops and community swimming pools are now fading memories. By looking at artifacts from Hazelwood’s past, we reflect on what this neighborhood used to be. We recognize the loss and change that has shaped this community and acknowledge the places where we can still continue to gather and grow.
Together We Remember There are times when it is difficult to remember the loss of our loved ones because the pain is too great. However, when we can voice our grief to others, suddenly we are no longer alone. The countless individual stories of young lives cut short in Hazelwood build a larger narrative of urban street violence. Coming together over this shared experience creates a system for support and healing. As you reflect on your own loss, please consider leaving keepsakes or sharing memories of loved ones in our community display.
United We Will Hazelwood is a beautiful mosaic made up of unique individuals who each play a role in the community. Whether they are artists, activists, leaders, role models, or supporters, these people all share the desire to contribute to something bigger than themselves. Through the years, Hazelwood’s strength has rested on its ability to come together in difficult times. As you reflect on your own personal identity, consider your role in this community and how your contribution can impact our society and our world.
The process involved engaging and working directly with members of the Hazelwood community to better understand how losses affect the identity of a community and how, in the aftermath of loss, memory of place changes overtime. It was critical for us to create a space that gave the community something they genuinely needed, rather than what we thought they needed. Together we decided that this space needed to focus on not just the past, but also the future of this neighborhood.
role Creative direction, visual design, contextual research, experience design, interaction design, rapid prototyping
duration 5 months
contributors Carnegie Mellon School of Design, Class of 2017selected press
"“What Did We Miss?” Designing a Voice for Grief↗" Pittsburgh Magazine, May 2017
"For Those Lost To Violence, Hazelwood Exhibit Celebrates The Futures That Could Have Been↗" Pittsburgh NPR 90.5, May 2017
"Powerful memorial to young lives lost↗" Post-Gazette, May 2017
"Capstone Design Project Explores Evolution of Pittsburgh Community↗" Carnegie Mellon University News, April 2017