I Lived, We Lived, What Did We Miss?about the project 

Project Overview

Over the next few months students from Carnegie Mellon School of Design will engage and work 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. We will work to address these issues by partnering with the Center of Life (COL), a faith-based, community-empowerment organization that serves residents in the greater Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Together, this collective knowledge will help tell a story about this community in an effort to invite conversation.

Themes of the Project

As a society we often avoid honest and open conversations about difficult subject matter like race, privilege, social exclusion and urban violence. We will all work together to understand how these types of inequalities result in misunderstanding, racism, and loss of social capital. In the end, we hope to create a meaningful narrative in a fixed environment that helps individuals convey the voices of forgotten lives, hopes, and dreams. Life is both fragile and resilient. We must remember, but we must also live

I Lived, We Lived, What Did We Miss? Themes and initial responses

By synthesizing the themes we gathered from time spent with Hazelwood’s community, we formed comprehensive themes for a meaningful exhibit . 

Our Identified Themes:

Dormant AssetsHow do we inspire dormant assets to become actualized in the individual?  

(Keywords: Vulnerability, Unity, Knowledge of Experience, Shared Wisdom, Memories/Revisiting Lost Memories )

Potential Community Breaking Points: Loss is bittersweet; How can we make loss promote hope?

Expressions of strengthHow can we showcase that hazelwood takes care of their own and that memories are important to the community?  

(Keywords: Care, Community, validation of community, unity )

Sources of StrengthFaith is a catalyst for healing, outlook on the experience we share. Openness to revisit painful memories, community programs, love is the backbone of support.

(Keywords: Faith, Openness, Connections, Community, Love)

OpportunitiesLoss could be a channel for connection, freedom comes through vulnerability, the unity of our past can speak to the potential of our futures.

Paired Down Themes: 3 Ideas


Dormant Assets:

Living Library: How can we capitalize on the dormant assets of the Hazelwood community by telling these stories in a physical library that we can interact with?


Sources Of Strength

Mapped-out-Community Resources: How can we visualize the commodities people of Hazelwood share? Could it be physically mapped? Could this dispel some resentment amongst the public?



Expressions of strength:

Portraits of Hazelwood: How can we showcase the people of Hazelwood through the memories that others have formed about them?


Problem Proposition Definitions

We developed the above issue statements using a template provided in the Service Innovation Handbook by Lucy Kimbell

We developed the above issue statements using a template provided in the Service Innovation Handbook by Lucy Kimbell

On Sources of Strength in Hazelwood:

We are addressing the issue of unsalvageable loss in Hazelwood which is shaped by the both the loss of physical life due to violence and a community-wide loss created by widespread divestment from the city;  our evidences shows that this has manifested in the now broken interdependent relationship and stifled opportunities for growth. This issue matters because a widespread sense of loss will reverberate throughout the community and perpetuate a state of hopelessness. We can use this as an opportunity to realign Hazelwood’s people to their sources of strength as opposed to the normalized sense loss.

On Dormant Assets in Hazelwood:

We are addressing the issue of untapped resilience in Hazelwood, which is shaped by the growing separation between generations and individuals due to scattered resources (such as school districts); our evidence shows that there is little grounds for connection, this matters because people are less likely to depend and seek to relate to each other in Hazelwood.  We are framing this as an opportunity for hidden strengths to surface and thrive.

On Expressions of Strength in Hazelwood:

We are addressing the issue of unexpressed and forgotten allegiances on the individual and community scale, which is shaped by the lack of communication and absent record of community care; our evidence shows the manifestation of individual resilience is masked by the neighborhood’s infrastructural decay and resulting desperation for basic needs. This matters because the true strength of Hazelwood’s people can not thrive in these conditions. We are framing this as an opportunity to expose and actualize the immense power of Hazelwood’s people.

This post appeared originally the CMU School of Design Senior Blog.

I lived, We Lived, What Did We Miss? First Impressions

Currently, in the research phase of the project, our objective is to understand the community’s people and places so that we can connect with the current population in a genuine way. We attended a couple of sessions with the members of Hazelwood’s community, and gained an understanding of Hazelwood themes, including loss, resilience, connectivity, and opportunity.

The third time we met with Hazelwood’s people, we arranged an assortment of nouns such as “Hazelwood’s Places, Hazelwood’s People, and Hazelwood’s Youth” paired with verbs such as “are, will be, should be” and asked people to fill in descriptive words that would appropriately complete the sentence. The activity yielded sentences such as:

“Hazelwood’s community used to be loving”

“Hazelwood’s youth should be connected”

“Hazelwood’s houses are gone”

This post appeared originally the CMU School of Design Senior Blog.