Creating social capital maps for the areas surrounding Latham Street Commons has allowed our group to explore community resources, services, and context. This has deepened our understanding of relationship networks for people living and working in this area.
Penn Ave acts as a suture for the two distinct socio-economic zones. The range in colors reveal the wide gap in property values and vacancies between Bloomfield/Friendship and Garfield. The main street gives access to the community’s social capital and transportation to resources outside of the area. Penn Ave has been successful in attracting prominent businesses, employment centers, and other valuable resources to the residents of the three boroughs. Primanti Bros is opening a new location on Penn Ave, the first one in 2 decades, adding to the already rich and diverse restaurant scene on the avenue. Quality coffee shops like Artisan and Voluto and tea bars like Bantha Tea Bar also attract many residents in close neighborhoods. A whole series of arts galleries and performance centers like Assemble, The Mr. Roboto Project, Level Up and The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination have opened along the street.
Building on the current burgeoning business landscape, there is an opportunity to create greater connectivity between these communities by continuing to activate Penn Ave. In the process, it is important to keep in mind an important issue that the current residents seem to be worried about: gentrification. Safety issues should also be tackled in order to provide the right environment for change.
Latham St Commons is a "Point of Convergence" as it sits where the three boroughs meet. A positive intervention there could have a ripple effect that benefits the members of these communities. The amount of vacant lots in the area, mostly located in Garfield, shows the reality of the gap between it and its adjacent boroughs. These could also be used to bring more resources into Garfield and reinforce positive changes.
In terms of food access, we mapped the main locations below:
- Grocery Stores (On Penn Ave): ALDI, People’s Grocery, Le’s Grocery, A&M Market About a mile from Latham St Commons
- Whole Foods (Shadyside), Giant Eagle Market District (Shadyside), Shursave IGA (Bloomfield)
- Food Bank: East End Cooperative Ministry
- Gardens: Octopus Garden, Garfield Community Garden, Black Street Community Garden, Borland Garden
Though there are groceries within a mile of Latham St Commons, Garfield sits the furthest from markets selling fresh foods, and is considered a food desert. Food deserts are categorized by a lack of access to fresh produce and wholesome foods. They are common to find in lower-income areas where access to foods is confined to processed items.
Finally, many organizations with a Community Uplift mission are strongly present in the area:
- Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation: Located on Penn Ave. The BCG works with youth for educational and employment services. They have a health program in partnership with UPMC/St. Margaret’s. They have a partnership with Urban Redevelopment Authority that they use for revitalization of community. They create/promote affordable housing.
- Garfield Jubilee Association: Employment, educational services, housing
- Neighborhood Learning Alliance: Focus on African-American youth and families
- Small Seeds: Social services
- Eastside Neighborhood Employment Center: Workforce development
In summary, the Garfield area seems to be in a stage of rebirth, and Latham St Commons can play a crucial role in supporting this movement.