Elwin Green

Elwin Green (Photo: Carol Moye)

Elwin Green (Photo: Carol Moye)

Elwin Green was born in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1972, he volunteered to join the Army where he served in Japan. He loved it there and wanted to stay, but the powers that be sent him to the recruiting station in Pittsburgh instead in 1974. While in Pittsburgh, he decided to pursue a degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh. He left Pittsburgh before completing his degree in 1980, returning to Louisville. In 1983, he decided it would be wise to finish his degree, so he returned to Pittsburgh. In January of 1984, while staying with his friends Rich and Sara Patterson, (who lived in Squirrel Hill), he and Rich were on the Northside, when he discovered an ad for an efficiency apartment in Homewood as it fell out of Rich’s pocket. Rich drove him to Homewood. He had never been there at this point, and knew nothing about it. He’s been there ever since.

“While attending Pitt, I accompanied a friend of mine, who worked with a campus ministry organization called Campus Crusade for Christ, on a visit to Bethany Baptist Church. I loved it there, and began singing in the choir, where I met the love of my life, the beautiful, charming Janet Jackson”. Janet, also a resident of Homewood, seemed just as thrilled to meet him. They married in 1986.

“When I first walked up Homewood Avenue, the stretch from the Busway to Hamilton was mostly lined with the abandoned remains of multi-story, mixed-use buildings. I was immediately overwhelmed by a sense of opportunity. I knew that to others, Homewood appeared to be dead; but I believe in resurrection. I also remember a house on my block that had sculpted pink flamingoes in its front yard. To me, that suggested a neighborhood with a middle-class sensibility, even if the economics had already turned downward.”

In April of 2004, Elwin still wasn’t quite in love with Pittsburgh, and was planning to move to California to try to get a start in the film industry, but divine providence made things happen very differently. In May 2004, he got an email from Carmen Lee. The Post-Gazette was responding to the need to diversify its staff. There would be a training in Nashville which was to begin in May, and she asked if he would be interested. The training (The Diversity Institute, at Vanderbilt University, sponsored by The Freedom Foundation) began in June. Elwin agreed, and in June 2004, began the training program. He worked for the Post-Gazette from September 2004-February 2011.

Elwin considers himself a “placist”. He says, “I believe deeply in the importance of place. In order to do what God wants, we have to connect with specific people. In order to connect with specific people, we need to be in a specific place. After all these things, I became convinced that Homewood is my place.”

In October of 2005, he was chatting with the husband of the couple who lived on the first floor of the building he and Janet owned when he heard shots. When he went upstairs, he saw bullet holes in the bay window of their second-floor apartment. That incident, really put him out of sorts, and everyone noticed. His editor at the time, Steve Massey, suggested that he write about it, and thus, “My Homewood” blog was born. It lasted from October 2005 until March 2010.  In April 2010, he shifted the blog to his company,” Luminaria Productions”, where it lives today, but renamed, Homewood Nation.  It was conceived as a public service project, which is basically what it remains.

What Elwin wants most is to elevate the conversation. He loves when the conversation actually happens, regardless of the topic. Homewood Nation was intended to be a platform for multiple voices, but unfortunately Facebook came along. The original purpose of Homewood Nation was to let people know what it’s actually like to live in Homewood.

Its focus is:

  • To elevate the conversation
  • For people to be better informed
  • To make people less afraid of Homewood
  • To initiate conversation that taps more deeply into people’s conversation and sense of agency.

I want to help dispel the feeling/assumption that Homewood residents are powerless.