Building Community in Homestead


Building Community in Homestead

Mariette Williams, Museum Studies Intern at Rivers of Steel – Fall 2021 

This past Fall I had the opportunity to internship with Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, in Homestead, Pennsylvania. Working within this organization provides a unique perspective that brings together art and history, forming key relationships with established Homestead businesses as well as the surrounding community they continue to serve. Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, I spent much of this internship helping develop a trial run of the Live Friday event, previously known as Last Friday’s. This event was put on in conjunction with many of the businesses along Eighth Avenue that could accommodate local musicians for three Friday nights throughout the Autumn season, October 8, November 5, and November 19. 

The goal of these events is to draw more business to the businesses within Homestead, while simultaneously creating an atmosphere the residents of Homestead would feel comfortable having within their neighborhood. In the pandemic context, it was crucial that these venues could support the general safety precautions needed for an event of this size. After these trials, this program is set to move forward in the spring, with the changing of the weather leading way to more foot traffic and flow between businesses and more time to prepare the businesses along Eighth Avenue. The goal of attending these events in regards to this internship was to gather data among the crowds at different venues, such as surveying the neighborhoods and demographic profiles of audiences that attended certain venues throughout the night.  

In addition to attending these events, I worked in conjunction with the Rivers of Steel team to promote this event in any way we could, specifically to the local Homestead community. To do this, I attended one of the Monthly Concert in the Park series, put on by the Homestead Borough, along with my colleague and a local artist, Katie Holmes, on September 26, where she, along with help from local children at the event, made homemade paper. It also served as a helpful networking tool for Rivers of Steel to connect with the leaders of the local Homestead community, outside of the Eighth Avenue stretch. Continuing to preserve the rich history of Homestead as a community while helping support the continued growth of the area.  

With this internship being centered around community outreach and public image, I was able to connect many of the topics covered within my Introduction to Public History course, which I was also taking this past semester. The class was primarily centered around how public figures are idolized, or represented, to the general public in a respectful yet accurate light. By combining the ever-changing landscape of contemporary art, Rivers of Steel works to educate the public in a respectful yet accurate tone.  Examples include major strides in legal graffiti artwork spaces that celebrate this art form that is historically viewed as vandalism, with the historic landscape of Carrie Furnace as well as the streets of Homestead.

  • Academic Interns
  • Undergraduate Work
  • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh