This past year I taught an after-school ceramics class for middle school kids in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homewood. Homewood is what most people would call "the ghetto." It used to be home to the richest people in Pittsburgh, now it's home to the poorest. Violent crime, drug dealing and prostitution are commonplace, and the Crips that control the streets like it that way.
In the past year and a half I've come to know Homewood pretty well. Prior to teaching ceramics, I taught a variety of art projects in the middle school. In the process of arranging and promoting a pair of student art sales events at the public library, I've met Homewood residents from all walks of life, from street-people to state representatives. And I've visited every business in Homewood (except for its notoriously dangerous drinking establishments). For the most part, all have been welcoming, kind or at least respectful of an outsider trying to do some good in their community.
So it's with a good bit of anticipation that I prepare for another semester of Thursday nights in the hood.