Remake Learning Days: What’s happening in Hazelwood?

Meet Joy Cannon and Learn Why She’s Excited for Remake Learning Days in Hazelwood

Hazelwood has gotten lots of attention lately.

Hazelwood Green — the 178-acre, 1.2-mile-long stretch of land along the Monongahela River billed as Pittsburgh’s largest redevelopment opportunity — symbolizes the community’s past and may hold the key to its future. Built where Pittsburgh’s last operating steel mill once stood, the site now houses Uber’s test track, where the company tests autonomous cars and trucks. Carnegie Mellon University’s cutting-edge Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute is slated to move in soon, and local officials are touting Hazelwood Green as a top contender for Amazon’s second headquarters.

But “whether or not Amazon comes to Pittsburgh, development in Hazelwood is inevitably going to occur,” writes Corey O’Connor, Hazelwood’s city councilman. “[How] do we ensure that the people of Hazelwood have a leading voice in their own future?”

Joy Cannon

According to Joy Cannon, director of programming at Hazelwood’s Center of Life, residents are taking it upon themselves to answer that question.

“I think [Hazelwood Green] has actually helped bring the neighborhood closer together,” she says. “The Hazelwood Initiative has taken the lead on the planning, holding several meetings over the past several months to get a good idea of what Hazelwood’s families would like to see this community turn into. Would they rather see more residential development or more businesses? More playgrounds? More bike trails? We’re developing an idea of where this community would like to go and how that should be supported.”

As Hazelwood charts a new course, its kids are front-and-center, says Cannon. We caught up with her to hear how Remake Learning Days fits into the community’s future.

Can you tell us a little bit about your work at Center of Life?

Sure! I oversee all the youth and family programs that run throughout the year. Our KRUNK movement — which is our hip-hop entrepreneurship program geared toward high school students — just released the video for one of their songs, “Black Girls Rock.” We had students perform it with the band and the dancers at a release party. All of our other programs are up and running, so pretty much every day, there’s something going on here. Before we know it, it will be time for our festival in May and our summer programs after that.

Why did you choose to be a Remake Learning Days Community Champion?

I’m excited to represent Hazelwood and Center of Life. Both the community and the organization have taught me so much about being involved in the community and the importance of lifelong learning, so I’m really happy to help shine a spotlight on the neighborhood. And I think for people who don’t live or work in Hazelwood, they probably don’t realize the positive work that takes place here. There are so many great organizations and individuals doing amazing things, and I think Remake Learning Days will help to showcase that.

Which Remake Learning Days events are you excited about and why?

I’m going to be a little biased here, but I’m really most excited for the Hazelwood events, because I know the organizations hosting them and the great work they do year-round. JADA House International and Arts Excursion Unlimited are both holding creative events, and I think that will help the youth think outside of the box. Both organizations provide really great creative outlets in the neighborhood.

I’m also excited for the events at Three Rivers Village School. They practice democratic schooling, and I think a lot of parents might not realize that that’s an option that exists. Those events will give parents a better idea of what that looks like in action. One is an open house during the school day, because it’s one thing to read about democratic schooling on paper, but it’s another thing to see. It won’t work for everyone, but then again, public schools and private schools don’t work for everyone, either. So I think people need to know the opportunities that are available to them in order to make an informed decision.

And then there’s Center of Life’s own event, of course! We’re having the Hazelwood Family Festival again this year. It will be the second time we’ve partnered with Remake Learning, and I’m incredibly excited about that. Last year, we spent so much time planning it that when the day finally came, it didn’t even seem like work. We had an incredible turnout, and this year we’re going even bigger and better. The staff here at Center of Life has been really supportive and we’re all excited for May 19!

Why is something like Remake Learning Days important to Hazelwood?

It’s important to Hazelwood, but I think it’s important to any community — most communities across the country should have events like this.

When I compare the experience I had in school to what my students see now, there are so many computers and songs and screens — there’s so much competing for their attention now that the school models we use now are kind of antiquated. It might work for some students, but for others, I like Remake Learning because it stresses the importance of hands-on, student-centered, interactive learning. If you can engage kids in an interactive project or assignment or field trip, you can get the same message across in a different kind of lesson. So I like that Remake Learning stresses learning that can take place outside of the classroom.

What do you want parents to know about Remake Learning Days?

There are so many benefits. If you’re curious about or not familiar with the area, these events are a great way to familiarize yourself with the community. But it’s also just a great way to connect with organizations and other families who have similar challenges, interests, and goals. You get to identify with other families who want the same things you do.


Parents: Meet other kids and families at these great events!

Akilah Richards on the Value of Self-Directed Education

Friday, May 18, 7-9 pm | The Three Rivers Village School
The Three Rivers Village School has invited unschooling podcaster and writer Akilah Richards to speak on the subject of self-directed education! Though there are distinct differences between democratic schooling and unschooling, the School and Akilah intersect at self-directed education.

Build Your Own Dream House

Wednesday, May 23, 4-6 pm | Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh — Hazelwood Branch
Use a variety of materials, from Legos to found objects, to build your very own dream house. Once your architectural masterpiece is complete, you’ll be able to photograph it in any location by using a green screen and a tablet. We’ll print out your photograph for you to take home. We’ll also supply the materials, equipment, and supplies!

An Evolution of Changing Lives

Friday, May 25, 5:30-7 pm | The Spartan Community Center
A butterfly transitions from a cocoon to a beautiful butterfly, and that’s what we want our community to do — transition to a beautiful place to live! Join us for activities and community gathering.

For more events in Hazelwood, download a free Remake Learning Days planning guide.


This blog is part of a special initiative to connect children and youth in four Pittsburgh neighborhoods (Hazelwood, Homewood, Hill District and Northside) and West Virginia to Remake Learning Days (May 17-25).

Remake Learning thanks Center of Life for coordinating the Hazelwood’s events and outreach and thanks The Heinz Endowments for their support.

Published April 26, 2018

Authored by: