Poorlaw’s Saundra Cole hopes that the proposed redevelopment of the Almono brownfield site brings jobs to Greater Hazelwood, a community she referred to as a “nation as one.”
Cole, the founder and director of the Hazelwood-based organization, shared her thoughts during an interview with Greater Hazelwood Matters staff. Poorlaw, which stands for People of Origin Rightfully Loved and Wanted, has been active in the Greater Hazelwood community since 2004. While Poorlaw has largely been focused on reducing violence, Cole said the organization will also lobby for the creation of job opportunities on the former LTV Coke site.
“The main focus is to make sure people in the community have first preference on those jobs. I feel like they’re in our community,” Cole said during the interview. “That’s where I’m going to start as far as the development.”
As it stands now, no formal plans have been made for what will actually be placed on Almono, which stretches along the Monongahela River from below the tracks on Second Avenue to the Hot Metal Bridge. But in interviews with Greater Hazelwood Matters, city councilman Corey O’Connor and Eric Stoler of the Heinz Endowments both suggested some sort of light industry could be placed on the site.
Almono is but one of the concerns, however, for Poorlaw, which was founded in response to the incarceration of Cole’s husband, Terrell Johnson. He was released from prison after 17 years after a new trial found him not guilty of a murder he was convicted of committing. Cole’s efforts with Poorlaw helped her husband earn a new trial.
“The criminal justice system is no joke. You get in that system, it’s hard to get out of that system. He did 17 years for a crime he did not commit,” Cole said.
Today, aside from working on nonviolence effort, Cole also hopes to help end tensions between “up top” – Glen Hazel – and the rest of Greater Hazelwood.
In her eyes, all of Greater Hazelwood is simply one community – or one nation – that is stronger when united.