One St. Pete

Have you heard of the recently launched grass roots initiative One St. Pete? It’s such an important project, not just for the St. Pete/Tampa area in which many of us at HDI live and work but as an inspiration for communities all across the country. Kevin Hohl, our Chief Strategy Officer, is the founder of the movement, and HDI is incredibly proud to have had such a large part in getting it off the ground. Here’s the back-story:

In St. Pete, three police officers were recently shot and killed in two separate incidents less than a month apart. One of the slayings took place only a block and half from Kevin Hohl’s residence. He heard the rounds of shots fired. They woke his wife.

The next day, fearful of the killer still on the loose, Kevin drove his wife to her  speech therapy job at an elementary school in St. Pete. He returned home to find his friends voicing their opinions on Facebook, expressing words of sadness, anger and fear for everyone to see. The local news station then broke the story: the killer had been caught, and he was a 16-year-old boy.

Returning home from work that night, Kevin’s wife was clearly upset as she explained that some students in her school touted the murderer as a hero. Kevin was shocked. How could this town be so split in its reaction to violence against those who serve and protect? He knew something had to be done to unite the community and promote healing. And so One St. Pete was born: an initiative to create a greater sense of community in such a beautiful town, to bring people together in support of their neighbors, to help create strength and security in a time of fear.

It was a group effort. Kevin and HDI built the One St. Pete webpage and started the Facebook group. Local artists took photos and created original works in support of the project. Dugg Hadden, owner of Industrial Strength in St. Pete, Ginger Reichl of Pinstripe Marketing in St. Pete, Chad Mize of Blue Lucy, Rasta Geary Taylor of 1 of 1 Customs in St. Pete and over 30 community volunteers were also excited to get on board and lend their expertise.

One St. Pete was officially launched on Friday, April 1st during downtown St. Pete’s First Friday festivities. The installation was a culmination of photos of St. Pete residents holding up a finger to show the number one, QR codes and other creative images projected onto large, outdoor walls of 15 different buildings downtown, from the Museum of Fine Arts and the Progress Energy Building to shops along Central Avenue.

Passersby were met with the powerful visuals, and volunteers handed out business cards promoting One St. Pete and encouraging residents to visit the site. The QR codes send smartphone users to the One St. Pete site where they can take a pledge of solidarity and join the initiative on Facebook.

The images are moving. They can be seen on OneStPete.org.

To get involved, visit OneStPete.org and become a fan on Facebook. For more info, check out this article from the St. Pete Times.

 

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