Where some may have seen another Homewood vacant lot, Demi Kolke saw opportunity. She envisioned repurposing the space to benefit the community. Kolke bought the land and named the property Kenny’s Homewood in honor of the previous owner, Kenneth (Kenny) Stubbs, who supported Kolke’s vision but passed before he could see it become a reality.
Entering its sixth year of operation this summer, Kenny’s Homewood is an outdoor community and cultural celebration space. They provide community programming and offer opportunities for people to rent out the space.
“The whole premise is why should people have to leave Homewood to have a really great, new fun experience,” said Kolke. “Typically, there’s a lot we see portrayed in the media or social media about the perception of Homewood. There’s a lot of investment, a lot of really good people doing great work in the neighborhood, and I think Kenny’s is just one piece of that. It’s great to see people who might not have otherwise had a reason to come to Homewood or known where to go in Homewood come and experience Homewood through Kenny’s.”
Kenny’s Homewood is inclusive to all. In fact, Kolke said being open to everyone is what sets Kenny’s apart.
“Something I think is also unique is the area surrounding Kenny’s is all residential and intergenerational. Kenny’s is a space that all ages feel welcomed, and so it’s a really great opportunity to reconnect the fabric of the neighborhood.”
Initially, Kolke thought her main audience would be young adults between the ages of 20-40, but she quickly found that was not the case. Regardless of the event, a significant number of youth consistently visited Kenny’s, so she started integrating programming with them in mind.
“We have two fire pits at the site, and we found out during an event that so many kids didn’t know what smores were and didn’t know how to make them. So, we had a campfire night for kids. It was so informal, but they had a blast with it. It was something totally new and different.”
To kick off the 2022 season, through grant funding thanks to DLC, Kenny’s will be working with local artists and youth who live in the area to do a mural painting on the fence that surrounds Kenny’s.
“While we know artists have their own creative process and creative liberties, it’s really important for us that they’re not just painting their vision but that they are talking to people in the neighborhood. Before the mural is done, we will have a meet and greet where the artists will come out and we invite neighbors and we’ll have a visioning session. We’re hoping that the artists will be inspired by the stories of the residents,” said Kolke.
Whether a public or private event, Kolke has the same goal for Kenny’s Homewood.
“We just want to see the space filled with life.”
7401 Tioga Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15208