Neighborhood homicide project


Neighborhood Homicide Analysis:
A Joint Project of Crime and Urban Communities & Civic Media

Contact Information:
Dr. Mike Lyons

Dr. Susan Clampet-Lundquist

Typically we hear only the briefest of details when a homicide occurs in cities like Philadelphia. In a way, this is understandable, given that so many occur – 280 people were killed in 2015, most with guns. But learning more about the homicide helps us to get a better grasp on which communities face the most gun violence. More importantly, it humanizes the victim.

In this project, we are grouping together students from two different classes – Crime and Urban Communities, and Civic Media. In total, we’ll have about 7 groups, each assigned to a different neighborhood (see groups at end of post). Your task for this semester-long project is as follows:

  • Document the homicides that have occurred in your neighborhood up through October 31, 2016, gathering as much information as possible about the victim, his/her family, the circumstances, the case
  • Learn about the neighborhood context – look at indicators such as neighborhood poverty, rates of other crime, unemployment, % of children, neighborhood school quality
  • Photographs of the neighborhood
  • Photographs of the deceased (if available)
  • Interview with someone from an institution in the neighborhood such as a community organization or church or mosque.

In addition to collaborating on this project, you will write a 700 – 900 word essay reflecting on your experience with this project. Consider the following questions in this essay:

  • How did this project “complicate” your perspective on homicides – did it change how you viewed these tragic events? If so, how?
  • What did you learn during this project that surprised you the most?
  • Did learning about the neighborhood add to your understanding of homicides in cities? If so, how?
  • What, if anything, about this project helped you to think about homicide victims as more than just a number? What needs to happen to help humanize homicide victims in urban neighborhoods to the general public?
  • What were some ethical issues you considered while documenting these stories?

This is an individually-written paper and it is due on December 9th.

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You will be bringing together the information about your assigned neighborhood with the use of an online tool called Storymap JS. This tool allows you to combine a variety of images, texts, maps, video, and audio. Each group will be able to express their own creativity and information to showcase this portrait of a neighborhood in different ways.

Neighborhoods that have high homicide rates are not “bad” neighborhoods. Even in the highest crime neighborhoods, most of the people who live there are doing their best to get by and raise their families. Though they are fearful of random violence that occurs that can threaten their loved ones, they are also invested in their communities and arrange block clean-ups, summer lunch programs, and block parties to bring people together. As you learn about this neighborhood throughout the semester, treat it and its residents with respect, and acknowledge that you will not know everything there is to know about the community from just a cursory look such as this.

Group Duties

Our recommendation is that in your initial meeting as a group, you designate who will be the lead person on each component of your project. This doesn’t mean that each person won’t work on each part of the project; it means that you should have a lead on each part who is making sure that things are getting done and perhaps guiding the activity. These are examples of roles that you may want to divvy out to your group:

Meeting facilitator/Liaison with faculty:

This person coordinates when you will meet as a group – perhaps through a Doodle poll – and tries to find times when the whole group is available. We recommend that you meet or check in through social media as a group once a week.


This person coordinates who/when you will interview about your neighborhood. Be courteous with the person(s) you are interviewing in setting up the time & place at their convenience. Two people should do the interviewing of the interviewee.


This person maps the locations of the homicides on a Google Map and makes sure that the map is embedded in the platform in a seamless, relevant, and usable way. Make sure that you have concrete knowledge of the neighborhood’s boundaries.

Data Analyst:

This person collects data on social and economic indicators of the neighborhood. Create a story about how these neighborhood-level indicators may be related to the homicides that occur in the neighborhood. Based on previous research, which variables would be relevant to your story of how you make sense of homicides?


This person uses a mixture of stories to describe the social and economic history of the neighborhood. What stages has the neighborhood gone through over time? How is this history relevant to the current situation?

Possible websites: (for those of you with a particular interest in history, this archive is really fascinating to visit on Temple’s main campus. You can look up a folder that is related to your neighborhood, and take photos (I think this is allowed) of old ward maps of your neighborhood.)

Due dates

We’ve set up check-ins throughout the semester to make sure that everything stays on track:

  • September 30 – Need to have had first meeting with group by this time. Submit your initial plans to each professor for your group. These would include who is doing what and your plan to gather stories from the neighborhood.

  Project memo (hard copy) due to both professors: The memo should include a brief       introduction to your neighborhood (basic demographic information, a brief neighborhood history, the roles of each person in the group (who is handling what?) and a basic plan of how you plan to gather these stories).

  • October 20 – Storyboard sketches (brief outlines of homicide stories) of the project submitted to each professor and group meeting with professors.
  • November 5 – Finalize the map – you will include the homicides of 2016 up through 10/31.
  • November 23 – Submit your project online to each professor – it should be 80 percent complete at this point. This should include a link to the map as well as the context/interviews/other media in a google doc.These will be due as final pages on a website I will create over Thanksgiving break.
  • December 9 – Final product due – One person in the group should provide me with a link.
  • December 12 – Individual reflection essay due on your website as a blog post.


Group 1 – Fairhill – Fairhill2

Will Lanni –
Anna McCarthy –
Richie Garry –
Jessica Marinucci CUC

Group 2 – Haddington – haddington_new

Alyssa Trybus –
Jordan Booth –
Carolyn Pinto –
James Demery CUC
Grace Davis CUC

Group 3 – Kensington – kensington

Madison Donchez –
Katie Becattini –
Maureen Devlin –
Katie Begley CUC

Group 4 – Point Breeze – point_breeze

Hailey Miller –
Kaley Allan –
Pat Morris –
Ashley Hyman CUC

Group 5 – Frankford – frankford

Ciani Woods –
Marisa Kirwan –
Charlie Coughlin –
Jared Martinez CUC

Group 6 – Harrowgate – harrowgate

Maria DiGiacomo –
Lizzie Fuller –
Eric Ruvo –
Gage Huber CUC

Group 7 – Strawberry Mansion – strawberry_mansion

Jake Callahan –
Justin Russell –
Kyndall Hawkins CUC
Cara Furman CUC