By Brian Bokor
Beginning in September 2017, Hillsborough County initiated the Faces behind the Places web series with its first feature story focused on John F. Germany, the namesake behind Tampa’s downtown library. To date, 21 individuals have been showcased, with the most recent addition to the series highlighting John Ruskin, the namesake behind the area we know as Ruskin. Previous stories ran on Wimauma and why the Southern Crosstown Expressway’s name was changed to the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in 1999.
Terri Cordova-Hewitt, director of Communications & Digital Media for Hillsborough County, explained the origin of Faces behind the Places as well as what the county hopes to achieve through this ongoing series.
“It began a few years back with members of the Communications & Digital Media team wondering why certain parks, buildings and roads were named as they were. … for example, … Dale Mabry. … who was Dale Mabry, and why does he have a highway named after him?” she said. “The series grew organically from there with emphasis on covering the spectrum of different people that make up a community. The team has done a great job focusing on different ethnicities and genders, … what a community really looks like. Hillsborough County has a rich history, but many don’t know why. We want residents to know who these people were in order to create a sense of pride within the community.”
The articles written to describe the namesakes are quick, bite-sized reads, with some including links to additional articles or YouTube videos further defining the individual. They are a great way for both kids and adults to learn about some of the people who grew our community in a fun, fast format.
Faces behind the Places can be found at www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/residents/citizens/faces-behind-the-places.
While visiting the county website, Cordova-Hewitt encourages a visit to the Hillsborough County Engagement Hub at www.publicinput.com/hcengage, where visitors can review transportation project plans, see the results of previous survey efforts and provide input as well as read resident comments on key topics. She stresses the importance of public participation and engagement in two-way communication with county representatives as they rely heavily on feedback. Her team developed and manages the hub, which is the Hillsborough County online home for outreach and listening efforts.