5 Favorite GTECH Memories

After three and a half years, my last day working at GTECH will be this Friday. I’ve decided to take a leap into the world of ornithology (the study of birds). Before I leave, I’m taking a moment to reflect on my experiences here. These are five of my favorite memories at GTECH:

1. Learning the people’s history of Pittsburgh

img_5346One of my first tasks at GTECH in 2013 was to interview our incoming ReClaim South Ambassadors about their experiences of living in their neighborhoods in the hilltop of south Pittsburgh. While the purpose of the interview was to understand their needs, interests, and hopes as they joined our program, it was an experience that made me feel a lot of love for this city. Since I was new to Pittsburgh at the time, those interviews helped me begin to build an understanding of the challenges that have shaped this place. Effectively and responsibly repurposing vacant lots requires respect for history. I appreciate our Ambassadors that have taken time to share some of that history with a newbie like me.

2. Random acts of neighborliness

Often, when working on a vacant lot project, I got to experience random acts of neighborliness. Neighbors walking by would drop their plans to join us in planting flowers, building benches, or whatever we were working on. Once on a brutally hot summer day, a neighbor in Fineview came by with some icy balls from Gus and Yia Yia’s. People bring out their personal gardening tools, seedlings – they contribute whatever they have that could add to a project. I appreciate those folks for teaching me how to be a good neighbor the Pittsburgh way: unabashedly, generously, and humbly.

3. Walking the Northside

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-3-29-03-pmIn 2014 we started a project to analyze the condition of every single vacant lot in the Northside. I was one of the lucky ones responsible for walking down almost every street in the Northside to complete the survey. What at first seemed a bit overwhelming turned out to be quite the adventure. I walked alongside three Northside residents hired to help with the survey. We climbed up public steps, walked down forgotten streets, through business districts, and to what seemed like the very ends of the earth to find every last vacant lot. Exploring Pittsburgh’s crazy streets and hillsides is now one of my favorite pastimes. In 2016, I got to put my recollection of the Northside’s streets to good use when I was tasked with working with Northsiders to create trail maps for each of their 18 neighborhoods.

4. Two Wheels Lots of Green

My favorite of GTECH’s annual events is Two Wheels Lots of Green. For the event, we get dozens of people together to bike to vacant lot projects around the city. The ride is inevitably hilly, but it’s always fun to be in a herd of bicyclists, especially when we get to take breaks at lovely community green spaces around the city.

5. Working with first-rate coworkers!

My GTECH family has been one of the best parts of the job. GTECHers: you are thoughtful, smart, creative, strong, and reliable. From day one, I knew you had my back. I’ve learned so much from you all – not just about the technical skills of the job, but about how to be a better person.


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