RVP Reflection Series: What did Masoud see?

Throughout my experience at the Reclaiming Vacant Properties (RVP) conference in Atlanta this year, I encountered a storm of new, fresh, and different ideas about how to address many of the concerns generated by cycles of disinvestment within 'rust belt' cities. Beyond these techniques though, I think the far more valuable treasure gleaned at this event comes in the form of contacts and relationships with other folks performing similar work in parallel with Grounded across this country. Their insights, challenges,…

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Planting Seeds for the Future

Pittsburgh, as the nation within which it resides, has a storied past awash with inequality. Both here and in the United States at large, a great deal of this inequity stems from the fact that the means of production (mainly land) are controlled by a small number of people relative to the total population. Historically, this has been the case for just about as long as this country has existed. As our worries mount in the face of climate instability,…

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Grounded in The Art Trap

The Art Trap: Trap + Paint is a monthly event curated by our Project Associate Kuwame Kinsel. In July, with support from Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, he presented it to over 120 patrons at the seasonal Cultural Trust Gallery Crawl. The goal of Art Trap to bring individuals from various social, economic, and cultural backgrounds together to create a safe space powered by art, culture, and entertainment. While out in the field, Kuwame noticed a trend of communities lacking self-care or…

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Permaculture Design: Ecological Solutions to Planetary Problems

For the purposes of sorting out the issues our world currently faces and quelling the fires which threaten to consume us there is one system of ethics that seems particularly well suited. This system, developed from the synthesis of indigenous wisdom about Earth systems and modern best practices in the management of human populations is called Permaculture. Coined by Bill Mollison, the term permaculture is a combination of the words permanent and agriculture (or culture). However, it is an approach…

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Where the Wild Things Were… and Could be Again

As humanity has tightened its grip on Earth, we have been party to the loss of many species. While many of us are aware of the cautionary tales of the dodo and the Tasmanian tiger, we are blind to the processes that led to their extinction. In seeking to fulfill our desires (for space, for goods, for control over the natural environment) we too often fail to consider the needs of the system that sustains us: the dodo, for example,…

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Environmental Hazards: Close-to-Home

The snow is already beginning to melt, and we can see the first spikes of spring ephemerals like snowdrops and crocus poking through the snow. Having spent the short days of winter cooped up indoors, many people are pleased to feel the days getting perceptibly longer. As we cross the thresholds of our respective houses out into this warming world, we transition between two very distinct sorts of environments: one familiar, consistent, and controlled, the other unpredictable, varied, and sometimes…

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Democratic Vacant Land Processes

In its utopic form, democracy is facilitated through widely dispersed power. Widely dispersed power allows for the fair and equitable negotiation of sometimes conflicting interests. Through negotiation, people are able to find positions of true (rather than coerced) compromise. This form of democracy is only possible through community organizing and engagement. The combination of organizing and engagement is instrumental to democracy’s foundational need for fair and equitable representation. Through our Hill District program, Reclaim Central 2.0, we are attempting to…

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ReClaim Central 2.0: Update

In the winter of 2016-17, Grounded recruited a dozen Central Hill District residents, called Ambassadors, to lead the movement for reclaiming vacant lots. In the spring of 2017, the Ambassadors began work on vacant lots around the Hill District and in total created 5 new community spaces for residents to utilize. Fast forward to fall 2018, after a year of engaging residents on the sites and gathering input about if the spaces were welcomed and accepted we were asked to come…

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Attention to Detail

The quality of your environment is one of the greatest and most overlooked sources of happiness. CommunityCare stewards carry around butter knives so that they can clean the cracks in the sidewalks. LandCare contractors compare techniques because they take pride in their work. These examples illustrate the importance of community members playing a central role in greening their communities. When residents are the actors, greenspace maintenance takes on new meaning. It's not just about getting a job done, it's about making…

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Grounded in East Hills

As part of our investigative process, Grounded Strategies is exploring East Hills for further intervention. Having recently installed rain gardens in the Park Hill Drive Community, we're now working with the East Hills Consensus Group (EHCG) to help them advocate for improvements in the entire East Hills neighborhood. The main focus points for EHCG in terms of community strategy are Stormwater, Public Safety, and Community Beautification.     During our tour of the neighborhood, it became apparent just how important…

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Grounded in Clairton

Grounded Strategies continues to support the Clairton Community as part of our ReClaim Ambassador program. Recently, we’ve been working with our Ambassadors Toni and Felix on sprucing up their sites. After a winter with lots of temperature fluctuations, Felix’s doorways at Communications Park had shifted, so we gave them a little love, squaring up their sashes and priming the ground for his sunflower walls. Just down the street at Clairton CommUnity Garden, Toni has been hustling and bustling getting the…

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VOLUNTEER FEATURE: U. S. STEEL

We Love Volunteers! Through the month of June, Grounded had the pleasure of hosting U. S. Steel volunteers in Braddock to support our work at Free Store 15104. Steelworkers from Edgar Thomson Works in North Braddock and employees from the U. S. Steel procurement office came out in full force for three full workdays. Our U. S. Steel volunteers blew us away with their commitment to the project, their creative problem-solving, and their ability to keep a smile on their…

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