Reducing Toxics in the Home Environment: Lead

The last week in October (25th-31st, 2020) is National Lead Poisoning Prevention week! During this time, there's a great deal of focus on reducing the threat of lead hazards in our environment. As you may know, lead is a naturally occurring chemical element that exists at low levels in a variety of earth materials. It is also a potent neurotoxin with negative impacts on a variety of systems within the body: in fact, there is no level of lead that…

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Black Neighborhoods Matter

 Black Neighborhoods Matter Connecting Community Health, Vacant Land, and Racial Justice  We are experiencing a watershed moment in our country’s history. In the wake of a global pandemic, expanding financial insecurities, and continued police brutality and homicides, Black, Brown, and allied communities are rallying to demand constructive change within government and our institutions. Across the country, communities are crying #DefundPolice -- a critique of the abnormal sums of money cities and states invest in policing and surveillance, while other systems,…

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Grounded Statement on Racial Violence

Grounded works to promote equitable access to quality greenspace within marginalized communities. We acknowledge that our work is not separate from the larger concerns of racial violence, stigmatization, and oppression. The context for our work, and the communities we work alongside, emerges from a long history of racial segregation, targeted divestment, redlining, and disenfranchisement of land from Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. We envision a region of thriving communities working together to sustain equitable change. The baseline for…

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One on One with Mark Rawlings, Northside ReClaim Ambassador

In 2014, Grounded Strategies launched ReClaim Northside, a program purposed to reclaim vacant land parcels and create high-quality community greenspace. In the process, more than 5,400 vacant lots in the Northside were surveyed, and 14 community residents were recruited and trained as Ambassadors. Among the 8 unique projects created throughout the Northside, the Terraced Side-lot Bioswale by Ambassador Mark Rawlings is an exceptional example of community-empowered design. Ten years ago when Mark first purchased his home in the Troy Hill…

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Any Exposure is Bad Exposure: A Comparison on Lead Safety & COVID-19 Safety Practices

As we learn more about the Coronavirus and how to limit exposure, proper health and safety precautions are on everyone's minds. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending we wash our hands for 20 seconds, avoid touching our faces, and regularly disinfect hard surfaces like countertops or doorknobs. You may know that these are important measures to take to mitigate risk of catching the virus, or spreading it to other more vulnerable people…

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What’s New in Youth Engagement at Grounded?

  Since embarking on my journey at Grounded in September of 2019,  I have been having some fun and making a difference in several communities.  By and large, one of my favorites is Hazelwood. As a Greenfield native, I grew up just around the corner playing and learning about life in Hazelwood with friends and family. My engagements as a Grounded staff member have ranged from formal building projects to networking events and (many) teaching sessions. In one of my…

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The Role of Greenspace in Pittsburgh’s Transportation Equity Conversation

Currently, the City of Pittsburgh's Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) is developing a Mobility Vision Plan for the next 50 years! While on its surface this may not seem like an environmental justice issue tied to vacant or disinvested land, the implications of this plan are incredibly far-reaching. As the main entity tasked with managing the city's transportation infrastructure, DOMI governs many aspects of your movement through your day-to-day life. In addition to the roads most of us use…

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Natural Trailside First Aid

In October, I completed a field training with Jen Dalke of Blue Heron Nature Skills reviewing the first-aid uses of plants readily growing in Western PA. We identified different natural medicines and discussed preparation methods to activate their medicinal properties. Many of the plants are multi-use, with effects ranging from stopping bleeding to clearing parasites from the body and providing food in a pinch. I have compiled a brief list of plant medicines accessible in Western PA and suggested methods…

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Herbal Medicine Making

In an introductory course lead by Melissa Soto of Cutting Root Farm and Apothecary and hosted by the Garfield Community Farm, participants learned how to extract the medicinal supplements of plants through mediums like syrup, honey, alcohol, oils/salves, and teas. For the purpose of the course, we prepared medicine from the fruit of Rhus typhina, commonly known as staghorn sumac, which is easily identified by its bright red and fuzzy, cone-shaped clusters of fruit. The staghorn sumac is fairly common…

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TRUSS: Masoud’s Takeaways

The second annual Three Rivers Urban Soils Symposium (TRUSS) was a wonderful event where soils experts from around the United States gathered to collectively discuss the unique characteristics and challenges of urban soils. An eclectic gathering of "dirt-worshippers" and "tree-huggers" all deeply concerned with revitalizing our urban environments through careful stewardship of soils, the presenters included individuals from academia, farmers, remediation specialists, and worm ranchers (among others). Even though the attendees and presenters came from such a diverse array of…

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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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