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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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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A Story of Vacant Land (Part 2): The Evolution

Have you ever wondered why or how the vacant lot next to your home got there?  Obviously, a series of events had to happen to create that neglected space. Vacancy didn’t show up overnight.  A combination of macro forces and micro decisions, each of which is interrelated led to what you see in so many of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods today.  With over 27,000 vacant lots in the City of Pittsburgh, something has happened at a massive scale. Understanding the history and…

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Opportunities on Vacant Land in Winter

As the leaves fall and the wind blows, many of us choose to retreat into the warmth of our homes. However, as winter approaches, there are still many opportunities for you to get outside and show some care for vacant land within your community. In early to mid-fall, it's a wonderful time to plant perennials on a vacant parcel. This can be as involved as planting balled-and-burlapped trees, or as simple as scattering a few of your favorite perennial plant…

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Vacant Lot Remediation and Crime Reduction

Gun violence in the United States is higher than in any other developed nation and the majority of fatal violence committed in the United States involves firearms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 100,000 people die from gun-related violence in the U.S. every year. A study published by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University shows that remediating vacant lots can dramatically affect both perceptions of crime and vandalism, and the acts themselves. Neighborhoods where vacant…

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Neighborhood greenspace leads to greater spatial working memory among children

We all know that spending time in greenspace is healthy for humans. We have all experienced that joy of going to a local park or strolling past a recently cleaned up lot that used to be blighted and vacant. But what exactly is it about neighborhood greenspace that affects the human brain in such an impactful way? Well, researchers in England sought to answer this question in a recent study and their conclusions are quite interesting. The study focused on…

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Green Space Really Does Improve Mental Health

A new study published in July is one of the first substantial pieces of research that directly links "greening" vacant and blighted lots to improved mental health and reduced depressive symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 16 million adults in the United States - 6.7% of the population - reported having at least one major depressive episode in the past year. While we at Grounded Strategies understand the the positive connections between "greening" vacant lots…

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Greenspaces Foster Resilience and Combat Climate Change

Grounded Strategies is committed to the sustainable development of greenspaces in Pittsburgh neighborhoods. With the input and help of community partners and members, we work hard to ensure that our projects are community-led and foster neighborhood coalition. We believe that greenspaces foster community resilience by facilitating the strengthening of social connections, reducing stress, restoring cognition, and being physically active. Not only do greenspaces benefit individuals and the community, they also benefit the environment and, according to writer Jared Green, act…

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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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Pitt 1st Years are Grounded in Homewood

As part of their orientation process at the start of the fall semester, first years at Pitt joined Grounded in Homewood for a day of service. We worked together on a litter cleanup, while engaging in thought provoking discussions about the ties between refuse, home abandonment, poverty, and access to green space.     Our litter cleanup also served as a walking tour of the neighborhood, to show areas where Grounded has already built a presence, as well as areas…

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