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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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: Shequaya’s POV

The Grounded team attended the Reclaiming Vacant Properties (RVP) Conference in Atlanta at the beginning of October. During their time at the conference, the team learned valuable information that they would like to share! The following video is Shequaya sharing her experience at the conference.

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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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RVP Reflection Series: Ashley’s Experience

Author: Ashley Seiler Upon entering the RVP convention I was blown away by the number of people that were in attendance. After mingling and a quick look at the art exhibit displayed, I headed to one of the many sessions. The session that resonated with me the most was Community-Driven Visioning to Reclaim Vacant Properties in Fort Wayne and Philadelphia. The two presenters that stood out most to me during this session were Rena Bradley and Alexa Boss. I enjoyed…

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RVP Reflection Series: Odera’s Takeaways

Author: Odera Igwe The Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference (RVP) was a national conference dedicated to creating community cohesion through new strategies to transform vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties into community assets. This conference was a great opportunity for me to meet people all over the US who specialize in different aspects regarding the revitalization of vacant land; law, youth engagement, community advocacy, architecture, and more. The first session I attended was Community-Driven Visioning: A design thinking approach, and was probably…

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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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